April 20-23, 2010
NIOSA stands for A Night In Old San Antonio, but it’s highly unlikely that you hear that phrase pass any locals’ lips. Instead, you hear “Nye-Oh-Suh” referred to as the number-one Fiesta destination. The San Antonio Conservation Society fundraiser takes place over four evenings, transforming La Villita into a boozy Epcot Center. We pay tribute to the cultures that made our city great by frying up their favorite delicacies and enjoying live music performances. Try tapas in Villa España, grab a famous Maria’s tortilla from a Chili Queen, watch Ballet Folklorico in the Mexican Market, and wash it down with a Wahooz, a malted beer beverage from Froggy Bottom, the African-American section.
2. King William Fair, April 24, 2010, kwfair.org
3. Fiesta Oyster Bake, April 16-17, 2010, (catch it next year, kids!),oysterbake.com
Fiesta Oyster Bake
April 16-17, 2010 (catch it next year, kids!)
As more than one astute reader used their vote to point out, we don’t have South by Southwest, Austin City Limits, or a festival of comparable size and scope in the Alamo City, but the festivals we do have are truly our own. Accordions, jazz, and the luminous give and take between local artists and musicians rounded out your top picks, but your favorite is the bivalve mollusk celebration that embodies the dominant trait of SA’s music scene: baffling variety. This year’s Oyster Bake line-up included Puddle of Mudd, Loverboy, Cory Morrow, and the St. Mary’s Jazz Orchestra featuring Ken Slavin. And we’d be willing to bet some of you wound up going to most if not all of those. And that’s why we love you.
2. International Accordion Festival, October 15-17, 2010,internationalaccordionfestival.org
3. Jazz’SAlive (tie), September 18-19, 2010, saparksfoundation.org/jazzsalive.html
3. Luminaria (tie), March 201, luminariasa.org
Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club
Park North Plaza
618 NW Loop 410
Looking to impress the hell out of a date, or to alter your usual beer, tacos, and hangin’-type evening out to include (somewhat-overpriced) well drinks, cushy surroundings, and (no joke) the deliciously infectious laughter of a hundred or more of your fellow San Antonians? Laugh Out Loud, the spankin’-new chuckle hut in the Park North shopping center (which also includes a Target, Alamo Drafthouse, and hip hotel outpost Aloft, part of the W chain) ain’t cheap, but it’s fun. LOL attracts A-list comics; Richard Lewis was the club’s opener, and the names of Tom Rhodes, Maryellen Hooper, and Last Comic Standing’s Alonzo Bodden will all be familiar to comedy nerds like us. Jade Esteban Estrada, charming local raconteur and boa enthusiast, often emcees. Frequent open-mic nights, too: You too skeered to take the stage, funny lady?
2. Rivercenter Comedy Club, 849 E. Commerce, (210) 229-1420,rivercentercomedyclub.com
3. The Overtime Theater, 1414 S. Alamo, (210) 557-7562, theovertimetheater.net
The Overtime Theater
1414 S. Alamo, (210) 557-7562
The Overtime Theater has been making magic since 2006. Founded by John Poole, who once told the Current the OT’s beginnings were “in a closet next to a morgue,” the theater’s present Blue Star location is at once warm and gallery-like. For San Antonians, it’s a destination for original, local, consistently entertaining contemporary theater. Rep performers, writers, and directors are always game to bring one another’s wild ideas to life. Ticket prices are reasonable, drinks and snacks are by donation, and if it’s not theater you’re in the mood for, OT also screens (great) films and hosts the Denials improv comedy troupe on Saturdays. And good news, charitable ones: OT is now a non-profit org, so donate and deduct away.
2. Jump-Start Performance Co., 108 Blue Star, (210) 227-5867,jump-start.org
3. The Magik Children’s Theatre, 420 S. Alamo, (210) 227-2751,magiktheatre.org
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
116 Blue Star
Arguably the Southtown art aquifer from which newer exhibition spaces sprang, the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center can be counted on for motley crews of emerging and established local artists hangin’ side-by-side, both in-person and on the walls (the annual Red Dot fundraiser is an awesome way to get a lay of the land, art-scene-wise), travelling shows (skewed, happily, towards the regional), and engrossing exhibitions/events with ingenious curation — Hills Snyder’s Lonely Are the Brave was the showstopper of the last July Contemporary Art Month. Its Gallery 4 nook is usually occupied by smaller-scale works by locals, while the Project Space is ideal for immersive video experiences or solo installations. A San Antonio landmark (and hot party central, if, um, that’s your scene).
