Historic Downtown Abilene. For anyone who has spent time in Abilene, “Historic” isn’t an adjective. It is part of who we are and what we take pride in – our history. For generations, Historic Downtown Abilene continues to offer its community and visitors a variety of unique museums, children’s art and literacy centers, classic movie theaters and concert halls.
Recently though, new ideas and exciting visions are coming together to create a Nightlife District among Historic Downtown Abilene. Thanks to a few locals pulling up their sleeves and pulling out their wallets, old, worn-out buildings of the past are being revamped, refreshed and bringing new life into our beloved Abilene.
The Mill Winery
Set in an old flour mill building originally opened in 1910, The Mill Winery is grand and cozy. As soon as you enter The Mill, get comfortable in one of her outdoor silos with a glass of The Mill Original House Wine 1 and stay forever.
The Mill Winery is one of Abilene’s largest nightlife venues. Ninety percent of the seating is outdoors and includes small nooks with tables and chairs for two as well as large covered silos for groups of 10+. The atmosphere is relaxed and inviting with strings of light scattered from rooftop to bar top. Live acoustic music fills the air and a patio bar serves wine and craft beers on tap. Servers stop by periodically to refill drinks and offer charcuterie boards and dessert flights from the inside bar. Stop by the renovated laundry truck, dubbed the Feed Truck. Now paneled inside and out with natural wood and chalkboards, ready to fill with daily specials - patty melts and veggie burgers included.
The vineyard is usually in budding season from May to September, but The Mill Winery is open year-round. Fire pits, stacks of wool blankets and vinyl coverings provide warmth in the colder months.
Owner Mindy Howard, a former high school science teacher, said her family couldn’t pass up the opportunity to “create the ideal hangout spot” out of this beautiful old mill building. When asked what inspired her to take on the task Howard said, “We just want to create a place for people to celebrate and an atmosphere that lends itself to that.”
-239 Locust St., Abilene, Texas
- Hours of Operation: Wednesday and Thursday 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm; Friday and Saturday 5:00 pm – midnight
Cru Bar and Venue
Cru Bar and Venue is one of downtown Abilene’s newest and most lavish establishments. The bar and events venue is set in one of Downtown Abilene’s grandest buildings from the 1920s. New owners, Jennifer and Emmanuel Navejas, have added a modern twist with white walls, tufted furniture, and lighting features that double as art. Cru prides itself on her wide selection of whiskey, scotch and bourbon, but all three levels of Cru are equipped with a full bar. The signature cocktails bear historic Abilene nods and names. On big event weekends, you can be sure to find elaborate decorations and appropriate themes. Graduation 2017 was met balloon arches, and confectionary cocktails straight out of a Dr. Seuss wonderland.
Themes not your thing? How about an Abilene on Rye with Bullet Rye and red wine fusion? Or the Crurita with cilantro-lime infused Patron and a chili salt rim.
Cru Bar and Venue is loungey. Formal or laid-back cozy, Cru effortlessly combines atmospheres making a statement in Downtown Abilene. Cru clientele range from 21-65. Cru has filled a gap in Abilene. It has transformed an old dilapidated building into a downtown treasure of a new age. A place where you would take a date for a drink, or your parents when they’re in town, according to co-owner Alexandria Ybarra.
Most recently, in the 1960s, an optical store occupied the now grand building. Now, all you will see from those days are silver guilded metal ceiling tiles decorating the bar and beautifully refinished original wood flooring on the mezzanine and third story event space.
Cru Bar and Venue is a great addition to historic downtown Abilene. Seamlessly, beautifully, merging history with modernism. Step in Cru Bar, step into Downtown Abilene.
- 258 Pine Street, Abilene, Texas
- Hours of Operation: Thursday & Friday, 5:00 pm – 12:00 am Saturday, 5:00 pm – 1:00 a.m. Special events and private events throughout the week
The Stairs Club
The Stairs Club isn’t new to Abilene. Since Fall of 1978, The Stairs Club has been opening under different variations of the name in the same building. When The Upstairs Club closed in 2014, construction company owner Lance Johnson had to have the beautiful old building. With no idea what to do with it, Lance started stripping the old hardwood floors and pulling 20 tons of turquoise mortar off the brick walls. Lance said once the space was restored to its natural beauty, he knew it needed another try.
One flight of stairs takes you into the newly re-opened second story nightclub. The recognizable name is the only thing Lance and his partners haven’t changed since the re-opening of The Stairs Club. The walls are no longer filled with neon beer signs and loud paint, now original brick walls expose their beauty. A wall of original windows has been uncovered and downtown Abilene now provides the backdrop to the DJ booth. Six low sitting VIP tables line the main dance floor in front. The massive bar is filled with only the classics, and a shots bar in the back allows for group celebrations without holding up the line.
