Beginning this month, June 2013, San Antonio's "Fork in the River" Tour premiers and promises to be the introduction to some of San Antonio's best kept culinary secrets. Of course, San Antonio has always been a hub for Tex Mex food and scores of restaurants have authentic and delicious offerings. To be fair, there are other foodie tours available in the area but this tour narrows the experience to Riverwalk locations who are not a chain, have no other affiliated restaurant and are not affiliated with a hotel.
At the outset, at the mid-afternoon hour of 2:45, we received a lively and seldom recounted, historical version of the Battle of the Alamo and a real feel for the city and the Mission San Antonio del Valero, as the Alamo was then called. After that we felt a much closer connection to those Alamo heroes. Interspersed between the eateries, we were led along the lesser traveled portions of the Riverwalk and treated to short but detailed bits of architectural facts regarding some of SA's fabulous buildings of varied styles. Our guide, Gary, brought to our attention many facts regarding the 'Paseo del Rio' and its inception and history.
- But all of this, although very enlightening and new to even San Antonio locals, was paled by the eateries. To start, we visited the typically Texan 1888 Texas Mercantile providing ONLY Texan grown and made specialties, some hot, some not but all tasty and with some taste surprises as well.
- After a short walk and exploration of some Riverwalk secrets, we stopped to visit Justin's Ice Cream Company. With more flavors than the famous chains and unusual flavor combinations, Justin's has a large variety of frozen confections. The Riverwalk is designed in such a way that the short walks between eateries are the perfect distance to give you a break between "courses."
- Next we headed over to the famous Biga on the Banks, home of Chef Auden and his ingenious creations. We were treated to a culinary history of Chef Auden and his wife and their widely acclaimed efforts and accomplishments. All the while we entertained too, by the gorgeous views of the San Antonio River. The chef's special of the day was laid out before us and not a taste bud left unsatisfied.
- After examining the Tower Life Building and it's magnificent details, we walked a few minutes to Bella on the River. Easy to miss and very understated but you won't want to pass up this European eatery. While serving us the chef described how each dish was made and the reason for the various textures and taste combinations. By now we were all glad that we hadn't eaten lunch and knew that dinner was out of the question.
|Gwedolyn's Sampler Plate and Private Patio over the River|
- Now on to the the last but definitely not least, Restaurant Gwendolyn. Our host spent lots of time recounting his methods and techniques of yesteryear, even answering our questions in great detail. Chef Michael himself said that Gwendolyn is an "unusual place." And that is so wonderfully true from the extravagant yet simple menus to the private patio overhanging the Riverwalk.
It is such an exercise in self control for me not to mention the individual culinary specialties we sampled but each participant should experience them firsthand for themselves. I have also purposely left out the chef's presentations and special surprises so as not to take away the astonishment that each new eatery introduced to the tour participants.
This Tour is a must do on your next visit to San Antonio. Being new, the Tour website is in limbo right now but the owner, Gary has several other tours that he offers at his current webpage at San Antonio Walks. A small section has some "Fork in the River" tour info and Gary's contact info. This tour will only get better as it matures just like a fine wine. Don't miss it!