I kind of like East Commerce between I-37 and the railroad tracks. It’s like a block of tourist town without the tourists. And let’s face it, it’s the tourists that are the problem. They seem to take the sheen off things. Being over there near Sunset Station is kind of like being at Wally World in the off season (ample parking, no lines at the rides). There are two bars on the strip. One, next to an alley with Jack-the-Ripper London gas lamps bolted to the stone wall, is Alibis, a local institution). Just down the block is another little bar, all its own, called Ringside Sports Bar (notable as the starting bar for Running-a-Tab, which you can read about here:
http://www.sacurrent.com/printStory.asp?id=69372 and http://werunsanantonio.com/running-a-tab-3 here).
The first thing I noticed when I walked in were the dark wood walls and ceilings and bar, which lend the space a Bostonian feel — Irish overall, dark and close and comfortable. The bar itself runs down one side of the narrow space. The ceiling is very low here and in the big bay window there is a tight spiral staircase leading up. Step around the pillar holding up the corner of the loft, and the ceiling opens up to walls covered completely with mounted game (a deer, a longhorn), stuffed fish twisted around on plaques as if they were breaking the plane of a lake, posters of (mostly) local boxers, and a few neon beer signs.
I sat down at the bar and ordered a Negra Modelo (a fairly reasonable $3) and stared at the other bar paraphernalia scattered around: the usual on tap in the corner, a Schlitz statue of a woman holding up the world, a mirror etched with a picture of a woman that reads “The Alamo Girl 1903” — an old Lone Star ad, a barber chair, and, most unscrupulously, a Miller sign hung on the wall proclaiming that you had to be born before January 19, 1988, to legally buy beer (I pled guilty and sucked down the rest of my cold, slightly sweet Modelo).
My friend and I had visited Ringside on a more auspicious evening (I was the only one there on MLK — not a big day for bars, apparently) and the people were crowded around the bar and playing pool, and a band was setting up. It had that neighborhood feel so prominent in San Antonio. I liked it on either day, as long as the bartender, in his green scrubs shirt, ticked off another beer on the Post-it in front of me.
the Bar Tab
Ringside Sports Bar
1161 E. Commerce
Old-school-style neighborhood sports bar near Sunset Station. Dig the taxidermy and SA memorabilia over a $3 Mexican import.
Located in Touristan, but on a path less-traveled.