On Wednesday evening, the boyfriend and I attended the Taste of the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas.  It was an excellently organized event and we had a great time sampling the fare of many of San Antonio’s best restaurants.

In general, we thought that the portion size was awesome – small sandwiches/sliders, full-sized tortillas, small crab cakes.  Given the fact that we had 13 stops, it may have even been too much food!

Here are our thoughts on each of the 13 stops (and a few photos, of course!)

Luke's Shrimp and Grits

Luke’s, Shrimp and Grits

One of our favorites. Great way to start out the evening.  Chef John Besh knows what he’s doing.

Awesome flavor, savory, well-balanced seasoning.

Shrimp were prepared perfectly and the grits were moist and light.

My one complaint is that I wish the tails had been removed from the shrimp, as it was a bit hard to eat while sitting on the stairs of the La Villita Arneson River Theatre.

Location: 125 E. Houston St.

Verdict: Enthusiastically recommended.

Zocca, Bruschetta Trio

Three small bruschetta samples – beef, bean, and tomato.

Beef and bean were a bit boring and slightly dry.

The balsamic vinaigrette with tomatoes was by far the best.

The bread was perfectly crispy and held up well to the toppings.

Location: 420 W. Market St.

Verdict: Recommended

Marriott Courtyard, Chipotle Crab Cake

The chipotle sauce was uninspiring.  Looked like an orangey mayo, almost like French salad dressing.  There wasn’t much taste to it.

The crab cake was bland.  There was too much filler (bread crumbs) and it was very dry; somewhat hard to eat.  I would normally say that there should have been more chipotle sauce to account for the dryness, but I wasn’t a huge fan of that either.

Location: 600 Santa Rosa South

Verdict: Not recommended.

Holiday Inn, Beef Tenderloin Slider and Chocolate-covered Strawberry

Holiday Inn, Beef Tenderloin Slider

I didn’t like it, too much fat and not enough flavor. Aaron thought it was okay.  For a hotel restaurant, you could do a lot worse, though.

The carmelized onions were good and provided some flavor to the tenderloin.  If the tenderloin hadn’t been so fatty, I would have enjoyed it much better. The strawberry was ripe and looked nice.

Location: 217 N. St. Mary’s St.

Verdict: Not recommended unless you’re staying at the Holiday Inn.

Iron Cactus, Lobster tacos

Iron Cactus, Lobster Tacos

The ambiance was nice at the Iron Cactus – good location and interesting menu.  The lobster taco had a good amount of spice, perhaps a bit too much, since the lobster was a bit hidden.  I liked it though – the lobster was cooked well and tasted fresh.

The service was very friendly as well.

Location: 200 River Walk, Suite 100

Verdict: Recommended.

Waxy O’Connors, Shepherd’s Pie and soda bread

What a disappointment. Both Aaron and I enjoy Irish bars and Irish food (check out Brian Boru’s breakfast buffet in Severna Park, MD, if you ever get a chance!) so we were looking forward to Waxy O’Connor’s.

This was the most bland, boring shepherd’s pie I’ve ever had. The meat was mushy and the gravy had no flavor.  I will say, though, the peas were great. I picked out the peas and ate them separately.

The soda bread was good and moist, but it didn’t redeem the pie.

We also waited a long time at the bar to order drinks, which was disappointing.

Location: 234 River Walk

Verdict: Not recommended.

Rita’s on the River/PizzaRitas/Justin’s, Queso and salsa, Beef Flauta, Pizza, and Homemade Fudge

By this time in the evening, we were both stuffed.  However, when we saw the Rita’s spread, we knew we had to man up and eat more.

The queso and salsa were both delicious, chips were fresh, and the flauta was decent.

The pizza from PizzaRita’s was not great; it tasted like a frozen pizza… the tomato sauce was bitter (like canned tomato sauce), and the cheese added nothing.

The fudge from Justin’s was delicious.  There’s a reason why this place wins awards.  We actually ended up coming back to Justin’s for peppermint ice cream after the night was over. It was great.

Location: 245 E. Commerce

Verdict: Recommended.

County Line BBQ, Pork Ribs

Aaron really enjoyed this BBQ.  His only complaint is that they did not remove the back skin, but otherwise, the pork ribs had a rich smoky flavor. The sauce was good, not overpowering. The meat came off the bone clean, and it was not dried out at all (which I was expecting).

I guess one other complaint would be that I didn’t let him eat the rib that fell on the table. He wanted to.

Location: 111 W. Crockett St.

Verdict: Recommended.

Hard Rock Cafe, Spinach and artichoke dip

This is not really worth my time to write about. Not only was it almost gone by the time we got there (reflective of the poor service), it was disgusting. I did not like this at all and Aaron skipped it altogether. (And I love a good spinach and artichoke dip.)

Location: 111 W. Crockett St.

Verdict: Not recommended.

Swig Martini Bar, Happy hour samples

Swig Happy Hour Samples

We got the St Valentines (Bloody Mary with pepper rim) and Martinez (tequilla-based martini). Both were delicious!  I loved the Bloody Mary inspired martini – I’d definitely return and order another one (or two…)

The bartender was also very responsive and friendly, even though there were a ton of people in the place.

Location: 111 W. Crockett St

Verdict: Recommended

Landry’s, Lobster Bisque

Landry’s is apparently well-known as a good upscale seafood restaurant, so we were looking forward to this stop.  Landry’s lived up to the hype – this was bar-none the most delicious lobster bisque we ever had.

The lobster was added fresh at the time of service, cooked to perfection and chopped into delightful bite-sized pieces. The sample came with a small garlic toast.

Location: 517 N. Presa

Verdict: Recommended.

Joe’s Crab Shack, Crab cake

Joe's Crab Shack Crab Cake

Yucko.  Maybe I am spoiled because I’m from Maryland, but this was a disgrace to crabs everywhere.  Aaron actually said, “it is a shame that a poor crab had to give its life for this.” Disgusting, oily, too much filler, not enough crab.

There was also a small shot of some blue liquid.  I didn’t think it had alcohol, but Aaron contended that it did.  It ended up being helpful to wash down the crab cake, but besides that, it wasn’t anything to write home about.

Location: 212 College St.

Verdict: Not recommended

Dick’s Last Resort, Pulled BBQ sandwich

This was our last stop of the night – FINALLY!  When we were greeted, the girl at the door said something like, “Don’t be offended by anything, this is service with sarcasm.”  That pretty much set the tone.  We both felt that the service was a bit annoying; sarcastic for sure, but it was not really funny.  The food was decent; Carolina-style BBQ with cole slaw and honey BBQ.

We would have preferred Texas BBQ since we are in, well, Texas, but it was pretty good. The meat was a little overcooked and dry but since it was our last stop, that’s to be expected.

Location: 406 Navarro St.

Verdict: Recommended if you can deal with the obnoxious servers… I’d have to stop at Swig for a few cocktails first.

There was a second day of festivities for the Taste of the River Walk, but we did not participate.  As it turns out, we were absolutely stuffed by the end, so another day would have been… interesting, to say the least.  It was a great time though; we really enjoyed walking from restaurant to restaurant, meeting lots of great people, and sampling some awesome (and not-so-awesome) food.

Did you attend the San Antonio Taste of the River Walk?  What did you think?

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