Southtown, San Antonio
The artsy alternative to the Alamo.
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1. Fortify yourself at El Mirador with arguably the best huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, and breakfast tacos in town. Though hardly a well-kept secret, this is still a locals’ place, and the people-watching is almost as terrific as the food. The famous sopa azteca is served only on Saturdays. 722 S. St. Mary’s, 210-225-9444
2. Stop by the San Antonio Conservation Society’s Anton Wulff House and pick up a brochure for the self-paced tour of the historic King William District. Some of the grandest houses in Texas sit on this street, where prosperous German merchants built their mansions in the nineteenth century. 107 King William, 210-224-6163
3. While you wait for a table at Rosario’s, cool down with a frosty michelada, watermelon mojito, or tuna (prickly pear) margarita. If this boisterous landmark, with its fuchsia walls and live salsa music on Fridays, just served drinks, it would be a local favorite. Luckily, the food is outrageously good too. 910 S. Alamo, 210-223-1806
4. Regulars know to get to Jive Refried when it opens—at two o’clock—so they won’t miss the latest arrivals of vintage rock concert tees, fifties prom dresses, and pearl-snap Western shirts. You can also buy reworkings of outdated fashions, like the disco-era fur coat reconfigured as a slinky cocktail dress. 919 S. Alamo, no phone
5. Black Mountain Books is hard to find (look for the two-story white house set back from the street) and harder to find open. “Store hours are serendipitous and by appointment,” says owner Hugh Himwich. For those lucky enough to get in, there is a mix of used books, many on poetry and philosophy. 921 S. St. Mary’s, 210-216-5778
6. The funky orange house that is Milagros is filled with fun, girlie odds and ends: lotería-themed purses, Chinese lanterns, chandelier earrings, painted jewelry boxes, soy candles, and lots of incense. At the monthly chisme (gossip) potluck, anyone is welcome to bring a dish and dish. 725 S. Presa, 210-212-4344
7. Healthy pan dulce? El Sol Bakery uses whole-grain flour, reduced sugar, and no lard to make guilt-free tortillas, cookies, pies, and even tres leches cake. The exceptionally tasty empanadas come in seven flavors: guava, mango, sweet potato, apple, pineapple, pumpkin, and strawberry. 728 S. Presa, 210-227-9888
8. The Blue Star Contemporary Art Center is a serene warehouse space that exhibits local artists. Running through June 18 is “Terra Nostra: Solamente Salma,” by film director Robert Rodriguez and muralist George Yepes. Their muse, the actress Salma Hayek, graces sixteen canvases. 116 Blue Star Pl., 210-227-6960
9. A few doors down is San Angel Folk Art, where owner Hank Lee has cherry-picked an array of self-taught and outsider art: milagros, retablos, vintage Mexican pottery, Haitian voodoo banners, Zulu beadwork, Huichol masks, and nichos (shrines). Don’t miss the ultracool hand-stitched guayaberas. 110 Blue Star Pl., 210-226-6688
10. Though the Guenther House is worth a peek—it’s the former home of a flour baron—it’s a better bet to avoid the tourists by crossing the street and taking in the view of the San antonio RIVER. Stroll by the water; this is what the River Walk is like without bars, hotels, or crowds—just cypress trees and sky. 205 E. Guenther, 210-227-1061