an all day tour of the missions of San Antonio that ended
with a proper remembrance of The Alamo, we had biked up
quite an appetite. Good thing that the famed Riverwalk was
only a block or two away.
of every variety, along with nightclubs, hotels, bars and shops,
line the banks of The San Antonio River as it runs through downtown.
The riverside is beautifully landscaped with plants, trees,
walkways and bridges that are romantically lit with twinkling
lights after dark. It’s almost like it was designed with a GypsyNester
appy crawl in mind. In an interesting twist, this all happens
below street level.
Hugman’s vision was to emulate a visit to Venice.
was less than an immediate success. For decades businesses
struggled to make a go of it as visitors were scarce and
crime was rampant. David’s father, who was stationed at
nearby Fort Sam Houston
back in the fifties, explained to us how The Riverwalk was so
rough that it was off limits to Army personnel. Getting caught
down there would earn a soldier a trip to the brig.
brought improvements and then in 1969, the Paseo Del Rio Association
was established promoting improvement and development of The
Riverwalk. They have done a fantastic job, because today this
beautiful attraction pulls in nearly $800 million a year for
San Antonio’s economy.
walked down the stairs from Commerce Street to the river
level and immediately ran into Boudro’s Texas Bistro —
this looked like our kind of place. To be honest, we were
too hungry to go hunting any further. We took a seat right
on the water and commenced to slobber over the menu.
So many tempting choices for some Texas Tapas. Smoked
Shrimp Enchiladas, Chili Fried Oysters, Tequila Cured Salmon Bruchetta
and made-at-the-table Guacamole for Two all sounded like winners,
but we went with Mesquite-Grilled Quail and the Duck & Sausage
touches made Boudro’s stand out. With a charming décor
that included horse blankets on the outdoor seats for cool
evenings, a friendly and knowledgeable staff, and real attention
to detail and presentation, we knew we were in for something special. The
even doll up the beer. David’s local favorite, Lone Star, arrived
with a glass that had a salt and chili mixture rubbed on the rim.
Still the food was the star of the show.
gumbo was locally inspired, yet had classic Cajun flavor.
The jalapeno sausage came from nearby Hill Country and three
local peppers blended perfectly with the duck.
a big bowl on a wild rice blend,
this would be hard to match, but… enter the bird.
grilled to perfection on a mesquite fire, was crazy
Nothing says Texas like mesquite-grilled meat, any meat, or
even the carton it came in. Everything tastes good mesquite-grilled.
But this bird stood out. Served with a chipolte demiglace on
a bed of pepper jack grits with jalapeno chips, holy crap that’s
these dishes were from the appetizer menu but were big and hearty
enough to serve as a meal. It’s going to be mighty tough to
top this, but we have all night to try and we might need every
minute of it just to work up a new appetite.
to walk off the first round and check out the rest of Riverwalk’s
culinary choices. We passed tempting local fare, like Boudro’s,
The Little Rhein Steak House and La Margarita’s. National chains
like Hard Rock Cafe, Joe’s Crab Shack and Rainforest Cafe are
represented and famous names such as Pat O’Brien’s round out
the options — Riverwalk could take on any craving we could
browsing the possibilities we stopped off at Paesanos. Self
described as classic Mediterranean and contemporary Italian
dining, it sounded like a good choice for a vino and a bite.
three and the crust of the bread about an
Italian spot. The bread at Paesanos didn’t put up any fight
at all. Felt like it came out of the freezer and it turned out
our whole appetizer seemed like that.
ordered The Sampler Selection of Three of the Most
Popular Antipastos (note to Paesano, the plural of
antipasto is antipasti).
The uninspired plate plopped down before us contained two
Duet of Sauces
(horrifyingly humongous fried flat filets of sea creature not
remotely resembling any calamari we’d ever seen and the sauces
were — wait for it! — tartar and cocktail) and Shrimp Paesano
(best of the three by far, but that simply means they were very
average baked shrimp).
we had some wine to wash it down with. As often seems to be
the case, this disappointment turned out to be our most expensive
stop of the night.
to end the evening on a high note, we walked over to the
highly acclaimed Fig Tree, widely considered to be the best
on The Riverwalk. Alas we were too late. They were closing
for the night but the helpful maitre’d suggested a
nearby spot just above the walk.
took his advice and were so glad we did. Insignia turned
out to be a perfect nightcap — friendly and cozy with a
quirky menu. We sat at the bar, ordered a couple drinks
and the bartender, Lindsey, highly recommended
the Bone Marrow Pudding with Tongue & Cheek Marmalade. Honestly,
how could we turn down a dish with a name like that? As
we sipped our drinks, we waited to see if we
had completely lost
To calm our nerves, Lindsey chatted us up a bit. She informed
us that Insignia is located in The Fairmount Hotel, the
largest building ever to be moved in one piece. Just another
quirk about this interesting place. There are drawings
and photos of the big move in the hotel itself, along with Guinness
Book of World Records certificate.
As we were going to town on it, we started to notice —
Turns out that
at the bar and letting things settle, we headed out, secure
in the feeling that we had experienced a broad range of what
San Antonio had to offer.
But we had to wonder as we looked back at The Fairmount, how
in the hell did they ever move that whole huge building?