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Best Bets for Budget Booze and Grub Near Campus



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  • Luthers, photo by Jessica E.

Trinity \ SAC \ UIW\UTSA Downtown Campus

Niki’s Tokyo Inn
819 W. Hildebrand Ave., (210) 736-5471, facebook.com/nikis.tokyo.inn

On the outside, Niki’s Tokyo Inn looks pretty weathered and nondescript, but one step inside and you’re wondering where in the world you’ve been transported to with its warm atmosphere and beautiful Japanese décor. “Western or Japanese style dining?” That’s the first question you’ll be asked when entering this San Antonio institution. Leaving it to the diner’s choice, Niki’s not only offers the tables and chairs we are all accustomed too, but you can also sit in the Japanese traditional style that involves taking off your shoes, tucking them away into cubbies and sitting on cushions around a short tabletop. The lighting is on the dim side, and several of the dining areas are semi-private — perfect for discussing a project with class mates or a date with someone special.

Candlelight Coffeehouse
3011 N. St. Mary’s St., (210) 738-0099, candlelightsa.com

Candlelight Coffeehouse is an ideal student hangout with an ambiance that suits study parties, special events, or a chill night with a few friends. Got a paper to write, but don’t want to be locked up in the dorm? Candlelight offers free wifi, a full menu, and more than 60 wines and beers to choose from — making it a perfect place to take your laptop and work on assignments while sipping a craft coffee, glass of wine or a bottle of beer. Make your group projects feel less like work, claim a cozy sofa and get lost in a book, or bring a group and make a night of it. Candlelight also hosts weekend brunch Saturday and Sunday mornings, happy hour from Tuesday to Friday, and 50 percent off bottles of wine every Wednesday.

Luther’s Café
1503 N. Main Ave., (210) 223-7727, lutherscafe.com

Right at the edge of San Antonio College lies a true staple of the Alamo City — Luther’s Café. Established in 1949, Luther’s is a classic diner with updated fare and contemporary accents. The establishment is cheerfully bright and they play the music to match. What’s awesome about Luther’s is that they have something going on almost every day of the week. From “Jazz Hangover” brunch on Sunday and “Margarita Madness” on Thursday to “Karaoke Fridays” and “Dinner and a Show” Saturdays, Luther’s is the perfect escape from homework any night of the week. Enjoy a burger between classes, hone your skills at “Luther’s Got Talent” on a Monday night or karaoke your student stress away by belting out Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” after a long week of tests and quizzes.

Drink Texas Bar
200 Navarro St., (210) 224-1031, drinktexas.com

The downtown location of Drink offers a winning blend of sophistication and comfort — not too upscale, but not a dive either. Drink’s famously long happy hour runs from 2-7 p.m., which means you can squeeze in an early evening of drinking and also wake up in time for that absurdly early class you regret registering for. Besides happy hour, Drink features daily specials and tends to draw in quite the crowd. Pro tip: Drink makes for a great escape from the touristy chaos of the nearby River Walk.

Sparky’s Pub
1416 N. Main Ave., (210) 320-5111, sparkyspub.com

This “Gayrish” pub is a local LGBT favorite and home to some of the best drink specials in the area — exemplified by Way Back Wednesdays, an ’80s-themed night boasting budget well drinks for only 80 cents. Sparky’s also attracts a nicely mixed crowd with one of the Main Strip’s longest daily happy hours, ranging from 3-9 p.m. most weeknights and 3-11 p.m. on the weekends. While there’s a cozy back patio equipped with a full bar, Sparky’s doesn’t technically have a dance floor — but that doesn’t keep folks from dancing along to music videos on weekend nights. Like many bars in the area, Sparky’s serves up hard-to-pass drink specials in an upbeat atmosphere and hosts themed parties open to all walks.

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