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Well Rehearsed

From formal to laid-back, these Austin restaurants set the table for a perfect rehearsal dinner.
By: 
Kate Harrington

The rehearsal dinner holds a special place in the array of wedding festivities—it’s a celebration that gives the couple’s immediate family and close friends a chance to spend some time together before the big day. Your rehearsal dinner venue allows you to set the tone for the wedding events to come or provide a break from a more formal wedding weekend where guests can kick back in a relaxed setting. Whatever your vibe, Austin has a plethora of fabulous venues to make your rehearsal dinner one to remember.

The Oasis on Lake Travis
The Oasis is best known for stunning sunset views over Lake Travis. It’s those views that bring couples to the restaurant, and they often return to celebrate their marriage. “Most couples who have their rehearsal dinners here came here on their first date or were engaged here or had a special family memory—that’s what people continue to come out for,” says wedding coordinator Kelsey Shipman. That, and it’s been an Austin icon for 35 years. The restaurant has a huge degree of flexibility when it comes to rehearsal dinners and can host everything from informal, buffet-style dinners to hors d’oeuvres receptions to more formal, plated dinners. Couples can choose from six different banquet spaces, all of which have their own deck that faces the lake and the famous sunset vista.

Capacity: 25–2,000
Address: 6550 Comanche Trail
Phone: 512.266.2442
Website: oasis-austin.com

County Line
County Line, a beloved Austin barbecue restaurant, has two venues, both with stunning views that make a beautiful backdrop for a rehearsal dinner. The original location boasts a 20-mile view of Hill Country, while County Line on the Lake, just off of Lake Austin on Bull Creek, features a large deck overlooking the water. Both venues have private party rooms: the Hill Country location with decks to take in the view, the Lake location with a pavilion tent overlooking the water. While County Line is known for its barbecue, they also offer more traditional grill choices including salmon, steak and chicken.

Capacity: 250
Address: Lake: 5204 F.M. 2222; Hill Country: 6500 W. Bee Cave Road
Phone: Lake: 512.346.3664; Hill Country: 512.327.1742
Website: countyline.com

Stubb’s
Whether you’re a longtime Austin resident with fond memories of live music you’ve seen here or a fan of their barbecue, this venue offers a uniquely Lone Star feel. “We had an awesome experience, and it was a very Texas place to take the out-of-towners in our wedding party,” says Jen Biundo, who, with husband Stephen Pipkin, held their rehearsal dinner here in 2013. “They made the booking process very easy and seamless. Planning the rehearsal dinner was one of the easiest parts of the wedding.” Stubb’s offers several venue options for your event, from the more modern and streamlined CB’s, a lounge that overlooks the Waller Creek Amphitheater, to the down-home feel of the upstairs patio, where you’re surrounded by Austin limestone.

Capacity: 30–2,200
Address: 801 Red River St.
Phone: 512.480.8341
Website: stubbsaustin.com

Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden
Cute, historic house converted to modern restaurant? Check. Ability to roast an entire pig for your event? Check. Mac ’n’ cheese bar as a menu choice? Check. Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden is nestled in a cozy block on Rainey Street, with a spacious back patio that can accommodate a tent for weather of any kind. The restaurant is known for its craft beer and sausage, and embraces the slow-food approach with gusto. “It was awesome—great outdoor space, music, food (with veggie and non-veggie options) and games,” says Shelley Vinyard of Banger’s, where she and husband Arvin Ganesan hosted their casual rehearsal dinner gathering in 2015.

Capacity: 100–822
Address: 79 & 81 Rainey St.
Phone: 512.386.1656
Website: bangersaustin.com

G’Raj Mahal
This eclectic downtown restaurant combines Southern hospitality and Western Indian cuisine, a blend that works surprisingly well. The restaurant’s colorful, comfortable vibe invites you to relax on the back patio and take it all in—as the folks at G’Raj Mahal like to say, “Sit and namaste awhile.” Colorful Indian fabrics mix with weathered Texas wood and metal at the converted house in the heart of the funky and walkable Rainey Street district. Locally sourced meat and vegetables make the menu extra-fresh, with favorites from samosas and curries to tandoor and masala.

Capacity: 100–150
Address: 73 Rainey St.
Phone: 512.480.2255
Website: grajmahalaustin.com

Alamo Drafthouse
A rehearsal dinner in a movie theater? Believe it—Alamo Drafthouse, an Austin-based theater chain that has mastered themed events that pair food and cinema, works with couples to create custom menus for their celebration. The cinema has pulled off everything from Princess Bride feasts (what could be better for a couple in “twu wuv”?) to zombie wedding parties. Confetti cannons and personalized photos and videos on the big screen are also options. Alamo has six theaters around the Austin area, and while each has its own unique vibe, they all boast a swanky atmosphere. Menu choices nod at movie theater classics, including popcorn and milkshakes. But the award-winning food goes beyond typical movie fare to include scratch-made entrées and salads, as well as handcrafted cocktails.

Capacity: Varies by location
Phone: 512.861.7084
Website: drafthouse.com

Sophia’s
The Italian supper club concept gets a sleek update at Sophia’s. Traditional Italian family recipes (not the Americanized version with entrées covered in red sauce) are served up in a luxe setting, with cozy tufted leather booths and plush velvet chairs. You can reserve the entire restaurant or a semi-private area.

