SAN ANTONIO - Get curious. Your challenge, should you chose to accept, is to explore San Antonio and try something new. Often times I sit around with friends, and there is always someone in the group down on San Antonio saying, “There’s nothing to do here, it’s not like Austin or Dallas, there’s only chain restaurants, nothing unique.”
San Antonio is stocked full of unique restaurants, boutiques, art venues and events that are not chains. The problem is that people don’t know what is out there.
So, I bring to you “Off the Chain.”
This is my quest to explore the city beyond the chains and uncover venues that are in fact - say it with swagger - “Off the Chain.”
Where to begin?
I have so many places I want to introduce, but I decided to start with a street that is the initial twin to our city S.A., as in South Alamo. The street is a treasure trove of dulce de goodness. Insert your favorite adjective that describes what you’re looking for, and chances are there is a restaurant, drink spot, gallery, or store on this street that fits. I will explore the area in more detail at a later date, but for now, knock on the door of one of the King William district’s historic homes, your stomach is calling.
Historic Home: “Who’s there?”
Stomach: “I want pancakes.”
Historic Home: “Anything else?”
Stomach: “Ambiance would be nice, and a good cup of coffee.”
Historic Home: “You came to the right place.”
Beside the San Antonio River sits a 19th century stone home and flour mill. This is where Pioneer Flour Mill products are made. Instead of buying them at the grocery store, have them prepared for you at the home of the founding family, the Guenther House. The home was built around 1860 and the restaurant portion around 1915. As you sit down in the parlor, you can’t help but step back in time, to simpler times, and relax to enjoy a good lunch or breakfast.
The menu is simple and trustworthy. Biscuits and gravy, sweet waffles with fruit, pancakes and a variety of salads and sandwiches. Not only is everything good, but it’s also affordable. All entrees on the menu are under $10 and bonus: the restaurant has a certain je ne sais quoi. It has a feeling that, dare I say, doesn’t feel like San Antonio. Let me explain that seemingly anti San Antonio comment.
Remember the people I mentioned who are down on this city? They will herby be known as SALT, an acronym for San Antonio Less than Thrilled, and it is my hope to dilute their saltiness. Every time I have introduced a SALT to this quaint restaurant, both men and women, they have absolutely loved it. It’s easy to understand why; the Guenther House is a treat. Good food, good scenery, and you bring the good people.
So, that’s where we begin in our quest to explore San Antonio. And to let you in, I started here because this is the first places I fell in love with in the city. I grew up in Corpus Christi, but my parents are from San Antonio so we visited often. As a child, my grandmother Fancher would treat me to lunch at the Guenther House. To this day I can imagine us in the parlor, with me sipping tea, pretending like I was back in the “olden days.” This restaurant captured me as a child and continues to this day.
Go and explore South Alamo Street, south of downtown, starting with breakfast or lunch at the Guenther House. While it’s a bit off the map, it is not exactly a secret, so arrive early to avoid the crowds. If there’s a wait, and expect a long one on Sundays, explore the gift shop and museum and time will pass quickly. You can eat inside and take in the subtle elegance or on the patio, where misters make dining al fresco comfortable even during our hot summer months.
This is just the beginning of our journey. I hope to bring new adventures to experience in San Antonio, from restaurants and art exhibits to health and fitness classes and various events. Until we meet again next week, explore San Antonio, try something new, and easy on the SALT.