Four Nights and Days of Food in San Antonio
My husband and I just spent 4 days and nights in San Antonio at the Final Four - so here's a short report of the eats my husband and I scavenged (on foot, water taxi, or trolley - we didn't have a car) as we waited for the UConn women to win the NCAA championship, which they did, thank goodness.
Day 1 Dinner: We walked along the river from the Hyatt Regency (in the thick of things) to the Pearl Brewery (about 5 miles, I was told - but I'm not sure how far it really is by foot), and had an early Sat. night dinner at Sandbar Fish House (200 East Grayson). The food was delicious (we adored the ceviche), our fish entrees were fresh and the waitstaff was incredibly friendly and relaxed. Let me warn you - it's pricey for seafood - but worth the cost, considering how pedestrian I thought most of the Riverwalk restaurants are. My feet were so sore (I wore flip-flops - stupid of me, I know) that we took the River Taxi back to the hotel, instead of walking again. I highly recommend this mode of getting back and forth, if you're staying at a hotel on the Riverwalk.
Day 2 Brunch: We took the River Taxi back to the Pearl Brewery so we could try out Easter Sunday brunch at Il Sogno Osteria (which had just been written about in the Sunday Times travel section). It is behind (or in front of, if you're coming by car) the Sandbar (they're sister restaurants). I'd stopped in on Sat. night to check out the brunch menu - and the manager was kind enough to give me a copy of it, fresh off the printer. The food was, again, delicious. We tried 5 different "salads" or apps (they're served in small, square dishes. The mussels were yummy). Our main courses (my husband got a small artisan pizza and I got pasta Bolognese) were equally tasty and fresh. They make their own pasta - which you can watch them churn out.
Day 2 Dinner: We ate at the Alamodome. What a disaster. The food wasn't food - it was cardboard crap. Even the ice cream bar dipped in chocolate and then jimmies/nuts was tasteless. Luckily, UConn beat Baylor - so we didn't mind so much.
Day 3 Lunch: We walked to Restaurant Insignia, the small, industrial-designed restaurant that's attached to the Fairmount Hotel (401 S. Alamo St). It wasn't open yet - but the waiter answering the phone inside came out to talk to us and tell us all about its food and the nearby neighborhoods. We ended up taking the trolley to the King William area to check out Guenther House, which was highly recommended for brunch, because they serve breakfast all day. The menu didn't turn us on, so we didn't eat there. Instead we walked around the gentrified neighborhood and oohed and aahed at the beautiful mansions. Then we walked back to our hotel and had lunch at County Line, the only bbq place within walking distance of our hotel (remember, we didn't have a car to try out a better place: 2 Brothers). The food was blah - bad, run-of-the-mill tourist stuff. I was upset that I didn't get some good Texas bbq brisket - but them's the breaks.
Day 3 Dinner: I'd made a reservation at Biga on the Banks - but I cancelled it, after checking out the menu. I'm not a big fan of iceberg lettuce wedges, which were on their prix fixe dinner menu. Instead, we walked back to Insignia, and the waiter we met earlier in the day was so happy to see us he waited on us. First we had the salsa fresca with lime tostadas, which we scarfed down. Both the salsa and the chips were homemade and fresh-tasting. I had their unbelievably delicious and juicy brisket burger (don't miss it). My husband had their Barbacoa, cilantro, yellow onion and fresh avocado pizza. We'd never heard of barbacoa, but it was close to beef cheeks/brisket, and we both agreed that it was great. My husband also had two of their signature drinks - one with sour cherries and vodka, which I loved. I can't remember the second one (maybe a margarita?).
Day 4 Lunch: We walked to Azuca Nuevo Latino Restaurant (713 S. Alamo), which was a few blocks past Insignia. The ceviche trio was not very good (they took it off the bill when I said it didn't work for me - no hassles or questions asked). The spicy gazpacho andaluz (an extra $3 with the fish taco entree) was very good, though. The three fish tacos my husband ordered were large enough to share (since I didn't eat the ceviche). The place is friendly and colorful, but I didn't think our lunch was outstanding. Maybe we ordered the wrong things - maybe it's better for dinner. I'm not sure - but I'd try it again if I ever returned to San Antonio, to find out for sure.
Day 4 Dinner: We ended up eating at Boudros, a touristy place on the Riverwalk, known for tableside-freshly-prepared guacamole, because we had to eat quickly and early before the basketball game. I'd checked out their menu earlier and was totally unimpressed - but we went, because the ESPN TV crew (Rebecca Lobo and Doris Burke were the only people I recognized) ate there, and my sister said it was her favorite place in San Antonio. Again - we were not impressed. The guacamole, which cost $8.50, was made with ONE avocado and filled in with salsa. I was going to get it, but then the woman at the next table offered me a taste of hers, and I thought it tasted ho-hum, no-big-deal - so I told my husband it wasn't worth ordering. We shared the blackened fish fillet of the day and a tomato-gorgonzola salad (it was bland) - then quickly left - unsatisfied. The Blue Bell Creamery ice cream we took out a few doors down, up a flight of stairs, was excellent, though.
We didn't get to try Le Midi (301 E. Houston St.) for it's happy hour special apps and wine or prix fixe dinner, because it was too far to walk. We didn't try Bin 555, The Cove, Paloma Blanca or Yum's Bakery, either, because we didn't have a car.
Biga on the Banks
203 S. St. Mary's St., San Antonio, TX 78205
555 W Bitters Rd Ste 110, San Antonio, TX 78216
111 W Crockett St Ste 104, San Antonio, TX 78205
Guenther House Restaurant
205 E Guenther, San Antonio, TX 78204
Tre Trattoria Downtown
401 S. Alamo, San Antonio, TX 78205
Thanks! Honestly - I thought I owed it back to Chowhound to report on my nibbles - b/c without the posts that I scoured before leaving for San Antonio, I'd never have been led in the right direction. Instead, I'd have withered away from being stuck at the commercial, touristy, yucky places that surround Riverwalk. I bow down to Chowhounders for helping me find good eats wherever I go.