Capacity: 115
Address: 500 W. Sixth St.
Phone: 512.580.9990
Website: sophiasaustin.com

Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse
Situated on Barton Springs Road’s restaurant row, Uncle Billy’s is close to downtown, but has a relaxed vibe that feels like small-town Texas. With 3,000 square feet of venue space inside and 3,500 square feet outside, it’s got plenty of room for you and your guests to spread out. The brewpub also has full A/V packages and an elevated stage with sound system, in case your guests want to take pre-wedding toasts to the next level. Uncle Billy’s provides customized menus with beer pairings, as well as custom-brewed firkins of beer for couples who really love their microbrews.

Capacity: 250
Address: 1530 Barton Springs Rd.
Phone: 512.476.0100
Website: unclebillys.com

Lucy’s on the Lake
The folks behind Lucy’s Fried Chicken took the popular concept out of the city and brought it lakeside with Lucy’s on the Lake. Situated on the shores of Lake Travis, the venue offers three spaces for rehearsal dinners—an indoor party room, a covered outdoor pavilion (the party room and pavilion can be combined), and a private outdoor patio space. Couples can choose menus that include Southern favorites like fried green tomatoes, deviled eggs, mini Moon Pie bites and of course, fried chicken.

Capacity: 25–125
Address: 2900 Ranch Rd. 620 N.
Phone: 512.297.2771
Website: lucysfriedchicken.com/on-the-lake

Lake Austin Riverboats
If you want an outside-the-box rehearsal dinner that doesn’t max out your budget, a riverboat is a great option. The Lake Austin Riverboats are hand-built, Southern-style stern-wheel vessels. The two boats—the Commodore and the smaller Commodore’s Pup—both have a downstairs banquet facility (and heat and air conditioning, in case Austin’s notoriously fickle weather proves uncooperative). Lake Austin Riverboats provides everything from a DJ or live music to linens, tables and bar service. They work with local restaurants including Austin favorites Hula Hut, Ruby’s BBQ and Winston’s Kitchen to cater rehearsal dinners.

Capacity: 250
Address: 3700 Lake Austin Blvd.
Phone: 512.345.5220
Website: austinriverboats.com

Umlauf Sculpture Garden
Imagine this: tables with crisp linens and fresh flowers en plein air, with manicured landscaping and art on view. Although it’s in the center of Austin, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden is an intimate and tranquil setting for a rehearsal dinner. Home to permanent and traveling sculpture collections, the Umlauf spans 5 acres of beautifully cultivated gardens. Couples considering this venue will have to bring in their own vendors, including a caterer; the Umlauf provides a list of preferred vendors to help couples find the right fit.

Capacity: 20–250
Address: 605 Robert E. Lee Road
Phone: 512.445.5582
Website: umlaufsculpture.org

Cover 3
With a location in North Austin and another downtown, Cover 3 gives couples plenty of options. The original Anderson Lane location has a private dining room for a sit-down dinner that can accommodate up to 40 people, and the Sky Box lounge for a cocktail reception. At the downtown location, couples can choose between a private room that can be paired with a cocktail space for larger parties (up to 60 guests) or the patio for up to 68 guests. Both locations also offer the option of a restaurant buyout for larger parties. Cover 3 is known for its fresh, house-made American culinary creations, including steaks and freshly grilled fish.

Capacity: 20–80
Address: Anderson: 2700 W. Anderson Lane; Downtown: 1717 W. Sixth St.
Phone: Anderson Lane: 512.374.1121; Downtown: 512.982.1550
Website: cover-3.com

Fonda San Miguel
Tucked away in the North Loop neighborhood, this authentic Mexican restaurant serves fresh Mexican cuisine, from ceviche to rellenos (no Tex-Mex here). As delicious as it is, the food almost takes a back seat to the décor. From the moment you step through the ornate wooden doors in the hacienda-like setting, you’ll be surrounded by color, from the gorgeous tile to the artwork gracing the restaurant. Fonda San Miguel has a private dining room that accommodates small groups.

Capacity: 30
Address: 2330 W. North Loop Blvd.
Phone: 512.459.4121
Website: fondasanmiguel.com

Olive & June
Although it’s in the middle of a bustling Central Austin neighborhood, the courtyard of Olive & June, shaded by a sprawling oak tree, gives this restaurant the feel of an elegant and private escape. A third-floor event space is also shaded by that towering oak, and the interior is just as stylish, boasting a modern sensibility. For smaller parties, the indoor Chef’s Table is a private room on the restaurant’s first floor. Olive & June is known for its fresh southern Italian dishes, including locally sourced ingredients like Texas quail, lamb and goat cheese.

Capacity: 100–140
Address: 3411 Glenview Ave.
Phone: 512.467.9898
Website: oliveandjune-austin.com

Think Outside the Box
If a traditional sit-down dinner doesn’t feel like the right fit, you can join in the growing trend and host an outside-the-box event. Couples are increasingly choosing to kick back and enjoy the moments leading up to their wedding in a more offbeat way.

Barbecue in the Park
Austin has myriad beautiful parks in a variety of settings. With some, you need only show up and claim tables. For others, you’ll need to contact the Austin Parks & Recreation office of special events to reserve space. Think Mayfield Park with its roaming peacocks and lush gardens or the Zilker Clubhouse with its downtown views. With so many great barbecue joints in Austin, it will be easy to find the right one to cater.

Pizza Party
Whether your idea of the perfect slice is the thin-crust Homeslice or the gourmet pies at Bufalina, you can enjoy your favorite pizza in your own backyard or at the restaurant itself.

Game Night
Rent space in venues like the Goodnight, Highball or Pinballz and enjoy bowling, arcade games and classic favorites like skeeball for a fun night.