Until tonight, my 4th and last night in SA, I was really disappointed in my San Antonio dining experiences. More so because I really like San Antonio (in spite of the brutal temps this week.) But I'm happy to say, my trip ended on a very positive note. Here's the story.
I'm here on biz with an associate for 4 days, leaving tomorrow. Staying at the Marriott San Antonio Plaza which is a beautiful hotel with impeccable service. About a 5 minute walk from the Riverwalk - I highly recommend it.
Night 1, Wednesday. Cut through the humidity and heat and went down to the Riverwalk for dinner at Boudro's. Arriving at about 6:45 we immediately got a table outside. Good timing because the table-wait immediately went up to 45min-1 hour. My associate has severe food allergies and can't eat tomato, parsley and a limited number of other herbs/vegies (she'll die) so she gives pretty explicit instructions when ordering. We started with the tableside quacamole which was OK, not great. The lack of tomato and salso probably contributed so I'll never know if it would be as good as the tableside quac at the Adobe Grill in Chicago. My Black Drum was good but the sauce and garnish was pretty heavy. All in all a pretty average meal. Service started out abysmal but then improved significantly. Fighting through the crowd on the Riverwalk after dinner was not a happy experience.
Night 2. Drove to the Liberty Bar. A great, old building with lots of character. Although they had a Pearl beer sign, they no longer served it. Started with an appetizer of spicy garlic peanuts which was very tasty and addictive. I was impressed that they actually served my Pilsner Urquell in a Pilsner glass. I had the grilled salmon which was done to perfection with vegies on the side. I had heard raves about their fresh baked bread, which was good, not nothing to cause me to go into paroxysms of ecstacy. All in all a good, solid dinner.
Night 3. Had read about Dolores del Rio here and it sounded interesting. Bad choice, mostly. This is a great atmosphere in a cellar with stone walls at the end of the Riverwalk away from the crowds. Tables run from miniscule to small with mis-matching chairs. We immediately changed tables to get chairs that didn't leave me throat high at the table. Arriving around 7:00 we were able to get seated but around 7:30 it began to fill up. Our waiter was totally clueless. Since this is sort of an Italian restaurant I was looking forward to a good bottle of Italian wine. Wrong. One bottle of Chianti on the list and it was pretty bad but at least it was expensive (for the wine) at $28. While ordering dinner, my associate was pretty clear about not being able to eat tomatos and parsley and stressed that garnish and sauces must be left off of her entree. More on this in a minute. We started with a spinach salad for two (house specialty) which arrived (in about 30 minutes)absolutely drenched in oil, little vinegar and mostly without flavor. We were finished and I had to flag down a random server to remove the plates (our waiter would pass, look at us/empty plates and then keep on going.) Entrees arrived in another half hour. And yes, my associates plate had tomato sauce and was covered with parsley flakes. Our waiter apologized profusely (blaming the kitchen) and it took another 20 minutes to get the replacement which had no parsley but still tomato sauce on the pasta! Oh, well. My farfalle was so drenched (seems to be a standard here) in olive oil that it was almost inedible. I had a few bites and that was it. Took another 15 minutes to get our waiter to clear the table. He apologized again for the sauce/parsley mistake and offered us a free dessert. Nice touch. We ordered dessert and coffee. 20 minutes later the packaged cheesecake showed up but no coffee. When I requested the check, he showed no indication of having heard of a coffee order and I didn't press the issue. The positive side of the evening: a great Latin jazz band which began playing at 7:30 followed by a belly dancer. I'd recommend this place for entertainment - not for food.
Night 4. San Antonio redeemed. Not wanting to take a chance on another Chowhound recommendation (sorry) I struck out on my own. Ended up at a small Mexican place, El Mirador, about a 5 minute walk from the hotel on St. Mary's St. Absolutely fantastic! My favorite salsa up to now has been Don Juan's in Chicago. No longer. El Mirador's is stellar. Started with the fantastic Sopa de Lima which was a rich chicken broth with lime, tortillas and just the right amount of kick. My entree was an achiote rubbed salmon with a citrus sauce and chipotle-garlic potatoes. Nice homey decor, not overdone and not a dive and reasonably priced. Definitely my favorite so far in SA.
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