If life is making you lonely, pop into one — or all — of these inviting sipping spots
Published: July 20, 2011
“Maybe you know/ Some little places to go to/ Where they never close downtown/ Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova.”
9 p.m. Sunday: Every week, the salsa trio Albert & Extasy turns up the heat at the Mariachi Bar at Mi Tierra Café Y Panaderia (218 Produce Row). I considered sampling one of the 180 tequilas (the most expensive being Gran Patrón Burdeos at $55 a shot) protected by a giant wooden eagle, but a michelada ($4.75) made more sense. In the crowd, I found Shirley, proud mother of lead singer Stacey Mazuca (who’s also a member of Vanessa del Fierro’s 12-piece, all-female Mariachi Las Coronelas). “I have to get here at 5:15 to get a table,” she said. In stark contrast to the perpetual daylight offered at Mi Tierra, the Mariachi Bar buzzes Sunday night away in full-blown party mode.
10: 45 p.m. Sunday: Unless someone’s smoking one of the four varieties of cigars you can purchase there, walking into the Menger Bar (204 Alamo Plaza) can feel like a breath of fresh air. A giant, allegedly nameless moose presides over a charming assortment of conventioneers, service industry types, tourists, and regulars while jazz calms the room. Here, cocktails ($5-$6 for well drinks) and ghost stories flow freely. When prompted, Jeff the bartender shared such paranormal activity as an elevator that routinely predicts his destination as well as a walkie-talkie that “flew” off the belt of a security guard and landed five feet away. “We’re celebrating!” a bubbly woman at the bar exclaimed. Ordering shots of Patrón ($9 each) for herself and her gentleman friend, she explained she’d won more than $300 on a quick-pick.
11:30 p.m. Sunday: Nothing quite says “downtown” like The Bonham Exchange (411 Bonham), one of the few places I’ll willingly sip a Grey Goose martini ($7.50) from a plastic Budweiser cup. Sundays offer a pared-down version of peak nights, with a small crowd savoring the last shreds of the weekend over old-school music videos. This Saturday, however, the 1890s-era pleasure palace will celebrate 30 fabulous years as SA’s finest discotheque. But if drink specials galore ($2 wells and $3 domestics all night), male dancers “for your viewing pleasure,” and two performances (at midnight and 1 a.m.) by bodybuilder/porn star Zeb Atlas (billed as “America’s Boyfriend”) aren’t enough to get you dolled up and aimed for downtown, I suggest you obey Petula — and Dolly Parton, who took “Downtown” to new heights in 1984 — and go “Downtown, things’ll be great when you’re / Downtown, no finer place for sure / Downtown, everything’s waiting for you.” •
> Email Bryan Rindfuss