There was a special kind of draw at Alamo Ice House on a recent Tuesday evening. A handful of weeks after opening its doors, Alamo Ice House played host to the release of Robert Earl Keen’s Honey Pils. Yes, THE Robert Earl Keen, was happily taking photos with fans, kissing babies and petting puppies, and discussing his new beer, brewed by the folks at Pedernales Brewing Company out of Fredericksburg.
The event essentially served as a grand debut of the ice house, owned in part by four wildly different dudes—three-time All-American Brooks Kieschnick, singer-songwriter Charlie Robison, restaurateur Ray Fuchs and barbecue guy Jaime Gonzales. Together, their love of barbecue, beer, food and cool as heck patios has turned into Alamo Ice House, a breezy country haven in downtown’s cement surroundings.
The ice house sits at the corner of Alamo and 8th Street, tucked away between mechanic shops and other nondescript buildings. Parking, even on this busy evening, was a non-issue. Folks biked over and there are several blocks of open spots to use. Once inside, the vibe changes and accommodates most bar-goers. Want to order a cool brew? Yeah, they’ve got several on tap and there are plenty of bottles and cans to choose from, including Austin Eastciders, Lone Star and yes, REK’s pils (on special for the evening), and you’ll still find big-name beers because not being obsessed with craft wares is totally fine here. Specials range from $1 off Texas brews to $2.50 longnecks, but check their Facebook page for updated offerings.
If you’re hungry for more, or need something to soak up said brews, you’ll find a teensy, but suitable menu of barbecue sandwiches, tacos and sides that get the job done. Three tacos come to an order and you can mix up the meats for an extra buck. I settled on brisket, sausage and pork, with pico and a drizzle of house barbecue sauce, and was pleasantly surprised. The tacos are more than filling, the pico’s fresh, but the only slight was the so-so flour tortillas. You can’t win them all, it turns out. The fries are run-of-the-mill, but give the potato salad a shot. Red potatoes cooked just right, crunchy celery and a good shake of pepper make this a side worth not sharing.
The indoor area, crowded with tabletops to one side, houses someone’s (I’m guessing Robison’s) collection of vinyl covers on the far right side, while photos and artwork of the Alamo and barbecue fill the other walls. If there was one hiccup that evening, it’d be the bustling, and seemingly unexpected, turnout that overwhelmed servers and staff. Surely something that’s easily fixed for next time … otherwise, the staff was friendly and as effective as could be.
The gravel-filled, pet-friendly patio is home to several picnic tables, fire pits that will come in handy in the foreseeable future, a handful of lawn chairs, globe string lights and a few games of washers, but the highlight is the stage. This is a music venue through-and-through, as a rustic setup you’d easily find anywhere north of 1604 on the way to Fredericksburg, Boerne and other Hill Country joints takes up the back portion of the patio. Alamo Ice House plays hosts to all manners of country music so expect to find the likes of the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash on Red Dirt Saturday Night, Kyle Wilson on Honky Tonk Wednesday and country crooners on Outlaw Thursdays. And the sound system holds its own quite well.
Other than country lovers dying to boot ‘n’ scoot without leaving the safety of 410, guests range from downtown socialites, Southtown cyclists in full Spandex and other chill mofos just looking for a great patio to converse on. You don’t have to wear your most capable Stetson to enter, and you definitely won’t have to impress anyone with your beer of choice for the evening (or bring an extra koozie to hide that Bud Light can), but you might have a new favorite patio at Alamo Ice House.
802 N Alamo
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