San Antonio's Live Music Scene Is Hot and Happening Like Never Before!
By Kimberly Suta
San Antonio Local Expert
San Antonio is on its way up in just about any and every arena imaginable, including live music. The local music scene has been exploding of late, with cool cats on the scene, like Demitasse, who frequent awesome venues like Liberty Bar and Cryin D.T. Buffkin and the Bad Breath, which are much better than they sound!
Those looking for the traditional haunts you expect to find in Texas must check out the historic Gruene Hall, known for artists like Willy Nelson and George Strait. For a little two-steppin, grab your cowboy hats because you're in for a raucous time at Cowboys Dance Hall, which always sees some of the best country music acts in Texas.
If you love Latin grooves, Azuca, often features the best salsa acts in town every weekend. They also offer salsa classes before the bar gets hopping, so take advantage of this unique opportunity. Carmens de la Calle Cafe, is offers the kind of experience you'll talk about for years. They're known for passionate flamenco music and incredible Spanish-style tapas.
The White Rabbit and Sam's are still a couple of the most popular places to find live music in town. Make sure to check out their websites ahead of time to find out which acts are coming through. From local and beyond, the San Antonio music scene is eclectic and enlivening!
10 Cowboys Dancehall
Go to Cowboys Dancehall for some boot-stomping fun and authentic live Texas music! They are located on the northeast side of San Antonio and are probably the largest and most impressive music venue in the city. Besides great music and country dancing, Cowboys sports an indoor rodeo arena where you can see live events, such as professional bull riding. You'll want to plan ahead so you can buy your tickets early because many of their concerts feature well-known artists of all genres so they sell out fast. If your shy or out of practice, be sure to take advantage of Cowboys' dance lessons. (210-646-9378)
9 Gruene Hall
Although Gruene Hall is located outside the city limits of San Antonio, it's worth the extra gas to get to what has now become an iconic venue. Built in 1878, Gruene Hall is considered the oldest running dance hall in Texas, and the Central Texas birthplace to many famous songwriters and musicians, including George Strait, Ace in the Hole, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Hal Ketchum, Bruce and Charlie Robison, and many more. This is the place to put your boots on (or an excuse to buy some if you don't already have a pair), grab your guy or gal and head on down for an evening to remember! (830-606-1281)
8 The Cove
The Cove is quickly becoming one of the most popular venues for local live music in San Antonio because of their relaxed atmosphere, great food and quality entertainment. This is the kind of place that looks like it belongs in a movie. This one-of-a-kind restaurant, beer garden, live music venue is also, strangely, a Laundromat and carwash. The picnic-style seating, both inside and out, make for a very casual yet intimate atmosphere that is both family-friendly and dive bar-esque at the same time. Expect to hear some great local bands every night of the week (except for when they're closed on Mondays), including big jazz bands, folk music, country and more. The menu is exceptional with a care for using local, organic ingredients, grass-feed beef and the like. ((210) 227-2683)
7 Carmens de la Calle Cafe
Carmens de la Calle Cafe is a colorful European-inspired cafe with live entertainment every weekend. Some might call this place cramped but with their sexy ambiance and warm decor, you don't really care. Carmens is also known for their authentic and delicious tapas bar. Favorites include paella, Moroccan-style sausage and figs, Matador steak over couscous and their exceptional empanadas, which come in about a half a dozen different varieties such as beef picadillo and Poblano roasted chicken. For a special date or evening out, Carmens should be at the top of your list, but just make sure to get there early so get a good table. (210-737-8272)
6 Azuca Nuevo Latino Restaurant & Bar
