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Food & Drink > Best of San Antonio

Vice and Virtue

 

Best Meat Market (Meat)

Bolner’s Meat Market
2900 S. Flores, (210) 533-5112
bolnersmeats.com

You must love the tinted family portrait by the entrance, and the cases full of go-with basics and fancy prepared sides (creamed spinach is just the beginning), and you probably like the slightly cocky way the meat-tender slaps the price tag on the bill of his camo cap while he swiftly wraps a porterhouse the size of your head (approximately $12.99/lb.) and a pair of the ever-popular bacon-and-beef pinwheels ($11.08). He’ll also season your steak with the Fiesta spices that made the family name famous, cut your cow to order, and sell you a box of tripas if you’ve got drinking company in town or ultra-pricey Akaushi if you’re “heart-conscious” with a red-meat hard-on. What else won you over? The cafeteria-style lunch counter and small-Texas-town dining room, maybe, and the extremely friendly staff.

2. Central Market, 4821 Broadway, (210) 368-8600
centralmarket.com

3. Cooper’s Meat Market, 6002 Broadway, (210) 820-3838
coopersmeatmarket.com

Best Meat Market (Tail)

The Mix
2423 N. Saint Mary’s
(210) 735-1313
myspace.com/themixnightclub

The top three finishers in this category were all within a vote of one another, which we like to think indicates Current readers are getting action everywhere they go, but the Mix once again was your favorite one-stop-shop for scoring some sweet, sweet tail meat. We know better than to argue. On a good night, the Mix seems to pack every 20-something hipster in Bexar County into a single smoky, lit-just-enough spot, so your odds of winning are greatly improved, statistically at least, even if you’ve got some hideous social handicap like cilantro stuck in your teeth or a Palin-Beck 2012 T-shirt. Crowded in with the in crowd, everyone becomes a little more popular — unless, of course, you’re a fire marshal. On a related note: condoms. Just throwing that out there.

2. Midnight Rodeo, 12260 Nacogdoches, (210) 655-0040
midnightrodeosanantonio.com

3. Retox, 1031 Patricia, (210) 775-2886
retoxbar.net

Best Lesbian Bar

Bermuda Triangle
10127 Coachlight, (210) 342-2276
bermudatrianglesa.com

There’s nothing wrong with rallying your compatriots and launching a campaign to win a Best of SA category. Possibly knowing they’d easily win Best Lesbian Bar, the gals over at Bermuda Triangle campaigned to win Best Puffy Taco. And, no, they don’t serve food. What they do serve is bargain drinks in a sparkling playground for women who love women. Having visited lesbian bars across the U.S., we can assure you with authority that Bermuda is one of the most welcoming watering holes of its kind — even if you’re not, well, into girls. A few things for guys to consider (regardless of orientation): On weekend nights (and especially during the legendary foam parties) women move through the line more quickly than men, and owner Jill Gapinski can spot a “guy-creep” from a mile away.

2. The Saint (tie), 1430 N. Main, (210) 225-7330, thesaint-satx.com

2. Lava Lounge (tie) 1515 N. St. Mary’s, (210) 320-1740, myspace.com/lavaloungesanantonio

Best Nightclub, Gay Bar, and Dance Floor

The Bonham Exchange
411 Bonham
(210) 271-3811
bonhamexchange.net

Does anyone out there have a time machine they’re not using? Dear reader, please throw on something slutty and climb into the front seat with me. Let’s visit SA’s best gay bar, nightclub, and dance floor circa 1984. Here we are; it’s such a cool building. Let’s go inside, girl. I’ve been saving up all week just for this. Not long ago, Bette Midler blew through here with three drag queens in tow all dressed as Bette Midler. The B-52s, the Ramones, Debbie Harry — everybody plays here. And tonight, dear time traveler, Tina Turner is in the house to kick off her Private Dancer tour! Omigod, look! There she is, and she’s totally wasted. Maybe someone slipped her some ecstasy! You can grab one from that fishbowl over there if you’re feeling naughty and adventurous. Since you’re allegedly straight, stay here while I run downstairs to the secret room under the stairs. Yes, the one with the sound of zippers unzipping in the dark. Meet me in exactly 9 minutes on the downstairs dance floor. Yes, the former gymnasium that was voted SA’s Best dance floor back in 2010. Let’s dance to one song there before running upstairs to slide around on the slippery metal dance floor in the Alamo bar. Then we’ll be in position to see Tina getting dragged out of this historic building after (collapsing onstage during) a raucous rendition of “Proud Mary.”