2. Artpace, 445 N. Main, (210) 212-4900,artpace.org
3. FL!GHT, 1906 S. Flores, (210) 872-2586,Turnitoff.tv
Donald Lipski’s F.I.S.H.
River Walk Museum Reach
Under the I-35 overpass near Camden Street
This one won by a land- (…water?) slide, you guys. Todo San Anto seems to have fallen for this art school (haw!), and we love ’em, too. Donald Lipski’s fishies are funny and winsome and beautiful all at the same time, and a reminder that while it might flow through a man-sculpted channel, the San Antonio river — our city’s very mama — is still water, people. With fish in it. These fish! Long-eared sunfish, to be exact (Lipski was going to go with goldfish, but found out we’ve got these native beauties). Best viewed of an evening from Carlos Cortes’s lovely faux-bois palapa at the corner of Camden and Newell streets, another fun public-art anchor of the nearly year-old Museum Reach.
2. Museum Reach River Walk Extension, From Lexington Ave. to the Pearl Brewery
3. Blue Star Arts Complex, 116 Blue Star, (210) 225-6742,bluestarartscomplex.com
The Witte Museum
If you’re a grownup native San Antonian, chances are you’re well familiar with the Witte’s stable of ancient taxidermized animals in their vintage dioramas. Which is your favorite? The mountain lion lording it over his freshly killed antelope on a West Texas cliffside, the black bear in the Big Piney with his porcupine buddy, or the coyote chasing a jackrabbit at the beach? Maybe you’re more of a bison-standing-alone guy. But nostalgia aside, the Witte’s evolved into a multifaceted education destination, whether you and your youngsters wanna learn about the ever-popular dinosaurs, the history and culture of the circus, or mess around with the forces of physics and ecology in the little-kid-friendly Treehouse. It’s a warm and friendly place full of fascinating stuff on beautiful grounds (be sure to explore the Onderdonk studio out back!). Our oldest museum, and for our voters, the best by far.
2. The Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum, 6000 N. New Braunfels, (210) 824-5368,mcnayart.org
3. The San Antonio Museum of Art, 200 W. Jones Ave., (210) 978-8100, samuseum.org
San Pedro Springs
1315 San Pedro
The springs that still flow from the low cave-pocked hills in the nation’s second-oldest public park were first named by Europeans more than 300 years ago, and they well as clear and pretty as antique glass, oblivious to the man-made pool beyond where you can bathe and splash but not dive (it maxes out at 5 feet). The gracefully irregular bowl, guarded by a regiment of reassuring bald cypresses, makes up for a lot, though, even the ugly fence the city insists on erecting during our criminally short “swimming season.”
2. Landa Park, New Braunfels, (830) 221-4370,nbtexas.org/index.aspx?NID=156
3. Roosevelt Park, 331 Roosevelt,sanantonio.gov/sapar/roosevelthis.asp
3700 N. St. Mary’s
If one needed evidence (beyond Best Of votes, of course!) of San Antonio’s love for Brackenridge, just check how quickly the chains and padlocks are slapped down on its park benches as Easter Camp Out nears and San Antonians pile in for their annual (legal) chance to pitch their tents overnight. Rickety train rides, shadowy walking trails, and a gradually less fecal-soaked river … What’s not to like about San Antonio’s own Central Park? Though, for the safety of your little ones, may we suggest catch-and-release? That’s still the Zoo (and its many full-time campers) draining above you.
2. McAllister Park, 13102 Jones-Maltsberger,sanantonio.gov/sapar
2. San Pedro Park, 1315 San Pedro,sanantonio.gov/sapar
17703 IH-10 West
The opening of a new Alamo Drafthouse split the vote that in years past went solely to the Westlakes branch of the Austin dinner-and-a-movie franchise, but support was pretty solid for the snazziest of the Santikos properties. What the Palladium lacks in quirk — no Rocky Horror nights, Weird Wednesdays, or pancake breakfasts paired with ’80 kitsch-fests here — is compensated for with state-of-the-art technology and amenities. In addition to the first-run movies shown in digital projection on 19 screens with the now-requisite stadium seating, the Palladium has a full bar, onsite Starbucks and gelato stands, a video arcade to rival Chuck E. Cheese, and one of the best IMAX screens in town — moving the movie-going experience several steps closer to a day at Fiesta Texas across the highway.
2. Alamo Drafthouse Park North, 618 NW Loop 410, (210) 677-8500,drafthouse.com/parknorth
3. Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes, 1255 SW Loop 410, San Antonio, (210) 677-8500,drafthouse.com/westlakes