Azuca Nuevo Latino is not just a restaurant and bar, but an experience. It's a local's favorite for their happy-hour mojitos and caipirinhas. Located just south of downtown in San Antonio's arts district, Azuca offers fantastic drinks you can't find anywhere else in town in a vivid and vibrant atmosphere. Their outdoor patio makes you feel like you're vacationing in some tropical location and not only minutes from downtown. As for the food, Azuca's dishes are an exotic synergy of delicious flavors from South and Central America with Chef Rene's innovative touch. The bar area is separate from the restaurant, and on Friday and Saturday nights, you can enjoy their electrifying live music of Salsa and Merengue until your feet get tired. (210-225-5550)
5 White Rabbit
The White Rabbit is one of only a few alternative rock venues in San Antonio, and one of the only ones large enough to have a raised stage. Some of their upcoming shows will showcase For the Fallen Dreams, Hudredth, Upon This Dawning, Sworn In and Wolves at the Gate. White Rabbit typically attracts a mostly young crowd to its black‑lit recesses but it's an excellent choice for a rowdy fun evening. As for food and drink, they offer an on-site bar and pizza shop that's not half bad when you're hungry. (210-737-2221)
If country music's not your thing, get a taste of soulful, alternative rhythms at LUNA. Jazz is the club's raison d'etre, and its red-velvet decor, exposed brickwork, and slinky upholstered bar provide a perfect backdrop to the main event. Luna is a true gem if you love blues and jazz music. They have a small dance floor, but they make up for it with excellent drinks. While you're savoring top-notch music, try a Liquid Reverb martini; raspberry vodka, orange juice, and Red Bull; to accompany the snacks. Other musical styles you may encounter include swing, soul, blues, funk, and Spanish guitar. (210-804-2433)
3 Olmos Bharmacy
Olmos Bharmacy is a local's favorite for good food and live music. Back in the "old days," this place was a Pharmacy, built in 1938, that was eventually turned into a restaurant. Now, when you walk into the Olmos Bharmacy, it's like walking into the past. You sit at the counter with a glass of wine, Belgian beer, or even a homemade milkshake, and it feels like you walked into the past. The Art Moderne style of the new exterior was considered quite daring for the area at the time, and today the building is considered an architectural treasure. The Bharmacy showcases a nice variety of live music, from Small World Jazz Jam on Mondays to Rod Campbell's Celtic Jam on Thursdays. ((210) 822-1188)
2 Sam's Burger Joint
Many people in San Antonio claim that Sam's Burger Joint is the best place to see live music. In fact, for the second straight year, they have been awarded BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE by San Antonio Magazine. In terms of a good ol' relaxed place to kick back and grab a great burger while enjoying some live music with your buddies, Sam's Burger joint is the joint! They have a fairly large venue for concerts that sits behind the diner-style restaurant. Throughout the years, they've seen some great acts blow through, including local legend, Girl In A Coma, who are on their way to international acclaim. ((210) 223-2830)
1 Liberty Bar
The Liberty Bar is a popular hub in Southtown for dining and live music. It's the perfect place to kick back and relax while enjoying some fantastic food and low key but exceptional music. While it can get crowded, as long as you have a table you'll be nice and cozy. Nothing's better than a glass of wine and some fine tunes. The Liberty Bar features talented local musicians, largely singer songwriters that fit the vibe. One of the nice things is you generally don't have to pay an entrance fee, but no doubt you'll end up with a few drinks and some good food if you stay for more than a few songs. This cool neighborhood joint has been around for a while and exists now in a building that was once a convent. The have a pretty extensive menu and the food is made from scratch. It consists of homey food that makes you all warm and cozy inside, things like pot roast and their infamous roasted lamb plate. (210-227-1187)
About Kimberly Suta
Kimberly A. Suta is a professional freelance writer, filmmaker and entrepreneur with a background in marketing, advertising and social media. Her first business, Midnight Sun Innovations, involved a partnership with Regal Cinemas, the largest theatre chain in the world. Kimberly has written, directed and produced several films that have screened at Texas film festivals and she produces an annual film competition at the popular Alamo Drafthouse theatre. She recently published her second novel, The Rain Queen, which can be found on Amazon.com. Kimberly currently lives and works in San Antonio, Texas, a place of much inspiration to her.
Read more about Kimberly Suta here.