A San Antonio Entree with a Side of Corpus Christi
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NOVEMBER 4, 2018: We had visited San Antonio back in February with Russ’ sister and brother-in-law, Mike & Annette. It was a first visit to San Antonio for all of us, so the focus was to see the highlights of the city - the Alamo and the Riverwalk. We also were in San Antonio in October, but that visit was no more than a quick in and quick out due to that cheap last-minute flight we snagged to Ohio for a few days. When we did a quick swap of our schedule to give the other Workamping couple, Bob & Maria, seven days off for their visit with family in California, that left us with seven days off the following week. We originally had planned to do a few days here and a few days there, or a sort of mini Texas road trip. With the truck troubles, we vetoed that plan and decided on a short visit to San Antonio. All of our previous short visits to the Alamo City gave us a desire to explore a little more. So with lots of deal-seeking, we scored a great deal at Hotel Gibbs in downtown San Antonio. We knew this would give us lots of opportunity to walk around the city with an emphasis on the River Walk.
On October 31st, the plan was to head to San Antonio, but not before a few errands as well as dropping off some sweet treats for the Halloween Party going on at Texas Lakeside RV Resort. This would be the first holiday get-together at the park that we weren’t going to be at, so the Frankenstein krispies, pretzel mummies and spider-web chocolate trifle would have to suffice. Let’s be honest, sugar-laden products are always more popular at a party than Russ and I!
Ironically right after dropping off the sweet treats, I headed to the dentist to finish up a crown on a chipped tooth. On my way there, I dropped off Russ at Performance Truck with what should have been a quick pickup of our truck from its oil change. Unfortunately, before I even arrived at the dentist (only about 10 minutes away) I received a text from Russ that I would need to pick him up as the truck didn’t make it down the road even a few miles, white smoke, jerky movements and all. YIKES! So back the repair shop it went with a blog post dedicated just to that in the future! All went well at the dentist and off we went to San Antonio. We arrived late afternoon and checked into the hotel and even though we hadn’t done much, we took a little nap before getting out and exploring the Alamo City.
Upon waking up from our quick slumber, it was time for an early dinner and where else did we want to dine than on the Riverwalk. Our search for gluten free, brought us to the highly recommended Iron Cactus where we enjoyed tasty Mexican fare with lots of people watching opportunities along the San Antonio Riverwalk! Russ savored the Southwest Paella which featured jumbo shrimp, bay scallops, jalapeño Texas sausage, poblanos and lobster cream over cilantro-lime rice. I dined on the vegetable enchiladas topped with a charred tomato butter sauce and bursting in flavor with sun-dried tomatoes and grilled corn.
Since we were dining at the Senior Citizen hour (after our naps mind you, we really fit the bill!), we still had plenty of daylight to enjoy along the Riverwalk. Now you must remember that it is Halloween evening, so the sights and sounds downtown were a little more eccentric than usual! As the sun dropped below the horizon, so did the mercury on the thermometer. The chillier it got, the more we were drawn to looking for a cozy place to sneak into. With all the local coffee shops closed for the day, Starbucks saved the day for a late coffee break. A brisk walk back to the hotel treated us with this night time view of the Alamo.
The next day, we had two things in mind — a bike ride and a boat ride — likely both along parts of the San Antonio Riverwalk. So after a decent hotel breakfast, we were in need of some coffee and game planning making Sip Brew Bar & Eatery, just a few blocks from the hotel, Stop #1. We sipped our lattes while enjoying the modern decor and large windows offering downtown views. We downloaded the bike rental app and planned where we would pick up the bikes.
Instead of heading down the stairs to the Riverwalk, we walked along the streets downtown near where we were planning to pick up the bikes. Before we started our rental session, we decided to take a peek at the Riverwalk path since we were outside of the shopping and dining district. The path still looked really narrow, so we decided to head down and walk until the path widened enough for a comfortable bike ride. We walked and walked and walked and enjoyed and enjoyed and enjoyed, but the path never widened. While biking would have been possible, we didn’t pass anyone else on a cycle and it seemed a little too narrow for the leisurely kind of ride we were wanting. Trying to figure out what we should do, we spotted Rosella Coffee Company a block above us on the Riverwalk. We do some of our best thinking in coffee shops, so this would be a perfect fit. Believe it or not, coffee wasn't on our tab, this time Topo Chico - our favorite mineral water and a stroopwafel. A stropwafel is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough sandwiching a caramel filling. Popular in the Netherlands, the Dutch often place them on top of their hot drinks, steaming the caramel in the middle turning into gooey goodness. This made our choice to opt out of coffee even more unusual. Well the coffee break did serve us well, for some hydration, sweets and a bathroom break, but we did not make many decisions while enjoying the industrial-chic digs of the cafe.
