The nightlife scene in San Antonio is rich and diverse. With Western-style dance halls, upscale bars, cool new breweries, and hip old dive bars, there’s truly a little something for every nighttime entertainment-seeker. Whether you want to sample Texan craft brews, linger over artisanal cocktails in a shadowy basement bar, see live music, or two-step the night away, chances are that you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for in the Alamo City. Some places (especially those that offer live music) may have a cover charge; luckily, the typical cover usually doesn’t surpass $10. (Note that this doesn’t include venues where you have to buy tickets in advance, like with touring musicians or other big-name shows.)
Also, feel free to BYOB when you’re strolling along the Riverwalk—San Antonio’s famous urban waterway is exempt from the city’s open-container ordinance, which means you can walk around with a margarita in hand (just don’t fall in the river!).
An eclectic smattering of watering holes abound in San Antonio, where you can enjoy great drinks of all kinds, in all kinds of settings. These are the top places to grab a drink:
- Paramour: What’s not to love about killer rooftop views and even-more-killer cocktails? Paramour has a vague dress code, but if you come dressed in style, you're sure to get in.
- Havana Bar: Hidden deep in the belly of Hotel Havana and, this bar boasts swanky, speakeasy vibes.
- Alamo Beer Company: This local brewery has a cool tasting room, family-friendly beer garden, food trucks, and live music; don’t leave without trying the crisp, delightful Alamo Golden Ale.
- SoHo Wine and Martini Bar: Of course, simply wandering along the Riverwalk while popping in and out of bars and enjoying the sounds of live mariachi is a must-do San Antonio nightlife experience. Just off the busiest section of the Riverwalk, SoHo Wine and Martini Bar has great happy hour deals on their handcrafted martinis.
- Cobalt Club: A wonderfully weird, classic gay dive bar that somehow remains a hidden gem.
- Sternewirth Tavern & Club Room: Hotel Emma’s very own tavern and club room, Sternewirth is where you go when you want to get fancy. The bar has 25-foot vaulted ceilings and cozy groupings of chairs and sofa, perfect for intimate conversation.
- The Esquire Tavern: Founded the same year that prohibition ended (1933!), this historic bar serves an inventive selection of mezcal drinks (like the timely Las Fronteras No Existen, a concoction of mezcal, sotol, tequila, Guatemalan coffee-amargo vallet, and pineapple gum) and other tasty cocktails, all in a cozy, living room-esque setting.
Itching to get your after-hours culture fix? San Antonio has much to offer arts, music, and culture lovers.
- Tobin Center for the Performing Arts: The Tobin Center is home to the San Antonio Symphony, Opera San Antonio, Ballet San Antonio, and a handful of other artistic companies, making the Tobin your one-stop shop for all things nighttime cultural entertainment.
- The Thirsty Horse Saloon: On the other end of the spectrum, when you’re in the mood for some whiskey-fueled two-stepping, The Thirsty Horse Saloon is a solid choice.
- The Overtime Theater: This local theater produces shows written primarily by local authors.
- The Aztec Theatre is one of San Antonio’s most cherished historical landmarks. You can catch nationally touring bands, comedians, and more here.
- Azuca: This Nuevo Latino restaurant also offers salsa dancing lessons and live Latin tunes.
- Jazz, TX: If you want to hear some of the best live jazz in the city, this is the place to be at.
If you want to truly experience the breadth of San Antonio’s diversity and culture, the best time for you to visit may well be during Fiesta, in April. During this 10-day citywide celebration, San Antonians come together to commemorate the Battle of San Jacinto and the Alamo, and it’s basically one giant party, akin to Mardi Gras.
Tips for Going Out in San Antonio
- You can BYOB on the Riverwalk; just keep in mind that glass containers aren’t permitted.
- Uber and Lyft are the two most common rideshare services in San Antonio.
- “Last Call” for most bars and clubs is 2 a.m.
- Standard cover charges usually range from $5 to $10.