Best Of 2023

Best New Bar

Winner: The Cottage Irish Pub

3810 Broadway

(210) 463-9111

thecottageirishpub.com

It didn't take long for San Antonians to embrace The Cottage Irish Pub's inviting atmosphere and Emerald Isle charm. In addition to a hefty wooden bar that looks like it could have been salvaged from a Dublin public house and several cozy lounging nooks, The Cottage features front and back patios, more than 10 beers on tap and an extensive menu that draws from owners Phil and Gina Bentley's relationship with Ireland. Since it opened last fall, The Cottage has also become a haven for folk and Celtic music lovers. Live music takes center stage several nights a week.

2. Black Potion

1900 Fredericksburg Road, Suite 101

(210) 369-8750

facebook.com/BlackPotionSATX

3. Bésame

511 E. Grayson St.

besame210.com

Nightlife

Nightlife

Winner: Elsewhere Garden Bar & Kitchen

103 E. Jones Ave.

(210) 201-5595

elsewheretexas.com

Elsewhere Garden Bar & Kitchen has been a perennial favorite of Current readers since it opened in 2020 and started making the lists. The patio overlooks the San Antonio River and has plenty of the games people have come to expect for outdoor hangouts, Jenga and corn hole among them. Come at the right time and there could even be acrobats or a troupe dancing with fire. The bar itself features an impressive tap list of local and Texas beers and ciders on draft. That variety continues when it comes to beer and seltzers in cans. The Elsewhere Punch is also a favorite in the eight months of South Texas summer, along with margaritas and other frozen drinks. Bar eats include a hearty menu of burgers and chicken sandwiches, offered with sides including waffle fries and Parmesan cheese-dusted brussels sprouts roasted to perfection.

2. The Esquire Tavern

155 E. Commerce St.

(210) 222-2521

esquiretavern-sa.com

3. Bar Loretta

320 Beauregard St.

(210) 757-3607

barloretta.com

Winner: The Esquire Tavern

155 E. Commerce St.

(210) 222-2521

esquiretavern-sa.com

Sure, The Esquire Tavern is known for its craft cocktails, rumors of being haunted and almost comically long bar. But readers are clearly enamored with its menu of bar eats that are as delicious as they are hearty. The brisket fries, fiery housemade pickles and hefty bison burger are all standouts. However, the Tavern's chili salt fries are particularly addictive, especially after a couple of beers from the draft rail, which includes suds from local breweries such as High Wheel, Kunstler and Viva. Ask for a patio table for riverside views, or post up at the well-worn bar for the full experience as you nosh.

2. The Lost Bar & Grill

12730 N.W. Military Highway

(210) 437-4873

thelostbarandgrill.com

3. Bar Loretta

320 Beauregard St.

(210) 757-3607

barloretta.com

Winner: Slackers Sports Bar

Multiple locations

instagram.com/slackersbarsa

2. Black Potion

1900 Fredericksburg Road, Suite 101

(210) 369-8750

facebook.com/BlackPotionSATX

3. Elsewhere Garden Bar & Kitchen

103 E. Jones Ave.

(210) 201-5595

elsewheretexas.com

Winner: Vikki Buchanan, The Bonham Exchange

411 Bonham St.

(210) 224-9219

bonhamexchange.com

Vikki Buchanan is not only general manager of the Bonham Exchange, she's also a fury behind the bar. Known for her Wonder Woman-themed regalia, customer-friendly demeanor and colorful language, the bartending vet brings speed and creativity to the job, which likely explains why she also had this category sewn up on last year's Best of San Antonio list. With her signature long tresses and kerchief headwear, the Boerne High School grad became a TikTok sensation in 2021 for the rapid-fire creation of colorful rainbow drinks. Cheers!

2. Michael Phillips, The Moon's Daughters

Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk

115 Lexington Ave.

(210) 942-6032

themoonsdaughters.com

3. Donnie Schievelbein, Thirsty Horse Dance Hall & Saloon

2335 N.W. Military Highway

(210) 348-1513

thirstyhorse.net

Winner: The Good Kind

1127 S. St. Mary's St.

(210) 801-5892

eatgoodkind.com

2. Artisan Distillery & Craft Bar

402 Austin St.

(210) 896-5070

artisancraftbar.com

3. Maverick Texas Brasserie

710 S. St. Mary's St.

(210) 973-6050

mavericktexas.com

Winner: Bar 1919

1420 S. Alamo St.

(210) 227-1420

bar1919.com

2. The Moon's Daughters

Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk

115 Lexington Ave.

(210) 942-6032

themoonsdaughters.com

3. The Esquire Tavern

155 E. Commerce St.

(210) 222-2521

esquiretavern-sa.com

Winner: Thirsty Horse Dance Hall & Saloon

2335 NW 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: Black Potion

1900 Fredericksburg Road, Suite 101

(210) 369-8750

facebook.com/BlackPotionSATX

There are no taps at Black Potion, a gaming tavern in the Deco District, but the geek-friendly gathering space makes up for that with a great array of canned and bottled craft beers, imports and ciders. The owner of the year-old establishment handpicks the beers so they match a wide-array of tastes for those coming in to play board games or set off on a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Consider the options the best thing next to a flagon of dwarven ale, if you will. You'll find 45 U.S. beers, including plenty of local favorites, along with 14 German and UK classics, Fuller's London Pride and Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout among them. The selection changes regularly to keep customers coming back for another quest.

2. The Hoppy Monk

1010 N. Loop 1604 East

(210) 545-3330

thehoppymonk.com

3. Elsewhere Garden Bar & Kitchen

103 E. Jones Ave.

(210) 446-9303

elsewheretexas.com

Winner: The Bonham Exchange

411 Bonham St.

(210) 224-9219

bonhamexchange.com

It's no easy feat to remain a hip, glitzy and relevant nightspot for more than four decades, but that sums up the Bonham Exchange. For all the changes that have swirled around it, the downtown nightspot, which opened in 1981 inside a former German athletic club, has remained a fixture of San Antonio's LGBTQ+ nightlife. Thanks to its banging sound system, top-notch DJs and college student-attractive drink specials, it's also remained one of the city's premier spots to dance the night away. The owners used downtime from the pandemic to complete a 16-month restoration project that's only added to the luster. Little doubt the Bonham continues to draw new crowds because of its mission statement, which in part promises for it to be a "safe space for everyone to be who they want to be and have a great time without fear of criticism."

2. Thirsty Horse Dance Hall & Saloon

2335 N.W. Military Highway

(210) 348-1513

thirstyhorse.net

3. Cream Cocktail Lounge

527 W. Hildebrand Ave.

(210) 973-2253

cream-cocktail-bar.business.site