Best Gay Bar

2. Sparky’s Pub, 1416 N. Main Ave., (210) 320-5111, sparkyssa.com

3. The Saint, 1430 N. Main Ave., (210) 225-7330,thesaint-satx.com

Best Dance Floor

2. Midnight Rodeo, 12260 Nacogdoches, (210) 655-0040, midnightrodeosanantonio.com

3. Cowboys Dancehall, 3030 NE Loop 410, (210) 646-9378, cowboysdancehall.com

Best Nightclub

2. Industry, 8021 Pinebrook Dr., (210) 366-3229, myspace.com/theindustrynightclub

3. Midnight Rodeo, 12260 Nacogdoches Rd., (210) 655-0040, midnightrodeosanantonio.com

Best Metal Club

The White Rabbit
2410 N. Saint Mary’s,
(210) 737-2221

Most towns, this wouldn’t have been much of a contest, but our scene’s big enough to support several viable options. The biggest and best remains the White Rabbit, however, for its multiple stages and open mind. If you can, fight your way out from a jam-packed all-ages hardcore show on the small outdoor stage to a bigger-name local act on the larger outdoor stage to a national death-metal show on the inside, then (if you can pry your hands out of the devil-horn position they’re no doubt involuntarily curled into at this point) top it off with a slice of pizza next door.

2. Bond’s 007 Rock Bar (tie), 450 Soledad, (210) 225-0007,myspace.com/sa_bonds007

2. Zombie’s (tie), 12285 Nacogdoches, (210) 590-7757,zombiesliveinsa.com

3. Scout Bar, 19314 U.S. Hwy. 281 North, (210) 494-7700,scoutbarsa.com

Best Club DJ

DJ Eddie Lopez
Industry
8021 Pinebrook Dr.
(210) 366-3229
myspace.com/theindustrynightclub

It takes some serious mastery and huevos to mix up AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” without anyone leaving the dancefloor. Eddie Lopez’s genre-spanning DJ sets attract all walks of life, evidenced by a seemingly endless request list, which is actually a computer positioned at the entrance to his elevated DJ booth at Industry. On a recent Saturday night, typed demands ranged from “Shakira’s ‘She-Wolf.’ Ladies will dance!” to “’My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult,’ pretty please!” Although we didn’t hear either of those songs while we were there, we did hear a seamless mix of danceable party music that was anything but predictable. Accompanied by a projected montage blending new and old music videos, Eddie’s schizophrenic repertoire aptly represents a loyal following of barely legal emo club kids, Gen X-ers, and rug-cutting cougars on the prowl.

2. Daecos (AKA Daecosomoxi),myspace.com/daecos

3. Adrian Rivera, Adrian's Facebook Page

Best Piercing & Tattoo Shop

Dandyland Custom Tattoo
1821 Bandera
(210) 432-5747
dandylandtattoo.com

Located in a nondescript strip center, Dandyland eschews decorative frills to concentrate on talented tattoo artists with an eye for customer service. Their staff tats each have their own thing going on: Miles goes for voluptuous cartoons, Hoss specializes in portraits, Per Simmons is a vibrant colorist, and Ray Wallace creates inventive Asian-style dragons. In case you can’t smell the antiseptic when you walk through the door, these guys are CLEAN and their caution extends to your creative choices, too. Don’t be surprised if the first time you visit, you walk out with an appointment to discuss the desired body art further instead of fresh ink.

And when considering paying someone to jam a needle through various parts of your cartilage and/or flesh, safety should be a primary concern. Most of you hole-happy kids have your priorities in the right place, judging from Dandyland’s overwhelming victory here. Hopefully, every operational piercing parlor has a satisfying degree of cleanliness and care, but Dandyland prides itself particularly on its safety record. The knowledgeable staff don’t use piercing guns (hard to sterilize and traumatic to earlobes), or externally threaded jewelry for initial piercings (can also wound or infect newly pierced skin), but they do have a gorgeous array of steel, stone, and wooden jewelry no doubt approved by the Association of Professional Piercers, of which the Dandyland studio is a member.