With no wine or craft beers, nor any plans to offer food or live music, The Stairs Club is going to stay true to its vision to offer Abilene a fun, safe, true nightclub experience.
- 141 Oak Street, Abilene, Texas
- Hours of Operation: Thursday and Friday 7:00 pm – midnight, Saturday 7:00 pm – 1:00 am
Cypress Street Station
Cypress Street Station has been a part of Abilene’s downtown landscape since 1993. The menu offers their refined take on classic pub food like fish’n’chips and pizza, as well as traditional favorites like the seared scallops and yellow-fin tuna. The Green family recently sold the Station and new owners and Abilenians, Amanda and Terry O'Conner, are implementing new drink specials and menu collaborations that spice up the old landmark while staying true to her history. Drop in on an evening the Piano Man is playing, grab an original Rag’s Red Ale, and enjoy classic downtown Abilene.
-158 Cypress Street, Abilene, Texas
-Hours of Operation: Monday through Thursday 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm Friday 11:00 am – 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm -10:00 pm
Saturday 11:00 am – “until everyone goes home”
Lytle Land & Cattle Co.
An original Texas mesquite steakhouse, specializing in hand-cut steaks and Texas favorites for over 15 years. Lytle Land & Cattle Co. celebrates local products, people and music. Every Wednesday night from May – October catch the Live@Lytle music series on the patio. With seating capacity around 150, Live@Lytle brings Texas country artists like Charlie Robison, Larry Joe Taylor, and Cody Canada to guests in an intimate, table seating atmosphere. Order the jalapeno poppers, West Texas Sunset (careful, you’re cut off at two) and listen to live music from Texas greats under the Abilene sky.
- 1150 E. S. 11th Street, Abilene, Texas
- Hours of Operation: Monday through Sunday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Pappy Slokum Brewery
Inspired by one of the creator’s moonshining Pappy, three locals have come together to create bold, daring and unique beer experiences that begs the question- who’s yer Pappy? No, really… they want to know. Headquartered in Abilene, Pappy Slokum is quickly gaining national notoriety in the craft beer uprising. Pappy’s headquarters is a small brewery that currently only distributes its beer in kegs and opens its doors for tours, tastings, and food truck gatherings on Saturdays. Pop a top, pull up a stool and tell Pappy Slokum who inspires you.
- 409 S. Treadaway, Abilene, Texas
- Hours of Operation: Open to public Saturday 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Texas Monthly magazine calls The Beehive “The best country steakhouse in the state.” Southern Living magazine says it has “one of the best chicken fried steaks in Texas. Tender and flaky, it nearly fills the plate.” The Beehive’s menu features rich marbled steaks, large seafood portions, hearty sandwiches, and appetizers that could pass for entrees. If you are thirsty and adventuresome, try their version of Long Island Ice Tea and get ready for the largest mason jar this side of the Mason Dixon.
The iconic eatery is owned by Brothers Ali and Nariman Esfandiary who came to the United States from Iran decades ago. The brothers started working in local restaurants before opening the original Beehive in Albany, and later the second location in Downtown Abilene.
- 442 Cedar Street, Abilene, Texas
- Hours of Operation: Tuesday through Friday, 11:00 am – 1:30 pm & 5:00 - 10:00 pm; Saturday, 5:00 - 10:00 pm; Sunday & Monday closed.
Sockdolager Brewing Company
Born from love, good hops and great conversation, Sockdolager Brewing Company opened its doors in March 2017 and hasn’t looked back. Hard to look back when you're blowing full steam ahead. With a tip o’ the cap to tradition and a keen eye set on innovation, Sockdolager provides beverages worth gathering around; beverages that inspire community and conversation; beverages that are truly Sockdolager.
- 720 China St., Abilene, Texas
- Hours of Operation: Saturday 1:00 pm – 1:00 am
Over the past few years, you might have seen Jessie and Jason Adams rolling around Abilene with their wood-fired grill in-tow. The Adams spent the first part of Vagabond's life catering saliva-inducing pizzas all over the Big Country. In 2016, Vagabond Pizza opened its brick-and-mortar restaurant. Think Latimer Square meets West Texas. Its long and narrow layout lends to the coziness. Paired with low hanging light fixtures scattered throughout the entire building, Vagabond has created the most magical pizza-binge atmosphere. With their ever-changing menu, pizzas are given human names meant to invoke your imagination- Rosia is spicy- rotating craft beer sections, and over 100 labels of wine to try, Vagabond is sure to satisfy cravings from nightlife to pizza and beyond.
- 1056 N 2nd St. Abilene, Texas
- Hours of Operation: Lunch: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm Dinner: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm Closed Sunday and Monday