The Bar Tab 

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” wrote Charles Dickens in the opening sentence of his novel A Tale of Two Cities. Though Dickens was referring to the French Revolution, in more ways than one this phrase fits my experience at Silo Bar the other weekend.

Silo Bar is in the back room of the much-celebrated Silo restaurant on Austin Highway in Alamo Heights. Silo might be the best restaurant in the neighborhood, which makes its location next to a bunch of flop motels all the more strange.

When my friend and I went on a Friday night, the place was absolutely packed. We had heard that this is now the Alamo Heights bar. Our motivation for going was to see what that meant. We entered by the back door and made our way toward the bar, a modern lounge with high ceilings, brick walls, and plush sofas. I noticed several contemporary paintings on the walls, but they didn’t strike me as being anything special, just bad. But no one comes here for the artwork.

We approached the bar from the west side but couldn’t find a space to elbow in, so we went around to the other side and tried to make eye contact with the bartenders. They were busy and we waited minute after minute after minute. I told my friend to look for a table while I waited it out. I’m not sure why the service was so bad, but I contemplated leaving right then. Eventually I made my way to the sofa with drinks in hand, which were not overly expensive at about $5 each.

From the corner I was able to soak up the whole bar. In another corner a two-person cover band with guitar and keyboard were about to perform. Many of the patrons hovered around the bar in various states of dressy-casual attire. A lot of guys wore suits with the tie untied. I wasn’t sure if this was dressing up or dressing down, but it was one of the more dominant looks, sported by men mid-’20s to late-’50s. Basically, it was a high-end meat market. If you aren’t already part of the community, or trying to work your way into it, then I’m not sure why you would go to Silo. It’s not for the great live music or prompt service. We didn’t feel like taking our chances at the bar again, so we left. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …

— Mark Jones



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