Tattoo Shop

2. Tattoo Innerprize, 2407 Thousand Oaks Dr,. (210) 688-5230,Tattooinnerprize.com

3. Rings of Fire, 110 Jefferson, (210) 354-4347, myspace.com/ringsoffiredt2 Also: 6864 Ingram Road, myspace.com/ringsoffireone

Piercing Shop

2. Element Tattoo Studio, 4741 Fredericksburg Rd., (210) 979-9877, elementtattoo.com

3. Tattoo Innerprize, 2407 Thousand Oaks Dr., (210) 688-5230,tattooinnerprize.com

Best Game Night

Geeks Who Drink at the Lion & Rose, Broadway
8pm Tuesdays & Thursdays
5148 Broadway
(210) 822-7673
thelionandrose.com

We were goaded by a friend and promised set-up access to a cute boy, so we launched ourselves into this smoky Alamo Heights hangout despite the weird hauteur of the bartenders and goofy get-ups of the waitresses. Then we had what can only be described as … fun. Lots and lots of fun! Even if ritualized demi-competition ain’t your thang, you and your teammates, after coming up with some ridiculous name, will relish fightin’ those other silly-monikered teams over questions of such gravitas as FDR’s secretary of state, the fifth Beatle, or the name of Arnold’s pet fish on Diff’rent Strokes (psst: Abraham). The cute guy ended up being not for us, and the smoke in there is still pretty lung-saturating, but the emcees keep the triviarama a-rollin,’ the beer selection is awesome, and the crowd is vociferous and funny. If you can’t have fun here, you should go on medication.

2. Flying Saucer Trivia Night, 7:30pm Tuesdays, 11255 Huebner, (210) 647-746, beerknurd.com

3. Geeks Who Drink at the Lion & Rose, Sonterra, 8pm Tuesdays, 700 E. Sonterra Blvd., (210), 798-5466,thelionandrose.com

Best Pool Tables

Joey’s
2417 N. St. Mary’s, (210) 733-9573

It may not have the most pool tables in town, but the old-fashioned neighborhood bar puts a respectable nine in their spacious gameroom. Seven of those are tournament tables that serious billiards players rent for $7 an hour. Two are smaller quarters tables that go for $1 a pop, though only one of those worked on our last visit. The vibe is more Cheers than The Hustler, so sharks of all skill levels feel comfortable and dust-ups between tables are rare. A decent beer selection and sports games on the big screen make Joey’s the St. Mary’s Strip spot for a laid-back hang with pool cues.

2. Bananas Billiard Bar and Grill, 2003 San Pedro, (210) 226-2627

3. Dave and Buster’s (tie), 440 Crossroads Blvd.,(210) 515-1515,Daveandbusters.com

3. Fox & Hound English Pub (tie), 12651 Vance Jackson Road, (210) 696-1356, foxandhound.com

Best Karaoke

Dad’s Karaoke
2615 Mossrock
(210) 240-3887
myspace.com/dadskaraoke

Sidle over to Dad’s to belt out your favorite tunes to a room full of strangers seven days a week. As Natalia Ciolko pointed out in a recent review, weeknights at Dad’s are popular but not packed, while weekends are slammed with would-be Johnnys, Neils, Taylors, and Sir Mix-a-Lots. If you get bored by the endless renditions of “Sweet Caroline,” flip through a tome from Dad’s funky bookshelves or take a (nicely priced) shot with one of the many eccentric regulars whose life stories are almost as good as their “Don’t Stop Believin’” covers.

2. Me and C.A., 8373 Perrin Beitel Road, (210) 590-6322,meandca.com

3. London Sub and Pub, 8425 Bandera Road, (210) 682-1070, Myspace.com/londonpubrocks

Best Bowling Alley

Bandera Super Bowl
6700 Huebner
(210) 523-1716
banderasuperbowl.com

As the name implies, Bandera Super Bowl is a normal alley on steroids. It’s bigger, open later, and takes itself more seriously, but that plays well for diehard bowlers. More than 50 lanes mean little wait time, and superlate hours mean that you won’t be rushed to finish a game unless you’re satisfying a bowling jones at 2 a.m. on a Friday. (Let’s face it, a real possibility.) A generous bar, classic fried-food canteen, and evening hours enhanced by disco lights and an ABBA-friendly DJ quite make up for the dour staff and eerie police presence.

