The Best Bars in San Antonio

From some of America’s friendliest happy hours to outdoor patios with margaritas and live music aplenty, Alamo City is a top notch place to drink. San Antonio’s breweries are legend and one, Pearl Brewery, has been around so long that it has morphed into a destination all its own. Stop into the Hotel Emma on the River Walk for one of the city’s best cocktail menus.

303 Pearl Pkwy, San Antonio, TX 78215, USA
Pearl was founded in 1881 as a traditional brewery. These days, however, the bustling complex is less about beer than its 15 restaurants, dozen-plus retailers, and numerous family-friendly events, including a twice-weekly farmers’ market. Start with lunch at La Gloria, chef Johnny Hernandez’s nod to interior Mexico, followed by dessert at Bakery Lorraine, where you’ll find an enticing rainbow of Parisian-style macarons. If you’re in the mood to shop, pick up a tailored guayabera from Dos Carolinas, or a piece of handcrafted jewelry from Ten Thousand Villages. Pearl Brewery is even home to Hotel Emma, a true gem in San Antonio’s boutique-lodging scene, in case you don’t want to leave.
Hotels
136 E Grayson St, San Antonio, TX 78215, USA
After years of development, San Antonio’s revived Pearl Brewery district is now a hotbed of activity, with an array of restaurants, shops, and residential buildings, plus an outpost of the Culinary Institute of America housed in a former 19th-century brewery. At its core is the 146-room Hotel Emma, set in the complex’s former brew house, and named for the wife of the original brewer. Envisioned by noted design firm Roman and Williams, the décor melds salvaged items with lots of rich woods, buttery leathers, and handwoven textiles, resulting in spaces that are warm and cushy. Adding to that cozy feel are higher-level rooms that feature claw-foot tubs or fireplaces, a bi-level library stocked with over 3,700 tomes, and the clubby Sternewirth Bar, which serves potent cocktails in an old fermentation silo. Food is also a focus here—in addition to Chef John Brand’s Supper, serving farm-fresh New American fare, and Larder, a café and gourmet market set in the former fermentation cellars, the hotel offers a Culinary Concierge to help connect guests to the best of San Antonio’s booming food scene.
849 E Commerce St, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
While many cities have rivers, few take advantage of their waterways quite like San Antonio does. One of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, the River Walk runs along the San Antonio River and features both quiet stretches for jogging and livelier areas lined with colorful bars, restaurants, and shops. For an immersive experience, take a boat tour and learn more about San Antonio’s history and architecture.
Hotels
300 E Travis St, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
From its perch on Travis Park, just three blocks from the Alamo, The St. Anthony hotel has witnessed a lot of San Antonio history. First opened in 1909, the hotel was technologically-advanced for its day (think private bathrooms and automatic doors and lighting), and soon became known as one of the most luxurious hotels in the country, hosting everyone from the local elite to visiting royalty, presidents, and movie stars. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the 10-story landmark emerged from a multi-million-dollar renovation in 2015, when it was e-launched as part of the Starwood Luxury Collection. The history is celebrated in details like 12-foot ceilings, antique piano, and gold leaf-topped columns found in the emerald-hued Peacock Alley lobby space, and the marble and bronze figures of the Sculpture Garden, while a contemporary style and jewel toned colors are featured in the 277 guest rooms and suites, many of which have park views. (If you’re interested in learning more about the hotel’s past—and hearing some legendary stories—schedule a tour with a staffer.) The light-fill Loggia restaurant is an elegant spot for breakfast and lunch, while the dramatic Rebelle features Texas farm-fresh produce and coastal seafood in its shareable dinner menus. Drinks and light bites are served at the seasonal Pool Bar, set around the outdoor swimming pool and featuring views of downtown; and at Haunt, a sleek indoor space playfully named for the rumored resident spirts. Once a private club for the city’s movers and shakers, The St. Anthony Club now welcomes all with signature drinks like the Triple S.
202 Lamar, San Antonio, TX 78202, USA
Alamo Beer Company started production in 2014 and is now one of San Antonio’s most vibrant places to grab a drink. Expect a wide beer hall filled with picnic tables, plus live music, food trucks, and an annual Oktoberfest celebration. There are usually at least four beers on tap, but be sure to sample the crisp Alamo Golden Ale. It’s a local favorite.
1414 S Alamo St #105, San Antonio, TX 78210, USA
Two of my favorite things are beer and bikes, so it was no surprise that I fell in love with the Blue Star Brewing Company in San Antonio. The beer is top-notch and all organic. It also has a stellar food menu and offers great ambiance, both inside and out on the expansive patio. I love the layout of the brew pub, which also includes a bakery and a butcher block. The cool bikes on display are a bonus. My favorite beer on tap is the Pale Ale, but there are many options to please any beer aficionado.
6740 San Pedro Ave, San Antonio, TX 78216, USA
While heading out to raucous clubs can be a good time every now and then, sometimes you just want to listen to some good music and chill out for the evening. Luna offers a host of live music shows (check their website for upcoming artists), boasts a great atmosphere, and, to top it all off, you won’t have to push your way to the bar.
155 East Commerce Street
When a place has not only the longest wooden bar in Texas (100+ feet) and is the oldest watering hole on the Riverwalk, you just know it’s worth a visit. But rather than rest on the above laurels, Esquire Tavern churns out some terrific and thoughtful scratch-made eats and drinks. From starters like pink peppercorn-flecked deviled eggs and mashed potato-filled tacos con papas to heartier fare like burgers, chicken mole and shepherd’s pie, the food takes comfort foods to the next level with fresh, well-sourced ingredients and modern executions. And as the icing on the culinary cake, the craft cocktail program here is award-winning and endlessly interesting. Plan for some enjoyable late nights at the Esquire on your next stop in SA.
306 Pearl Pkwy #101, San Antonio, TX 78215, USA
Inspired by his time in New Orleans, Chef Steve McHugh brought to San Antonio a vision of a modern, welcoming spot with a killer charcuterie program, and that vision became his buzzy restaurant, Cured. Opened in late 2013 and having survived an on-premise fire, the restaurant has drawn discerning carnivores in for plates like monster 2-pound pork shanks, pork cheek poutine and cabrito sliders, all served in a elegantly utilitarian yet warm space. Not to be missed is the fine in-house charcuterie program -- or the see-through curing room front and center as you walk into the dining room. The wonderfully curated beverage menu features craft beers and wonderfully inventive cocktails. Cured is a must-visit culinary experience on any jaunt to the Alamo City.
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