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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dinner Report: Chirstmas Lights on the River Walk...

A few times a month, I have been taking pictures of the construction along the new sections of the River Walk because I think it will be interesting when it is completed to go back and see the different stages of progress. I think you can see from the outline of the walls being built that it will be a very nice place to visit, and hopefully, there will be plenty of new shops and restaurants to bring out of town guests for a visit.

But as residents of San Antonio, I find our River Walk to be a fine place for a visit, especially this time of the year with the lights and the cheery atmosphere. So my wife and I took our son down to take a look at the lights and grab a bite for dinner, and while there, I took a few pictures of the completed portion of the walk.
We got downtown and parked just minutes before the lights would be coming on and before we hit the River Walk, we took a few minutes to enjoy the Alamo and the HEB Christmas Tree.I love HEB and I especially appreciate how they market themselves by doing so much for the community. I'm not silly enough to think that they don't gain from the exposure of such high profile community participation, but then again, I don't see anything wrong with it.Do you suppose the Spurs paid for this little tree ornament, or did the folks at HEB throw it in for free?Looking away from the tree and the Alamo, you can see the new big Grand Hyatt San Antonio hotel being built over by the convention center. This was sort of interesting - Woolworth's is no longer with us downtown but I get the feeling that nobody wants to be the guy to dig up the letters that marked the entry. Down on the actual River Walk, the lights were on and it was rapidly turning dark. Like most amateurs, I have no idea what to do with my camera settings when it starts to get dark, so you get what you get. I could tell you that I was going for some artistic style here, but that would be a lie. I point and shoot and this is what the River Walk looks like.I'm sure our visitors and conventions bureau will be thrilled with the national television quality of my shots. (But I do like this one).

So we walked up and down a portion of the River Walk, but in honesty, not even a quarter of it. I love seeing so many tourists from countries beyond Mexico (though they and their dollars are always welcomed), like Germany, Japan, UK and no telling where else. Unlike many of our own residents, they get it. The River Walk is a beautiful place and there are lots of different restaurants to try out. If you are going to visit one of the country's fattest cities, you need to waddle your ass into as many of these restaurants as possible during your stay so you can take home quite a physical souvenir from your visit - an extra 10 pounds!
There are so many places I haven't tried, but we settled on Republic of Texas for a bite to eat.
Wait staff on the River Walk is usually pretty good. If I had to be a waiter, this is where I would aspire to do it at (unless I was a woman - then I'd be the waitress at a strip club). Great service leads to great tips from drunk tourists who are here to spend money and have a good time. But they should give us locals little badges or something to let the waiter know we just want to eat.

Our waiter seemed to be really experienced and he was definitely working the crowd in the small section we sat in. At first, I thought he had some sort of speech impediment because his voice sounded pretty unnatural. When he would tell the guests, Merry Christmas, he seemed to shorten the "Merry" but drag out the "Istmaaaaaaaaaassssssss" like Oprah seems to do when she is looking for excited applause from her audience.

You know the drill. Say Oprah is telling her audience that they have all won a trip to Las Vegas. She will say, "We're all going to Las Vegaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssssss!" and then people in the audience will applaud wildly and hug one another and cry. But, our waiter was not Oprah and we were in San Antonio.
My son finally figured out that he was doing a Carlos Mencia voice and I have to admit, he was sort of fun. Regardless, the service was fast. We ordered up some chips con salsa y queso (cheese). The chips were pretty light and flavorful and the salsa was standard, but for some reason, the queso seemed as if someone had emptied a jar of Velveeta into a cup and heated it in the microwave. It had a very movie theater nacho cheese taste to it, not what I would expect at any restaurant in San Antonio.
My son ordered a Judge Roy Bean burger which was big, covered in refried beans, jack cheese, guacamole and jalapenos. That'll put a giddy up in your step. He was able to wolf it down without having to use a fork and knife, but if you are gonna try this one, watch out for the beans falling out of the bottom.
My wife went with a Rio Grande Ensalade which in English breaks out to a big salad with chicken and avocado thrown on top. It was huge and she ended up only eating half of it. I must tell you that the croûtons were so fresh and fabulous that I sat there and dipped them in ranch dressing and ate them. When she busts out her salad from the refrigerator for a snack later, it will be without any hint of croûtons at all!
I always have a problem ordering and at first, I thought of doing the chicken fried steake (since there was no sign of a Reuben Sandwich on the menu). But I ended up choosing the Tacalado Salado or something. What it was was a taco salad with a really well done shell that was light and tasty - not too hard. I had asked for the beef but got chicken, but it wasn't worth mentioning because I like chicken too. Plus, who wants a pissed off cook spitting in your food? Either way, it was a great taco salad.

Overall, I don't really have anything to complain about other than to say, of all the restaurants on the River Walk, I have had better. Please don't take that as a slam on the place, and if you asked me if it was a good place to eat, I'd say sure - go for it. But would I make a special trip to San Antonio or even a special trip down to the River Walk just to eat there? No. It wasn't bad, just nothing special. So, take that how you want to take it.
For my wife, no trip to the River Walk is complete without a visit to the chocolate place for some chocolate covered strawberries.
And my son just needed a hug.

I'd love to hear about your trip to the River Walk or downtown SA. Tell me about it.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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