The happy medium between drinking craft beer outside and parenting.
The pairing of a playground and vintage ice house may not seem like a typical occurrence, but such is drinking in Texas where accommodating the entire family is not uncommon as a means of attracting day drinkers. San Antonio’s The Friendly Spot Ice House adds craft beer destination into that mix, mashing together a sprawling outdoor area, 76 beer taps, over 250 bottle & can beer varieties and a handful of buildings to create a true drinking destination in the city’s King William Historic District.
Openedin 2009, The Friendly Spot was at one time a gas station during the 1930s later converted to an ice house that serves as the historic foundation for the today’s incarnation of the space. In conjunction with what was then Beauregard Café next door, the space that now houses The Friendly Spot was a live music hotbed opened in 1973 before eventually flaming out. A folk art gallery took over the space for a period of years before The Friendly Spot was revived, renovated and expanded.
Because of its San Antonio, relentlessly warm weather location, The Friendly Spot is engineered to maximize outdoor drinking space, a huge amount of patio furniture found throughout the grounds. A large wooden building toward the front of the space serves as the primary drink dispensing location, another equally large structure just around the corner serving the same purpose. Beyond the immense beer selection, a dense menu of craft cocktail selections offers an additional array of options.
When the weather doesn’t cooperate, a third building toward the rear of the property serves as what feels like an open garage bay, indoor tables surrounding a handful of televisions. The sprawling area in front is matched by a blocked-off courtyard in back, bathrooms located in the corner through a surprisingly steep indoor incline. Nearly every exposed surface is covered in some kind of tin sign, beer brands from around the world represented across the multiple Friendly Spot structures.
When dusk hits, a network of inflatable screens are erected in strategic locations around the property, utilized to show the key sporting event of the evening. The space shines during these evening congregations, the weather cooled off a bit, the space large enough to handle a significant crowd, views from the many, many seating options all decent. Ample outlets to grab one of the countless beers available helps again mitigate the effect of a weekend evening crowd.
Not necessarily a dive bar and not a stereotypical craft beer outlet, The Friendly Spot sits somewhere in between, a Texan mix of amenities that maximizes amenable weather and a great location. The space feels like a rolling complex in a good way, the multitude of options for drinks, for seats, for screens, for service, all of it makes for a relaxing vibe just south of San Antonio’s urban core.