2. University Bowl, 12332 I-10 West, (210) 699-6235,ubbowl.com

3. AMF Country Lanes, 13307 San Pedro, (210) 496-381, amf.com

Best Happy Hour

Kona Grill
15900 La Cantera Pkwy.
(210) 877-5355
konagrill.com

Not even shitty weather can keep Kona Grill from getting packed to the gills with practically every afternoon drinker in La Cantera. On a recent Thursday during happy hour, we couldn’t get a seat at the bar or on the patio, so we stood around for a while before grabbing an order of ahi wonton crisps and a fizzy sake bomb, to be enjoyed from the standing position under Kona’s coolest design element — a massive saltwater aquarium. With amusement, the exotic school behind the glass surveys countless Secretaries Gone Wild as they snack on sushi and drink like fish.

2. Azuca Nuevo Latino, 713 S. Alamo, (210) 225-5550, azuca.net
3. Houlihan’s, 938 N. Loop 1604 West, (210) 494-3371,houlihans.com

Best Beer Selection

Flying Saucer
11255 Huebner
(210) 696-5080
beerknurd.com

The last time we went to the Flying Saucer, we sat right next to Beer Across Texas blogger Travis Poling, a good sign that we were in the right place to quench our thirst for weird and wonderful brews. A menu of nearly 300, including 81 on a rotating tap basis, never fails to pique our curiosity. Friendly staff, from managers to servers, all know their ales from their IPAs and can help patrons pick one pint from the 100 they’re pondering. A particular bonus is the Saucer’s free Wi-Fi, which makes working “from home” much more fun.

2. Yard House, 15900 La Cantera Pkwy., (210) 691-003, yardhouse.com

3. Hills & Dales Ice House,15403 White Fawn Dr., (210) 695-2307

Best Michelada

Rosario’s Mexican Café y Cantina
910 S. Alamo
(210) 223-1806
rosariossa.com

Our waitress said that Rosario’s uses V-8 juice in their handmade micheladas, but one of the reasons we agree it’s among the best in town is that you can’t taste or see the tomato. The Rosario’s model has a nice, bright tang, and just the right amount of sting, making them easy to slurp down on a hot summer day, and extra good with those award-winning super nachos.

2. Mi Tierra’s Mariachi Bar, 218 Produce Row, (210) 225-1262, mitierracafe.com

3. The Friendly Spot (tie), 943 S. Alamo, (210) 224-2337, thefriendlyspot.com

3. Frio Saloon (tie),801 S. Frio, (210) 227-FRIO,friosaloon.com

Best Cocktails

Mon Ami Lounge
4901 Broadway, (210) 822-3253
monsthai.com

The Current has been singing the praises of Mon Ami bartender Olaf Harmel and the sophisticated, eclectic cocktail menu he helped create for months now, and our fandom is happily not solo. The small watering hole behind Mon Thai has cozied up, adding more sink-in furniture and a full wall between it and the restaurant, and playing up its Francophile assets (narrow wooden casement windows) with deep burgundy walls and pleasantly worn Belle Époque décor. It’s a perfectly grownup casual spot for bohemians and business types to sip something more inventive than a martini (although Olaf makes a mean Vesper): say, a Kanzler — bourbon, Cointreau, lemon, and Champagne, garnished with a fragrant, foot-long orange curl. But what makes Mon Ami’s cocktails really special? The bartender still tastes each one with a straw before sending it out, and we even spied him sniffing the glassware and each ingredient as he worked. That’s the kind of hands-on OCD we adore.

2. Bohanan’s Bar, 221 E. Houston, (210) 472-2202,bohanans.com

3. SoHo Wine & Martini Bar (tie), 214 W. Crockett, (210) 444-1000,sohomartinibar.com

3. Retox (tie), 1031 Patricia, (210) 775-2886, retoxbar.net

Best Handcrafted/Micro Brews

Blue Star Brewing Company
1414 S. Alamo
(210) 212-5506
bluestarbrewing.com

We all love Lone Star, but it doesn’t really taste like much of anything other than a cheap drunk. Blue Star’s moderately priced brews (most around $4.50 a glass; $20 a growler), on the other hand, are too flavorful to chug. The Pale Ale is just bitter enough, the Texican leaves traces of sweetness mercifully milder than Blue Moon’s Fruit Loop finish, and the King William Barley Wine (warning: higher alcohol content) comes on like apple juice and leaves you with a hint of fresh-cut grass. The only catch: Last call comes at 11 p.m. (midnight on weekends), so arrive early, because, unlike those ever-understanding red-and-gold cans, Blue Star’s brews get insulted if you pound them two at a time.

