Best Of 2018

Best Puro Ice House

Winner: The Friendly Spot

943 S. Alamo St., (210) 224-2337, thefriendlyspot.com.

The Friendly Spot, voted by our readers as the Best Puro Ice House in SA, is a Southtown institution at this point. The godfather of hip outdoor Ice Houses the city over, The Friendly Spot's charm and staying power is as much about the setting – a veritable oasis in the heart of the King William Neighborhood, replete with colorful tables and chairs, a playground to entertain the kids so you don't have to, and a projector screen on big game nights – as it is about the selection (though the selection, with 300 bottle/can choices and 76 options on tap, is on point, too). The Friendly Spot is far more than just a place to get your drink on. They offer scrumptious eats too. And, most importantly, the place has become a beloved meeting place for friends (and friends to be), families, and community groups of all stripes. The Friendly Spot is also dog-friendly (as long as your dog is friendly) and is a fine place for First Friday people watching. It's no surprise that this is far from Friendly Spot's first time being voted among the best places to drink/hang out in our annual Best of San Antonio polling.

2. The Dakota Eastside Icehouse

433 S. Hackberry

(210) 375-6009

3. Sanchez Ice House

819 S. San Saba

(210) 223-0588

Nightlife

Nightlife

Winner: Alamo Brewery

202 Lamar, (210) 872-5589,

alamobeer.com.

Opened in 2015, near the Hays Street Bridge, Alamo Beer has created some great draft beers from ambers, IPA, pilsners, whites, german style beers and more. The brewery is now the host to many different events in San Antonio. Over the past year, they have been the go-to spot for food truck showdowns, burger throwdowns, biker socials, running club meet-ups and much more. The brewery also hosts events of its own like Burger Bacon and Bingo, live entertainment and yoga classes. The brewery goes so much beyond brewing beer and has become a beacon of community involvement and a space to go to meet new individuals and network.

2. Freetail Brewing Company

(210) 395-4974

2000 S. Presa St.

Freetailbrewing.com

3. Ranger Creek

4834 Whirlwind Dr.

(210) 339-2282

drinkrangercreek.com

Winner: La Gloria

100 E Grayson St., (210) 267-9040, chefjohnnyhernandez.com

Imagine walking through the farmers market on a hot summer day, overheated, annoyed and craving a refreshing cockail, desperately in need of an ice cold margarita. That's when La Gloria saves the day! La Gloria was opened by Chef Johnny Hernandez, a popular San Antonio chef who also runs Burgerteca, Fruteria, and previously, El Machito in the Quarry, which is about to reopen at City Base. La Gloria is the only Mexican spot in the Pearl Brewery. They create delicious dishes and they make some of the best margaritas in town! Whether you are in the mood for frozen, prickly pear, spicy, on the rocks, strong, skinny, mango – whatever you crave – La Gloria is sure to have it. Not wanting to drive downtown? La Gloria has a Dominion and an airport location both with drinks just as delicious and just as strong! It's the perfect place to order a small plate, a margarita and enjoy a drink with friends.

2. Sanchos Cantina

628 Jackson St.

(210) 320-1840

Sanchosmx.com

3. Pico De Gallo Restaurant

111 S Leona St.

(210) 225-6060

picodegallo.com

Winner: Still Golden Social House

1900 Broadway St.,(210) 616-2212

A celebratory funeral week was held when Stay Golden Social House, Still Golden's predecessor, closed its doors in June of 2017. And less than a year later, the quasi-new Still Golden has filled that glove-shaped hole left by the beloved bar, and then some.

A few more dollars were tossed into design, and the area's premier patio bar now serves as a beacon (no, really, they have more bar neon than we care to count) that draws in young and old for a night of hedonism down Grayson. They've upgraded rasquache charm that belied the original location for a sleek patio, a bustling game room with all the favorites, lots more screens and plenty of indoor space filled with chilly HVAC air. Still Golden, still neci@, and that was enough to earn them this year's Best New Bar award.

2. Groove House

12333 West Ave.

(210) 598-2083

3. Slackers

multiple locations

slackersbars.com

Winner: Sanchos Cantina

628 Jackson St., (210) 320-1840, sanchosmx.com

Chef Sean Villarreal has managed to do the near-impossible by creating a menu of affordable bar food that works as something more — much more — than stomach filler. Sancho's has won fans as a late-night eating option because the food rocks harder than the bands playing in the main bar. Its deceptively simple menu offers a variety of tortas, tacos and empanadas made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Vegans and vegetarians will also be happy to know they're not left out when it comes to choices. Unexpected twists, from sweet-and-tangy pickled onions to an addictive avocado salsa, take the choices up to the next level. Villarreal's hamburguesa blends organic beef and zesty chorizo and serves it up on a house-made bolillo topped with Monterey Jack, chiles and the aforementioned avocado salsa. Clientele also keeps streaming back for the crisp, fried shrimp balls and the vegan frijoles a la charra, which sacrifice all the pork and none of the flavor.

2. Mad Pecker

6025 Tezel Rd #122

(210) 562-3059

Madpeckerbrewing.com

3. Francis Bogside

803 S. St. Mary's St.

(210) 369-9192

francisbogside.com

Winner: Blue Box

312 Pearl Pkwy #2107, (210) 227-2583, blueboxbar.com

The first bar established in the Historic Pearl area, Blue Box opened in 2012. The bar was the first to introduce craft cocktails to the popular destination and has been slinging amazing drinks ever since. With a menu that changes seasonally and a vast collection of liquor and spirits, it's no wonder it's one of the best cocktail bars in San Antonio. They infuse their own shots as well and host a happy hour Monday through Friday with discounted prices on house cocktails and a couple of classics. Check out their social media for the special events such as DJ nights, Spurs games, crawfish boils (when the season is right) and more. Pro-tip: Those happy hour cocktails can be ordered outside of happy hour for a slightly higher price.

2. Artisan on Alamo Distillery

315 8th St.

(210) 896-5070

Artisanonalamo.com

3. SA Country Saloon

10127 Coachlight St.

(210) 525-0915

Winner: Flying Saucer

11255 Huebner Rd #212, (210) 696-5080

This Northwest Side happy hour hangout has built a thirsty following thanks to its massive selection of tap and bottled beer. The lineup is constantly rotating to bring in seasonal styles, hard-to-find imports and the latest local microbrews. And if sipping a complex Belgian ale to detect its hop varieties isn't entertainment enough, the Saucer's also got a hump day social hour, Texas pint nights and cash-prize trivia games to keep things interesting for the casual brew hound. The kitchen turns out formidable burgers, pizzas, salads and even a float made with Russian Imperial stout and vanilla ice cream. And there's one more attraction for truly dedicated hop heads: Those with enough stamina to tip back 200 unique brews at the Saucer are immortalized by having their own personalized plate hung on the wall. (Although, no matter how tempting, we don't recommend going for that in one sitting.)

2. The Cove

606 W Cypress St.

(210) 227-2683, thecove.us

3. Big Hops

306 Austin St

(210) 320-1470

bighops.com

Winner: Thirsty Horse Saloon

2335 NW Military Hwy, (210) 348-1513, thirstyhorse.net

A country bar done right is all about the things left undone, really. The un-fussed-over details, the distinct things deemed unimportant are, after all, what really separate one bar from another, in general. A good country bar doesn't care about class – it cares about comfort. It doesn't care about luxury or lifestyle – it cares about livability. It doesn't care about finesse – it cares about fun. This year, our readers have selected Thirsty Horse Saloon, a spot in North Central SA that perfectly fits the ideal of a country bar in the suburbs, as their favorite Country Bar. While great drink specials and laid-back vibes make Thirsty Horse the kind of watering hole you want to return to time after time, it's the place's consistently-solid country music concerts (especially of the Texas country, red dirt, and party country variety) that provide the initial incentive for many to visit. If you haven't checked out this fan favorite yet, upcoming shows featuring Stoney LaRue and Josh Ward might prove the perfect time.

2. Cowboys Dancehall

3030 NE Interstate 410 Loop

Cowboysdancehall.com

3. SA Country Saloon

10127 Coachlight St.

(210) 525-0915,

Winner: Oak Hills Tavern

7920 Fredericksburg Rd, (210) 614-8855

With its casual vibe and friendly atmosphere, this watering hole near the Medical Center gets a back-to-back win in this category and does it with the same IDGAF attitude most dive bars try to embrace. Or, at least, it's pretending not to give any fucks (it's kind of hard to believe it doesn't with its growing fan base). Either way, Oak Hills Tavern is doing something right with its diverse clientele hitting up the venue for its daily happy hour, large selection of Texas-crafted beers and chef-inspired menu, which includes handmade pizza, burgers, tacos, quesadillas and other house specials. You can even order a basket of fries and top it with beer cheese sauce, spicy crema, pico de gallo and carne guisada. Uh, sold! The tavern has karaoke on Sundays and Tuesdays, open mic for stand-up comedians on Wednesdays and features DJ Mighty Iris on Friday and local bands or DJs on Saturdays. It also teams up with Video Dungeon Theatre, a local cult cinema group that curates double feature screenings like Death Wish and Ms. 45.

2. Joey's

2417 N St Mary's St.

(210) 733-9573

joeyrestaurants.com

3. 2015 Place

2015 San Pedro Ave

(210) 733-3365