Sunday, January 4, 2009

San Antonio - Yum!

As I mentioned, my husband and I went to San Antonio last week. We had a great time, sans one small incident. But I won't talk about that other than to say that 30-23 in OT is much closer than it looks, folks.

We did the good touristy things like going to see the Alamo. In fact, we managed to spend almost three hours there. I think I absorbed pretty much all the Alamo history that I'm going to. If anyone wants to ask me about Clara Driscoll or the Battle of San Jacinto or how much it cost for an acre of land in Mexico, I'm your girl!

We originally tried to go on Monday before the game, but the line was incredibly long, wrapping around the block. We decided to go instead on Tuesday, when we figured most people would have gone home. Unfortunately, the line was still almost as long as it was the previous day, but that's ok. We waited, and it wasn't too bad.

Imagine that. Another picture that I'm not in.

We also saw the Tower of the Americas, but only from the ground. As best I can tell, it's kinda like the Space Needle in Seattle. With a restaurant on top. And an observation deck. Considering that I turn down opportunities to go in the Sears Tower and had a huge claustrophobia issue when my husband made me go up the St Louis arch, we decided to skip it. It was a cool picture at least.

Ostensibly, we went to see the Alamodome.

Or at least the inside of the Alamodome and a particular team who was playing football there. Unfortunately, it didn't quite go our way. Northwestern didn't quite have enough to finish off Mizzou, and that's all we'll say on that topic, thank you.

And now that this part is complete, we'll talk about the part of the trip that was most enjoyable. We spent a lot of time on the Riverwalk. At Christmastime (the only time I've been to San Antonio), they put up cool Christmas lights on the trees around the river and on the boats that go around on it. My husband thinks they should be there permanently, since they add so much to the atmosphere.

Yeah, ok, so my picture turned out horribly. I actually took a bunch, both with and without flash and at varying levels of focus but couldnt' figure out how to get the lights to show up right. (Irene? What am I doing wrong?)

So why hang out on the Riverwalk? Why enjoy San Antonio? Because of the food of course!

Our first stop was Rita's on the River, where we had some rocking margaritas. And I had some great tortilla soup, while my husband enjoyed his nachos. This ranked as the second best margaritas we had on the trip. And yes, this is how I tracked it. This was just our late lunch though, as we needed something to eat but it was too early to really have dinner.

When we finally ate, dinner was delicious fortunately. We had dinner at Ibiza's, which is part of the Hilton, but it's not your typical hotel restaurant. The food was excellent, and their margaritas were the best we had. By far, which shocked me. I had the most tender filet that had a fantastic side with asparagus and fried onions which doesn't sound nearly so good as it was.

The next morning, we went to El Mirador, which is a restaurant in Southtown away from the Riverwalk that a friend of mine who did her residency recommended. Vicky gave me tons of great recommendations, and she insisted that I have a margarita or two on the rocks there while enjoying brunch. So I did. They were the third best margaritas, and the food was fantastic. And surprisingly cheap. I'd definitely return to this one. We actually ate late enough that a) we missed brunch and had lunch instead and b) we didn't really need to eat again until dinner.

We did have a little snack, though, but for the life of me, I can't remember where. It obviously wasn't memorable, as I did a pretty good job of tracking where we ate.

That night, we ate at Boudro's. Oh. My. God. It was the best guacamole that I'd ever eaten. They make it tableside there, which is kind of fun anyway. It cannot possibly be built up too much though. Literally the best I've ever had. I watched carefully to see how much of what they put in so that I could recreate it at home. I've made it twice since I got back late Wednesday night. Guess what Tasty Tuesday is this week! Sadly, I can't remember what my dinner there was, although it was good. Their margaritas were way down on the list though. The prickly pear margarita was fine and interesting but tasted more like it came from a mix than anything else. My husband got a regular one on the rocks and was even more disappointed than I was. I'd go back in a heartbeat for the guacamole though.

The next day, we went to Mad Hatters for breakfast, which was another of Vicky's recommendations. They're a really cute little place that specializes as a tea house in addition to the sandwiches and more that they serve. I had a chicken salad sandwich on sourdough. The bread was disappointing, as it didn't have any of the kick of sourdough that I love, but the chicken salad was truly unique. It had spinach in it, which I would never have thought to add. And of course I had some tea. I had a really hard time deciding what tea to get. A really hard time. If it weren't such a long walk from my hotel, I'd have gone back for more kinds of tea. I ended up with a mango ceylon tea, but so many others I could have chosen. And the sandwiches were huge, almost Perry's (downtown Chicago -- and a place I really miss having lunch at) big!

