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Fearless Critic restaurant review
San Antonio
Food
Feel
Price
5.9
9.5
$25
American
Cocktail bar

Hours
Sun–Thu 11:00am–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 11:00am–11:00am

Features Date-friendly, outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

www.esquiretavern-sa.com

Downtown
155 E. Commerce St.
San Antonio, TX
(210) 222-2521
The Esquire Tavern
High-dive aspirations inform the refurbished bar but the food’s still in flux

In its previous heyday, the Esquire was a kind of DMZ where the West Side met Downtown, and the occasional hapless tourist wandered in only to find himself watching his wallet. Now in new hands and open after many months of restoration, the bar exudes a spiffied-up speakeasy vibe. Signature, flocked wallpaper has been recreated; new, antique-looking lighting has been installed; wooden booths have been refurbished; and the wooden bar, touted as the longest in Texas, has been extended just in case anybody was thinking of challenging the claim. It could all have been patronizingly precious; fortunately, it’s not.

Past patrons of the sidle-in and stumble-out persuasion are likely to feel excluded, however. The focus now is on classic (and more than a few creative) cocktails of the real speakeasy era. Bartenders in vests and fedoras dispense the likes of the Aviation with gin, maraschino liqueur and crème de violette—not exactly the stuff formerly favored by ladies of the extended evening. The bar food does make an effort not to be too twee, but it’s definitely a work in progress. We found deviled eggs unexciting, beer-battered fish fingers with a very vinegary slaw in need of seasoning, and both the sirloin and bison burgers merely adequate. (They’re said to be working on the in-house bun.) Though they’re structurally challenged and thus hard to eat, the tacos con papas are really pretty good, however, suggesting that the kitchen may eventually come around. In the meantime, drink up and drink in the surroundings.

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