By Lisa Waterman Gray - Words and photos by Lisa, with the exception of the photo featured on point no. 5
On St. Anthony's Feast Day 1718, Spaniards found and named San Antonio's now-signature waterway, the San Antonio River. Five mission sites followed. Created to bring Christianity to enemy Native American tribes, they included the renowned Alamo. Conversion to Catholicism, and pledging allegiance to the Republic of Mexico, were the only requirements for land purchases at 12 cents per acre with a six-year payback term. But by 1836, the Texas territory broke from its position as Mexico's northernmost province.
In 2018, this 'Venice of America’ celebrated its 300th anniversary. But beyond adobe structures, mariachi music, and riverboat tours this 'Venice of America' is a warm and welcoming city offering vibrant, multi-faceted, flavours – from tasty sips to delicious dishes.
1. These Award-Winning Avocado Margaritas Will Delight Your Palate
An intriguing, one-of-a-kind cocktail, the pale green Avocado Margarita at Aldaco’s Mexican Cuisine, is an unbelievably creamy and seductively spicy version of the classic. Created by gregarious restaurant founder, Blanca Aldaco, this unusual libation received 3rd Place in the 2005 Avocados of Mexico U.S. National Contest. Locals and visitors have chowed down on Mexican fare here too, since 1989.
2. This Sweet and 'Prickly' Cocktail Beats the Heat
For something a little sweeter, Prickly Pear Margaritas are a must, at the iconic Boudro’s Texas Bistro on the river walk. This pink cocktail is a refreshing frozen combination of tequila, Triple Sec and fresh lime juice, layered with fuschia-coloured Prickly Cactus Pear Puree. Not a margarita fan? Try Boudro’s Bloody Mary, a sassy concoction with Spicy Pickled Long Beans.
3. Classic Ambiance Meets Inventive Craft Cocktails
Speaking of cocktails, inventive offerings at chic, modern Rebelle in The St. Anthony, A Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio include Pride – a combo of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, apricot liquor, lemon and mint; or Wrath, featuring orange/pineapple juice, Reposado Tequila, Clement Creol and Ancho Reyes. Add a serving of Char-Broiled Gulf Oysters in garlic confit butter for an upscale snack.
4. Rooftop Views Make Any Happy Hour Better
Sunset skyline views are a big draw to Paramour Bar. Settle in to a cosy couch at this upscale rooftop lounge and expansive patio. Not finding your perfect cocktail on the menu? Bartenders have been known to craft tall, delicious glasses of sangria or take other special requests for mixed drinks. Locals also conduct meetings here, over morning coffee.
5. Find This Classic Non-Alcoholic Thirst Quencher Throughout the City
Hot and humid San Antonio is a great place to sample traditional Mexican non-alcoholic refreshment too. Translated as “fresh water,” agua fresca has become a tasty staple at many local Mom-and-Pop restaurants. These refreshing beverages may blend together fresh fruit and water, and sometimes sugar or spices. Whether you drink a cucumber and jalapeno combo or a lime-infused version, agua fresca helps combat culinary and seasonal heat.
6. Small Plates Offer Big Flavour
For a tantalising taste of Mexican ‘tapas,' head to The Fruiteria-Botanero at Southtown. Amid bright-hued decor talented chef/owner, Johnny Hernandez, serves numerous ‘botanas’ varieties. Reminiscent of Spanish tapas, Hernandez’s botanas range from Papas Bravas (house-made potato chips, chile, lime, sea salt, queso fresco) to Guacamole Fruteria (with avocado, apples, onion, lime, chile powder, Cotija cheese). Or try Gorditas Poblanas, featuring masa biscuits, chicken in adobo sauce, lettuce, pickled onion and crema.
7. This Market Square Restaurant is Full of Flavour
There are plenty of delicious enchiladas, tacos and burritos available at Mi Tierra Café & Panederia, a longtime fixture in San Antonio’s Market Square. But Mi Tierra is also a terrific place to explore classic Mexican flavors. Consider ordering a bowl of Caldo Casero (vegetable-rich homemade soup) or Menudo (homemade beef tripe stew), which has long been considered a hangover cure.
8. A Perfect Spot for Mouthwatering Morning Fare
A bountiful breakfast may help with hangover symptoms too. At Bakery Lorraine morning meals are served in a bright and airy space. The seasonally changing menu has included such tasty options as Prosciutto on White – an omelette with decadent horseradish cream cheese, arugula and Swiss; White Corn Grits with smoked sofrito, sunny egg, nori and chives; or classic Croque Madame. A trip to the decadent bakery case is a must-do and lunch here is equally delicious.
9. In San Antonio's Oldest Neighbourhood This Cafe Serves Up Authentic Flavours
Be sure to tour the shops and galleries in San Antonio’s oldest neighbourhood, La Villita. While you’re there, satisfy your sweet tooth with a snack from the wood and sheet-metal counter inside La Villita Café. It’s a perfect spot for nicely priced pastries, enjoyed with coffee or something stronger. Whether you prefer traditional donuts, or a more adventurous option such as fruit-filled campechanas, your taste buds will thank you…
10. These Hotel Guests Have Many Tasty Options
At the luxurious Hotel Emma, guestroom armoires are stocked with local beer and everything you need to recreate the signature La Babia margaritas (also served upon arrival). Inside the building’s one-time beer fermenting cellars, the spacious and sophisticated Larder is a great place to purchase local groceries, and spirits too; or enjoy cocktails, wine and beer inside the hotel's tavern and club room, Sternewirth. Supper is on offer in the house Supper American Eatery, serving customers from morning through to dinner, or you can choose from more than 20 restaurants that also operate in this dynamic, historic Pearl neighbourhood.
This is a guest post by Lisa Waterman Gray, who is a local expert in this area and others places in the USA. You can read more about Lisa below.
All guest posts are written by the author as indicated. The information contained within each guest post is correct to the best of our knowledge. In some instances an author may have received a free trip, meal or payment in some form. When this is the case, we will inform you at the end of the post.
Lisa frequently goes on press trips and does reviews. She has received accommodations and other compensation for the purpose of reviews. While it has not influenced this article, Lisa believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.