Again, that was mostly our lunch. However, we decided to have a snack before walking over to the Alamodome for the game. So we went back to Boudro's. Just for the guacamole. Now, had Boudro's and the guac not been a Vicky recommendation, I probably would not have gotten it. Really, do I need $8 guacamole? Yes. Yes, I do. In fact, when we went for our umm snack... my husband and I each got our own order. It's really that good.

Tuesday morning, we had brunch at a restaurant near our hotel, The Original Blanco Cafe -- because I guess there were imitators. This was much more of a local hangout, and as usual, we didn't get our acts fully together until it was almost lunchtime, so it was more like lunch than anything else. I was disappointed, as my food was really not at all flavorful, but let me clear Vicky's name and tell you this wasn't one of her recommendations.

Dinner that night was with some friends from home who arrogantly wanted to meet for dinner on Tuesday so we could celebrate the Cats' victory. Yeah, not so much. Pesca's on the river was quite good though, although I was disappointed by the service. As in they forgot to take my drink and dessert order and neglected to serve me any wine. Here I strayed from my ways and got a raspberry lemon drop. Both the other woman and I were not impressed. The food, on the other hand, was fantastic. I had a seared ahi that was meaty and perfectly served, if a bit salty. Everyone else enjoyed their meals, as well. Dessert was iffy though. Like I said, I got skipped over in ordering, but that turned out ok. Their chocolate cake... well, no one ate it. It got passed around to all six of us and finally the fourteen year old boy finished it. The apple galette was equally blah. And the creme brulee was incredibly eggy, with bubbles evenly dispersed throughout like an omelette. It wasn't bad, but I'd definitely never order it again. Fortunately, the cheesecake was decent with a really thick crust, but I can only eat a bite or two of cheesecake because it's too rich for me.

Our last meal in San Antonio was breakfast the day we left. I asked Vicky for another recommendation since we'd used up all her breakfast recommendations already and our going it alone didn't turn out so great. Both she and MaBunny's MIL came up with the same recommendation: Mi Tierra. We headed over there to get some pastries, and I was shocked for a couple reasons. First, I'd been there before. When I was in San Antonio the last time, we'd eaten here for lunch one day (and I saw my mom drunk for the first time ever, which was highly entertaining) and we'd liked it so much that we went back for breakfast another day. Second, they had hardly any of their pastries in at 8:30. I settled in with a cherry turnover to hold me over, as I wanted to take something for the plane ride and layovers that wasn't airport fast food. Yum. But too crumbly to take on the plane. Luckily, I also remembered that they had fantastic Mexican hot chocolate, so I had a cup of that, too. Yum! Before we finished our breakfast, they replenished their stock though, and we got a few Mexican goodies to take on the plane. Phew! This is one that I want to go back to and have a real meal, as I remember it (and the margaritas) being quite good.

And that's my summary of the important part of my trip. Where's the best food, and who has the best margaritas. I'm trying to figure out what that says about me! In any case, we had a ton of fun, and I hope we go back to another bowl there -- this time with a different result.


Kellan January 4, 2009 at 9:14 PM  

Hey - you were HERE??!! I'm glad you enjoyed our fine city and got to visit and eat at all those great places. WE do have some wonderful sights and restaurants in SA!

Happy New Year, Michelle - I hope it is a great year for you and your family!


angela | the painted house January 4, 2009 at 9:50 PM  

Michelle, I need to travel with you! I like a girl who knows how to eat her way through a vacation!

I am now officially craving some Tex Mex.

Glad you had a great time! And, happy new year!

Cookie January 5, 2009 at 9:15 PM  

All this talk about food is making me hungry! I never heard of the tower of americas! Who knew?!

Michelle January 5, 2009 at 9:24 PM  

Kellan -- I was, while you were in Utah, of course. I tried to email you but you don't have your email available, and you must have missed the comment I left. It was fun!

Angela - Hey, I did do more than just eat, but the eating was pretty fun ;) It was a great vacation.

Cookie - I didn't know either. But they were there! Sorry to make you so hungry....

Anonymous January 7, 2009 at 10:59 AM  

Eating is always a great part of a vacation!

Michelle January 7, 2009 at 7:13 PM  

hellosweetworld - But of course! I'm just glad that there are people out there who agree with me ;)

Angela January 10, 2009 at 8:54 AM  

Hey Michelle! The trip looks wonderful! I am sorry about the game score but it sounds awesome otherwise! I have some family that used to live in SA. I have never been, but would love to go someday.

I can't wait to go check out your guac recipe! I just got an avocado yesterday that I am looking forward to eating!

And yeah, your details on the food are making me want a huge breakfast, LOL!

Michelle January 10, 2009 at 3:25 PM  

Angela - Thanks for the sympathy. It's a really fun (and yummy) city. I hope you enjoyed your breakfast ;)

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