“Bring in your deer antlers and you can trade them for a shot of whiskey or beer.”
When you enter the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum in San Antonio, Texas, you can see by the seemingly endless trophy mounts lining the walls how many patrons cashed in on that standing offer made by owner Albert Friedrich in 1881.
In this “Oldest Saloon in Texas”—no one has challenged the claim—General Manager David L. George rightfully boasts what a great saloon it is, yet he still gives praise to other local cowboy bars. He enjoys the Menger Bar at the 1859 Menger Hotel, and he recommends dancing at the Floore Country Store—established in 1945 and where big shots like Elvis have performed—in Helotes, about 30 minutes from downtown. For those who want to see Texas Big, he says to check out the indoor rodeo arena and performers at Cowboy’s Dance Hall.
A true advocate of the Old West lifestyle in San Antonio, George shares the latest and greatest in the city.
Favorite Local Cuisine: Try the fajitas just about anywhere, especially at Casa Rio on the Riverwalk or the 24-hour Mi Tierra at the Spanish Market.
Best Art Gallery of the West: Marshall’s Brocante in the historical Monte Vista area of town. Louis Marshall specializes in Texas artists, and he always has something good, including artifacts from the Old West era.
Best Bookstore of the West: Cheever’s on Broadway. It’s a used book-store with a lot of out-of-print material.
Historic site visited by most schoolchildren: The Alamo—the shrine of Texas liberty.
Who knows San Antonio’s history best? T.R. Fehrenbach. He’s written 18 nonfiction books, mostly on Texas history. His book, Lone Star, is a great reference. He’s also a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News.
Old West Attractions: Besides the Alamo and the Buckhorn, the five Spanish Missions, San Fernando Cathedral, Menger Hotel, plus historical buildings downtown. If you travel to the Hill Country surrounding San Antonio, the list gets longer.
Event to Attend in April: Fiesta is an assemblage of events, including three major parades through downtown, that lasts about 10 days in April. It’s a celebration of the Texas victory at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836.
Radio Personality Locals Listen To: Randy Carroll on KJ97 and Winston & Alyce in the morning on Y100.
Average House Cost: $119,200.
Average Temperature: Summer is 70s-90s; Winter is 60s-40s.
Best Kept Secret: A lot of people do not know about the Institute of Texan Cultures. It’s a great museum that’s part of the University of Texas, and it highlights the state’s melting pot of cultures. At the far end of Hemisfair Park in downtown, the museum is often missed by people.
Special thanks to David L. George, general manager of the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum, for sharing his love of the town with us.