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City Guide 2014

4 Downtown Dive Bars to Embarrass Yourself In

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In the last few years, San Antonio has made great strides when it comes to its mixology doings. Many good (and some great!) cocktail bars have been springing up left and right all over Downtown.

But while our libation IQ is on the rise, we shouldn’t forget the simple pleasures. Even Downtown, there’s still plenty of no-frills bars to be found. Like old friends, they’ve been there all along and they accept us as we are—after work, after softball, whenever. But like your friends, there is always that crazy one your significant other doesn’t like. The one you strongly consider de-friending on Facebook every once in a while. We’re talking about the dive bar.

After all, where can you go when your best 1920s, prohibition-era outfit is at the cleaners? When you are in no mood for a toddy, a sling or a fizz? When you need to get a heavy buzz off of a single ten-spot?

You know who to call. So let’s look through our phone here and see what the Alamo City has to offer…

Bond's 007 Rock Bar 450 Soledad

Bonds is a metal dive bar—that much is clear as soon as you walk in, as the main doors are basically two sheets of metal. Lest you forget the theme, the sink in the bathroom, constructed of metal grating, will remind you. Finally, the walls are adorned with posters of heavy metal gods. Outside of the vibe, Bond’s has eight beers on tap and the usual assortment of liquor (Jäger, Jack, etc…) to keep metal-heads coming back.

Live music and shot specials every Friday and Saturday, daily happy hour till 10 p.m., a jukebox with honest-to-god CDs and credit card-ready registers are some of Bond’s highlights. Just remember, you must love metal, both as an interior design choice and as the only music you’ll hear in the bar, or else you’ll probably be miserable.

Texas T Pub 121 Broadway

Upon walking into the Texas T Pub, you don’t think dive bar.

No, the vibe is more along the lines of a Greyhound Bus station; aided no doubt by the smell of chemical cleaners that hits your nose as soon as you walk in. Still, at least it’s a clean smell. Could be worse.

Twenty bucks will keep your butt on the stool most of the night, as drinks are nice and cheap ($2 domestics, $3 mixed drinks) and an on-site ATM (Texas T is cash-only, in classic dive bar tradition) ensures you don’t need to leave the place to reload. But you might want to.

The clientele seemed nice enough, with off duty cooks and valets drinking it up with truckers and military veterans, but some of the regulars were already getting rowdy, even at an early hour. There is only so much of the bartender repeatedly yelling “JAMES! JAMES! Go sit down. You’re fucked up.

JAMES! Leave them alone. I’m sorry, he is fucked up …” before you want to leave. Stupid James.

Still, if you decide to hang out, seven TVs, two pool tables, two dartboards and a TouchTunes jukebox (usually blaring country) provide decent diversions.

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