San Antonians know that icehouses, those uniquely Texan structures, are “the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems” to paraphrase Homer Simpson. Cash-only, and stocking the beer basics, along with a pool table and a jukebox if you’re lucky, the icehouse offers respite on a hot day, a cure for the blues, and boredom-busting entertainment. Whatever plagues you, there’s an icehouse bartender in this city that will prescribe you a Lone Star (or two), give some solid advice, and send you on your way, follow-up visits encouraged. Here are a few locations that stand out.
Remedy: Texas Ice, 4102 Blanco, (210) 735-8691
Their slogan, ‘Where friends meet!’ might not be original, but it’s accurate. Friendliness seems part of the business plan for this mainly indoor joint north of Hildebrand. The sweet bartenders of a certain age will chat you up, friendly-like, if no one else grabs your ear first, but that’s unlikely. On our first visit, our surly selves walked out with three new chums and an invitation to a chili cook-off. Fueled by cheap, cheap beer (especially on Monday, with $1.25 domestics and $1.75 imports open to close) and humorous sayings posted on the walls, even introverts can stay entertained.
Ailment: Hard of hearing
Remedy: Angie’s Patio Bar, 323 Fredericksburg, (210) 738-1423
If you’re constantly pissed that the music’s too low, or you occasionally pray for a booming ballad to drown out your drinking buddy’s inane chit chat, Angie’s is the place for you. Even outdoors, underneath the awning of a long-ago filling station in Five Points, the speakers pump jukebox rancheras on the weekdays and occasional DJ sets. Proprietors Angie and Jose Galindo serve up cold beer, all under $3, or set-ups if you must, all the better to encourage sing-a-longs.
Ailment: Ants in your pants
Remedy: Sanchez Icehouse No. 1, 819 S San Saba, (210) 223-0588
When you’ve just gotta dance, head to Sanchez No. 1, a downtown oasis near an I-35 underpass and a motel. A concrete outdoor dance floor encourages patrons to get loose to a collection of Westside oldies or weekend Tejano DJ sets. Ladies have their pick of dance partners, mainly blue collar dudes and bikers, although there are some hot motorcycle mamas that frequent Sanchez, too. Grab your pals to take advantage of the bucket of six beers for $13, and start up a stroll line dance for a puro San Anto experience.
Remedy: La Tuna Icehouse, 100 Probandt
Beer can’t cure claustrophobia, but you’ll never have to worry about confined spaces at La Tuna, a sizeable outdoor bar across the street from the Blue Star Arts Complex that, along with the adjoining restaurant, provides ample picnic bench seating. A walk up window means even less fear of the walls closing in, as you order the $2.50 beer of the day, or another pleasure from their extensive (for an icehouse) selection. Even giant First Friday crowds can’t crush La Tuna’s wide-open atmosphere, just mind the Prickly Pear.