Continental in San Antonio

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    Beautiful garden setting with peacocks and Asain phesants roaming the grounds. Diverse menu apealing to all tastes with an array of desserts and specialty drinks.
    Citrus may be the yellow-headed stepchild of the Hotel Valencia's vibrant V Bar, but its serene dining room dishes up an array of well-wrought dishes, from a unique white gumbo to seared scallops with shrimp-topped risotto and honey-laquered duck breast in a hard-cider reduction.
    Hand-cut and handmade donuts, cinnamon rolls, twists, and both savory and sweet kolaches.;;Seasonal flavors;;Kolaches-of-the-day on weekends;;Baker made the best donuts while in the Highland Lakes Area according to readers of "The Picayune."
    Ellington's provides a casual atmosphere with "Texas" fare along with fine wines.
    Great Mexican dishes of both the seafood and solid ground variety. Ernesto's also features home-made ice cream and nine different sauces.
    Think of it as a view with incidental (and expensive) dinner. Some apps and desserts are exemplary, the crab cake and chocolate torte among them, but consider ordering them in the classy bar and forget dinner. Weekend reservations often fill two weeks ahead.
    San Antonio has spent lavishly on Houston Street for the very purpose of equalizing the traffic. We have widened sidewalks in anticipation of the madding crowds. There are lighted palm trees and the vaunted connection at Presa Street between Houston and the River - a stairway and associated water feature calculated to "suck" people up off the River Walk. Unfortunately, the water feature is as often featuring mud as not, and the Presa-connection public art, a series of neon-illuminated, etched glass "manhole covers" set into the sidewalk as way-finding runway lights, hasn't functioned fully since its installation. (It's useless during the day even when working properly.) Should you, despite all odds, actually make it to Houston Street - past the handsome, and brave, glass gallery and the Buckhorn's enthusiastic, bless 'em, barkers - your first big urban experience is a view of a parking lot. A real crowd-pleaser every time.;This is all a shame, for Houston Street doesn't need to be our very own Boulevard of Broken Dreams. There is already a lot to offer: Between the brash Buckhorn and the posh, new Valencia hotel alone there are several cultural and commercial attractions - the Children's Museum and the Majestic and Empire Theatres among them - worth the attention of locals and visitors alike. And there are classy bars and upscale restaurants, pioneers on an underpopulated frontier. In addition to strategic and inventive marketing, the street needs the bars and the restaurants. Among the first to stake a claim was the Houston Street Bistro, and their most recent reward for vision and perseverance has been the canceling of the final portion of the symphony's season in the adjacent Majestic. So much for the prix-fixe, pre-theater menu - at least on symphony nights. - Ron Bechtol
    Beer bottlecaps crunch under your feet under the city’s best tree canopy. Such is the atmosphere at La Tuna, a Southtown fixture where bikers and artists peacefully coexist over cheap beers in the shadow of one of SA’s coolest industrial backdrops.;;
    Housed in a defunct Denny's, Lulu's is about comfort food, wi-fi, and late-night eats: platefuls of chicken-fried steak, and, for bad cases of bottle flu, greasy omelettes slathered in fresh salsa.
    Perched on the second floor of Neiman Marcus, mariposa's brightly lit, midcentury-modern dining room offers ladies who shop and lunch a refined respite, from the simple generosity of a fresh popover and demitasse of chicken broth to the rich and buttery seared rare ahi tuna salad.
    One of the few true bistros in town, as exemplified by a classic entrecote with frites and a delicious croque madame.
    The Vineyards is the only restaurant hereabouts where you can get a glass of wine made from grapes grown right outside the dining room windows. Located about 30 minutes outside of San Antonio, the Vineyards is a destination restaurant for most of us, and as such it satisfies most fantasies. The drive, after leaving I-35 at the Natural Bridge Caverns exit, is a pleasant one; the restaurant, situated above a three-acre vineyard, is rustic-looking and unpretentious, and the interior even sports a pot-bellied wood stove - not of more than atmospheric interest for much of the year, but welcome the weekend of winter's last, recent gasp. The youthful serving staff belies the rural setting in both its earnestness and its sophistication, and although some of the wine information being dispensed to adjacent tables wasn't altogether accurate, neither was it totally misleading. And the same menu pitch - with all its attendant culinary terminology - was given to both the prom couple (he in tux, patent leather, and spiked hair, she in floor-length, off-the-shoulder red with judicious sequins) and an older pair celebrating an anniversary. So far, so good. -Ron Bechtol



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