The Bar Tab

Northwest Center Flea Market
3600 Fredericksburg, Ste. 126 E
5pm-midnight Fri, 10am-2pm Sat, noon-10pm Sun
Beer: $2.50
Sueños is the perfect bar for an unlikely niche. Located in the sprawling Northwest Center Flea Market, it’s a surreal oasis amid the throngs of weekend shoppers looking for a myriad of goods.

To best appreciate Sueños it is important to understand the flea market, which boasts up to 400 indoor and outdoor booths. One can find everything from collectible records to crappy knick-knacks to fresh produce to affordable furniture. While roaming around the place looking for this mythical bar, I ran across a guy in an empty dining area playing a keyboard and singing along to some soft-rock Casio beats. It was all too good to be true. Next, I went through a hallway boasting some classic Goldbeck-esque panoramic photos of San Antonio and finally found the bar.

The jukebox blasted Tejano music alternating with classic 99.5 KISS-era hard rock. On one of the walls there were a few impressive stuffed animals in various stages of attack. On the other side of the room there were three to four pool tables, all busy with guys drinking Miller Lite. I went to the bar to order a Bud Light and a Negro Modelo. A patron sitting on a stool said to me, “Modelo, that’s a good beer.” He said it again for emphasis. He was probably the only guy in the bar smiling. Everyone else seemed stoic and unmoved. There was an unneeded seriousness in the air. Perhaps they were worrying about their wives spending too much money or they just didn’t want to be there. The bartender served us two Bud Lights. My friend replied, “No, a Bud and a Negro Modelo.”  The guy next to me chimed in again, “Negro Modelo, yeah, that’s a good beer.”  The bartender grunted and served us two Negro Modelos. We politely paid.

We sat at a table and watched the ’80s Stephen King film Cujo on a television in the corner. It was in the middle of the third act, when the dog is trying to attack a family trapped in a Ford Pinto. An 8-year-old kid sat next to us and quietly observed the carnage. It was at this point that my friend commented, “This is just like a Southside bar.” It’s out of place and it doesn’t seem legal, but it is quite captivating, at least for a round.

— Mark Jones