Sweet Spots: San Antonio Chefs Share Their Favorite Dive Bars

click to enlarge Sous chef JC Rodriguez enjoys a drink inside the cool and dark confines of Faust, his favorite local watering hole. - Lea Thompson
Lea Thompson
Sous chef JC Rodriguez enjoys a drink inside the cool and dark confines of Faust, his favorite local watering hole.
Chefs work long hours. And, like anyone else, they want to unwind.

Sometimes that means savoring a fancy cocktail or glass of wine, but very often it involves grabbing a cold beer someplace casual and, well, downright dive-y. Dive bars are dark, cool spots to escape the summer heat, connect with friends or avoid people you know — be they customers or coworkers.

We asked several local chefs to talk about their favorite drinking spots, and what makes them worth celebrating:

JC Rodriguez, sous chef, Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery
Faust, 517 E. Woodlawn Ave., (210) 257-0628, facebook.com/thefausttavern.
“My go to-bar is Faust Tavern off Woodlawn and North St. Mary’s. If you show up before 8 p.m. you can check Robot Monster, the vintage music and toy store next door, which I often start my Sundays at. When you get into Faust itself, there’s always metal on, good horror movies, little to no light and a solid selection of beer and cocktails at ridiculous prices. Fun fact: I once confused a picture of an altar with new additions to the behind-the-bar art over there.”

Justin Limburg, executive chef, SoHill Cafe
Oak Hills Tavern, 7920 Fredericksburg Road, (210) 614-8855, oak-hills-tavern.business.site.
“My favorite dive bar is Oak Hills Tavern. It’s small enough that if you go a couple times, you know everybody’s name, and it’s just across the street from my house. After a really tough or long day, it’s nice to go somewhere where there aren’t any industry people that want to talk about work. I don’t really order anything to eat when I go to a dive bar, but my go-to drink is just a double shot of Jim Beam.”

Jenn Reisman, pastry chef, Hotel Emma
Francis Bogside, 803 S. St. Mary’s St., (210) 369-9192, francisbogside.com.
“I didn’t know anyone when I first moved to San Antonio, but the crew at Brigid and Francis Bogside just kind of adopted me. They gave me somewhere to go after work and gave me a sense of belonging and being part of a community. I don’t have a lot of free time, but when I can, I support the people who support me. Francis is a place to be social and to actually eat good food. My go-to order is usually chorizo deviled eggs and a pizza with jalapeños and olives. I save part of the pizza, because it’s perfect to eat on my way to work in the morning.”

Michael Sohocki, chef, Restaurant Gwendolyn
Lowcountry, 318 Martinez St., (210) 560-2224, lowcountrysa.com.
“I have a mixed relationship with alcohol. It pays my bills and is a social lubricant in the most socially accepted circles. I am terrified of large groups of people, loud music, strangers, bright lights, busy streets, so I don’t go anywhere to get seen. But we all need a place to talk, and the wooden porch at Low Country, when absolutely nothing is going on — God, give me a pouring rainstorm to chase off the fair-weather friends — is enough like home for me to open up. You’ll probably find me there with a Topo Chico. With lime if I’m feeling foxy.”

Tim McDiarmid, chef, The Good Kind
Sanchos Cantina y Cocina, 628 Jackson St., (210) 320-1840, sanchosmx.com.
“I go to Sancho’s with friends for the outdoor seating and the casual good service. My go-to order is always a shrimp taco and a fancy margarita — I don’t drink cheap drinks.”

Les Locke, brewmaster, Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery
Joey’s, 2417 N St Mary’s St, (210) 733-9573, facebook.com/joeyssanantonio.
“Besides the fact that I’ve been going there forever, I know Joey, and I like that the bar hasn’t changed in a long time. There’s a lot of the same bartenders, and it’s always nice to see friendly faces at the neighborhood pub. My go-to order is always a gin and tonic, or I’ll make it a double and just catch up with whoever shows up there.”

Lucas Bradbury, vice president of operations, Earth Burger
Hoppy Monk, 1010 N. Loop 1604 East, (210) 545-3330, thehoppymonk.com.
“Hoppy Monk always gets my vote, although I don’t drink. Ironic, I know. I enjoy the environment as well as their vegan selection and non-alcoholic choices, such as locally owned Element Kombucha, and my favorite near-beer, Clausthaler.”

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.
Scroll to read more Flavor articles
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join SA Current Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.