Sweet Spots: San Antonio Chefs Share Their Favorite Dive Bars

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Sous chef JC Rodriguez enjoys a drink inside the cool and dark confines of Faust, his favorite local watering hole. - LEA THOMPSON
  • Lea Thompson
  • Sous chef JC Rodriguez enjoys a drink inside the cool and dark confines of Faust, his favorite local watering hole.
Chefs work long hours. And, like anyone else, they want to unwind.

Sometimes that means savoring a fancy cocktail or glass of wine, but very often it involves grabbing a cold beer someplace casual and, well, downright dive-y. Dive bars are dark, cool spots to escape the summer heat, connect with friends or avoid people you know — be they customers or coworkers.



We asked several local chefs to talk about their favorite drinking spots, and what makes them worth celebrating:

JC Rodriguez, sous chef, Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery
Faust, 517 E. Woodlawn Ave., (210) 257-0628, facebook.com/thefausttavern.
“My go to-bar is Faust Tavern off Woodlawn and North St. Mary’s. If you show up before 8 p.m. you can check Robot Monster, the vintage music and toy store next door, which I often start my Sundays at. When you get into Faust itself, there’s always metal on, good horror movies, little to no light and a solid selection of beer and cocktails at ridiculous prices. Fun fact: I once confused a picture of an altar with new additions to the behind-the-bar art over there.”



Justin Limburg, executive chef, SoHill Cafe
Oak Hills Tavern, 7920 Fredericksburg Road, (210) 614-8855, oak-hills-tavern.business.site.
“My favorite dive bar is Oak Hills Tavern. It’s small enough that if you go a couple times, you know everybody’s name, and it’s just across the street from my house. After a really tough or long day, it’s nice to go somewhere where there aren’t any industry people that want to talk about work. I don’t really order anything to eat when I go to a dive bar, but my go-to drink is just a double shot of Jim Beam.”

Jenn Reisman, pastry chef, Hotel Emma
Francis Bogside, 803 S. St. Mary’s St., (210) 369-9192, francisbogside.com.
“I didn’t know anyone when I first moved to San Antonio, but the crew at Brigid and Francis Bogside just kind of adopted me. They gave me somewhere to go after work and gave me a sense of belonging and being part of a community. I don’t have a lot of free time, but when I can, I support the people who support me. Francis is a place to be social and to actually eat good food. My go-to order is usually chorizo deviled eggs and a pizza with jalapeños and olives. I save part of the pizza, because it’s perfect to eat on my way to work in the morning.”

Michael Sohocki, chef, Restaurant Gwendolyn
Lowcountry, 318 Martinez St., (210) 560-2224, lowcountrysa.com.
“I have a mixed relationship with alcohol. It pays my bills and is a social lubricant in the most socially accepted circles. I am terrified of large groups of people, loud music, strangers, bright lights, busy streets, so I don’t go anywhere to get seen. But we all need a place to talk, and the wooden porch at Low Country, when absolutely nothing is going on — God, give me a pouring rainstorm to chase off the fair-weather friends — is enough like home for me to open up. You’ll probably find me there with a Topo Chico. With lime if I’m feeling foxy.”

Tim McDiarmid, chef, The Good Kind
Sanchos Cantina y Cocina, 628 Jackson St., (210) 320-1840, sanchosmx.com.
“I go to Sancho’s with friends for the outdoor seating and the casual good service. My go-to order is always a shrimp taco and a fancy margarita — I don’t drink cheap drinks.”

Les Locke, brewmaster, Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery
Joey’s, 2417 N St Mary’s St, (210) 733-9573, facebook.com/joeyssanantonio.
“Besides the fact that I’ve been going there forever, I know Joey, and I like that the bar hasn’t changed in a long time. There’s a lot of the same bartenders, and it’s always nice to see friendly faces at the neighborhood pub. My go-to order is always a gin and tonic, or I’ll make it a double and just catch up with whoever shows up there.”

Lucas Bradbury, vice president of operations, Earth Burger
Hoppy Monk, 1010 N. Loop 1604 East, (210) 545-3330, thehoppymonk.com.
“Hoppy Monk always gets my vote, although I don’t drink. Ironic, I know. I enjoy the environment as well as their vegan selection and non-alcoholic choices, such as locally owned Element Kombucha, and my favorite near-beer, Clausthaler.”

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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