September 30, 2021

Historic photos of 25 San Antonio-area bars and restaurants

We're all for San Antonio's recent designation as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, but it's abundantly clear that our city has always been a place that celebrates food and drink. Sometimes a little too much.

Check out these historic photos of a fascinating array of SA spots where people gathered to scarf down tacos, quaff way too much locally brewed beer and engage in drunken games of Rolle Bolle (stick with us until Slide 18 if you don't know what that is).

Some of these places, such as Mi Tierra and Casa Rio, are still serving guests, while others, from Don's Keyhole Club to Kinky and Nando's Grill, are regrettably long gone. All fed our souls well.

All photos from UTSA Special Collections digital collections.
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Mi Tierra Cafe, 218 Produce RowThis photo shows the front of the café and panaderia as it looked circa 1965. The colorful restaurant has grown into a beloved Alamo City institution that draws residents and tourists alike.
Mi Tierra Cafe, 218 Produce Row
This photo shows the front of the café and panaderia as it looked circa 1965. The colorful restaurant has grown into a beloved Alamo City institution that draws residents and tourists alike.
Don's Keyhole Club, 728 Iowa St.Bartenders in white jackets stand ready to pour drinks in this 1940s photo from the East Side nightclub owned by jazz bandleader Albert ''Don Albert'' Dominique. The famed music veue is considered by many to be the first racially integrated nightclub in the Southwest.
Don's Keyhole Club, 728 Iowa St.
Bartenders in white jackets stand ready to pour drinks in this 1940s photo from the East Side nightclub owned by jazz bandleader Albert ''Don Albert'' Dominique. The famed music veue is considered by many to be the first racially integrated nightclub in the Southwest.
Tip's Place, 2351 Frio City RoadThis bar and restaurant, shown in a 1946 photo, was a popular gathering spot near the old Kelly Field. So much so, the owner later also opened an adjacent bowling alley called Tip’s Lanes. Both closed during the ‘60s to make way for a road connecting the base to U.S. Highway 90.
Tip's Place, 2351 Frio City Road
This bar and restaurant, shown in a 1946 photo, was a popular gathering spot near the old Kelly Field. So much so, the owner later also opened an adjacent bowling alley called Tip’s Lanes. Both closed during the ‘60s to make way for a road connecting the base to U.S. Highway 90.
Prudential Cafe, 130 Main PlazaThe dining establishment shown in this 1939 photo was inside the Prudential Life Insurance Building on east side of Main Plaza. The space is now occupied by Tex-Mex eatery La Jalisco.
Prudential Cafe, 130 Main Plaza
The dining establishment shown in this 1939 photo was inside the Prudential Life Insurance Building on east side of Main Plaza. The space is now occupied by Tex-Mex eatery La Jalisco.
Azteca Cafe, San AntonioIt’s unclear exactly where Azteca Cafe was located, but according to the signage in this 1949 photo, tacos de barbacoa were a specialty — as was beer.
Azteca Cafe, San Antonio
It’s unclear exactly where Azteca Cafe was located, but according to the signage in this 1949 photo, tacos de barbacoa were a specialty — as was beer.
The White House Café, 312 Produce RowIn addition to food and drink for on-site consumption, this diversified business also sold liquor, wine and cigars. Owners Aviel Bauwens (center) and Eugenio Amantea (right) appear in this 1915-era photo.
The White House Café, 312 Produce Row
In addition to food and drink for on-site consumption, this diversified business also sold liquor, wine and cigars. Owners Aviel Bauwens (center) and Eugenio Amantea (right) appear in this 1915-era photo.
Veramendi Saloon, Soledad StreetThis photo from the late 1890s shows a San Antonio watering hole that started business with a far more elegant moniker: Veramendi Palace.
Veramendi Saloon, Soledad Street
This photo from the late 1890s shows a San Antonio watering hole that started business with a far more elegant moniker: Veramendi Palace.
Emile F. Jungmann's Saloon, 2304 W. Commerce St.This photo from around 1912 shows members of the Alamo City’s Belgian American community enjoying fishbowl-sized glasses of dark beer. Yum.
Emile F. Jungmann's Saloon, 2304 W. Commerce St.
This photo from around 1912 shows members of the Alamo City’s Belgian American community enjoying fishbowl-sized glasses of dark beer. Yum.
Golden Star Café; Plaza Bar; Moon Lee Café, 1100 block of W. Commerce St.This image from around 1965 shows a string of West Side businesses, including a pair of Chinese restaurants. Golden Star Café is still around, although it's now located at the 800 block of the same street.
Golden Star Café; Plaza Bar; Moon Lee Café, 1100 block of W. Commerce St.
This image from around 1965 shows a string of West Side businesses, including a pair of Chinese restaurants. Golden Star Café is still around, although it's now located at the 800 block of the same street.
Unidentified saloon, St. HedwigThis unknown drinking spot was photographed along with its Polish American patrons around 1900. Check out the signs for San Antonio-brewed Lone Star Lager Beer on the right side of the building.
Unidentified saloon, St. Hedwig
This unknown drinking spot was photographed along with its Polish American patrons around 1900. Check out the signs for San Antonio-brewed Lone Star Lager Beer on the right side of the building.