Foodie Tour: Flavors of San Antonio
Posted November 1, 2010on:
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On Saturday, October 30th I participated in my first ever foodie tour. The Flavors of San Antonio foodie tour is one of the offerings by Historic Texas Tours. This 3½-hour tour ($39 for San Antonio residents and $44 for non-residents, excluding taxes and fees) was the perfect way to be introduced to a variety of San Antonio’s great restaurants; several covered on the tour were off the beaten path so I probably wouldn’t have found them otherwise. Saturday’s beautiful weather (sunny with temperatures in the upper 70s), friendly and knowledgeable tour guide/driver (Alex Reynolds, company co-owner), and small group of three guests (only me and two female friends from Austin, Texas who were celebrating a birthday) combined — along with the delicious food, of course — to make this excursion noteworthy and enjoyable.
The tour began in Alamo Plaza (site of the famous Alamo) where we boarded a small comfortable air-conditioned van. Alex drove us to five restaurants where we sampled savory menu items of the restaurants’ choosing. On this particular day, the Flavors of San Antonio foodie tour visisted: (1) Augie’s Barbed Wire Smokehouse, (2) Joseph’s Storehouse Restaurant and Bakery, (3) Luther’s Cafe, (4) The Cove (a quirky restaurant, landromat, and car wash combo), and (5) Ácenar HotMex/CoolBar. Each place had a distinct style of decor and food and provided a warm welcome for our group. We always received friendly service from the wait staff. Alex told us that they treat all customers in this hospitable fashion.
Augie’s Barbed Wire Smokehouse is located by the San Antonio Zoo. As its name implies, its specialty is barbecue. Here we tried pulled pork, beef brisket, and jalopeno sausage. This was a good stop for me because it was my first real Texas barbecue. Next, we visited nearby Joseph’s where we sampled King Ranch Chicken, chicken pot pie (my favorite), lasagna (not me – I don’t like cheese), homemade rolls, brownie, and warm chocolate cake. Then it was off to Luther’s, a comfort food place, which served us frozen margaritas, “Red Top” (a homemade beef Irish stew topped with Texas chili and a red tortilla chip), and fried mushrooms. Is your mouth watering yet? The fourth restaurant we explored was The Cove (which has been featured on TV’s The Food Network — Guy Fieri’s show, “Diners, Drive-In’s & Dives”, in August 2008) where our group tried grilled tilapia tacos (not me), sweet potato fries with sriracha mayo, and jalopeno carrot cake. Finally, we went to the popular Mexican restaurant Ácenar (that uses the slogan, ¡Vamos Ácenar…Vamos Átomar! which translates as “Let’s dine…Let’s Drink!”) which is located on the famous River Walk. We sat outside on the patio and were served tortilla chips and salsa followed by sopas (corn tostadas with duck flavored with chorizo, cabbage slaw, red onions, cilantro, tomato, and avocado). We made the rounds filling up on local goodies and were satiated by the end of the tour. I took notes and pictures along the way. Just before 5:00 p.m., the Flavors of San Antonio foodie tour ended right where it began — at Alamo Plaza. Great tour! I would definitely recommend this fun tour to others. Be sure to check out the restaurants’ cool websites by clicking on the links I’ve included. Historic Texas Tours offers several types of tours and I intend to sign up for one of the others before I leave San Antonio next month.
After the tour ended, I spent two hours roaming around downtown San Antonio on my own. I returned to La Villita Historic Arts Village, a cute section of town I visited in July with my sister. In between strolling the plaza area filled with costumed children dressed for Halloween activities, I watched the free entertainment (singing and dancing), saw some face painting, and spent some time inside a few of the shops. In particular, I really liked the original artwork on display at the River Art Group. Somehow, I was able to resist the temptation to buy something on this trip, but I’ll likely return in the future.
This euphoric day began with people-watching at Alamo Plaza before the foodie tour began at 1:30 p.m. and wrapped up with a to-go meal from Hotel Indigo’s 1909 Bar & Bistro (which recently underwent a name change from Phi Bar & Bistro, its name when I visited in July). I ordered a small plate entree of South Texas fish tacos (fresh Gulf Coast tilapia topped with cilantro, coleslaw, chipotle tartar sauce and Cojita cheese — no cheese for me — served with Santa Fe black beans and Spanish rice) and a chocolate brownie for dessert. Upon returning home, I ate a portion for dinner. The entree was flavorful, but too different and a bit too spicy for my taste. I’m a chocoholic so I eagerly looked forward to dessert. Loved the brownie!