So biking was out, on to boating right? Not so fast, we continued our walk north until we reached the Pearl located just north of downtown. It is a fun mixed-use space with great culinary choices, cute retail shops, hotels, residential options and green spaces. The Pearl Brewery called this location home from 1883 to 2001 and it is great to see this unique space still alive. The Pearl site is 22-acres, located right on the Riverwalk and along with all the retail and restaurants, is home to a year-round Farmers’ Market (unfortunately not during our visit). Celebrations of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) were just getting started at the Pearl during our visit. The grounds were transforming to reflect traditions of this Mexican holiday, which pays homage to deceased family and friends. Dapper skeletons and elegant skulls adorned the area with festive altars were scattered all around.
Sound checks for the festivities and final decorations were taking place while we enjoyed a quick lunch from Larder located at the street level of Hotel Emma. The website describes it as “a South Texas food store with a dash of Euro-sophistication,” which is a perfect description. The shelves were fun to browse, filled with unique kitchenware and diverse food options, during the quick wait for our tasty food. Maybe now it was time for a boat ride on the Riverwalk? After all, the Go Rio River Shuttle has a pickup right at the Pearl. But after checking the schedule, we realized we could nearly be back to the downtown area by the next scheduled pick up. We took off walking back toward downtown and waved to the river shuttle as they headed toward the Pearl pickup. The weather couldn’t have been much better and the walk was delightful.
I know you won’t believe it, but now we REALLY were in search of a boat ride. We headed to the ticket station for the Go Rio River Shuttle and despite it being mid-week, we weren’t the only one looking for a narrated boat tour. The line moved quickly and before long we were onboard with about 40 passengers and Captain Robert. The 35-minute narrated cruises depart every 15 minutes daily from 9 AM - 10 PM. Captain Robert shared stories along the way about San Antonio and the history and architecture of the area all while navigating the San Antonio River in our electric-powered boat.
We spent some more time walking around downtown, trying to walk down streets we had yet to check out on our way back to the hotel and of course catching another glimpse of the Alamo (it’s obligatory). We kicked up our feet and took some time to research the Find Me Gluten Free app which lead us to dinner at Zocca, contemporary Italian cuisine served up riverside. With the weather cooling down in Texas, the Autumn Harvest Pizza with butternut squash, wild mushrooms, goat cheese and crisp sweet potatotes was my pick while Russ was drawn to the gluten-free pasta option topped with lump crab, shaved asparagus, parmigiana, lemon and cream. We finished off the night with a long walk (too many carbs) and a hot cup of coffee (it sure cooled off when the sun went down).
Prior to us heading to San Antonio, we found out that Russ’ college roommate was going to be in Corpus Christi for a few days. We made plans to meet up with him on Saturday evening, before he had to head back to Pennsylvania. So, we only had the morning to explore San Antonio before driving to meet up in Corpus Christi. With election day just around the corner, we had yet to complete our civic duty. We spent the morning, researching candidates and referendums, from our home state of Florida. We have really come to enjoy voting absentee as it forces us to do our research and make a decision without the sway of all those political ads. We were able to take it one candidate and issue at a time with absolutely no pressure of the line of people waiting behind us. Once the ballots were punched (okay, checked), sealed and signed we made our way to the Post Office and off they went to hopefully be counted (Florida was close, so maybe)! The only thing missing in that process is the “I Voted Sticker.”
