Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Friendly Spot - San Antonio, Texas

Ice houses are a south Texas tradition that dates back to the 1920's. Ice houses served their obvious function, selling ice, but also served as early convenience stores and gathering places. The 7-Eleven chain grew out of the ice house culture. A bit  from Wikipedia:

Texas Ice Houses

In Texas, former ice houses are a cultural tradition. Ice merchants diversified to sell groceries and cold beer, serving as early convenience stores and local gathering places. The widespread US 7-Eleven convenience store chain developed from ice houses operated by the Southland ice manufacturing company in Dallas and San Antonio in the 1930s, which were first known as Tote'm stores.Today many Texas ice houses have converted into open-air bars. In the region of Central Texas, Southeast Texas, especially the Houston area, and the Texas Hill Country in particular, the word "icehouse" has become a colloquialism for an establishment that derives the majority of its income from the sale of cold beer, especially such locally produced labels as Shiner Bock, Pearl, and Lone Star.

There may be ice house bars in other parts of the country but I've only seen this particular style in south Texas.

From a sign at The Friendly Spot:

After walking past this place countless times on previous visits, we finally stopped in at The Friendly Spot on our recent trip to San Antonio. The Friendly Spot is a neighborhood bar, a locals place. It's kid and pet friendly; really a place for the whole family. Oh yeah, and they sell beer too, lots of beer. Not only beer, food as well and other cold libations. One of the drink specials the day we were there was, what turned out to be, a really decent Rum Punch. 

The Friendly Spot has both a regular menu and a brunch/weekend menu. While we didn't eat here, the regular menu has what I think of as beer friendly foods and the brunch/weekend menu has the breakfast options covered. 

Today's ice houses are mostly open air bars. There may be a covered patio area or even an inside space but for the most part the main bar is open to or in the out-of-

Lot's of seating, a play area for the kids (beyond the big tree) water bowls for the doggies. A nice way to spend an afternoon.

There is another bar area as well. The back bar that's, well, in the back behind the main bar area. There's a covered seating area back there with ceiling fans and TV's.

I came away from our visit to The Friendly Spot thinking about how nice it would be if every neighborhood had a great spot like this.

Not too far from The Friendly Spot is another ice house in the same neighborhood. (How lucky are the people who live here?) It's B & D Ice BBQ and Draft. Similar set up but on a smaller scale. We stopped in for a beer and had to give their version of Frito Pie a try.

The Frito Pie features BBQ in the place of chili
B & D has a nice patio with plenty of umbrella covered seating and an inside bar as well. This place has been around for 50 years but closed in 2010. It just re-opened recently and is back with cold beers and decent BBQ.

These two great bars were both within walking distance to where we were staying. There are a ton of things to do and places to see in the King Williams and Southtown area of San Antonio. If you're planning a visit you can't go wrong spending at least some of your time there. The River Walk is great and I love it but it's nice to take a break from the hustle and bustle.

Happy dining!  

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