San Antonio’s North River Walk

The two-year-old extension of the famed promenade offers Roman antiquities, Roman delicacies, and plenty of opportunities for roamin’.
Hotel Havana
Hotel Havana
Photograph by Sarah Sudhoff

1. Hotel Havana

The River Walk’s bustling heart is clogged with chain hotels; if you want more-laid-back lodging, head a few blocks north to this quiet retreat. The historic structure, which welcomed its first guests in 1914, was revamped in 2010 by hip hotelier Liz Lambert, who kept the original wrought-iron beds and added thoughtful touches like baskets of whimsical souvenirs (maracas, “good luck” sock monkeys). The Ocho lounge offers late-night munchies like huitlacoche quesadillas and shrimp and crab campechanas. 1015 Navarro, 210-222-2008, havanasanantonio.com

 

2. San Antonio museum of art

The original home of the Lone Star Brewery, this stately nineteenth-century structure is now a labyrinthine repository of contemporary art and priceless relics. Since 1981, SAMA has added a 15,000-square-foot wing to display its extensive Asian holdings and amassed the largest public collection of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities in Texas. Situated on the River Walk’s “Museum Reach” extension, which opened in 2009, the building is now easily accessible by river taxi. 200 W. Jones Ave., 210-978-8100, samuseum.org

 

3. La Gloria ice house

The best antidote for a soaring heat index has got to be a cold agua fresca. You’ll likely down an entire glass of creamy horchata before you finish reading the extensive menu at this interior-Mexican eatery in the Pearl Brewery complex. Offerings range from tortas (think grilled bolillos and chipotle crema) and tacos (get the crispy Nayarit pork) to tlayudas (corn tortilla “pizzas” topped with queso oaxaca) and tongue-cooling ceviches. When temperatures dip below “unbearable,” enjoy the view—and a frozen margarita—from the riverside patio. 100 E. Grayson, 210-267-9040, lagloriaicehouse.com

 

4. Sandbar fish house and market

Briny bivalves will call out to you like sirens from the raw bar at Andrew Weissman’s casual seafood spot. The half-shell delicacies are flown in fresh, which means the varieties change daily. Entrées vary too, so you might get a cold-poached arctic char with yuzu aioli one afternoon and a sautéed fluke with black-truffle foam the next. If you’re indecisive, there’s a $100 platter of oysters, shrimp, crab, and sashimi that’ll earn you hearty backslaps from your dining companions. 200 E. Grayson, 210-212-2221, sandbarsa.com

 

5. Adelante Boutique

Countless San Antonio women have shopped at this boutique since it opened, in 1975. Though owner Marla Mason Ross never anticipated taking the reins of her grandmother’s business, she’s making sure it lives up to its name, which means “forward” in Spanish. She keeps the racks jammed with trendy silhouette-enhancing Desigual dresses and Gretchen Scott tunics in cheery patterns and offers a range of mood-boosting accoutrements, most notably the Oprah-endorsed snap-on “fake tank” Ross invented. 200 E. Grayson, 210-826-6770, adelanteboutique.com

 

6. the twig book shop

Big-box bookstores may be faltering, but this independent institution has been turning first-timers into loyalists since 1972. Shelves are filled with best-sellers and obscurities, and the vibe is more “stay awhile” (there are cozy nooks with comfy chairs) than “pay and go.” The Texana section is particularly strong, as is the selection of locally made gift items (the custom greeting cards featuring vintage Texas brewery labels are cooler than any e-card). If you’re lucky, you’ll run into local novelist Sandra Cisneros or another author at one of the frequent book signings. 200 E. Grayson, 210-826-6411, thetwig.indiebound.com

 

7. melissa guerra

“Wants” have a way of morphing into “needs” in this modern mercado, which is run by an eighth-generation Texan from McAllen. It’ll be easy enough to rationalize your sudden urge to buy a 22-inch paella pan, a pair of purple huaraches, some terra-cotta flan dishes from Michoacán, a block of Popular chocolate (as well as a hand-carved molinillo with which to froth it), and Carlo Costa guayabas. It’ll be considerably harder, however, to haul it all to your car. 200 E. Grayson, 210-293-3983, melissaguerra.com

 

8. il sogno osteria

Many still mourn Le Rêve, the late, great French restaurant that put chef-owner Andrew Weissman in the national spotlight. Luckily, the Alamo City native’s follow-up venture—this upscale Italian osteria—more than dulls the pain of that loss. (He’s also behind the previously mentioned Sandbar and plans to open the Luxury, a quartet of food trailers, this month.) How can you yearn for the past when you’re savoring decadent squid ink risotto or a thin-crust pizza straight from the wood-fired oven? Besides, watching Weissman and crew in the open kitchen is the best entertainment in town. 200 E. Grayson, 210-223-3900

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