Ever heard of Moses Rose? I hadn’t until last week — at least not directly. Like most kids who got a public education in San Antonio, Alamo
facts legends were a staple of my history classes. One of the more stirring ones detailed Colonel William B. Travis drawing a line in the dirt to give his men an ultimatum: cross the line and join him in facing the Mexican army (and certain death, natch), or sit this one out. In the version I was taught, all the Alamo defenders bravely stepped over the line and joined Travis, Davy Crockett, and Jim Bowie to meet their doom. But another edit asserts that one man declined Travis’s challenge: Louis “Moses” Rose, aka the Coward of the Alamo. (Personally, I think “coward” is a bit much. But “Realist of the Alamo” doesn’t have the same ring, I guess.)
Anybody with that much baggage hanging over them deserves a place to duck into and enjoy a beer in a peace. One hundred and seventy five years later, the cleverly named Moses Rose’s Hideout has sprung up in the shadow of the Alamo, catering to locals and tourists alike. “I love a bar with a good story behind it, especially if it’s from the pseudo-seedy underbelly of San Antonio’s past,” Dr. Wardlaw said. But the Alamo legend is played for good-natured laughs here: Moses Rose’s offers plenty of quirkiness along with its decent selection of brews and functioning grill. For instance, patrons must “enter through the gift shop” (a coy commentary on the tourist-fed commercialism of the hallowed Alamo site?) leading to a not-so-secret door that requires a password. If you don’t know it, you have to prove your worthiness somehow, possibly by hula hooping or dancing — to the amusement of bar patrons watching you on a flat-screen behind the bar. If this sounds lame instead of fun, you may have trouble with Moses’ complete lack of pretension.
Despite the antique urban vibe of the building, the bar was noticeably light on young professionals and heavy on an older crowd jamming out to the musical stylings of hard-rock cover band Pistol Whipped. Moses is trying hard to be a live music venue, and while the stage and lighting are more than adequate, they seriously need to invest in some carpeting or curtains to soak up all the extra decibels. When we walked in, Pistol Whipped was blasting “Cat Scratch Fever” for what seemed like an eternity, but that might have just been the soundwaves continuously ricocheting off the glass, steel, and brick. Like another certain downtown venue, Moses is a little like listening to music in a vast, empty aquarium, and if you’re not digging the tunes, there’s no outdoor patio to escape to (smokers have to stand outside in a small lot next to the bar). To their credit, Moses is apparently interested in booking more genres of music besides outdated cock rock, but here’s a pro tip: it’s tough to enjoy tunes of any style when you have to shout in the ear of the person next to you to be heard.
It also makes ordering food a little daunting, but worth it. Dr. Wardlaw gushed that her blue-cheese burger was juicy and flavorful, even if the shoestring fries were a little limp. The menu leans on the Tex-Mex side, and if the burger was any indication, Moses’ food is worth making another trip for, especially when paired with the right brews and good company. Despite being pistol whipped on our ear drums, Moses Rose’s was charming enough, and shows promise.
“It’s a nice break from the usual chain bars downtown, with two or three quick-talking, greasy bouncers trying to herd people into their club,” said Dr. Wardlaw. Though you just might want to check the music calendar before going into hiding. •
518 E Houston St
Vibe New downtown bar unafraid to poke at Alamo traditions, loosen its tie, and indulge in good food, cold beer, and too-loud music.
Best Use The Hideout does both “bar” and “grill” pretty well, but the atmosphere careens wildly depending on who’s onstage. Not a place for a quiet, romantic date.
Hours 11am-2am daily
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