Though it’s a bit out of town—about 15 miles northwest toward Bandera , there’s no other place in or near San Antonio  quite as authentic as Floore Country Store (14464 Old Bandera Rd., 210/695-8827, www.liveatfloores.com ). A sign outside this historic honkytonk reads “Willie Nelson Live Every Saturday Nite,” and although those days are long gone, the Red-Headed Stranger still makes a point of playing semi-regular gigs at this big ol’ Texas dance hall. The walls are covered with photos of other country legends that’ve graced the stage (Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams) and the venue still hosts cotemporary and classic country acts such as Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakum, Jack Ingram, and Charlie Robison.
Another legendary honkytonk on the outskirts of town is the Hangin’ Tree Saloon (located just northeast of San Antonio in the small community of Bracken, 210/651-5812, www.hangintree.com ), which opened in 1915 as a two-lane bowling alley for nine-pin, a game popular in German pioneer communities. In 1989, the mythically named Texan “Big John Oaks” converted the bowling alley into a roadhouse honkytonk, using wood from the lanes to construct the bar. The stage stands where the pins were once placed. This classic venue hosts local country bands on the weekends and occasionally features well-known regional acts such as Johnny Bush, Gary P. Nunn, and Johnny Rodriguez. To get there, take FM 2252 north from Bracken, turn right at the first road past the railroad tracks, go four blocks, then turn left.
It doesn’t book country acts exclusively, but there’s still a lot of rustic charm to Casbeers (1719 Blanco Rd., 210/732-3511, www.casbeers.com ), a fairly small venue that’s known almost as much for its tasty food as its quality music. Every seat in the house offers a close-up view of the stage, which works out nicely when popular acts such as Alejandro Escovedo, Steve Fromholz, and Mary Cutrufello perform. Casbeers features live music nearly five nights a week, and their Sunday morning Gospel Brunch is an ideal way to ease into the day.
For those who’d rather have their conversations drowned out by pre-recorded sounds instead of a live band, San Antonio  has several popular clubs that cater to the country-and-western crowd. The biggest and best of the bunch is Midnight Rodeo (12260 Nacogdoches Rd., 210/655-0040, www.midnightrodeosanantonio.com ) an enormous complex drawing singles and couples from across South Texas. People get gussied up for a night out at the Midnight Rodeo, meaning they wear their pressed jeans, Western shirts, and best boots for line dancing and two-stepping to songs from current and classic country artists.
Another heavy hitter is Cowboys Dance Hall (3030 NE Loop 410, 210/646-9378) which features a cavernous dance floor with a bonus: bull riding. Saturday nights feature a rodeo with live bull riding, and urban cowboys and cowgirls can try their eight seconds of luck on the mechanical bull at any time. The music is the big draw here, however, with a DJ spinning contemporary country tunes most nights and occasional live music concerts on the weekends.