When it comes to college towns in the United States, there aren't many that beat Austin. With UT's more than 50,000 students, plus other colleges in the area, there's no doubt that students play a huge role in Austin life.
So when graduation comes around? You'd better find a great place to celebrate. Whether you're looking for a private room to host just the family, or a larger venue to throw a full-on party, Austin has no shortage of event spaces. Here are a few we love.
Loro Asian Smokehouse & Bar: Still relatively new to Austin, Loro brings together the talents of Tyson Cole (Uchi) and Aaron Franklin (Franklin's BBQ, perhaps the most celebrated brisket in the state). The enormous space, with counter service from the bar, is just the right level of stylish-but-informal for a party. If you're planning for a big crowd, book out a section of the upper deck (with a capacity of 24 or 36 guests) or the entire deck (60).
Midnight Cowboy: Is this graduation party more of a cocktail party? Smaller groups who are discerning about drinking should give this sophisticated speakeasy a look.
Lamberts Downtown Barbecue: Upscale Texas barbecue in lofty, classy setting; what's not to like? In the historic Schneider Brothers Building, Lamberts has been a downtown favorite for a decade. The smoker delivers Lamberts' takes on the barbecue classics (brisket, country-style pork ribs, jalapeño hotlinks) while the wood-burning grill holds up its own (cold-smoked quail, hanger steak, Gulf fish). Book a table for a smaller group, or book out the patio to seat 60.
CRU Food & Wine Bar: Prefer fresh seafood to whole hog? CRU is all about fish and wine, with sommeliers to guide you through all things grape. A private room, seating up to sixteen, is perfect for a small group; larger parties of up to 60 can book out the interior.
Red's Porch: Let's say you're not looking for a classy, "proud of our graduate" family dinner -- but a real party to toast the end of your college days. Red's Porch is exactly the laid-back spot you're looking for, with beer, burgers, Tex-Mex, with a horseshoe pitch and a second-story bar. Book out the porch or the game room for large groups -- or, even better, the '59 El Dorado Lounge "trailer."
[Photo: Loro Asian Smokehouse & Bar]