Mystery shoppers are helping San Antonio restaurants and hotels to reach top national ratings.
The picturesque riverside city of San Antonio is the most visited in all of Texas, attracting 26 million visitors per year. Remember, the Alamo is one of the most popular attractions in the entire nation. It’s right in the center of downtown, too. With its boat tours, cypress-lined pedestrian passages, pretty stone bridges and River Walk spots for dining al fresco, this two mile stretch offers a superb visitor experience. With 100 rides and a waterpark, Six Flags Fiesta Texas is another of the state’s top ten attractions.
Combine these visitor magnets with terrific weather, tasty tacos, trolley tours, wine tasting and the Texas Ranger Museum and one begins to get an idea of why all those miles of smiles appear on the faces of San Antonio tourists.
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San Antonio, the Heart of Texas
San Antonio sizzles, and not just with a plate of Tex Mex fajitas. Among the nation’s fastest growing, and already the seventh most populous city in the nation, San Antonio style is on fire, sprinting to the finish line in the popularity stakes.
Aside from the tourism magnet centered around the trendy downtown River Walk and the Alamo, San Antonio attracts all kinds of visitors for all kinds of reasons. They come for business, meetings and conventions or to cheer on the San Antonio Spurs. They’re fun-seekers and families headed for Sea World, Six Flags and the annual April Fiesta celebrated since 1891. They wouldn’t want to miss the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. Some are connected to Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base, Cap Bullis and Camp Stanley on behalf of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army training and support. And, of course, there’s a healthy smattering of students attending the well-regarded University of Texas at San Antonio and enrolled at other campuses, too.
Let’s not forget the Mexican food. In fact, Michael Cortez, of La Margartita which was founded by his grandfather Pedro, and his father, Jorge, created the first sizzling fajita right here in San Antonio in 1981. Zagat readers say that La Margarita, Paloma Blanco and Rosario’s rank very good to excellent on food service and décor, yet they come in with a reasonable average cost of $25 for a meal including one drink and tip.
Beyond the Tex Mex dining scene, visitors will want to check out the River Walk restaurants, notably Biga on the Banks, selected as one of Texas’ top five restaurants by Gourmet Magazine and Boudro’s, called one of the nation’s 50 best by Esquire Magazine. Oldest on the River Walk cocktail scene, The Esquire Tavern (no relation to the magazine) has the longest wooden bar top in the state. As they say, if only that elbow-worn wood could talk what stories it would tell. Appealing with shiny leather banquettes in cozy booths, the kitchen is open until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Bartending staff are deservedly proud of their James Beard nomination for outstanding bar program at The Esquire Tavern, serving drinks since the celebration to end Prohibition in 1933.
Top ratings continue on the accommodation front, where Hotel Contessa wins acclaim by Condé Nast Traveler among the top 100 in the USA. AAA agrees, bestowing its four diamond award on this River Walk all-suite hotel with full-service spa, heated rooftop pool and Cork Bar. Embassy Suites has an enviable River Walk location, lots of room for families to spread out, to enjoy the outdoor pool and a hearty inclusive breakfast. If Rover or Fido is coming along, there are 120 pet-friendly hotels and 81 restaurants to choose from where your pooch will get in some San Antonio pups and people watching.
Coyle serves the following zip codes: