Iconic San Antonio dive bar honored with new downtown hot spot
After nearly a year, one historic San Antonio watering hole is back open — with new ownership, new offerings, and a pledge to pay homage to its iconic roots.
Tony’s Siesta, located in the former Tony’s Bar space on Brooklyn Avenue in downtown, is a new concept from longtime San Antonio bartender Andy Palacios, who assumed ownership when retiring owner Tony Lopez closed the downtown beer bar late last year after 20 years in business.
Palacios has modernized the space with a colorful, roomier interior and shaded picnic table seating outdoors. (Food trucks are onsite daily.) He also revamped the bar menu with the addition of a wide selection of beers (including many Texas brews), wine, and cocktails, including boozy aguas frescas and margaritas. The changes have been welcomed by patrons old and new since the cantina’s soft opening October 16, including Tony himself.
“My biggest challenge was to bridge the gap between the old and the new, and to make Tony happy,” Palacios says. “When Tony saw it, we was ecstatic.”
Indeed, Palacios took great pains to maintain some of the former legendary bar’s San Antonio flair and well-loved characteristics, including the iconic replica of the Tower of the Americas out front. Even the cantina’s new name is a tribute to the retired Tony Lopez and his new, more relaxed life.
Palacios says he spent many hours alone in the space pondering how to best breathe some new life into the bar while also honoring its history and importance in San Antonio.
“I didn’t want to try to make it anything it shouldn’t be. I didn’t want to force any idea or concept into the location,” Palacios says. “If I could throw my idea of San Antonio and our heritage into a bar, that’s what Tony’s Siesta is.”
Tony’s Bar was more than simply a classic San Antonio dive bar where cheap beer and televised Spurs games ruled the roost. The building is a legitimate local treasure, with the Conservation Society of San Antonio giving it an official historic designation, thanks to limestone and adobe portions of the building dating back to the 1800s.
The official Tony’s Siesta grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, November 21, and will feature live music and DJs throughout the night, food available from the Happy Gordita Truck, and a prize raffle.
The new cantina aims to “be the next step to both preserve old San Antonio and embrace the growth of this diverse city,” Palacios said in a recent Tony’s Siesta social media post. “This cantina will pay homage to what Tony created and will build upon that with its beautiful stories, hilarious anecdotes and glorious myths that will be passed down through generations!”