Texas BBQ, the Alamo, and the Riverwalk: A Quick Trip to San Antonio

The symbol of liberty and shrine to courage, the Alamo stands much as it was during the 1836 siege.

I recently made a work trip to San Antonio.  My company has an office there but it is 15 miles north of downtown.  I knew there would be precious little time on this trip to do any sightseeing but I managed to get downtown for one evening. While there I asked one of my coworkers in that office where we could get good barbecue at which point I witnessed the passion and expertise of a Texan and his BBQ. We didn’t have time, he said to go to the best barbecue because it was a good 30 minute drive.  We would go instead to a place called the Smoke Shack.  This place was my type of place.  It was a modest and very casual BBQ joint with posters on the wall from famous blues artists.  You order and pay at the register and they bring it to you.  The place was packed at 11:30am on a weekday and many of the patrons were wearing suits and business attire.  This was definitely the place to be!

The sampler we ordered at the Smoke Shack included pulled pork, fried okra, and the legendary Texas brisket!
We also had ribs that fell off the bone when you picked them up and mac ‘n cheese with bbq brisket mixed in!

The food was amazing!  My host Aaron explained that this was more “southern” barbecue than it was Texas, as Texans didn’t spend a lot of time cooking pork.  For them it is all about the brisket he said, but that this was nevertheless as good as it gets within the city limits!  Indeed it was, we ate fried okra and mac ‘n cheese with brisket in it, along with enough meat to hold me over for the winter!  It was unbelievably good! IMG_1777 As I said, I got out of a meeting at 5:00 one day and headed for downtown.  This was easy since all of San Antonio appeared to be headed out of town!  I parked right next to the Alamo and though it was closed for the day for tours, got some great photos at sunset.  It was an impressive site and a shrine to the bravery of a small number of men who perished fighting an overwhelming army of Mexican troops. From the Alamo it is a 2 or 3 block walk to San Antonio’s Riverwalk.  The Riverwalk is a commercial district along both sides of the San Antonio River.  The entire area is one story below the main streets and cars of downtown and is pedestrian only, but for a few tourist boats.

Gondolas cruise the river but the rest is all pedestrian.

The bars and restaurants are charming and many have a Mexican feel, as does much of the landscaping.  As I arrived it was just becoming dark and was a beautiful time of day.

Dusk is a great time to visit the Riverwalk!
I swung by this place just to say hi to that cute little cowgirl who was greeting people as they entered the restaurant!
The feel of old Mexico one level below the streets gives the Riverwalk an intimate and authentic atmosphere.

IMG_1797 The number of places to have dinner made for a difficult choice, but it also looked hard to go wrong.  As I headed back to my car I got one last picture of the Alamo, all lit up at night.  It was a quick trip but very fun and I will definitely be back!

The Alamo at night with the Crockett Hotel peeking from behind it.



  1. Tone, next time you go (surely it’s only a matter of time before some mammoth conference is there…), you have to try the Esquire Tavern. Great food AND great music!

    1. Funny you should say that! As I was standing there on the Riverwalk taking a picture I overheard a group of guys review restaurant choices and the Esquire definitely sounded like the one I would want to hit!

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