Best Of 2021

Best Music Venue

Winner: Paper Tiger

2410 N. St. Mary's St.

(210) 666-6666

papertigersatx.com

So, let's just state this up front: Paper Tiger has the best phone number in the world. Rumors that they bought it from Slayer when the band retired are unsubstantiated. More importantly, though, the venue hosts a wide variety of indie, metal, hip-hop, dance and punk shows, sometimes cutting across multiple genres on the same night. And its opening seriously upped the level of touring shows coming through SA. The main room hosts an area big enough for moshing, and a large bar sprawls across the back, offering a full view of stage. In other words, concertgoers aren't contending with this tucked-away-on-the-side bullshit where it's hard to find the drink counter while a show's going on.

2. John T. Floore's Country Store

14492 Old Bandera Road

(210) 695-8827

liveatfloores.com

3. The Rustic

17619 La Cantera Parkway, Suite 204

(210) 245-7500

therustic.com/san-Antonio

Nightlife

Nightlife

Winner: Elsewhere Garden Bar & Kitchen

103 E. Jones Ave.

(210) 446-9303

elsewheregarden.com

2. Bar America

723 S. Alamo St.

(210) 223-1285

facebook.com/baramericasatx

3. Bonham Exchange

411 Bonham

(210) 224-9219

bonhamexchange.com

Winner: Lucy Cooper's Texas Ice House

16080 San Pedro Ave.

(210) 462-1894

lucycoopers.com

Lucy Cooper's is taking its Naughty Bingo show on the road with plans to open a second location in New Braunfels later this year. We're guessing no small part of that expansion is driven by locals' love for the 21-and-over spot's bar grub, which includes signature items such as clothesline bacon and tin can nachos along with the expected — and well-prepared — pizzas, burgers and wings. While the food at plenty of bars is an afterthought, it's clear Lucy Cooper's takes pride in the plates that come out of its kitchen.

2. Elsewhere Garden Bar & Kitchen

103 E. Jones Ave.

(210) 446-9303

elsewheregarden.com

3. Francis Bogside

803 S. St. Mary's St.

(210) 369-9192

francisbogside.com

Winner: Slackers Sports Bar

Multiple locations

facebook.com/slackers.b.sa

2. Dave & Buster's

Multiple locations

daveandbusters.com

3. Little Woodrow's Stone Oak

606 W. Afton Oaks Blvd.

(210) 403-2340

littlewoodrows.com/watering-holes/san-antonio/1604-stone-oak-pkwy

Winner: Liberty Bar

1111 S. Alamo St.

(210) 227-1187

liberty-bar.com

2. Social Spot

930 Broadway

(210) 263-9009

facebook.com/socialspotSATX

3. Bistr09

6106 Broadway

(210) 245-8156

bistr09.com

Winner: Bar 1919

1420 S. Alamo St.

(210) 227-1420

bar1919.com

Plenty of cocktail havens aspire to Bar 1919's classic speakeasy vibe — it's in a basement for one, and it's also plenty dark and stylish. Atmosphere aside, what really sets this booze haven aside is the seriousness with which it approaches its craft. You'd be hard pressed to find a more robust list of Scotch and bourbon, not just in San Antonio, but much of the country. And you've got to dig the fact that they only carry a single brand of vodka. The bartenders know their stuff and do a good job of taking the drinkers along for an enjoyable ride, whether they're new to the craft-cocktail scene or seasoned hands looking to notch their belt by trying a new spirit.

2. The Modernist

516 E. Grayson St.

(210) 901-8646

facebook.com/themodernistsa

3. Soho Wine and Martini Bar

214 W. Crockett St.

(210) 444-1000

instagram.com/sohococktailbar

Winner: Thirsty Horse Dance Hall & Saloon

2335 Northwest Military Highway

(210) 348-1513

thirstyhorse.net

2. The Lonesome Rose

2114 N. St. Mary's St.

(210) 455--0233

thelonesomerose.com

3. Cowboys Dancehall

3030 N.E. Loop 410

(210) 646-9378

cowboysdancehall.com

Winner: Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

11255 Huebner Road, Suite 212

(210) 696-5080

beerknurd.com/locations/san-antonio-flying-saucer

OK, OK. Flying Saucer is a chain. We get it. But it's based in Fort Worth, so it meets Best of San Antonio's Texas-only rules. Beyond that, it's apparent that SA beer enthusiasts can get behind supporting the Saucer because it includes craft brews from Ranger Creek, Freetail, Weathered Souls and more in its voluminous selection. Throw in an engaging atmosphere and friendly service and it's that much easier to stick around and keep tasting your way down its wall of taps.

2. Elsewhere Garden Bar & Kitchen

103 E. Jones Ave.

(210) 446-9303

elsewheregarden.com

3. Hoppy Monk

1010 N. Loop 1604 E.

(210) 545-3330

thehoppymonk.com

Winner: Bonham Exchange

411 Bonham

(210) 224-9219

bonhamexchange.com

Superlatives like "legendary" and "iconic" get tossed around far too often these days to describe people, places and things that arguably fall short of extraordinary. The Bonham Exchange, however, undeniably deserves those terms. For starters, the downtown landmark is housed in a late 19th-century structure first used as a German athletic club. Ninety years after opening its doors, it transformed into a wildly different type of club at the hands of visionary San Antonio developer and gay nightlife instigator Arthur "Happy" Veltman. Within LGBTQ+ circles of a certain age, everyone has a legendary story set in the iconic locale — whether it's dipping into a fishbowl of complimentary ecstasy (which was legal until 1985) or catching a live performance by one of the many acts that have graced the Bonham stage, from punk pioneers the Ramones to the Queen of Drag herself, RuPaul. While old-schoolers may whine that the Bonham doesn't feel as gay as it once did, the club's open-door policy has undoubtedly contributed to its remarkable staying power as a safe space for all to enjoy. Recently renovated during a 16-month COVID closure, the beloved melting pot is back on the scene and ready to serve up budget cocktails, trash disco, go-go dancers, drag divas and plenty more in between.

2. Brass Monkey

2702 N. St. Mary's St.

(210) 480-4722

facebook.com/BrassMonkeyTX

3. HEAT Nightclub

1500 N. Main Ave.

(210) 227-2600

heatsa.com

Winner: The Bang Bang Bar

119 El Mio Drive

(210) 320-1187

thebangbangbartx.com

The phrase "dive bar" typically evokes thoughts of a dingy, unglamorous spot with surly bartenders. The Bang Bang Bar doesn't quite fit that image. Its eclectic ambience includes cozy conversation corners outfitted with vintage furniture and a stage that bears more than a little resemblance to living room. And the bartenders tend to be a friendly bunch. There's something about the place's dark-yet-welcoming vibe that brings folks out in droves, and if they want to call it a dive, we're not going to argue.

2. The Hangar

8203 Broadway

(210) 824-2700

thehangarsa.com

3. The Mix

2423 N. St. Mary's St.

(210) 735-1313

themixsa.com