- 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.
The Esquire Tavern
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.
Address: The Esquire Tavern, 155 E Commerce St, San Antonio, TX, United States, +1 210-222-2521
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.
Address: Ocho, 1015 Navarro St, San Antonio, TX, United States, +1 210-222-2008
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.
Address: TBA, 2801 N St Mary’s St, San Antonio, TX, United States, +1 210-320-1753
Considered to be the capital of bar culture in San Antonio, the Brooklynite will transport customers to another time and place. Designed with the antique look and feel of a Prohibition-era speakeasy, the place welcomes the serious mixologists from across the city. Innovation and experimentation are the norm, so expect something new every time. Award-winning bartender and owner Jeret Peña will keep you wanting more, that’s for sure!
Address: The Brooklynite, 516 Brooklyn Ave, San Antonio, TX, United States, +1 210-444-0707
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.
Address: Bar 1919, 1420 S Alamo St, San Antonio, TX, United States, +1 210-227-1420
The Last Word
Something of a modern adaptation of a speakeasy, the Last Word serves up some of the city’s best wine options along with cocktails and beer. The uniqueness of the place lies in its cocktails on tap, which cannot be found anywhere else. Visitors can expect a regular crowd of locals in this one, typically chatting and relaxing every night of the week.
Address: The Last Word, Houston Street, 229 E Houston St #10, San Antonio, TX, United States, +1 210-314-1285
Zinc Bistro & Wine Bar
This hidden jewel in the heart of Downtown San Antonio has a comprehensive wine list and some really good craft beers, along with food to match. The locals come to Zinc in great numbers, though the place doesn’t attract much of the tourist trade. Perfect to sit back and relax in the evenings, the bistro’s pizza and steaks are amazing, and the chop salad is a real must.
Address: Zinc Bistro, 207 N Presa St, San Antonio, TX, United States, +1 210-224-2900
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.
Address: Sancho’s, 628 Jackson St, San Antonio, TX 78212, United States, +1 210-320-1840
Nectar Wine Bar & Ale House
Not all bars have to be noisy, filled with smoke or loud conversation. Nectar takes patrons up several degrees in sophistication, with the wine options that are available and an array of cheeses and meats to complement the drinks. The place is fairly quiet; a place where you can relax, sip your wine and soak in the ambiance. The place also has a table full of games at the back and comfortable big chairs, so invite your friends over and stick around for a while.
Address: Nectar Wine Bar & Ale House, 214 Broadway, San Antonio, TX, United States, +1 210-375-4082
The Friendly Spot
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.
Address: The Friendly Spot, 943 S Alamo St, San Antonio, TX 78205, United States, +1 210-224-2337