The Bar Tab

The Lion and Rose
842 NW Loop 410
11am-2am daily
Drink specials: circa $3.50
Imperial pints: $4.50-7
While I was on my way to a Country & Western bar out near Vance Jackson, the apocalypse hit. The rain came crashing down in a glorious release and our plans soon began to change. We were driving up Blanco towards Loop 410 and noticed The Lion and Rose pub in a strip mall near the old Central Park Mall and decided to pull over for all-around escapism.

I didn’t know there was a Lion and Rose in this neighborhood; I had only heard of the one in Alamo Heights. The differences are vast. The décor is the same, but the location on Broadway is smoky and crowded like a Houston freeway, whereas the Blanco version is sparse and calm. Some might call it “dead” but for those who prefer a relaxed atmosphere with a vast selection of European beer, this bar is the place.

I later conducted an informal survey of acquaintances; only one friend had heard of it: “Oh, yeah, it’s over there by those slutty Castle Hills bars.”  (I don’t expect anyone else to know what that means, either.)

Our waitress was well-informed about the beer selections and suggested a hoppy Kronenbourg, a new beer for me. While waiting for our drinks my friend was inspired by the view out the window and began dropping grand re-interpretations of the surrounding architectural landscape. The GPM buildings next door were likened to brutalist monuments from a futuristic San Antonio that never came to pass. He included the Aztec pyramid building a few blocks away on San Pedro in this assessment, as well as the office building across the street on Blanco, which bears a surprising resemblance to D.C.’s Watergate Hotel.

Our drinks came and broke this train of thought. In some ways this is the sort of pub that I like: a quiet place where drunks grab your ear with loud, outrageous tales. I took a survey of the happy-hour menu and made a few notes. Daily drink specials average $3.50. The usual price for a good beer is closer to $4.50, but some specialties reached up to almost $7. I noticed the bar extended into a separate smoking room. I briefly entered and discovered a totally different experience with the TVs blaring and smoke enveloping the room.

In that sense The Lion and Rose’s Blanco location is many things. If you want quiet it can be quiet. If you want loud and smoky, it can do that as well. But for now, it’s still a secret.   

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