Lauren De Hoyos
Let’s talk about the loo. As San Antonio’s dining and drinking scene has delivered elegantly designed bars and restaurants, so have their restrooms taken on a whole new raison d’être, a change in purpose be it as a pause from a exhausting Tinder date, an excuse for a selfie with your pals, or brief self-care with luxurious products. Hell, even the City of San Antonio has upped its toilet game with two pricy, but necessary, Portland Loos available in public areas.
Consider this an extension to our frequent “Best Bathroom to Sneak into During Fiesta” category (2016’s winners included Mi Tierra, Sexology Institute & Boutique and The Friendly Spot) as our excuse to find noteworthy facilities for all. For our list, we’ve singled out some of the best, quirkiest, neatest and eye-catching sanctuaries found across San Antonio as of late.
So whether they’re touching up their highlighter, calling a Lyft, taking one too many photos, finding their new best friend, partaking in a little "pick-me-up," checking work emails, crafting a Trump-inspired tweet, flexin’ on Snapchat, or getting to “know” their date, or, you know, actually using the facilities for their true purposes, there’s a throne room for everyone on this list. Just keep the haikus and Sharpies at home.
You can see all of our picks here.
Bakery Lorraine //
Though bustling on weekday and weekend mornings, Bakery Lorraine’s flagship location offers a refuge from all the baked good madness inside their unisex bathrooms. The urban oases are decked out with artwork by Northwest Vista College student and local artist Juan Miguel Ramos, made up of framed elaborate flowers that come from vintage Audubon books and magazines. Though one wall is built using concrete bricks, the bathroom leans more utilitarian chic with the bright colors coming from the 17 frames of flora and fauna. Bonus: there’s a changing station for all the hip parents picking up macarons with their minis. 306 Pearl Pkwy., (210) 862-5582, bakerylorraine.com.
As the third restaurant in a line of beloved eateries by chef Stefan Bowers and restaurateur Andrew Goodman, Battalion’s aesthetic was clearly years in the making. And the thoughtful vibes found inside this rehabilitated firehouse echo in all of restrooms designed in part by Goodman and Bowers’ sons. The unisex (check out the decals before you go in) nooks employ expert lighting, flowers, utility carts, sleek sinks, candles and Art Deco-tinged mirrors to ensure a pleasant trip to the john. 604 S. Alamo St., (210) 816-0088, battalionsa.com.
Dorcol Distilling Co. //
Lauren De Hoyos
This distillery’s handcrafted cocktails, brews and Kinsman rakia may draw you in, but the clean restrooms will keep you there (perhaps the ultimate goal?). A peach-colored paint job sets the mood and is complimented by a green vintage mirror hanging over the sink. A green wooden cabinet sits in the corner with flowers and magazines that give this restroom even more character. It’s spacious and comfortable, a goal owners Chris Mobley and Boyan Kalusevic say helped with customer experience. “To make fans of Kinsman and HighWheel feel appreciated, we paid attention to the design of even the restrooms and received great feedback from boys and girls alike,” said Kalusevic. 1902 S. Flores St., (210) 229-0607, dorcolspirits.com.
The Esquire Tavern //
Though you may enjoy a modern craft cocktail on the longest wooden bar top in Texas, The Esquire Tavern’s restroom is sure to take you back to the early 1900s with its metal ceiling tiles and dark fixtures. As you walk into the dim restroom, take in the high ceiling adorned with an extraordinary chandelier, each light bulb encased by large glass “bubbles.” Visit the stalls and find old-fashioned sliding locks on each door. The spacious stalls have their own lamp hanging by a long cord to give you dim lighting. Several antique mirrors hang above a long dark marble sink. Don’t forget to look up at the entrance of the doorway on your way out to say goodbye to the stuffed otter. 155 E. Commerce St., (210) 222-2521, esquiretavern-sa.com.
As if a refurbished church turned into a restaurant and bar isn’t interesting enough, Frank’s restroom was designed with a trendy yet humorous approach. A collection of commissioned and limited edition paintings by artist Ryan Duggan hang around the washroom of this unisex loo, showing a variety of pooches at different locations … dropping a deuce. Underneath the doggy-do business are sinks that look like miniature bathtubs held by a blue legs that complement the white tile and grey walls. 1150 S. Alamo St., (210) 265-5292, hotdogscoldbeer.com.
How exactly do you outfit an Asian-inspired bar with an appropriate restroom where guests can freshen up, chill out or dial for their Uber? Designer Linda Romero used her love of Japanese cinema to line the walls with movie posters in the men’s room and a series of custom collages in the women’s room. Paired with a red light, sleek sink fixtures and wee circular tile, this restroom transports you clear across several continents without leaving San Antonio. Don’t miss the pink Wall Willy purse hooks on the stall doors. 7701 Broadway, Suite 124, (210) 826-1488, hanzobar.com.
