Address: 221 East Houston St.
Hours: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Saturday
Phone: (210) 271-7472
Behind bamboo-filled windows on a downtown block home to some of the city’s most fashionable bars is an Asian-inspired urban escape. Drinks, some garnished with chocolate-covered fortune cookies, go by names including Lucky Buddha, Geisha Girl and Tantric Passion. Images of Buddha overlook a 30-foot bar, dance floor, intimate seating areas and a custom-designed loft dubbed ‘the temple.’
Behind the bar:
Monday through Friday from 5-9 p.m., every drink, including the signature Zen Bartini — a blend of Grey Goose vodka with fresh pineapples and raspberries — costs $3. The bar menu features an array of one-of-a-kind designer cocktails, wine, sake, traditional mixed drinks, a limited selection of beers and liquor by the bottle.
A few appetizers on the menu — curry-dusted pork dumplings, Zen maki rolls (spicy tuna rolls) and peppercorn-crusted tenderloin (sake plum demi, roasted vegetables with jade oil). Monday through Friday from 5-9 p.m. sushi rolls cost $2 and pork dumplings cost 25 cents.
The sound system travels beyond Asia to incorporate Latin, samba and tango into an international mix that also includes jazz, house and Indian bhangra music.
Who goes there:
The hip, suit-clad young professionals working in downtown office buildings by day often make their way to this hot-spot by night along with other locals, theatergoers and the occasional tourist.
Across the street from the Majestic Theater, it’s a short walk from many downtown offices and hotels. For drivers, ga-rage parking is available about a block away on Travis, Houston and College streets.
No sneakers on the weekends.
Part serene oasis and part dance club, Zen Bar provides a taste of Asia just blocks from the Alamo. With a theme that carries even into the bathrooms, this Eastern-inspired nightspot brings serenity to the heart of this big, bustling city.
Meena Thiruvengadam, San Antonio Express-News