If you’re heading to Texas, make sure you book a trip to San Antonio: a beautiful and historic city your tastebuds will love as much as your inner culture vulture will.
While many flock here for the 300-year old Spanish missions, walks down its famous Paseo del Rio river – a network of waterside paths lined by bars and restaurants – and tours of the Alamo, more recently, visitors have been homing in on its food scene.
Leading the way is Asian-American fusion restaurant Hot Joy, a short walk from sprawling Hemisfair Park. This colourful, convention-busting restaurant was recently named one of the best in America by Bon Appetit magazine. An ornate neon sign of the restaurant’s very apt name greets you as you enter a world of Asian kitsch and modern fusion food. Inside, a hot-red interior with fluorescent bar stools and leather banquettes gives an atmosphere that’s part Vietnamese karaoke bar, part palatial Chinese restaurant, making it the perfect place for boozy meals with friends. Order sharing plates of the restaurant’s pan-Asian- by-way-of-the-American-South dishes, such as spam fried rice – a gorgeous concoction of fatty spam, crisp iceberg lettuce, grilled corn and Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise; and addictive crab fat caramel fried chicken wings, while sipping cocktails like a Soi cowboy, made with white rum, pineapple shrub, nama sake and aloe.
Over in the Pearl, a newly-developed culinary and retail hub on the site of the former Pearl Brewery in Northern Downtown, check out the rainbow of produce at the farmer’s market (on Saturdays and Sundays), and grab a craft brew from the recently opened Southerleigh Brewery along with a plate of chef Jeff Balfour’s fried Gulf crab claws with hot pepper aioli.
And before you leave, skip over to Cured, a restaurant set in the Pearl’s former administration building for a taste of chef Steve McHugh’s hand-made cured charcuterie and pickles.
Double rooms at Hotel Havana start at $130, room only. Return flights from London to San Antonio start at £795. More info: visitsanantonio.com
Photo credits: Alamy, Jonathan Alonzo, Nick Simonite
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