Distinctive Dining in San Antonio: Quirkish Delights
By Howard Peacock
The first thing you notice about the Liberty Bar is that it tilts. The gray old two-story building faces north and leans westward. An engineer could tell you how many degrees it leans, but it’s about the same way John Wayne leaned when he carried his saddle across the desert.
The Liberty Bar is my first choice of a restaurant to take friends or enemies when they come to San Antonio for a visit. Simply glimpsing the structure, and seeing its name, makes them smile. As you drive up and park, you know you’ve reached friendly territory. This place belongs in San Antonio.
Just about everyone uses the word “quirky” to describe the Liberty Bar. They always say it admiringly. The food is far better than good, the service excellent, and the atmosphere just right for whatever mood you’re in, lively or lonesome. And, the building tilts. What more could a body ask?
The special way people use the word “quirky” kicked up the idea for this article. I started wondering how many quirky restaurants does San Antonio have? To tackle the question, I asked some known gourmands to convene and, over a glass or two of Hill Country wine, define the real meaning of “quirky” as applied to restaurants. Also, to name their favorite spots that might deserve the title.
You know what a gourmand is—someone who eats and drinks with gusto. This gaggle included the percussionist with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, a retired Air Force physician, a bank executive, a travel agent, a retired builder of office buildings, a so-called “man of the world,” and a project planner. What a Mulligan stew of a group, you say. You’re right. But great eaters all.
We sipped and haggled over definitions—does quirky mean funky? foxy? faddish? Later, after plenty of wine and dessert, we waddled off into the night, the question still dangling. “Chew on it,” they called back encouragingly.
The following report covers nine San Antonio restaurants considered quirky by my experts. All the eateries have won awards for their food and/or their ambiance. All qualify on two basic qualities of quirkiness: having one or more “peculiar traits,” and “providing an altogether pleasing dining experience,” as specified by my gaggle.
From the February 2006 issue.