The PearlJennifer Hubbert | Pearl district

THEY SAY “EVERYTHING’S bigger in Texas” – my gut included. It’s a lesson I learned in San Antonio, where on more than one occasion, I found myself fighting that familiar internal conflict over plates of food; you know the one – the body (belly bursting in discomfort) says, “Stop eating!” but the mind snaps back with, “It’s all too damn good!” Each bite gets more laboured as the meat sweats set in, and it becomes increasingly clear with every swallow that the form-fitting dress you decided to wear was a definite mistake.

Attractive, right?

Who cares. All in the name of a good meal, I say, and many a good meal I put down the hatch when in San Antonio. In fact, it’s hard to pinpoint a time when my stomach wasn’t over-extended in food-baby fashion, which is a natural consequence of getting to know a place some have called “Texas’s most underrated food city.”

More than Tex-Mex

Pearl DistrictJennifer Hubbert | Sutherleigh, outdoor bar

San Antonio has always been synonymous with “Tex-Mex,” and while that remains key to its culture, top chefs from across the U.S. are setting-up shop there, particularly in The Pearl. This fledgling neighbourhood – a former brewery turned hippest spot in town – is now home to 15 restaurants and cafés, each of which bring a unique and unconventional flare to the area.


BotikaVisit San Antonio

The night that really got my trouser buttons busting open under the table began at Cured, a restaurant run by Chef Steve McHugh. It had me at hello, cuts of meat on display in a beautiful glass case behind the hostess stand – an ode to its namesake and a shot through my heart. Here, we started with a plate of charcuterie, cheese and pickles, and while the plan was to move across the street for a full-fledged dinner, we decided to live a little and order a few more dishes (a beet, avocado & citrus salad plus a bison tartar) to really stretch the jaw muscles before the main event.


CuredVisit San Antonio

If I listened to my body, I could have called it a night after Cured. But the palate wants what the palate wants, and when at Botika (another Pearl favourite), the palate wants everything on the menu. The cuisine there is inspired by unlikely pairings, specifically “Chifa” (Chinese-Peruvian) and “Nikkei” (Japanese-Peruvian), in addition to other inventive takes on traditional dishes from across Asia and Latin America. With way too much food on the table, you would have half expected Davey Crockett and his army of frontiersmen to be coming for dinner; in reality, there were only four of us, though it did look like a battle had gone down by the time we were through (because of the way we destroyed that meal). 

We rolled out of there (not literally of course, though I’m sure one of us dropped the “someone’s going to have to roll me home” joke) in a food coma, ready for bed but too full to lay down. As luck would have it, there were fresh-made macaroons waiting for me in my room when I got back to the hotel. And I’m not ashamed to admit it: I ate them all.


When you go:

San AntonioJennifer Hubbert | Hotel Emma, lobby

Where to stay

For an upscale, urban experience that is très chic like no other, stay at Hotel Emma. Once a 19th-century brewhouse, the hotel boasts unique, rustic décor, many elements re-purposed from the building’s former use. The Emma is understated elegance and eclectic charm. It’s simultaneously warm and edgy, and the newest place in San Antonio to see and be seen.

Must-do highlights

The AlamoJennifer Hubbert

No stay in to San Antonio is complete without visiting The Alamo or other missions in the area, such as Mission San Jose. For a day well-spent, take a roadtrip to the charming Texas town of Fredericksburg, where you can enjoy some time shopping along main street before heading out to visit any of the wineries in nearby Texas Hill Country. Back in the city, take advantage of San Antonio’s Riverwalk, whether by walking, cycling or cruising on an organized tour.



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