Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Here's a Sneak Peek at the Newest Food Tours in Downtown SA

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 5:00 PM

Zigzagging down tourist-filled streets and ducking into restaurants that your eyes would otherwise glaze right past is what you can expect from SA Food Tours. The newest food tour in San Antonio focuses on revealing diverse authentic flavors at five locally owned restaurants. But you and your taste buds will have to wait another few weeks because local owners Jordan Gonzales and Michael Ehl, who are financial analysts by day and foodie tour guides on the weekend, will not be opening SA Food Tours to the public until October.

Before going on the preview tour, I admittedly had some reservations about what I would actually learn. I spend a great deal of time downtown but had always viewed most of the restaurants in the immediate area to be very touristy. It was time I gave it a shot. (Editor's note: We've left off names, but given clues as to the tour stops). 

The tour started at 1 p.m. and I was surprised that Jordan (our tour guide for the day) had a bottle of water for everyone. Smart thinking!

click to enlarge LAURAMAY LACHANCE
  • Lauramay LaChance
We started the tour with savory foods like Cuban sandwich sliders in a glass observatory overlooking the Riverwalk and on to New Orleans-style shrimp and grits in a venue that’s hidden from the crowds but within plain sight of the Majestic Theater. Between these stops, Jordan shared a bit of history about the area, what Haven for Hope is all about and how SA2020’s goals are coming to life all around us. I was impressed with the way he was promoting San Antonio; he not only focused on the past but also the future.

click to enlarge LAURAMAY LACHANCE
  • Lauramay LaChance
The third stop was at a cozy French bakery that’s owned and operated by a French expat couple that make the meanest crème brûlée and buttery croissants. At this point in the tour though, I was feeling a bit disappointed, as I had not felt a connection to any of the eateries. I wanted to know how the owners of the French bakery learned how to make such delicious crème brûlée – was it a family secret or something they picked up along the way? The stories were somewhat there but not carefully crafted enough to resonate. I do think the more tours Jordan and his team give (this was only the fifth tour, after all) the better they will get.

click to enlarge LAURAMAY LACHANCE
  • Lauramay LaChance
A quirky wine bar and ale house where the decor looks like Alice in Wonderland meets Fixer Upper in a whimsical rustic way was stop number four. Note: You won’t be trying any wine or beer unless you pay your own fare. Here, you’ll share a charcuterie board filled with delicious meats, imported cheese, fruit and sweet honey. You might possibly leave feeling surprised that not only did you try pheasant pate, but you (and everyone on the tour) absolutely loved it.

Stopping for reprieve under the tree-shaded city streets, you’ll learn about the history and fun facts of nearby places, where to do yoga (for free) on Saturday mornings and where to find some of the best happy hour specials in the area.
click to enlarge LAURAMAY LACHANCE
  • Lauramay LaChance
The tour ended with a walk through a wrought-iron gate where a small restaurant is nestled between the buildings of an alleyway with ivy creeping up the walls. Tableside guacamole was prepared and served with warm tortilla chips, a Tex-Mex favorite in San Antonio.

Revealing the (mostly) undiscovered flavors of downtown restaurants and the stories of the people that run them unveils a layer of San Antonio that is often overlooked by those rushing to nearby trendy neighborhoods.

This tour is informative and most-definitely filling. One thing is clear, Jordan is ridiculously passionate about the food tour and what the community (especially SA2020) is doing to rebuild the downtown San Antonio area.

It’s truly a great way to spend $50 and two and half hours on the weekend whether you’re a tourist or a local and want to check out locally owned restaurants downtown.

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