After several visits to Banger’s on Rainey Street since its opening in early summer, I am still left on the fence about the sausage and beer eatery. On one hand, its concept, food, and overall potential make me weak in the knees. However, Banger’s also has a few issues it hasn’t been able to overcome that impede it from moving from good to great.

To start things off on a high note, let’s talk about the good. First off, it perfectly reflects the casual yet unique vibe of its Rainey Street neighborhood by offering expansive outdoor seating, a dark, open interior, and a separate dog park for four-legged friends. A beer drinker’s paradise, Banger’s has 100+ brews on tap, including a consistently rotating number of craft and local beers.

So many ways, so many Sausages

While there are a few non-sausage, beer friendly appetizers and sides, sausages reign supreme at Banger’s. Banger’s robust sausage offerings include everything from wild game, vegetarian, brats and more. Links can be ordered solo or as a sandwich. There are a handful of bread options, but I recommend choosing Kolache, which is sourced directly from the always delicious Kolache Factory. Topping offerings are equally as dynamic, ranging from traditional sauerkraut to caramelized onions, making the possible combination options endless. Along with its list of sausages and specialty sandwich combinations, Banger’s also offers several unique plates such as the ‘shrimp and grits’ combination featuring a bacon and shrimp stuffed sausage over creamy cheddar grits. I highly recommend saving room for dessert, specifically the outstanding Snickers ice cream. This pot of delicious can best be described as Southern dessert heaven. It brought back memories of my favorite summertime desserts of ice cream layered with honey and crunchy peanut butter, only much, much better.

Heaven in a mason jar

As I noted, this review has a ‘but’ to it. From my initial visit to most recent, service issues have consistently plagued my experiences at Banger’s. Banger’s issues aren’t necessarily that staff is unfriendly or by any means rude, but whether its lost order, disappearing servers, or painfully slow, every visit to the restaurant has been marred by a series of starts and stops. I’m not sure exactly if it’s the expansive menu, understaffing, or an overwhelmed kitchen, but something, somewhere is amiss.

I sincerely hope Bangers will be able to overcome its early issues because it has great potential to be the type of place you could never grow weary of visiting. However, consistently inconsistent service coupled with a challenging location gives me pause. On its surface it’s easy to say the proximity to bars and apartments makes Rainey Street a perfect spot for a restaurant, but this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, I would make the argument that fair or not fair, Rainey Street restaurants almost have to operate at a higher level to survive because the neighborhood provides its own unique set of hurdles. Even with residents and nightlife patrons, these restaurants face stiff competition from several high quality, low cost trailers, many who deliver to or reside at the various bars. With its many parking issues, working up the patience to go out the way for a restaurant on Rainey Street is hard as it is. Bangers, like El Naranjo and Brad Sorenson’s upcoming establishment, must be able to rely on their ability to draw a customer base beyond those traveling to Rainey Street for the nightlife or who live nearby. Namely, this means inspiring a crowd of folks who will venture to the area despite the bars, not just because of them. These challenges mean second chances might not be as easy to come by for a place like Banger’s.

All in all, there is much to love about Banger’s. The food is terrific, the atmosphere, hard to beat, but these lingering issues keep it from graduating from a place with promise to one I’d recommend. In the meantime, I will keep my fingers crossed my next visit won’t be my last…

Poutine Fries

Banger’s Austin. 79 & 81 Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701. 512.386.1656.

Beer Flight

Sausage, pretzel bun, potato salad


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