The Best Bars In Downtown San Antonio, Texas

Love a bit of history and culture? San Antonio has both in abundance, along with stunning riverside locations to spend an afternoon
Love a bit of history and culture? San Antonio has both in abundance, along with stunning riverside locations to spend an afternoon | © philipus / Alamy
Sameer Ghurye

Downtown is the business district of San Antonio and spans the area between Interstate 35 and Interstate 37 north of the Interstate 10. This roughly rectangular loop standing on end has an overall circumference of 9 miles. The area is also the hub of nightlife in the city, and has some of the best bars going. Here are 10 of the best. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

The Esquire Tavern

The Esquire Tavern serves up craft cocktails in a former Mafia headquarters

The River Walk is dominated mainly by the big chains, but traditional places like the Esquire Tavern manage to hold the loyalty of locals even today. Opened in 1933 to celebrate the end of the Prohibition, this classic bar boasts of a bar over 100 feet in length, the longest in Texas. Acknowledged for its cocktail creations and named one of the best bars in America in 2013, this place has a variety of local craft beers and standard pub food on offer.

Ocho

A pleasant spot located next to the River Walk in Downtown San Antonio, Ocho is a steel and glass conservatory, a far cry from most bars anywhere. The place is divided into three parts; an outdoor patio for those who enjoy the sunlight, a light-filled room done out in tropical decor and a club-style basement with deep leather chairs and a candle-lit bar. Housed inside the Hotel Havana, the food menu is made up of mostly Latin and Caribbean dishes.

TBA

Standing for To Be Announced, this unique bar’s concept is to ride on mystery. Chef James Moore and the bartender do not announce in advance what they’re cooking up each night but invite patrons to step in and find out. The bar does not even have a sign, as that would spoil the fun. What you do get are awesome craft cocktails that are amazingly well put together, along with batches of bourbon and tequila infusions that are very tempting. The food is elevated above the ordinary, with sandwiches made from gourmet ingredients and some southern specialties.

Bar 1919

Whiskey in glasses on wood background

Are you a whiskey fan? Then the 1919 is for you. It boasts the largest collection of whiskies in the city. The rarer spirits do come with equally rarified prices, but if your wallet can stand it, drop by in the afternoons to sample some of the finest malts. Evenings are usually crowded with the younger generation but service is good and the bar food covers a variety of cheeses and charcuterie, essential for bringing out the bouquet of finer malts in their cellar.

Sancho’s

Ever felt like trying something from south of the border? Then Sancho’s is the place to be. They serve beer only from Mexico, and the cocktail list spans tequila and more tequila. The avocado margarita is a special treat, and the food (all Mexican, of course) is definitely worth sampling. The music adds to the ambiance and on weekends they usually have a live band.

The Friendly Spot

People drinking in the Friendly Spot Ice house, bar and cafe, San Antonio, Texas United states of America

A converted ice-house, The Friendly Spot serves over 180 beers, mostly local craft brands and 25 Texas beer drafts to boot. Ice-houses were earlier used to store foodstuffs and beer for the Texan summers but have now been converted mostly to beer pubs after refrigerators became household appliances. Food is mostly Mexican and pub fare and the place is a local hangout for families with a welcome pet-friendly policy.

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