2. Freetail Brewing Company, 4035 N. Loop 1604 West, (210) 395-4974,freetailbrewing.com

3. BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, 22410 U.S. 281 North, (210) 497-6070, bjsbrewhouse.com

Best Sports Bar

The Ticket Sports Pub
420 E. Houston, (210) 222-9722
ticketsportspub.com

Sports bars, like sports themselves, are mostly about the fundamentals. So while the Ticket’s razzle-dazzle — tasty appetizers and entrees, great downtown location, and even a $500 VIP balcony package that offers up to a dozen well-dressed people a party with a case of beer, a bottle of whatever, and private security — may have helped it pull out ahead of its competitors, the contest really comes down to three things: TVs, TVs, TVs. The Ticket has more high-def screens than you could shake a stick at without being asked to leave, tuned to every conceivable sports channel. If it’s a competition and it’s currently being broadcast anywhere in Earth’s atmosphere, odds are it’s being reassembled in 1080p for a group of fans huddled around $4 Jaeger shots somewhere inside the Ticket, where there’s no fine for excessive celebration.

2. Mulligans Sports Pub & Grub, 19314 Hwy 281 N, (210) 277-1800, mulliganbar.com

3. Retox Bar, 1031 Patricia, (210) 775-2886, retoxbar.net

Best Jukebox

Bar America
723 S. Alamo
myspace.com/bar_america

It’s quality over quantity as Bar America once again takes home top honors for its teeny ol’ record-spinner. We recommend going in on a quiet night to get the full effect of the limited, yet eclectic, list. Where else ya gonna find Billy Ocean, Selena, and Roger Miller on the same ‘box? For cheap, too. A cool four quarters buys 10 plays, which is almost one-fifth of the catalogue, pumping gently out of an elegant old-school machine. Regional favorites get plenty of room, a quality that should be appreciated in the increasing age of soulless internet rip-off jukeboxes, a fate that recently befell even beloved second-place Tucker’s. Don’t ever change, Bar America.

2. Tucker’s Kozy Korner, 1338 E. Houston, (210) 320-2192,tuckerskozykorner.com

3. Retox, 1031 Patricia, (210) 775-2886,retoxbar.net

Best Honky Tonk/Country Bar

Cowboys Dancehall
3030 NE Loop 410
(210) 646-9378
cowboysdancehall.com

Cowboys’ massive building near the I-35/Loop 410/Austin Highway convergence provides a mecca for all things country and western. Two floors, each with a full bar, make for fast drinks and good views of acts like regional faves Jason Boland and the Stragglers and big Nashville names. On non-concert nights, the Wranglers set enjoys country line dancing (lessons provided most Saturday nights) or professional bull riding in Cowboys’ in-house (!) rodeo ring. Cowpokes looking to rustle up a little action of their own should seriously look into Ladies Night on Thursday, when the mechanical bull rides are free and the necessary liquid courage comes cheap. Cowboy up!

2. John T. Floore Country Store, 14492 Old Bandera Road, (210) 695-8827,liveatfloores.com

3. Midnight Rodeo,12260 Nacogdoches Rd., (210) 665-04040,midnightrodeosanantonio.com

Best Ice House

La Tuna
100 Probandt, (210) 212-5727
latunagrill.com

Nothing much has changed at La Tuna since they began sweeping this category back when, oh, we introduced it. The family-run business, brought to you by some of the geniuses behind the original Broadway 50-50 and Rosario’s and the long-gone Beauregard, isn’t the oldest or most traditional ice house in town, but it does have broad appeal: beer high-and-low near-and-far at couch-change prices, bar-friendly food that’s crunchy enough to snag the alt crowd, and an ideal yard, littered with an ever-deepening layer of bottle caps and well-worn picnic tables around which many a friendship and romance has been sealed.

