Stretched over a half-mile of midtown, the North St. Mary's strip brings out the devil in San Anto barflies. Our quest involves heading north to south along the street, drinking from each watering hole along the way — bring a friend and trade off at bars to avoid memory loss, crippling hangovers, etc. Begin at Candlelight Coffee House (3011 N. Saint Mary's St.) for a caffeine boost and a glass of beer or wine on the café's couches and lounge chairs. Pro tip: Far and away, these are the best bathrooms on the strip. Up next is Faust Tavern (517 E Woodlawn Ave.), a cozy little hellhole with a solid beer selection and stupid-cheap well drinks. It's a favorite spot of heavily-inked locals drinking on a dime, with love-to-hate flicks on the TV and a soundtrack of Slayer or old school San Anto soul.
Try Tycoon Flats (2926 N. Saint Mary's St.) for a vast icehouse patio and a pairing of burgers and beers. Or, if you're feeling more confined, visit TBA (2801 N. Saint Mary's) and drink on their outside enclosure, caged in by a thin wire frame (great for the recently paroled!). For the ladies, stop by Hardbodies (2726 N. Saint Mary's) to watch a high-testosterone tease show. Boys will have to wait outside at the taco truck, or skip ahead to Limelight (2718 N. Saint Mary's St.) to catch some tunes in the long, cheap music hall.
Now we're in venue territory, with rock 'n' roll leaking into the street. Brass Monkey (2702 N. Saint Mary's St.) traffics mostly in DJ sets and nostalgic tunes, with four-on-the-floor rhythms and new wave hits leading the charge. On Sundays, the line wraps across the street to the Greek Orthodox Church, hosting the service industry on their weekend. The Mix (2423 N. Saint Mary's St.) stays true to its name, hosting soul, rock 'n' roll, jazz and punk. It's one of the oldest institutions on the strip, with a built-in audience of denim-vested barroom heroes and a strong lineup of beer on tap. If you're suffering from noise pollution at this point, stop into Joey's (2417 N. Saint Mary's St.) for a clean and well-lit place and one of the city's largest pool halls. If not, continue on to Hi-Tones (621 E. Dewey Pl.), a favorite spot of San Anto musicians. The big blue building hosts tejano, touring acts, the monthly Electronic Exhibition and Alamo City bands of all genres. If you've got a few brain cells making a valiant last stand after this boozy tour, kill them off with a signature pickle or chango shot.