Travel advice for San Antonio please!
August 20, 2014 7:30 PM   Subscribe

Next month my work is going to send me to scenic San Antonio, TX! Please help me with some recommendations as I have never been there.

I would like to know about these things:

1) Food. I am vegetarian with gluten and soy allergies and I need to avoid tomatoes as well. I love Tex-Mex, Mexican, Indian, Ethiopian, and am open to trying nearly anything.

2) Tea. I love tea. Where does one drink tea in this fair city?

3) I also like zines, weird bookstores, museums, and am up for any other recommendations folks have. What's cool in San Antonio?
posted by bile and syntax to Travel & Transportation around San Antonio, TX (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park should be on your list.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 8:06 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Will you have a car to get around? Stuff is pretty spread out here - but there's also tons to do if you can get to I!

Green is our most prominent vgetariam restaurant here - they have two locations and they're pretty good. I know they mark some of their foods as gluten free, but they aso use a lot of soy and pre-made veggie products, which I'm not super crazy about.

There's also vegeria, which is all vegan and apparently all gluten free, too! Its rather delicious. It is also connected to some sort of odd bookstore that might be religious or might just be nre age? Its super hard to say.

There are also a ton of good Indian food places in the Medical Center (seriously, there are like five near my house).

I think your biggest challenge might be with tomatoes - those guys are in everything! Servers are usually super duper nice here, so feel free to ask as many questions as you want.

We are actually shockingly short on awesome bookstores. There's The Twig, but that's almost the only game in town. We do have tons of libraries, though! The central library - often lovingly referred to as "the big enchilada" because of its vibrant red color - is near to visit and features some great art. There are also some nice, but relatively small, museums. The city is developing more of the riverwalk to include some of them- check out museum reach for more info. You can also rent a bike for relatively cheap from the city's b-cyle kiosks and tool around downtown that way.

If you know what part of the city you are staying in, there might be some neighborhood jewels to look out for, too!
posted by itsamermaid at 8:33 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Depending on what kinds of museums you're into. I'll vouch for SAMA as having a pretty good collection for a museum of its size and some excellent ceramics and Asian stuff. The McNay's focus is more modern art but the grounds are lovely and if the weather is nice, it's a gorgeous place to stroll around.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:43 PM on August 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

I actually really enjoyed the riverboat tour. It was definitely touristy but our guide was great and I learned so much cool stuff!
posted by radioamy at 8:58 PM on August 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Came here specifically to recommend Vegeria. Gluten free and vegan, and they have some pretty amazing gluten free pastries/cakes.

Vegeria is attached to an independent bookstore (Viva Books) and a gallery; the bookstore has a religious focus (it serves as the bookstore for the Catholic seminary in town) but that focus is wide-ranging (there are almost certainly new age materials there, along with more traditional religous texts, and biographies and other such things). The staff are lovely, too. If you'll have a car (and I can't imagine you won't, since it's more or less a necessity in San Antonio), it's a nice stop -- have lunch at Vegeria and then stroll through the bookstore.

The only other independent bookstore I know of is, as itsamermaid said, the Twig, which is down at the Pearl (an old brewery that has been converted into a shopping/retail center). Note: the Twig and Viva are owned by the same people, but the Twig is a general bookstore, where Viva is a special-interest bookstore.

You might also stop by Half-Price Books, if you've never been to one. Full of, well, half-price and discount books, as well as music and other stuff.

The Witte and the McNay are both lovely museums, and the zoo is pretty good, too.
posted by devinemissk at 6:16 AM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh! And I forgot about tea! Try Madhatters Tea House and Cafe.
posted by devinemissk at 6:22 AM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pavani Express is delicious, Indian, and meat-free.

The city's food truck scene is fairly vibrant: you'll find good energy, people-watching, and drinking at The Luxury and Alamo Street Eat Bar, which isn't far away from some of the best restaurants in the city, such as Hot Joy and Bliss.
posted by the matching mole at 7:36 AM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Senor Veggie is a newish vegetarian place in Southtown, and Aussie's Bakery is gluten-free sandwiches and bread in Brackenridge Park (there is a Half Price Books a quick walk away and an antiquarian book store right next to that). San Antonio has a pretty good food scene, so you might do some research to find where you want to go. The more centrally located stuff is going to be at the Pearl, downtown, and in Southtown, though there are plenty of good restaurants all over town. Do you have a bike? Bring a bike, or rent one from B-Cycle and bike the Mission trail or one of the greenway trails that circle the city. The SA Current is good for event listing, as is this new event list. I'm sure you already know this, but it will still be pretty hot in September.
posted by megancita at 7:59 AM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm here to second Madhatter's! One of my favorites. Not sure if cocktails are on the list but if so the bar 1919 (which is conveniently close to madhatter's) is great.

There are also the Japanese Tea Gardens which don't get much press but are nice. However they are at their best when filled with water and right now its hot and drought-y so whether it's worth it would depend on when you are traveling here.

Also seconding the Medical center has great Indian/thai/asian food. Will need a car though. And of course, the riverwalk is here. Some parts have art installations.
posted by WinterSolstice at 9:46 AM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mrs. Benway and I have a house in the Shavano Park/ Castle Hills area. One of the Green restaurants is right down the street at the Alon shopping center, and we eat there often. I am not a vegetarian, but I do enjoy the food there.

I will also second The McNay's grounds for strolling around, but the weather lately has been hot so morning strolls are good.

Since this is your first trip, I would highly recommend visiting the San Antonio missions.. Mission Espada is the smallest but my favorite. Mission Concepcion is the most elaborate and usually the busiest, but tons of history there.

You will definitely need a car to see them though.
posted by Benway at 1:04 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I will have a car.
posted by bile and syntax at 4:55 PM on August 21, 2014

The library discard sale at the main library downtown is just as good as any used bookstore I've seen. Antiquarian Book Mart on Broadway (near Half Price). Lots of antiques/collectibles in that same region of Broadway (Avalon-Riklin, Lion and Eagle, Land of Was).
posted by 8603 at 5:24 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, also! The San Antonio Botanical Gardens is hosting what seems to be a super cool Lego display in the gardens themselves from September to December. I have pretty child-like interests, but if you're at all into Legos, could be a fun afternoon!
posted by itsamermaid at 5:41 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I think my biggest problem is going to be not having enough time around work stuff to check out everything I want to see, which is a lovely problem to have as a business traveler. I will probably propose a meetup once I have my dates down if anyone is interested in that sort of thing.

Thanks everyone!
posted by bile and syntax at 3:31 PM on August 22, 2014

Oh! I just thought of this because I'm here for an event, but Central Market (a Texas-specific kind of Whole Foodsy grocery store) has a great cafe area with tons of options. Plus they carry lots of Texas specific foods, which make cool souviniers for you and other folks!
posted by itsamermaid at 9:54 AM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

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