The legendary TacoLand in San Antonio, Texas, has begun a new chapter in its storied history that began in 1965. From its roots as a restaurant to its days as an internationally known local icon as the epicenter of the city’s punk rock movement, this spot overlooking the San Antonio River now has a different identity, with a full bar, more than 90 varieties of craft and bottled beers, a quickly evolving cocktail program and an outstanding burger.
After the bar closed in 2005 and the building stayed vacant for nearly a decade, new owner Ricardo Antonio Chavira didn’t want to to tear down the building and destroy its history. Instead, he decided to keep the structure and honor the decades of memories it holds. He and operator Chris Erck, who has a passion and a decades-long career of reviving historic buildings, have renovated the site to build more new memories for generations to come.
The open-air seating provides the feel of a classic San Antonio icehouse, and some of the original graffiti honors the history of the site. Guests can grab a seat at the building with the full bar or inside with an array of beer taps, on a patio overlooking the river or at a series of round wooden tables under a large oak tree.
“There’s no way we can recreate what Tacoland was,” says Erck (who also owns Swig, The Worm Tequila and Mezcal Bar, The ICEHOUSE and Stay Golden Social House). “Think of it as TacoLand 2.0.”
Among the changes, Erck is bringing back dining options, which the space hasn’t seen since the late 1960s. Currently, guests can grab a burger or tacos from a food truck on site, and a full kitchen is coming soon.
All of this is part of the ongoing story of this space, from a working man’s eatery to a punk rock haven, to its current incarnation as a place where friends can gather to hear live music, enjoy a cocktail or a craft beer in a setting that allows for conversation.
A wave of urban revival that’s capturing national attention surrounds the bar, giving new life to formerly vacant buildings. The TacoLand story is changing with its times and surroundings, too.
Instead of the upscale scene of the nearby Pearl, this new incarnation of TacoLand offers a less expensive alternative, where singles, couples and families can gather together and enjoy a cold beer and a cool river breeze.