It’s not often that we head back for re-do nightlife reviews. But our initial 2011 write-up about Moses Rose’s Hideout isn’t quite applicable these days. Back then, Alamo history (the bar is named after Louis “Moses” Rose, a famous battle deserter) and loud local jams were the bar’s bread and butter, but things have changed.
Moses Rose’s Hideout still retains some of its original makeup and the unfortunate tricky vestibule where would-be patrons are tasked with goofy activities before attaining entrance. Pro-tip: I often circumvent that by entering through the side door. Yet the space has seen the natural ebb and flow that comes with being a downtown bar. My three recent visits drew wildly different experiences, each playing to a different part of my persona.
On a recent Thursday evening, I joined a friend for happy hour. The space—which still houses the plethora of mounted animal heads, electronic dart board, pool table, several TVs, a sizable stage and a dance floor—was empty except for a few rowdy Spurs fans (this was days before the Finals began) and a handful of chill happy hour attendees.
The offerings were simple, but enticing: $3 for most drafts and wells along with $2.50 bites (homemade pickles, deviled eggs with bacon, and many fried things) and bigger bites ($4 for a basket of hot wings and $3.50 for nachos with brisket). The deviled eggs were the victors—creamy and laced with just enough paprika and bacon—while the nachos could have benefited from a sturdier base. The paper-thin tortilla chips proved no match for the generous cheese, fresh pico de gallo and house brisket. We washed them down with Shiner’s Belgian white ale, White Wing, paid our ridiculously low tab and went our separate ways home.
Come Saturday night, Moses Rose’s played to a different crowd and it worked surprisingly well. The local live music ensemble was stashed away when we arrived at 10:30 p.m. A VJ took its place but the joint could still benefit from a few carpets or curtains to soak up the high decibels as pointed out by previous reviewer Chuck Kerr in November 2011. Yet no one seemed to mind thanks to the great mix that included just about every ’90s R&B and Top 40 jam. Even so, we made use of the outdoor, fenced-in patio—a recent addition—and took in the scene.
I always say the sign of a good VJ is whether he/she can read a crowd, and Saturday’s was no slacker. When Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” proved a dud, he quickly turned things over to V.I.C’s “Wobble,” and kept the dance anthems going with a cumbia remix of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop.”
The bar was busy, but not packed; ordering and receiving a drink took no more than five minutes. This time I took a peek at their specialty drink and shot list, filled with concoctions such as “Samoa Girl Scout Cookie” and “Orange Creamscicle,” and came up with an Eddy’s Texas Tea ($6). Made with Deep Eddy’s sweet tea vodka and fresh-squeezed limeade, the drink was sweet and refreshing, but took a turn into South Texas territory with a chile-lime rim. Not bad, but I should have stuck to my trusty White Wing. While the kitchen stays open until 1 a.m., we followed the example of most around us and decided to drink our calories instead.
While Moses Rose’s clearly caters to the touristy crowd, locals don’t shy away from the bar either. Just as many downtown denizens and River Walk servers could be found milling amongst the out-of-towners waiting for their turn at the random claw prize machine in the back.
The allure of the bar’s full menu reeled me back in during daytime hours to try the hefty, sweet and savory brisket tacos and to watch a soccer match. At $6.99 with hand-cut fries and a drink, the tacos were more than filling, but I might indulge in one of the loaded burgers, ordered by at least four other folks near me, next time.
If The Ticket takes in all the sport diehards, Moses Rose’s is a threefold refuge for chill conference-goers and downtown employees looking for a decent and inexpensive lunchtime bite, a quiet place to unwind after work and a come-one-come-all party on weekends.
516 E Houston
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