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San Antonio’s cuisine: innovative and multicultural

 

The Alamo, San Antonio
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The Alamo, San Antonio

Spanish colonists, Mexicans, Germans and others who came to San Antonio created a multicultural legacy that extends to its cuisine. It seems appropriate that when Spanish explorers arrived on June 13, 1691 they named this area San Antonio since it was the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua. A holiday breakfast might include café con leche with Mexican tamales and German stollen.

The range of San Antonio’s culinary scene goes so far beyond the ever-popular Tex-Mex, steaks and Whataburger that it was named a UNESCO Creative Culinary City of Gastronomy in 2017. It is one of only two U.S. cities to earn this honor.

The Culinary Institute of America has infused the city with creative talent and an inventive range of cuisine and restaurants.  The CIA is in Pearl, on the site of a former German brewery. This hip 22 acre area with a neighborhood feel is known for its chef-owned restaurants, independent specialty shops, residential units, a weekend farmer’s market.

CURED, San Antonio
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CURED, San Antonio

Chef Elizabeth Johnson, a former instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, opened Pharm Table next to the Tobin Center for Performing Arts. She sources food from local farms and ranches for her culinary medicine. Her anti-inflammatory cuisine utilizes plants and herbs with health and healing in mind.  Pharm Table was named “Healthiest Organic Food Restaurant in San Antonio” by USA Today. 

rosca de reyes pastry at La Panaderia, San Antonio
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rosca de reyes, La Panaderia, San Antonio. In Mexico this pastry is traditionally eaten  on Día de los Reyes Magos, Three Kings’ Day, January 6th.

La Panaderia, a Pan Americano concept bakery, is another local gem. There are two locations —  301 E Houston Street, near the Alamo, and the original at 8305 Broadway. La Panaderia serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is popular with locals for the  light and flaky handmade pan dulce, or Mexican pastries, the freshly-baked breads used in its tortas, or sandwiches, coffee and hot chocolate.

La Panaderia proprietors David and Joel Cáceres, San Antonio
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La Panaderia proprietors David and José Cáceres

Proprietors David and José Cáceres’ tequila almond croissant is the result of some creative inspiration when the steam oven was not available and they added tequila instead. It became the best seller the next day.

Breakfast, lunch, and delectable desserts are served at Guenther House, the former home of Carl Hilmar Guenther.

Guenther House desserts
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Guenther House desserts

Mr. Guenther immigrated from Germany in the 1840s and founded the Pioneer Flour Mills, which continues today.

Pioneer Flour, San Antonio
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Pioneer Flour, San Antonio

The house is also a museum and has a popular gift shop featuring the mill’s products.

gingerbread house at Guenther House, San Antonio
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gingerbread house at Guenther House, San Antonio

Guenther House was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. It overlooks the river in the King William Historic District, an area of 19th century bungalows and mansions that outsiders once called “Sauerkraut Bend.”

Water taxis and river barge tours are an enjoyable way to learn about the city and to see it from a different perspective. Better yet, try a narrated river barge dinner cruise.

Dinner cruise along the River Walk, San Antonio
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Dinner cruise along the River Walk, San Antonio

Dinner cruises are especially festive during the holiday season when 20 bridges and about 200 trees are decorated with lights.  Over 6,000 luminarias line the walkways.

Dinner cruise along the River Walk, San Antonio
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Dinner cruise along the River Walk, San Antonio

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