Saturday, November 21, 2009

San Antonio.

I've always been partial to San Antonio. I like it almost as much as I do Fort Worth. But I am partial to all things Franciscan, and San Antonio was settled by Franciscan missionaries a few hundred years ago, which makes it an old city and, like New Orleans or San Francisco, a city with an Old World feel.

Another big reason to enjoy San Antonio is the Mexican cuisine, which is not one thing but many things. I love Tex-Mex as much as anyone, but Mexico is a country with regional recipes for steak, seafood, breads, and desserts, and is a place with vegetables not commonly found north of the border. Except in cities like San Antonio.

Here are two of the restaurants we visited.

La Fonda. Excellent Mexican cuisine. I had the Milanesa de Pollo and it was delicious. La Fonda is downtown in the Alamo Heights area and serves the local San Antonio crowd. The best Mexican food is not on the Riverwalk but in the city where the locals live. It is not hard to find a good one.

Another restaurant we enjoyed was Fralos, the Art of Pizza, a pizza restaurant on the the northwest side of San Antonio in Leon Springs. Most of the seating is outside. The pizza is excellent and the atmosphere, on a cool San Antonio November night, is perfect.

Final suggestion for Fort Worth to travelers to San Antonio:
We visited the Whole Foods in Austin on the way back. Of the major specialty food retailers that I have visited, Whole Foods, Wegman's, and Central Market, Whole Foods is winning the battle of consistently good food quality and store innovativeness. It is true in the older stores, like the one we have in Arlington, and especially true in the new concept stores, like the store in Austin. The entire perimeter of the store is devoted to made-fresh foods with seating in each department. Bread, cheese, wine, coffee, fish, chocolate, sandwiches, tacos, sushi, you name it and it's there. And good. I tasted a chocolate and caramel covered apple in the chocolate department. Delicious.

My only complaint, and it is a minor one, is that it has limited street-level parking and it is crowded. We visited on a weekday afternoon around 2 p.m. and it was packed. Trust me on this one, it's worth a visit.


RJG said...

San Antonio was sort of my second city growing up. My Dad had his best clients there, so we as a family went down at least twice a year, if not more. Always stayed at the Aloha on Austin Hwy, which at that time was a Best Western. I even remembered the smoky coffee shop my Dad loved: Bassett's. And their favorite Italian restaurant was a place called The Naples further towards the city on Austin Hwy. He also liked an ancient steakhouse called The Teepee, that my Mom hated. LOL. We watched the area deteriorate over time - including a strip club right across from the motel. The motel itself maintained a high standard for many years - had a nice pool and a playground, which I liked. Mostly I'm recalling the late 1960s and early 1970s - though I remember still going there with my Dad while still in high school in the early 80s. Eventually Best Western sold the property, and it became more a temporary apartment complex. It may be torn down now.

I think I've been to La Fonda actually, but need to review my database. We have a list of restaurants we've been to in San Antonio, but none have been OUR place yet. You know, the special place that you recommend to all you can.

One place on the Riverwalk that wouldn't seem great on first inspection, but is actually quite good, is Mexican Manhattan. Even the name is suspect. But then you find out it's from the 1940s and once you get past the sitting deck and the margarita club atmostphere, you find an old school Mexican place inside. And one taco covers the plate!

Rambler said...

I keep tellin' ya: Hung Fong on Broadway. Not too far south of the entrance to the park, north of where Playland used to be. NOT a buffet, and not gourmet, either. Just good solid Chinese/American food and wonderful neon tube art.

Francis Shivone said...

RJG -- Appreciate the thoughts and suggestion for the Riverwalk.

Rambler - I done forgot, but I won't next time. My son lives there so we get down often.