Spring Break has unfortunately come and gone and I am writing in past tense today. All Oklahoma schools were on Spring Break the third week of March and this old principal sorely needed it. We had a lot of events going on prior to our break and a lot of stressful unexpected things (which I might write more on later).
Let’s just say the break came at a much needed time.
Last year I made a quick trip to Taterville and then on to New Orleans with The Hubs for a work conference. It looks like the conference he attends every March will serendipitously coincide with my Spring Break! This year the conference was in San Antonio.
We had vacationed in San Antonio over ten years ago and we have stopped by once or twice on our way to Houston to visit the in-laws. I remembered the Riverwalk well and I don’t think it had changed much. It is still a little touristy for me, but I did have fun exploring and walking (lots of walking) around by myself while The Hubs was conferencing.
Let’s start at the beginning…..we drove….The Hubs maintains that if it is under ten hours by car then there is no reason to fly. In fact, he is adamant that we can always get there quicker if we drive. (The flight to San Antonio would have been a little over three hours.) But, I have to admit that he may have a point with stopovers, weather delays, etc. Let’s just say that it was a long drive.
We do break it up a bit and try to find cool eateries along the way. In Ft. Worth, I Yelped out a hipster eatery called Brewed. Everything is made from scratch and I don’t know of another place where you could order over sixty craft beers along with Kombucha on tap. I will give their ice tea rave reviews. The Hubs had the Brewed Burger (fresh, all-natural beef with aged sharp white cheddar, house pickles, and mustard creme fraiche on a sweet bun) . I also think it had a bit of Sriracha bite to it as well. I had a turkey, arugula and avocado sandwich. Both came with duck fries which can never be bad but ours were a bit cold. Would I return? Absolutely! I loved the funky hipster climate (along with the iced tea).
We pulled into San Antonio to the sounds of bagpipes. Yes, it was St. Patrick’s Day and we barely missed the parade. We decided to explore no further than outside of our hotel on the Riverwalk. We simply sought out the first place we had ever eaten in San Antonio, Cafe Ole. Totally acceptable Tex-Mex food but the margaritas? Totally delicious.
The next morning I was on my own and I wanted to explore new areas so I took the water taxi to Pearl. I pinned this area long ago as a must see. This area of 22-acres not only includes the old Pearl brewery, but also the new CIA-San Antonio and lots of restaurants and cool shops.
Can you tell it was mostly rainy and cloudy while we were there.
My quiche lunch at a CIA Pop-up/Cafe/Bakery was almost eclipsed by the curry rice/quinoa/pea salad that was served along side it. Also, I loved this chandelier comprised of saute pans. (I would not have found this little pop-up except for a young CIA student who walked passed me in an alley adjacent to the institute. I must have looked hungry because she urged me to “visit our bakery. It will only be opened for a few weeks.” After I had finished my lunch, she came to clear my table and was totally surprised that I had listened to her advice and visited. She made my day.)
That evening, we ate at Arcade (also in the Pearl area). The in-laws had driven up from Houston to have dinner with us. I was a little nervous about picking the restaurant because I wanted their two-hour drive for dinner to be worth it. Arcade is another restaurant that focuses on local (a theme in this district). We weren’t disappointed and we found the staff to be very helpful and attentive. I didn’t snap any food photos because I thought the in-laws would think it odd. (They don’t know I blog.) I will say that the four of us dined on Big Eye Tuna Tartar Totopos, Red Chile Texas Gulf Shrimp with Sweet Potato Gratin and Smoked Jalapenos, and Roasted Garlic and Toasted Ribeye with Chickpea Puree.
After dinner, we wondered over to Lick for ice cream. This “honest ice cream” parlor had the most inventive and the most delicious stuff.
I could have sampled all of their flavors, but while my group went with safe picks like Texas Pecan & Cream, Salted Caramel, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie, I went for the Goat Cheese, Thyme & Honey. OhMyGoshness! (My second choice was going to be the Grapefruit with Champagne Marshmallows.)
I returned the next day on a marathon walk-about-San Antonio. My intent was to power walk to Pearl for coffee at Local. I had sipped a delicious lemon-grass iced tea there the previous day and they were so kind as to let my MiL and I have some hot tea while they were closing up. (In essence, they were already closed and even gave us the tea on the house. We did leave a bit extra in their tip jar.) MiL and I were able to do some catching up as we sat under the night lights that evening after our meal and ice cream.
The accompanying pastry is a Mango-Manchego Empanada from the CIA bakery. After my latte and pastry I realized that I had not stuck my water taxi ticket in my running pants so I set off treking back to the hotel. It was a happy accident, however, because I made a stop at the San Antonio Museum of Art and saw a fantastic Contemporary Latin American Artist exhibition (which included some Diego Riveras) and some inspiring Japanese contemporary ceramics.
On the final evening, the conference organizers rented space at The Buckhorn Saloon and Texas Ranger Museum. It is an expansive place.
Kind of touristy, but it was lots of fun exploring all the exhibits.
On our way out of town, I found the perfect place for The Hubs and our final meal in San Antonio: The Hoppy Monk.
This is why it was the perfect place. The bartender/beer expert was super friendly and well-informed. We found out The Hoppy Monk had only been open for about three months and they were still trying to figure out a few things like beers to rotate in and out and a cocktail menu. They were spot on with the food though.
On the left is the Bacon and Egg Burger with bacon marmalade, tomatoes and house made aioli. On the right was my delicious burger: The Blue Fox Burger with cider poached pears, blue cheese sauce, walnut aioli and arugula. It might sound strange but it was delicious.
Just to sum up, if you visit Pearl in San Antonio, make sure that you don’t miss the shopping. I found a great flowy shirt at Adalante Boutique, a new St. Pasquale for my collection at Melissa Guerra, and a interesting, folksy cage doll at The Tiny Finch. (Check out their Instagram for super cool stuff.)
And to continue to sum up, here are some pictures from the trip that I just couldn’t work in.
Now, to finally sum up, I am going to try to replicate the curried quinoa salad from the CIA Bakery, the Blue Fox Burger from The Hoppy Monk, and the goat cheese ice cream from Lick. Stay tuned to see how successful I am and if I ever get around to it.
(I did my best the urge The Hubs to suggest that next year’s conference be in Santa Fe!)