Open main menu

Owl Bar and Cafe

The text "Owl Bar and Cafe" on the building, with an illuminated sign saying the same, with a graphic of an owl.
Owl Bar and Cafe, outdoor signage

The Owl Bar and Cafe,[1] in San Antonio, New Mexico was opened in 1945 by Frank and Dee Chavez as an expansion to J.E. Miera’s grocery store business. Its earliest customers were the scientists working on the Manhattan Project. It is known throughout the United States for its green chile cheeseburgers.[2][3] It is also known for its wall of dollars, pinned there by customers, and donated to charity once a year.

Inside the Owl Bar is a 25-foot mahogany bar built by the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company, now known as the Brunswick Corporation. It was originally part of the A.H. Hilton Mercantile,[4] owned by Augustus Halvorston Hilton, father of Conrad Hilton, founder of Hilton Hotels. After a fire destroyed the mercantile in 1945, the Brunswick bar was salvaged from the wreckage and installed in back of the grocery store to create the first iteration of the Owl Bar and Café.[5][6]


  1. ^ Leach, Nicky (2013). Off the Beaten Path: New Mexico (10th ed.). Guilford, CT: Morris Book Publishing. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-7627-9205-4. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  2. ^ Lee, Robyn. "How the Owl Bar's Green Chile Cheeseburgers Fueled the Atom Bomb Scientists". Serious Eats. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  3. ^ Peterson, Don. "Owl Bar and Cafe, San Antonio". Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  4. ^ "A.H. Hilton Mercantile Company, San Antonio, New Mexico". New Mexico State University Library. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  5. ^ Sheehan, Jason. "The Birth of America's Best Cheeseburger". Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  6. ^ "The Hilton Bar at the Owl Bar". Retrieved 25 May 2016.

Coordinates: 33°55′05″N 106°52′04″W / 33.91803°N 106.86775°W / 33.91803; -106.86775