During our previous visit to San Antonio, we stayed at an Airbnb across from San Pedro Springs Park. The 46-acre park is the oldest in the State of Texas, the second oldest in the country only behind Boston Commons, and has a history dating back hundreds of years. Today, the park serves the same purpose as many parks in America’s cities, a green oasis which provides residents of a city a place to walk, sit, eat, and enjoy a little green space. The park’s main attraction, the San Pedro Springs Pool, was built on the site of the original lake bed and spring. When we were there, the pool was being prepped for the summer and did not have any water within its walls. We decided a return trip for a walk around the park and a peek at the pool would be fun. The pool was already closed for the season, but was beautiful and looked even bigger filled with water.
On our last visit, we had found a 100% gluten-free restaurant near where we stayed, but it wasn’t open during our stay so it had remained on the back burner of places to eat next time we were in town, so lunch at 5 Points Local was an easy decision. Providing a local restaurant, coffee shop and yoga studio, 5 Points Local would make a great neighbor to an RV park. Russ was overwhelmed by his options at this rustic-chic, counter serve eatery serving both breakfast all day as well as lunch fare. While decisions were tough, we both landed on a “bowl” style meals which were both packed with fresh flavors. The Karma Bowl was a base of fluffy quinoa topped with roasted rosemary sweet potatoes, whole black beans, fresh kale salad and then drizzled with a chipotle cashew crema known at 5 Points Local as "Kitchen Crack”! Russ’s Barbacoa Bowl started with sweet potato hash topped with barbacoa, sunny side up eggs, fresh spinach, red onions and cilantro avocado crema. We couldn’t sneak out without some sweet treats to go, remember all options were gluten free. How could I tell the baked good deprived guy no? So, cherry crumb cake and a chocolate chunk cookie it was.
We made our way to Corpus Christi by late afternoon. We got settled into the Holiday Inn Marina (thanks Marvin for the room, we enjoyed the view) and quickly made our way to Marvin’s room. It had been a long time since we had been together so we had a lot of catchup to do. Marvin and his wife Michelle have 3 beautiful daughters that just like most kids, grew up fast and without our permission. It was great to hear how they were doing and we made plans to all get together around Thanksgiving. We headed across the street toward to the Corpus Christi Bay to enjoy dinner with a view at Landry’s Seafood House. With Marvin having to catch an uber early flight, we called it a night with hugs and see you soons.
We spent the rest of the evening, relaxing and catching up on some writing. Thankfully, Russ did a little social media-ing too as he caught a really exciting, long-awaited post. The new Island Joe’s was opening the very next day! When we first discovered Island Joe’s back in July we saw the plans for their location which was going to be built out of shipping containers and slated to be completed in late summer. We had hoped to be able to visit the new location before we left Texas. Thanks to my sister and Ben being okay with supporting our caffeine addiction, they joined us for 2 stops at the original Island Joe’s in August. The opening kept getting delayed, which as previous bakery owners, we could completely understand So that post was indeed very exciting, we would get to try to new Island Joe’s the very next day. The timing was PERFECT!
Island Joe’s was our first stop in the morning. We spent several hours, sipping our favorite latte - the Undertow and enjoying the environment with our laptops close by. When inside, it was hard to tell you were inside a shipping container. We would highly recommend if you are ever in the Corpus Christi / North Padre Island area. All photos below credited to Island Joe’s from their Facebook page to show their awesomeness. Follow them on Facebook.
We headed north on Mustang Island toward Port Aransas. Even though a little chilly, we couldn’t pass up what would likely be our last beach walk before leaving Texas. Speaking of Port Aransas, I would like to recommend checking out Fire It Ceramics, which is a paint-your-own ceramics place owned by the sister of fellow bloggers. We advise you to support this local business, which is back up and running after Hurricane Harvey and you must also check out Emily & Tim’s blog over at OwnLessDoMore.com. She’s uber funny and it’s fun to follow their adventures too! Before doing my favorite thing in Port Aransas, which is riding the 30-second ferry across to Aransas Pass, we did Russ favorite thing in Port Aransas which is Port A Pizzeria. They treat their gluten-free customers well, with 3 personal pizzas for their own personal pizza buffet. Fueled up and filled up it was time for our fun getaway to end. Even though most of our stops on this trip were repeat visits, each provided something new to enjoy, savor and remember. This being our last trip to explore that part of Texas before we would be heading out of Port Lavaca in a few weeks, we were satisfied with the destinations we explored.