2. The Friendly Spot, 943 S. Alamo, (210) 224-2337,thefriendlyspot.com

3. Hills & Dales, 15403 White Fawn Dr., (210) 695-2307

Best Salsa Club

Azuca Nuevo Latino
713 S. Alamo
(210) 225-5550
azuca.net

Although Azuca Nuevo Latino is perhaps better known as one of Southtown’s hippest happy-hour destinations, according to Current readers it’s also SA’s best salsa club. On Friday and Saturday nights, Azuca’s bar tables get pushed aside to make way for a spicy, homegrown version of Bailando con las Estrellas. While other places in town might favor a younger, more modern version of the genre, Azuca keeps it real by focusing on traditional salsa and merengue. On a recent First Friday, an already crowded Azuca was invaded by Running a Tab’s Pub Run, providing a picture-worthy melange of seasoned professionals in cha-cha gear and tipsy hipsters in jogging shorts, all grooving to the sounds of the nine-piece Orchesta Tropicante. If you’re intimidated by all the fancy footwork, consider attending one of Azuca’s Saturday-afternoon classes (4-6 p.m.), and remember: Everything’s easier after a few mojitos.

2. Arjon’s International Club, 8736 Tesoro Dr., (210) 804-1419, arjonsclub.com

3. Coco Chocolate Bar and Bistro (Fridays), 18402 US Hwy 281, (210) 491-4480, sa-coco.com

Best Place to Nurse a Hangover

Mi Tierra
218 Produce Row
(210) 225-1262
mitierracafe.com

Apologies to all of you who voted for “at home in bed” as your favorite hangover nursing station, but that’s no place for real recovery — just a temporary stopgap on the way to the inevitable bathroom nightmare. If you actually want to stop the hurting, we suggest a couple of ibuprofen and a Topo Chico. Then put on your darkest sunglasses and head over to Mi Tierra for their Barbacoa Campesino Special: two eggs, pico, refried beans, and melt-in-your-mouth barbacoa that will coat your poor stomach with a thin layer of god’s own grease. Several places around town have excellent barbacoa, but Mi Tierra serves it up 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because hangovers aren’t just for Sunday-morning breakfast anymore.

2. Taco Haven, 1032 South Presa Street, (210) 533-2171, tacohaven.info

3. El Mirador,722 S. St. Mary’s, (210) 225-9444,elmiradorrestaurant.com

Best Sex Toy Shop

Adult Video Megaplexxx
11827 Hwy. 281 North
(210) 404-0011

You want to shop for grownup tickly delights in an atmosphere that isn’t dark, gross, or scary, but light, friendly, and airy (in a Spanish-colonial-esque rehabbed Ninfa’s, mayhaps!), the trenchcoated pervs eradicated by a smiling, casual staff who behave pretty much just like their counterparts at the Bed Bath and Beyond. Keeping it simple and giving you exactly what you need, just like the Hitachi Magic Wand (Rimshot! Amirite ladies?). But seriously folks, you will not be skeeved or scared in here. And if you run into a co-worker picking out leopard-print restraints or your former algebra teacher picking up a DVD copy of Hot Buttered Cop Porn, let ’em be. (Oh, and we called — they’ve got the Magic Wand in stock. $84.99)

2. Shades of Love, 300 W. Bitters #150, (210) 494-3006, theshadesoflove.com

3. Adam & Eve, 6957 San Pedro, (210) 348-6902, adameve.com

Best Lounge

Coco Chocolate Bar and Bistro
18402 U.S. Hwy. 281 North
(210) 491-4480
sa-coco.com

Remember in Season 3 of The Simpsons when Homer daydreams about the Land of Chocolate during an interview with the two German investors who want to buy the power plant? Yes? No? Coco does not exactly sport edible lampposts, but it’s the closest thing to Homer’s fantasy in city limits. Catering expertly to a clientele of Northside women of a certain age (free plastic surgery consultation for all Coco customers!), Coco provides sweet martinis, French wines, and upscale bistro noshes. Specialty drinks like the Chocolate Sin have been known to convert the staunchest beer-swilling American male into a connoisseur of imported chocolate liqueur. Soft music and comfy couches make Coco’s cozy digs at the Legacy Shopping Plaza San Antonio’s premier spot to indulge all your cocoa-bean fantasies, minus the lamppost one.

2. Luna, 6740 San Pedro, (210) 804-2433,lunalive.com

3. Mon Ami Lounge, 4901 Broadway, (210) 822-3253,monsthai.com

Best Smoking Bar

Rookies Bar
6402 Callaghan
(210) 377-0909

San Antonio, unlike an increasing number of big cities these days, hasn’t yet bent to the whims of the clean-breather movement and its pile of inconclusive evidence about the ills caused by second-hand nicotine, so most bars are still smoker-friendly (knock on yellow-stained wood). Best smoking bar, therefore, requires more than just that welcoming “smoking permitted” sign hanging in the doorway. Namely it needs some stuff for you to do to distract you from all those pesky surgeon general’s warnings while sucking on that butt — activities that look cooler with cigarette in hand, and that don’t require a lot of lung capacity. Rookies obliges with Spurs on the TV, shuffleboard tournaments, and a closet full of board games and such. Plus, they’ve got Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap. It’s not the best beer in the world, but it’s only $2.25 a glass, and odds are your taste buds died screaming decades ago.

