Confusingly, Big Mo Fresno Bar is not a gay bar for the 6-foot-and-over crowd (I can just picture high ceilings, tall stools, and a bumping, grinding dance floor), but rather a tiny hole in the wall that caters to a much older, but no less fun, clientele. Big Mo’s is long and narrow — not unlike a mobile home — with a pool table on one end, darts on the other, and a bar sandwiched between (Mo’s hosts a pool league Wednesdays; dart league on Thursdays). The wood paneling on the walls looks like it’s been there for decades, and judging by the yellowing ’80s and’90s sports posters covering them, it’s probably a safe bet. Due to Mo’s cozy size, elbow room is extremely hard to come by — the only table that would fit all of us was precariously close to the pool game, causing us to duck and dodge errant pool cues (Dr. Gillespie almost lost an eye). It definitely cramped our style, and, judging by the missed shots in the game next to us, it probably annoyed the players as well.
Luckily, service was pretty decent considering there was only one bartender in the building, and she also played waitress. The $2 Shiners I ordered came over promptly, as did the Dos Equis ordered by the rest of the table. Big Mo’s dresses their glasses with Twang, the zesty límon-infused salt, adding a surprising kick to an otherwise ordinary staple. Dr. Gonzalez called it the “best Dos Equis `he’d` ever had,” even.
It wasn’t enough to make us want to stay for very long, though — Big Mo’s just doesn’t have a lot to offer the non-regular except a moderately cheap, so-so selection of beer (and $3.50 white zinfandel, according to a sign taped to the refrigerator behind the bar). In the interest of building on the tenuous buzz we accumulated at Mo’s, we decided to pop into a nearby favorite of many Scientists, Da Traxx Lounge.
Despite being separated by maybe a mile, the two bars could not be more different. If Big Mo’s is salt-of-the-earth, then Da Traxx — with its numerous black lights, Christmas lights, poinsettias, and indoor waterfall (!) — mostly resembles some kind of alien planet. On this particular night, though, there were no signs of intelligent life, and we had the place all to ourselves, a welcome change from the nursing-home claustrophobia of Mo’s. Four-dollar beer pitchers is a pretty unbeatable deal (we got four), and we drained our narrow tumblers to the hip-hop booming from the empty DJ booth. “These tiny glasses make the beer go down too easy,” Dr. Adams shouted above Nelly’s “Grillz.” She was right — we made short work of the pitchers before mid-work-week sleepiness set in. However, we decided we’d return on a day when the natives were out in force to get the full Traxx-perience (hopefully no Avatar-like 3D space battles will break out).
Since making first contact with both Big Mo Fresno Bar and Da Traxx, I am struck by how, even though the latter bar was tricked out like a party bus, it was the scruffier Big Mo’s that was packed with people. We don’t know what this means yet (need to gather more data after our livers recover), but it does demonstrate the value people see in a good, unflashy neighborhood dive, and gives us another reason to return to Big Mo’s as well — just maybe at a different table next time.•
The Scientists is a semi-anonymous drinking club on a mission to test San Antonio’s best/worst/weirdest bars and clubs. We take our mission very, very seriously.