|Dining Along the San Antonio Riverwalk|
Our plane landed around 11a.m. in one of America's greatest theme cities. It's as though Disney sprinkled Doritos® dust all over town coating it with Tex-Mex flavor, color, and culture. As the 7th largest city in the country, traffic was exceptionally light and navigation quite easy. It's a sprawling landscape, but with little congestion, which most likely adds to the small town feel of this spectacular urban center.
|Italianate Home in King William District|
|Greek Revival Home|
We headed to lunch at Rosario's Mexican Cafe y Cantina just south of downtown in the King William district. It's a great introduction to the city's primo cuisine with its extensive menu and colorful eclectic interior. (See our review posted November 11, 2012.) Walking around the area afterwards gave us a sense of San Antonio's beginnings when wealthy German merchants first migrated there in the 1840's. (Yes, the city actually began as a German settlement.) Named for King Wilheim initially, it has gone through several names through political battles finally settling on the English version. The area is reminiscent of the Garden District in New Orleans with the prominent Victorian, Greek Revival, and Italianate homes ranging from meticulous restorations to total disrepair.
|San Antonio Riverwalk|
We chose the Marriott Courtyard on the northern edge of the Riverwalk for our stay, giving us the centerpiece of the city at our doorstep. You may find it hard to believe, but the San Antonio River has always flowed through downtown much as it does today. In the 1920's there was extensive flooding in the city's core that killed fifty people and led architect Robert Hugman to promote the idea for connecting the flow of the river with dams and different elevations in the 1940's to eliminate the problem. Downtown revitalization in the mid 1970's led to a renewed interest in the water's edge below the city's street system with many restaurants and hotels popping up along its way. The result was one of America's urban wonders, one that has never been duplicated. It's a little like our version of Venice. Today, the Riverwalk has been extended in all directions with further walking paths.
|Tower of the Americas|
Torch of Friendship
by Mexican Artist Sebastián
We made our way along the north edge of the Riverwalk, passing the many riverside cafes, fountains, and bridges. Signage is helpful and extensive with police officers acting as tour guides. Coming up to the streetscape, we saw the Tower of the Americas from HemisFair '68 in the background.
|Lobby of the Menger Hotel|
We were on our way to the Menger Hotel across from Alamo Square. It's an opulent Victorian architectural landmark that has hosted Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, and Bill Clinton when running for president to name just a few. It was the best known hotel in the Southwest during the late 1800s and maintains its status as the most haunted hotel in Texas with some 32 spirits wandering the magnificent surroundings. The courtyard has fine examples of the area's botanical offerings. We also found the King X shop of miniatures in the lobby quite fascinating.
|Reception Area and Courtyard of the Menger Hotel|
|The Alamo: An Official Texas State Shrine|
|The Ornate Carvings |
of the Alamo Mission
The Alamo is synonymous with San Antonio and Texas history and the most visited site in Texas. Its appearance is anything but dominating, pale in comparison to what it stands for and the belief that everything is bigger in Texas. The battle fought there for independence in 1836 is far more important than the fact that it was once a mission. Today it is an official Texas State Shrine commanding the respect of the public as we saw when one visitor was asked to remove his cap upon entering.
Retracing our steps, we descended to the Riverwalk level and proceeded along the Southern portion of the waterway passing La Villita (the area where San Antonio was founded) and a much quieter portion of the walk. Surfacing to street level we headed back to our hotel before venturing out for the evening.
|The Riverwalk After Dark|
The Riverwalk seemed our obvious choice for dinner and we had checked out several options. But when we were in the moment of making our way along the river path, we decided on something much more unconventional…Schilo's, a German deli. Just above the Riverwalk, it's been a San Antonio destination since 1917. Surviving from the days when most San Antonioans were of German descent, we recommend it for sheer authenticity and a different flavor than the modern day Tex-Mex establishments. (See our future review.) Walking back on the opposite side of the river, we
|Glass Valecia Oranges|
Signed by Celebrities
had a different view taking us to the Valencia Hotel and one of the current hot spots in the city. It was a Wednesday night and probably too early for things to be hopping, but a walk through the second floor public areas are worth a stop.
|Façade of Mission San José|
|Walled Grounds of the Mission San José|
at Mission San José
The short drive back to town brought us to the King William distract again for lunch at the Madhatter's Tea House and Café. We arrived early as the line for ordering can get long. It's a local Panera type of place, and you can''t beat this local take on breakfast and lunch. We were attracted to the iced tea bar with several different blends to choose from. Save room for dessert as the locally made pies and cakes are considered the top in the city and the options are extensive. (See our later review.)
|Courtyard of the McNay Art Museum|
|San Fernando Cathedral|