The St. Anthony Hotel Welcomes Guests
by Andrew Chalk
Dallas should steal this idea. Imagine a food and drink festival at the architecturally exquisite but currently deserted Quadrangle or Crescent. Imagine it held on a balmy Friday evening. Imagine there were Dallas Mexican food eateries from across the regional, price and stylistic spectrum found in this city. Add fresh cocktails (most tequila-based) and Mexican beers and you have ‘The Best of Mexico’, the opening event in San Antonio’s big Spring food festival ‘Culinaria‘. SA holds it in the beautiful open-air shopping mall named The Shops at La Cantera.
Unlike Dallas’ attempts at open-air malls it is is pretty fully rented and vibrant. Tonight, the event area is packed as San Antonio natives and the tourists resourceful enough to venture beyond the River Walk check out food creations from the dozens of Mexican establishments that line the route. The crowd is eclectic.
There are a lot of young people, some Hispanic families with children, and shoppers caught up in the event who buy tickets on an impulse. Lots of people know what to look for, so the lines at some booths are five minutes long while others are a straight walk up.
Vida Mia’s Chilaquiles
Every variety of Mexican food is represented from unabashed Tex-Mex to takes on sophisticated Mexico City cuisine. Oaxaca and Veracruz also appear on the way. Vida Mia served a Chilaquiles variation topped with queso fresco was the perfect with which to start the evening and paired comfortably with an agua fresca made from honeydew melon served by Picante Grill at the adjacent booth. Lots of vendors sport tacos. One could do a comparative tasting of al pastor tacos on corn tortillas or dive into some barbacoa or chorizo.
There are a lot of different brands of tequila and many are serving their anejo variants, which tend to be more expensive because of the wood-ageing. It is a classy touch. All of the major brands of Mexican beer are represented as well, so I settle into a Negro Modelo for the serious work of the evening. I am the fortunate guest of the Wyndham Garden Hotel at La Cantera so my journey home is a short walk, just about four blocks from the mall.