Food & Drink

The Best Dive Bars in San Antonio

Published On 01/25/2016 Published On 01/25/2016

Sure, craft beers and hand-crafted cocktails are nice but occasionally the craftiness you're after can only be found in a dimly lit late-night bar because sometimes you just need four tallboys, a shot, and a smokey, windowless venue in which to drink them. These are San Antonio's bars that will sate your dive-y desires.

TBA

TBA

St. Mary’s Strip

It’s not often a dive bar is described as a hidden treasure, but TBA isn’t a typical dive. While setting up shop on the St. Mary’s Strip has been a recipe for success over the years, the popularity of the area has made it difficult for bars to set themselves apart from the competition. TBA does just that by giving you a dive you could take your mom to. The atmosphere is calm and the bar has a cleanliness you’ll rarely find on this list. Their happy hours change on a weekly basis so make sure to check their website out as often as possible.

The Korova

Downtown

Known mostly for its music scene, The Korova is also a strong destination for locals. Not only does the place give regulars a chance to get personal with their favorite musicians, The Korova also employs some of the friendliest bartenders in SA. Quick with name recognition and heavy-handed with pours, the drink jockeys at The Korova make everyone feel right at home. If Downtown is your locale and music is your scene, this is your dive.

Boneheadz

Boneheadz

Medical Center

If location is everything, then Boneheadz has it all. Across the street from a massive billiards hall and gentlemen’s club, and right next to a Mexican restaurant, Boneheadz is prime real estate for a dive. The bar is stocked with strong drinks at cheap prices and served by a friendly and attractive staff. The atmosphere makes this place perfect for visiting with a group of friends or just you and your thoughts. Just wash your hands and check your feet for toilet paper when you leave the restroom.

Cross Eyed Seagull

Stone Oak

Nestled on the North Side amidst ultra-lounges and cocktail bars, the Cross Eyed Seagull’s dĂ©cor is reminiscent of bars you frequented during college spring break trips, full of leis and plastic hula dancers. But more importantly, the drinks are cheap, the service is fast, and the jukebox is loud. Be aware: the dive fills up on Wednesdays when Bud, Bud Light, and Bud Select cost only $1. 

Clayton G. Baines/Bottom Bracket Social Club

Bottom Bracket Social Club

Five Points

If Bottom Bracket doesn’t set the standard for San Antonio dive bar, it definitely should. Hell, BBSC should probably set the standard for bars, period. The beer selection is diverse and the prices are reasonable. If those perks don’t wet your palate, then maybe the house DJ and laser light shows are more up your alley. This is where Five Pointers, who know how to party without the pretense, go.

The Thursty Turtle

Oak Park

Go to the Thursty Turtle to disappear. Drink cheap mixed drinks until you run out of cash, and then swindle your neighbor for a couple more -- they’re sure to oblige. The happy hour is killer too, from 1pm to 8pm daily, find $2 domestics and $2 well drinks. 

Stay Golden Social House

Stay Golden Social House

Pearl Brewery

Stay Golden pushes the boundaries of what a dive bar is by offering a well-crafted cocktail menu. Thanks to the usual suspects, you’ll also find Stay Golden to be calmer than the other dives on this list. If you’re in the neighborhood, you should have a seat on reserve.

Oak Hills Tavern

Medical Center

If there was a standard for the San Antonio dive bar scene, Oak Hills Tavern would be the model. Cheap drinks and great specials. A deep, dedicated crew of regulars. Some of the friendliest people behind the bar in the city. Plus, you have the beat-up billiards, the mismatched furniture, and the jukebox. Oak Hills Tavern may not be “first date” material, but this is a bar your GPS will need to have memorized. If you rest your head in the Medical Center area, rest your butt in a stool at Oak Hills Tavern.

The Mix

The Mix

Tobin Hill

The Mix is a Tobin Hill staple because it gives us excellent live music to help wash down our strongly poured well whiskey(s). With music nights like Ska & Punk Night, The Mix lives up to its name by catering to a clientele as varied as its beer selection. Check them out nightly from 10pm to 11pm when all drink specials are $2 off. 

Alibis

Downtown

Anyone who has spent time frequenting Downtown dives or attending concerts at Sunset Station has lost their mind in Alibis. The jukebox is always blaring and the dart boards are always chirping in this king among dives. It's equally great for hooking up or meeting up, so if you’re in the Downtown area and looking for an excuse to have too many, Alibis is your next, and probably last stop.

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Stephen Ross writes for Thrillist San Antonio and can be found in a windowless dive bar near you. Follow him @estebanjross.

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1. TBA 2801 N St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX 78212

This place is often called a "hidden treasure" of the St. Mary's strip. It's a favorite dive bar of this bustling area. Although it has the casual appeal of a typical dive bar, it's also a relatively clean establishment suitable for all.

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2. The Korova 107 E Martin St, San Antonio, TX 78205

This local dive bar is known for its great music scene. In addition to the cool musical vibes, the bartenders are said to be friendly and generous with their pours.

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3. Boneheadz 9503 Console Dr, San Antonio, TX 78229 (Medical Center District)

Boneheadz has classic beverages at cheap prices. Its location next to a Mexican restaurant makes it an even better place for a good friend hang.

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4. Cross Eyed Seagull 19141 Stone Oak Pkwy # 206, San Antonio, TX 78258 (Stone Oak)

Cheap drinks, good service, and a jukebox, what more could you want? This dive bar is located on the Northside and is a nice break from the trendy lounges of the neighborhood.

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5. Bottom Bracket Social Club 1609 N Colorado St, San Antonio, TX 78201 (Five Points)

Bottom Bracket Social Club feels like home. They've got a superior beer and drink selection at easy prices. It's a dive bar at its best.

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6. Thursty Turtle 1626 NE Loop 410, San Antonio, TX 78209 (Oak Parknorthwood)

This cash-only dive bar is the perfect place to go if you just want to hide out with a drink for a little. Plus, the Thursty Turtle is very serious about their happy hours: from 1pm to 8pm every day, domestics and well drinks are $2 domestics.

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7. Stay Golden Social House 401 Pearl Pkwy, San Antonio, TX 78215

Stay Golden Social House takes the best elements of the South Texas ice house and combines them with the sensibilities of a craft cocktail bar. One of Jeret Peña’s projects, this bar adjacent to the Pearl Brewery offers a killer happy hour in a laid-back environment.

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8. Oak Hills Tavern 7920 Fredericksburg Rd, San Antonio, TX 78229 (Medical Center District)

This place has all the makings of a great dive bar. Billiards, jukebox, cheap drinks, and drink specials are all offered at this comfortable watering hole located in the Medical Center area.

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9. The Mix 2403 N St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX 78212 (Tobin Hill)

Staying true to its name, The Mix offers different musical theme nights. Get your ska fix one night and let out your inner rebel during punk night. On top of the music, this Tobin Hill favorite has a great beer selection

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10. Alibis 1141 E Commerce S, San Antnio, TX 78205 (Downtown)

This place has those great dive bar staples: Friendly people, jukebox, and dart board. Shot specials are also available at this downtown hub.

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