2. Chango’s Havana Club (tie), 23535 I-10 W, (210) 698-8922,changosclub.com

2. The Mix (tie), 2423 N. St. Mary’s, (210) 735-1313

3. C.I.G.A.R., 2235 Thousand Oaks, (210) 404-2626

Best Old Man Bar

Raffles
8633 Crownhill
(210) 826-7118
rafflesrestaurantandbar.com 

The night we went to check out your favorite old-man bar, our drinking companion wore an incredibly cute newsboy cap (it’s important to note, for legal reasons, that our companion was not an actual newsboy) and we were almost thrown out for it. Our waitress balked at the bill, referring to it as a “ball cap,” but we’re pretty sure the real issue was our ages, or lack thereof. A comment on our “baby faces” while she stared a hole through our IDs, followed by the observation that they didn’t get many of our kind around there translated pretty easily to “don’t let the door hit you in your taut young ass on the way out.” Designation as “best old man bar” would be an insult to many establishments, but here it’s more of a warning. The Raffles regulars didn’t spend years patronizing this place to see it taken over by Jell-o-shooting whippersnappers in search of a kitschy good time. Best old-man bar means the real Raffles experience requires decades of dues-paying to obtain. We’ll see you in about 40 years.

2. Bar America,723 S. Alamo,myspace.com/bar_america

3. Dad’s Karaoke, 2615 Mossrock Drive, (210) 240-3887, myspace.com/dadskaraoke

Best Hotel Bar

Vbar in the Hotel Valencia
150 E. Houston
(210) 227-9700
V-Bar Website

What do the townie denizens of tourist destinations want from their hotel bars? A happy-hour staycation, a reliable place to find some out-of-town strange, and the occasional celebrity sighting. Item three seals Vbar’s top honors, although it also delivers on the other two reliably (we’re told), without ever stooping to reality-TV trashiness. Its shimmery yet earthy bar still feels swank, and the outdoor veranda overlooks one of the more romantic bends in the river, but it also outdoes its many new and old competitors by hosting monthly events that mix fashion and philanthropy with cocktails.

2. WXYZ Bar in Aloft, 838 NW Loop 410, (210) 541-888, starwoodhotels.com

3. The Menger Hotel Ba, r204 Alamo Plaza, (210) 223-4361, mengerhotel.com

Best Wine Bar

Copa Wine Bar
19141 Stone Oak Pkwy.
(210) 495-2672
thecopawinebar.com

2010’s turning out to be a good year to be named Jeff Bridges. While Hollywood’s Jeff Bridges just won his first Oscar, SA’s Jeff Bridges is the proud owner of Copa Wine Bar, which, according to y’all, is the best place in town to pull a cork out and drink till you’ve got purple teeth. What makes Copa so special? For one, it’s probably the most laid-back watering hole on the North Side. Copa’s living-room atmosphere lends itself to sipping slowly on a glass of something you’ve never tried before, which brings up another good point: Not only is Bridges eager to share a wealth of knowledge about wine (speaking in a way non-oenophiles can relate to), he’s got a knack for guessing what your palate’s longing for. The dude knows his grapes.

2. Zinc Champagne & Wine Bar, 207 N. Presa, (210) 224-2900, zincwine.com

3. Vela at Paloma Blanc, 5800 Broadway, (210) 822-7120,velawinebar.com

See Also

Working Class Heroes in Best of San Antonio 4/21/2010

Mini Me in Best of San Antonio 4/21/2010

Shop Till You Drop in Best of San Antonio 4/21/2010

You Turn Me On (and sometimes off) in Best of San Antonio 4/21/2010

Creative Class in Best of San Antonio 4/21/2010

Vice and Virtue in Best of San Antonio 4/21/2010

You've Been Served in Best of San Antonio 4/21/2010

Best of 2010 : Click here for your 2010 Readers' Choice winners! 4/21/2010

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