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San Antonio: Culinary Capital of Texas

In Houston this weekend, I discovered the Woodlands has its own version of San Antonio's River Walk, but you'll definitely want to head to San Antonio for River Walk and the exceptional food scene as well!

Excerpt below from 6/1/2022 article produced by Virtuoso with Visit San Antonio can be found here.

The city's eclectic dining scene showcases its Tex-Mex roots and riverside restaurants. More than a century ago, “chili queens” reigned in San Antonio’s plazas, serving steaming pots of chili con carne, a precursor of Tex-Mex cuisine. Today, restaurants across the city celebrate international flavors, from Spanish and Mexican influences to French, German, Czech, Slovak, and Vietnamese. Thriving culinary hubs around San Antonio’s River Walk, Pearl development, open-air markets, and historic neighborhoods have earned the city a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy designation – one of only two in the U.S.

To discover the best of city’s diverse dining scene year-round, follow its designated Food Trails focused on themes such as tacos, barbecue, and Black-owned restaurants.

Shop for Snacks and Souvenirs in El Mercado

Start your visit in Historic Market Square, aka El Mercado, to peruse North America’s largest Mexican market outside Mexico. Try spicy elote (street corn), available on the cob or in a cup, while browsing three blocks of open-air stalls run by more than 100 local businesses; products for sale include woven blankets, hats, blouses, trinkets, and guitars. Pop into longtime favorite Mi Tierra Café y Panadería for delicious Tex-Mex dishes and pan dulce in a setting of twinkling lights, muraled walls, and mariachi musicians – an atmosphere that encapsulates the city’s vibe.

Take an After-Dinner Stroll Along the River Walk

Fifteen miles of urban waterway shaded by centuries-old bald cypress make up San Antonio’s River Walk. An evening stroll past umbrella-topped tables, pedestrian bridges, and narrow streets reveals public artwork and cozy restaurants around every riverbend. Crisp vegetable spring rolls, pan-seared scallops, and Gulf shrimp grace the plates in Biga on the Banks’ private dining rooms (save room for sweet corn pudding for dessert). James Beard Award finalist Steve McHugh helms Landrace, opened last year at the Thompson San Antonio-Riverwalk Hotel. Seasonal menus pay tribute to local Texas farmers and heritage growers with dishes such as turtle soup, bone marrow escargot, slow-cooked bison short rib, and trout Pontchartrain.

Meet San Antonio’s Next Chefs at The Pearl

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, The Pearl referred to the site of Texas’ largest brewery. Today, the name describes a buzzy complex of restaurants, cafés, and locally owned shops surrounding the historic Hotel Emma and a Culinary Institute of America outpost. Sample CIA chef creations at pop-up events throughout the year, or taste the ingredients inspiring the next crop of tastemakers at the weekend farmers’ market.

Start your day with brunch favorites at Hotel Emma’s Supper restaurant – say, the sweet and savory punch of “millionaire’s bacon” or go for the green chorizo Scotch eggs with a side of jalapeño corn bread and oven-roasted tomato Provençal. Add a steaming mug of Oaxacan hot chocolate with toasted marshmallows for an extra sweet treat. Follow up this cheesy goodness with baked branzino, slow-braised lamb shank, or rotisserie chicken.

Venture to Southtown for Cultural Stories and Exceptional Service

San Antonio’s Southtown neighborhood encompasses the King William Historic District, first populated by German merchants in the 1800s. Today, the neighborhood accommodates a diverse community and a thriving food scene. James Beard Award finalist Mixtli takes diners on a journey through Mexican history and flavors throughout each course, with an open kitchen providing an intimate glimpse of each dish being crafted. Mixtli’s menus change every 45 days to highlight various regions and seasons of Mexican flavors. Palmero also recommends the flawless service at nearby Bliss for contemporary American cuisine such as Lockhart quail and duck breast with foie gras. Finish your San Antonio trip with satisfied taste buds and a deeper sense of the cultural influences that have made this city a culinary melting pot.



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