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Getting dragged into tourist row? Here’s some perfect hidden drinking spots to ease the pain

Photo: Photos by Veronica Luna. Esquire: Bryan Rindfuss, License: N/A

Photos by Veronica Luna. Esquire: Bryan Rindfuss


 

sa_20111214_esquire

The Esquire Tavern
155 E Commerce
(210) 222-2521
esquiretavern-sa.com

Opened in 1933, the Esquire is the oldest drinks establishment on the River Walk, offering both an expansive collection of beers on tap and some of the best-crafted cocktails in SA. Though by city law cigars are no longer tolerated along the 108-foot-long bar rail, the back balcony still commands a calming view of the waters as unreconstructed patrons puff and drink. The kitchen provides bar classics like boiled peanuts, deviled eggs (which go nicely with the house-made ginger beer), and one of the best bison burgers in the city. Best off all — no damn sound system. — SA

 

Moses Rose’s Hideout
518 E Houston St
(210) 775-1808
mosesroseshideout.com

One hundred and seventy-five years after Moses Rose (allegedly) opted out of the Battle of the Alamo (and certain death), the cleverly named Moses Rose’s Hideout has sprung up right around the corner from Alamo Plaza, catering to locals and tourists alike. In stark contrast to the Alamo’s commercialized reverence, Moses Rose’s offers tongue-in-cheek quirkiness along with its decent selection of brews and functioning grill. For instance, patrons must “enter through the gift shop,” leading to a not-so-secret door that requires a password. If you don’t know it, expect to do some kind of embarrassing act (hula hooping, dancing, etc.). Are you brave enough? — CK

 

sa_20111214_nakediguana

Naked Iguana Lounge
421 E Commerce
(210) 226-8462
rioriocantina.com

Even if you aren’t waiting for a table upstairs at Rio Rio Cantina ― the Tex-Mex sister of Paesanos and Zuni Grill ― the Naked Iguana Lounge is still worthy of a visit. On a bustling stretch of the River Walk, this compact lounge is easily missed. With a glowing iguana skeleton (created by the late artist Kevin Stephens) mounted to the wall and a color scheme reminiscent of a blacklight poster, the place gives off a midnight vibe — even at noon. Reverse happy hour (11 p.m.-close Friday-Saturday and 10 p.m.-close Sunday-Thursday) makes having an after-dinner drink here a no-brainer, but choosing between the 16 margarita varieties (including a skinny one made with Austin-based Dulce Vida Tequila, $9) requires an executive decision. — BR

Ocho Lounge
1015 Navarro
(210) 222-2008
havanasanantonio.com

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