For many San Antonians, “ice house” is spelled “La Tuna,” but there are a great number of other options throughout Say-town to consider. In fact, it would be a crime to know only one ice house, for they are a San Antonio tradition, documented even on NPR by the award-winning Kitchen Sisters.
Just a few blocks south of Steves Avenue one finds Minnie’s South Presa Ice House. When Bar Tab rolled down on Saturday night the whole neighborhood was jumping for the grand opening of a bar across the street called Las Desveladas, roughly translated as “the “watchers.” We’re not sure if this is a religious thing or a connection to a crazy AM radio show for UFO observers. Probably the former, and more on that bar in a bit.
Like all ice houses, Minnie’s beer is cold and cheap. Most people in attendance seemed to be from the neighborhood, though there was one guy who stood out wearing a golf visor and a high-tech polyester fishing shirt. He seemed to know everyone, and to me, this suggested a general vibe of acceptance for those visiting from outside the ’hood. As an added bonus, on Friday and Saturday nights a DJ is on hand to help work the crowd.
San Antonio’s musical schizophrenia was perfectly embodied through the DJ’s musical selections: a Tejano song would be followed with a cut from early ’80s REO Speedwagon, only to be followed by conjunto, then Journey. When a member of the Bar Tab crew requested a song by Prince it was as if we were speaking another language, familiar but completely unintelligible. Unlike many local DJs, this guy was spinning early ’80s classics with complete sincerity. Yes, this was another San Antonio B.Y.O.I. event (bring your own irony).
Across the street at the grand opening, Las Desveladas was packed with South-siders of all ages. The pattern from Minnie’s repeated. Two bands were set up: an old-timer conjunto group and a younger heavy-metal band that seemed quite familiar with late-’80s Megadeth. Perhaps only in San Antonio could these two disparate musical styles find common ground. It was unclear if all the gray-haired abuelas in the crowd were tolerant of the metal or just too deaf to complain. Everyone got along and partied like it was 1999, though it just as easily could have been 1989.
The Bar Tab
Minnie’s South Presa Ice House
3415 S. Presa
Friendly, casual neighborhood crowd with appropriately schizophrenic DJ action for SA
Night out without an agenda. Blending into someone else’s crowd.
Prices: Cheap (and the beer is cold)