Home to perhaps Hill Country's most ornate, century-old bar.
Texas Hill Country’s network of small towns makes for compelling road-tripping, a web of roads surrounding San Antonio holding a particularly strong set of visit candidates. Even by rural Texas standards, Sisterdale is a small community, east of larger neighbor Comfort, Texas, and north of Boerne, Texas. Pleasantly, the town is bookended by two high quality drinking establishments, Sister Creek Vineyards to the south and divey, decades-old institution Sisterdale Saloon to the north.
The building that today houses Sisterdale Saloon is part of the Sisterdale Valley District, a set of buildings in Sisterdale added to the National Register of Historic Places. Exact dates are hard to come by, but a business of some variety has occupied the same building for over a century, ranging from trading post to grocery store to post office. Starting with a room in back, the space has long held a bar, the physical, wooden bar that can be found inside today said to date back to roughly 1903, a piece of evidence as to the longevity of drinking on the grounds.
In more recent times, the structure has gone by many names including Sistedale Trading Company & Saloon, Sisterdale Line and now simply Sisterdale Saloon, a classic name reintroduced to the structure in 2021 after a shift in ownership. The basic layout of the Texas Hill Country dive bar has changed little over the years, though countless surfaces and amenities inside and out have been updated, especially post-2021.
The outdoor biergarten is one of the marquee Sisterdale Saloon features, the land sandwiched between the main road through the city and a working cattle farm. An outdoor stage and supporting dancefloor have seen considerable upates, serving as anchor to weekly live music when weather allows. A large concrete, covered porch is dotted with picnic tables and tall stools, ample space in between stage and covered seating to allow for taking in the music. String lights hang over head, creating a classic Texas outdoor vibe.
The sign above the front door has changed many times over the years, but the white brick façade tapering into a wooden, pitched roof has long been the look. The space is split up into two halves, the first the main area that houses the bar, assorted seating and a lounge-like alcove for lowkey socializing. Even beyond the impressive outdoor area, the bar itself is the star here, the ornate woodwork eye catching, especially amid a fairly minimalist set of wall decorations, at least by dive bar standards.
Built in 1903 or not, few bars match the regal nature of the tall, mirrored structure with small shelves serving as liquor bottle pedestals. The long structure beneath it supports what is likely the considerable weight of real wood, running nearly the full length of the room. A rolling garage door separtes this main area from the outdoor back patio, creating a shared and connected space when live music fills the beer garden.
A long secondary room can be found through a small doorway off the main room, the varenous space more sparsely populated than other parts of the Sisterdale Saloon property. The indoor stage is the main attraction in this large space, a few seating areas scattered nearby. The bar’s shuffleboard table and a faded, historic document celebrating Sisterdale’s centennial anniversary in 1947 add additional character to the space. Taxidermy can be found in pockets throughout both rooms, the cigarette-holding bull above the front door probably the most memorable piece.
Sisterdale Saloon’s recent renovations thankfully continue to highlight the historic nature of a space that has served the small community for decades. The sprawling outdoor area and frequent live music provide a regular reason to visit, but the intricate, wooden bar now over a century old is Sisterdale Saloon’s most compelling asset, a hint at the long history held within the Texas Hill Country bar’s refinished walls.