Mentioning San Antonio to an out-of-towner conjures thoughts of the Alamo and Riverwalk, Tex-Mex cuisine, and the five time NBA champion Spurs. It is all of those things, but the city I am blessed to call my birthplace is so much more. Whether you’re a lifelong resident in need of a staycation or a first-time visitor, this is how to spend a weekend in San Antonio.
5 PM FRIDAY
Sip a Cocktail at Cured
Located in the heart of the Pearl, formerly the Pearl Brewery, Cured is a restaurant with a focus on – you guessed it – cured meats. Have a seat at the bar near the glass case of hanging meat and order the Root Beer Old Fashioned. Savor the distinct, malty flavor of the house made root beer liqueur as you watch the staff assemble massive charcuterie boards behind the bar. Order a board if you can’t resist, but don’t spoil your appetite.
Feast at Botika
Walk a few yards away to enter Botika, Chef Geronimo Lopez’s perfect mash-up of Peruvian and Asian fare. Grab a glass of sake or a Pisco cocktail from the bar while you wait for your table. Once seated, waste no time and place your order of duck confit empanadas and the Botika roll. The savory, decadent empanadas pair well with the fresh, ever-changing sushi roll. Next, ask for the short rib noodles and the lomo saltado, strips of perfectly cooked tenderloin blanketed with a fried egg. Once fully sated and headed for the door, give your regards to Geronimo, who is often found hustling through the restaurant.
Enjoy Music at Jazz, TX
Saunter over to the Pearl’s music spot. Grab a seat near the band and watch the stand-up bass player’s fingers slide across the strings. Let the sound of the trumpet and the dim blue lights carry you to another time. If somehow, you’re able to handle dessert, order the Texas Pecan Pie, which includes a scoop of smoked brisket piled on top. Ask the server to tell you the story about the origin of this concoction.
Savor a Beverage at Sternewirth
As you traverse the Pearl complex, quietly humming trumpet sounds, stroll into Sternewirth Tavern, the bar on the ground floor of Hotel Emma. Back when the Pearl was a brewery (and before you could spend an evening on the same dirt eating cuisine from across the world, drinking fancy cocktails, and listening to jazz), the staff was allowed to imbibe while at work, a benefit known as the Sternewirth Privilege. Sink into a soft leather chair positioned beneath the elevated ceilings and unfinished walls while you watch locals and travelers alike float through the bar.
On a Budget: Stay at an Airbnb in the King William District, like this one.
Splurge: Spend the night at Hotel Emma in the Garrett Room.
In the morning, summon an Uber or hop in your car (whichever applies) and ride/drive about 5 minutes away for the perfect San Antonio midmorning meal.
Brunch at La Fonda on Main
Ask to be seated outside on La Fonda's patio. Indulge in chips, queso, and a mimosa or a Steve’s margarita surrounded by oak trees and greenery. Order the Weekend Breakfast, a cut of savory Allen Brothers steak, eggs bathed in queso, and a fluffy slice of cinnamon infused French toast. You also can’t go wrong with the shrimp nachos. Order them sans serrano peppers if you’re averse to spice.
Sip Coffee at Ocho
Pull up a turquoise chair by the window beneath Ocho's imposing chandelier and down an espresso as you gear up for an afternoon outdoors.
Bike the Missions
Cruise a few miles south of downtown to arrive at Mission Espada. Admire the architecture of the mission and the acequia that carried life sustaining water to Spanish settlers three hundred years ago. Once you’re ready to move on, grab a B Cycle from a rack nearby and take a ride to Mission San Juan.
If you’re feeling daring, complete the 20-mile route, stopping at Mission San Jose, and Mission Concepcion along the way. End your ride at the site made famous on March 6, 1836.
Remember the Alamo
It goes without saying: You can’t visit San Antonio without stopping by the cradle of Texas independence. Grab a last look at the cenotaph, the shrine, and the entire plaza before it is completely reimagined.
Dine at Battalion
Less than a mile from the Alamo stands Battalion, a converted fire station (complete with an original firepole) that boasts some of the city’s best Italian fare. Order the house made ricotta, winter panzanella, arrabbiata pasta, and chicken parmesan, which is plenty for two. Order a few more items if your party is larger.
Dance at John T. Floore's Country Store
This 70-year-old venue epitomizes everything about a true Texas dancehall. Some of the Lone Star State’s most well-known singers and songwriters have performed at Floore’s. There’s a great act almost every Saturday night throughout the year, so grab a Coors Light longneck and get ready to cut a rug.
Enjoy a Nightcap at George's Keep
Located beneath the Eilan hotel, George’s Keep has a speakeasy feel. High five the bouncer on your way in and chat up locals as you sip an Aviation or a Northwest Side.
If the airport is your final destination in San Antonio, grab a last meal at La Gloria, a restaurant concept developed by San Antonio's own Johnny Hernandez, in the airport. If you have a little time on your way out, get some breakfast tacos. Mama Margie's is a few miles east on IH-10. There's a Biller Miller BBQ on nearly every corner in San Antonio and their breakfast tacos are hard to beat. A trip to Taco Taco would be completely worth it. The Original Donut Shop, Taqueria Data Point, and Pete's Tako House will all give you the perfect San Antonio breakfast taco experience.
If you're not ready to leave, I don't blame you. You'd love living here just as much as visiting.