Friday, June 11, 2010

Confessions of a Fallen Oenophile: Desperate Times Near the Alamo

Okay, so I gotta say that I was not impressed with the wine scene in San Antonio. Duh, right? It's not that they didn't have nice wine lists, it's that the glass selection is really limited, like maybe four or five options per list. You see my quandary.

On Friday evening, we had a generally unremarkable dinner at some Italian place on the Riverwalk and ended up at SoHo Wine & Martini Bar. Sounds promising, right? Hubby ordered a couple of glasses of sparkling for us. They didn't have those or the other option Hubby tried, but they ended up giving us a fairly good bottle of sparkling for $20. I didn't really want to split a bottle of wine, but it was a great price, so I can't complain too much.

Saturday morning ended up being a comedy of errors. Hubby and I were to meet up with a friend of ours from college for lunch. Due to a rather slow start (I blame the surprise bottle of sparkling), we ended up eating breakfast at 10:30. I got back to the hotel room to find a voicemail on my phone, the gist of which was, "We're early! Our landscapers are coming so we have to get right back, so we'll eat an early lunch." Breakfast, part 2 ended up being at a Mexican restaurant. Okay, was probably not hungover enough for that. At least we got to catch up with our friend.

Now that I think about it, having Mexican for dinner after that lunch/brunch/Hobbit-style breakfast may not have been the smartest thing to do but we went to Rosario's Restaurant y Cantina, which is far enough off the Riverwalk that the margaritas are very, very strong. Here's a picture of the Top Shelf ones. Before we stirred them, the mix was a happy island in the midst of the alcohol:

This restaurant, and especially the ceviche, had been recommended to us by several people in Austin, so I had to try it. It lived up to the recommendations with its perfect balance of texture, citrus acidity, and crunch from the homemade tostadas, and a small portion was more than enough for appetizers for two.

Then came the entrees. Hubby ordered Parrilla de Tripas. He didn't connect Tripas with tripe, so when his fajitas came out with fried tubular protein, well, he was a little surprised. I tried a Tripa. It was crunchy and moist and fatty, kind of like deep-fried pork belly, but from further south of the navel. Now I know what Mexican Chitlins would taste like. My Tacos Nortenas, while a little safer, weren't nearly as interesting.

The next dining highlight came on Monday night, when a colleague and I had dinner at La Focaccia Italian Grill.

This is where I have to make my confession... Their glass list is limited as well, but they have a nice selection of house wines. I started off with the Frascati and wanted to move to red, but didn't want something too heavy or warm. So, I ordered a glass of Lambrusco. Yep, all I needed was the jelly glass to drink it out of. Cool, sweetly fruity, and buttery, it's kind of like the Italian version of Beaujolais Nouveau. I probably lost a lot of wine cred for that admission, but I do feel better for having gotten it off my chest.

Oh, and the food was good. Try the pasta and seafood dishes.

Not coincidentally, the two restaurants I just mentioned are off the Riverwalk in the King William historic district. The Riverwalk had a couple of highlights:

1. Acenar, a Southwestern-style restaurant with a different take on the usual fare. I had the Crepas de Pato, duck crepes with a tamarind-tomato grilled onion sauce. It almost flirted with Far Eastern-style food. Definitely different from the usual Tex-Mex. Oh, and they went really well with a Blood Orange Mojito:

2. I didn't eat at the Republic of Texas restaurant, but they had great margaritas compared to the other Riverwalk establishments we'd tried. They seemed to have one ingredient the others lacked: discernible alcohol. Try the fluorescent Prickly Pear Margarita:

It's the margaritas that you go to San Antonio for anyway, right?

1 comment:

Michelle said...

OK now my mouth is watering for a margarita!!!!!