Hotel Emma //
Whether you’re grabbing a cocktail at Sternewirth, or having lunch/dinner at Supper, Hotel Emma’s extravagant and modern restroom next to Curio is one to make a pit stop to at least once, twice, or three times (we’re not judging). The closed-off stalls guarantee privacy to recharge in, complete with overhead windows between the ceiling and stall door in case you need to chat with your neighbor or just listen to bathroom gossip. The long marble sinks are adorned with floral arrangements that change on a near-weekly basis. “Los Poblanos” hand soap comes from the lavender fields of New Mexico, leaving your hands silky smooth. Not one to skimp, Hotel Emma’s thick paper napkins come emblazoned with the hotel’s logo. 136 E. Grayson St., (210) 448-8300, thehotelemma.com.
Juniper Tar //
This downtown wate ring hole had a shaky start, sure. But although management has changed (and with it came a few aesthetic modifications, as well), Juniper Tar’s restrooms designed by former co-owner Matty Gee and Linda Romero remain almost as opulent as they once did. Exposed walls meet fanciful, floral wallpaper. The gold-plated toilet is gone, but the feminine touches found in this bar restroom remain including the glass chandelier, a lacquered photograph featuring a floral arrangement designed by Gee. 244 W. Houston St., (210) 229-1833, juniper-tar.com.
Although compact, each restroom at Lowcountry is clean and private enough from the on-goings that often include live music by local country artists. The women’s restroom, painted black like the rest of the interiors, features an antique mirror and delicate lighting, capped off with a large, hand-painted metal sign. “Thanks y’all, come back,” as painted by Lowcountry’s Drew Morros (she based it off a sign in the back of a Gracious Goodness cookbook) nails this bar’s Southern charm. 318 Martinez St., (210) 560-2224, lowcountrysa.com.
El Luchador //
Lauren De Hoyos
This Southside gem blends craft beers, funky cocktails with a kitschy Mexican wrestler theme that gels with neighbors young and old. From Luchador masks hanging over the bar, to luchador paintings, posters and artwork on the walls, you’ll want to admire every single detail on your way to the restroom. With magenta-colored walls and spacious stalls, the women’s restroom is one you won’t have a problem using. There’s a long mirror to make sure your outfit is on point and mirrors at each sink that are bordered with tiles of different cartoon-wrestlers. What makes this restroom even better, is a basket full of feminine products available gratis for those pesky emergencies. The men’s restroom is smaller but has the same wrestler-lined tile and a clean stall with a “El Demonio Azul” wrestler poster watching your six. 622 Roosevelt Ave., (210) 272-0016, facebook.com/luchadorbarsa.
The Modernist //
This fall, Olaf Harmel and Gerry Shirley teamed up to open a mid-century modern bar inside a teensy home, complete with craft cocktails and comfortable seating. Though the space takes up all of 800 square feet, the owners and designer (in this case food reviewer Ron Bechtol) designated spacious spots for both men and women lavatories. Decked out with mirrors, and old-school Italian amaro posters, a sturdy purse hook and amazing lighting, the women’s room takes you into a field of poppies with bright wallpaper. Just don’t get too comfortable. 516 E. Grayson St., (210) 446-8699.
Along with its posh atmosphere and majestic view, Paramour has more to uncover than quotes on pillows or signature cocktails being mixed behind the bar. Since 2015, Paramour’s men’s and women’s restrooms have been reason enough to visit this rooftop bar. For the ladies, a neon pink “peep show” reflects in the mirror making it perfect for as many bathroom selfies as you’d like. Cheeky high-gloss photos of Tom Selleck in a Speedo and Burt Reynold’s 1972 Cosmopolitan centerfold give the restroom a scandalous vibe. The guys can compare business cards (“Oh my God, it even has a watermark”) inside the men’s room where screenshots of Christian Bale as American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman and his victims are found. 102 9th St., (210) 340-9880, paramourbar.com.
Weathered Souls Brewing Company //
Despite their name, Weathered Souls' women’s restroom makes a woman feel anything but weathered. Artist Corey B. Mullins’ thoughtful work turned an ordinary restroom into a room reflecting confidence. It’s full of colorful flowers and quotes painted along each wall. Quotes such as “Always know how valuable and uniquely beautiful you are” and “Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we raise them, may we be them,” reinforce women empowerment. The colors used to paint each flower and quote are light with a spring-like feel, using different shades of yellow, pink, and purple. Walk in to tinkle, walk out self-assured and ready to take on the world. 606 Embassy Oaks, (210) 313-8796, weatheredsouls.beer.