It's a lucha libre bar, it sells itself.
Nothing loves a theme quite like a dive bar, lucha libre-themed dive El Luchador Bar in south San Antonio a perfect example. Faithfully created to pay tribute to the Mexican style of professional wrestling, El Luchador Bar is a Southtown outpost in a relatively bar-sparse part of San Antonio not necessarily off the beaten track but close to it.
El Luchador Bar was opened in 2017 by a set of four co-owners in a space once used, fittingly, for lucha libre events. Little has been done to the exterior of the building over the years outside of a coat of paint, no doubt structural improvements and the unmistakable neon wrestling mask sign that sits on a black background above the front door. There are, of course, no windows here, the spaces where doors, windows and other features once existed painted over by the same white paint that covers the structure.
The lucha libre theme bursts to life inside, the marquee attraction the array of wrestling masks mounted behind the bar. Those able to name the wrestlers that once donned those masks may not officially win anything at the bar, but the topic does make for a naturally entertaining drinking conversation. Though multiple wrestlers are featured here throughout the interior El Luchador Bar space, Mil Mascaras is the predominant subject of multiple pieces, including a massive wall-height mural depicting the wrestler and his signature “M” mask.
Lucha libre-themed displays are varied and prolific throughout El Luchador Bar, framed photos bearing the images of wrestlers over the years paired with custom artwork occasionally involving green neon and a romantic embrace between wrestler and adoring fan. Santo, perhaps the most popular wrestler to ever live, also features heavily here, the subject of a San Antonio Spurs-themed custom piece as well as a number of framed movie posters devoted to Santo fighting all manner of evil. Staged displays of matches exist under plastic casing in the form of plastic toys and hand-crafted wrestling rings, again a tribute to Mexico’s long history of masked wrestlers.
The space is split into two levels, the first dedicated to the bar, a few stools and a handful of hightop tables. A much larger second level dims the lights even further than already established, the more spacious area filled with short tables easily moved out of the way for live music events when the square footage can be repurposed as a dance floor. An elevated platform in the corner of this second room, under a disco ball of course, serves as presentation area for DJs, trivia events, Bingo and karaoke nights that cycle through the nightly El Luchador Bar calendar.
A small parking lot sits just north of the building, bordering on the back patio area that includes a few picnic tables and a covered drinking area that mercifully blocks the sun during San Antonio’s countless unbearably hot days. This outdoor area has been used over the years as a live professional wrestling venue on occasion. String lights line the fence that surrounds this El Luchador backyard of sorts, making for an underrated patio-style drinking option, especially within the confines of San Antonio’s Southtown.
Even for non-wrestling fans, the visual diversity inside El Luchador Bar makes for pleasant drinking surroundings, the heritage of the well-loved pastime lovingly brought to life across figures, masks, posters and even signature drinks. The nondescript exterior punctuated by a single neon sign only hints at the vibrant atmosphere found inside El Luchador Bar.