I love dining al fresco, both in the sunshine and under the stars. Dining in an outdoor cafe or bistro somehow enhances the whole dining experience. And, from the food to the wine, it makes me feel a little more European. Last night, while in San Antonio in the sweltering 100 degree weather, I opted to do just this.
Take Me To The Drainage Ditch?
Now, I have never been to San Antonio so I had never seen the famous Riverwalk until last night. I had seen pictures and read reviews of other travelers and was very excited to dine by this famous site. But then, after conversing with a few locals, I became a little disheartened. They claimed that the food on the Riverwalk was mediocre at best and that the river was nothing more than a drainage ditch. They also said that San Antonio was all about the Mexican food and if we didn’t eat at a Mexican restaurant, it was pretty much a crap shoot at what kind of food quality we would get.
My colleague and decided to take our chances and head to the Riverwalk on our last night in SA. After driving in circles for about 20 minutes, I finally realized that the Italian restaurant we had intended to eat at was actually inside of a hotel on the Riverwalk – great! We pulled into the Westin Riverwalk, valeted the car, proceeded to the Zocco restaurant that was downstairs.
Two Glasses of Ice, Please!
The restaurant was a little dark but rather trendy. I’m sure it was full of either tourists or hotel patrons. When the hostess seated us, we had the option of sitting inside in the nice cool airconditioned main restaurant or outside on the Riverwalk patio, underneath the trees and the stars. For my colleague and I, there was no question that we wanted to experience first hand all of the Riverwalk’s glory. We were seated outside under an umbrella and the hostess immediately poured us two HUGE glasses of ice water. That should have been my first clue!
To start, we ordered the crostini with eggplant puree with goat cheese crumbles. It was amazing! I would have posted a photo of the dish but I ate it too fast! No really, my pictures were turning out all dark and fuzzy for some reason. For my entree, I ordered the pasta pomodoro, which was also quite lovely.
Hot, Hot, Hot
The only real problem we had, other than getting lost a few times, was the intense, stifling heat. It’s kind of difficult to fully enjoy your food when you have hard time breathing and when you’re sweating like crazy. Haven’t they ever heard of an outdoor fan?
But, we somehow managed to get past the heat and enjoy our al fresco meal on the Riverwalk. The setting was actually very quaint and had great ambience. As the evening progressed, more and more lights came on and every few minutes we’d see a tour boat driving a load of tourists through the water. Somehow, this made the al fresco dining experience complete and well worthwhile. All we were missing was a little music. Hmm….maybe next time.
So Long San Antonio
So, now I’m headed home. I have to admit, I’m not sad to leave San Antonio. Riverwalk food was better than I thought and the river itself offers more ambience than a drainage ditch. It was a nice mini-break for 3 days (especially on someone else’s dime!). But, for a Northern girl, it’s just too dang hot!