2 secret new late-night bars sneak into St. Mary's Strip in San Antonio
Don’t count out the St. Mary’s Strip yet. Two shadowy new concepts clustered around venerable bar Hi-Tones are breathing new life into the beleaguered entertainment district.
Though not quite a speakeasy, Holy Diver doesn’t announce itself with neon lights. An unassuming door in the corner of Hi-Tones leads to an upstairs space (who knew?) with the feel of a stoner’s basement rec room — perhaps a reflection of its namesake Dio song.
Decked out in slat paneling and batik drum fixtures, Holy Diver is decidedly a tiki bar. But it takes a different path than River Walk lounge Hugman’s Oasis. Instead of thatched roof exotica, the intimate spot trades in midcentury kitsch like beaded curtains and velvet paintings.
The drink menu, however, has some heft. Split between house cocktails and known cocktails, the list makes some space for a couple of zero-proof sippers and a heady bowl swimming with Haitian and Guyanese rums.
If a tropical escape doesn’t tickle one’s fancy, revelers only need to walk a few steps from Hi-Tones to discover the Misfits-referencing Last Caress. The vibe is goth, but more Bram Stoker than Siouxsie Sioux. The former barbershop is dripping in Victorian ornamentation, from gilded mirrors to swagged velvet curtains. Taxidermy and unearthly lighting complete the eerie scene.
The cocktails follow suit with libations like Black Sales and Gravve Digger, a collaboration with fellow night travelers Gravves Coffee. But the program doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s room for some San Antonio levity in the Sparrow, a mix of whiskey and Big Red.
Whether opting for beachside languor or undead glamor, guests shouldn’t plan on making it an early night. Both concepts (around 621 E. Dewey Pl.) open at 9 pm, so plan the pregame accordingly.