Riverwalk Eats: A Day in Downtown San Antonio

My fiance Dave and I took our first trip to San Antonio over the weekend to celebrate our birthdays (we're a day and a year apart -- luckily, I can take solace in the fact that the old man will always be one year older than me). We left Houston on a rainy Saturday morning for some clear skies in San Antonio and sort of winged our day from there. After checking into our hotel right on the city's famous Riverwalk, we grabbed our sunglasses and headed out for some lunch on the river.

Wanting nothing to do with chains like The Hard Rock, Rainforest Cafe, or Hooters (okay, maybe that last one was just me, but I'm pretty sure my man is partial to Twin Peaks anyway), we settled on Boudros, a Texas-style bistro right on the waterfront.

To start, we ordered two Prickly Pear Margaritas, people-watching while waiting for our drinks to arrive. Before we knew it, two bright-pink margaritas were placed before us (oh yeah, I forgot prickly pears were pink -- my bad, Dave). Welcoming all of the hoots and hollers from the passersby, we sipped on our fluorescent drinks made from tequila, triple sec, fresh lime and prickly cactus puree. The sweet, tangy margs were a perfect way to start the day.

Next, we ordered the Gulf Coast Seacakes ($9.50) and the Smoked Shrimp and Pepper Bacon Club Sandwich ($10.50). Both seafood items were delightful; we gobbled up the sweet lump crab cakes served with roasted corn and jicama slaw over top a spicy serrano aioli in about 2.5 seconds. The giant shrimp club took a bit longer to eat (but not that much longer). The lightly toasted brioche piled high with applewood-smoked bacon, smoked shrimp, and "South Padre" Island dressing (a kicked up version of Thousand Island) was fantastic as well, and served with a slaw. We topped our sandwich off and scooped up any remnants with the crisp, homemade vegetables chips served on the side.

Happy and full, we went on to explore some more of downtown San Antonio, hitting up the Alamo and enjoying our day on the river.

After a lot of walking (and a bit of resting), we were ready for our 9:30 reservations at Bohanan's Prime Steaks and Seafood, one of the city's top-rated fine-dining restaurants that also happened to be conveniently located around the corner from out hotel. We entered the dimly lit lounge with hardwood floors and were greeted by an accommodating concierge. After looking up our reservation, he welcomed us and led us up the elevator to a romantic, white-cloth restaurant, where our table for two sat covered in rose petals for our birthdays. These guys were good.

Even though the restaurant, boasting a "Texas spirit with Old World charm," was bustling, our server arrived immediately to assist us with our menu and wine selections. We settled on a Cabernet blend as we drooled over the rest of the menu. Keeping it simple, we ended up with an identical meal of soups and steaks, with a potato and veg to split (it's a steakhouse - if it ain't broke, don't fix it).

Next, came the highlight of my trip; the most amazing French Onion Soup ($8.95) that I have ever laid my tastebuds on. Loaded with flavor, the soup's rich, slow-simmered veal stock is what really got me. It's pure velvet, almost as though it were a sauce and not a stock at all, but still light enough to make me want to devour an entire crock of it. The soup, stocked with creamy, caramelized onions and thick, housemade croutons, came topped with glorious amounts of three different aged cheeses, broiled to just the right crisp. Remember the Jesse and the Rippers smash hit "Forever"? That about sums up my feelings on this soup. I still dream about it at night.

Not to be outdone, our seven-ounce Filets ($37.95) each arrived with beautiful cross-hatched sears and perfect, tender, medium-rare pink flesh. The Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, complete with a towering potato crisp, and Sautéed Spinach (both $7.95), light and delicate in garlic and olive oil, made wonderful companions. The entire meal at this Old World steakhouse was a class act.

We finished off our meal with a Cuban cigar and two Irish coffees in the outside lounge downstairs. The perfect end to a perfect birthday trip.

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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano