Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto of the Southwest

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I was in Madrid, Spain, this summer for three weeks, and while walking the streets of that magical city I came across a sign at a Beauty Shop that read: “Peluquería, Estilisimo, Belleza, Espacio de Relax.”

We’re all looking for a space to relax, and San Antonio, Texas, has an Espacio de Relax that won’t cost you a penny to visit: Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto of the Southwest.

I discovered the grotto back in the mid-’80s while on a retreat at the Oblate Renewal Center. I’ve always had an interest in Our Lady of Lourdes because my mother, who’s also named Denise, said that she almost named me Bernadette for the 14-year-old girl who was visited by Mary, the mother of Jesus, 18 times. (Pop culture sidebar: American singer/actress/author/entrepreneur Madonna named her daughter Lourdes.)

San Antonio’s Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto is the perfect space to take a deep breath away from life’s hustle and bustle. Plus, it’s a two-for-one grotto. In addition to the Lourdes grotto, an exact replica of the shrine in France, you may also visit the Our Lady of Guadalupe Tepeyac de San Antonio place of prayer and devotion located on top of the Lourdes grotto.

Masses at the grotto are Saturdays at 6 p.m.; Sundays at 9 a.m. in English and 11:30 a.m. in Spanish; Mondays through Saturdays at 7 a.m. in English; Mondays through Fridays at 12 noon in Spanish; and a Charismatic Mass at 7 p.m. on Thursdays. The rosary is said at 7:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.

The lovely Oblate grounds are filled with walking paths, shade trees and benches. You may also visit the outdoor Stations of the Cross while there. Here is a Prayer for Healing found in the grotto’s brochure:

“Our Lady of Lourdes, I entrust myself to your loving care. You know my afflictions and tribulations. Intercede for me, before your Son, Jesus, so I may receive healing of mind and body and that my loved ones may also know God’s healing in their life. O Loving Mother, help us share the immense joy of the pilgrims of Lourdes who have experienced healing when they placed their trust in your kindness and compassion.”

For those interested in spiritual renewal, Bridges to Contemplative Living and Reflections on Contemplative Living, a small group experience based on the works of Thomas Merton, will be offered on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from September 4 and 5 to October 23 and 24, 2013, as well as January 8 and 9 through February 26 and 27, 2014.  A Silent Guided Retreat, Exploring our deepest self in connection with the Divine Presence, will also be offered from September 23 through September 25, 2013. Call (210) 341-1366, extension 212, for more information on both.

The Oblate Renewal Center also offers spiritual direction for those feeling distant from God, facing an important decision, serving in a ministry, or desiring a deeper relationship with God. To make an appointment for a session that typically lasts from 45 minutes to one hour, call (210) 349-4173. The center does not charge for spiritual direction, but donations are appreciated.

A large gift shop, filled with reasonably priced books, holy medals (50 cents each!), holy cards and rosaries, is located near the grotto and is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The entrance to the grotto is located at 5712 Blanco Road, between Oblate Drive and Parade Drive, across from the Korean United Methodist Church. Parking is free. For more information, call (210) 342-9864.

Visual archive of the San Antonio Tourist blog

Drawing of a birthday cake.

Happy birthday to you! ¡Feliz cumpleaños a tí! Happy birthday, dear San Antonio Tourist! Happy birthday to you!

San Antonio Tourist, a blog for visitors to and natives of the Alamo City, is three! Please enjoy this visual archive of all my blog posts since June 2010. Thanks for reading. ¡Viva San Antonio!

Holy Redeemer Catholic Church

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Those who think you can only find gospel music at Baptist churches haven’t been to Holy Redeemer, a Catholic church located at 1819 Nevada Street on San Antonio’s East Side.

I started going to Holy Redeemer back in the 1980s whenever I needed a spirit boost. The choir, backed by an amazing band and organist, would process into the church singing “Hosanna, blessed be the rock of my salvation,” and you could feel the energy. When a woman by the name of Mrs. Ferguson (since deceased) sang, goosebumps would spring up over my entire body. I once brought a friend who grew up in Sweden to Mass at Holy Redeemer, and she turned to me and thanked me halfway through the service. Pow-er-ful.

Mrs. Ferguson may be gone, but Holy Redeemer is in good hands. An all-girls choir performed at the 9 a.m. Sunday Mass I attended, directed by Richard Castillo, a piano performance major at the University of the Incarnate Word. I didn’t see Richard from where I was sitting, but I assumed he was Black. I was wrong. He just plays like he’s Black. The guy knows gospel, and he rules the piano.

Holy Redeemer just celebrated its 100th anniversary, and my most recent visit was the first time I’d been in their new sanctuary. That’s sad because it opened in April 2006. The old church now serves as the narthex for the new sanctuary, and the parish is going to undertake a capital campaign this year to preserve the antique structure. Fr. Kevin P. Fausz, the pastor, welcomes all donations.

In fact, you are cordially invited to Holy Redeemer’s Annual Juneteenth Reunion Picnic at Comanche Park #2 on Saturday, June 15, from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Bar-B-Q plates with all the trimmings will only set you back $6, and the church will receive $4 for every ticket sold. Contact Michael Jackson, event chairman, at (210) 254-2853 for more information.

Fausz, a gifted speaker, is very hands-on. He ventured off of the altar and into the parishioners to deliver his sermon. My favorite quote: “It is important to know who we are. It is more important to know whose we are. Everything we do should be shaped by love.”

After Mass, parishioners and visitors were invited to the Parish Hall to enjoy birthday cake and coffee. Fr. Fausz wasn’t pleased that the cake decorator had misspelled the name of the church. Instead of Holy Redeemer, it read Hole Redeemer. I think the decorator just forgot to add the accent mark over the e. It should have read Holé Redeemer. After all, it’s not every day that you turn 100. ¡Olé!

Masses at Holy Redeemer are 9 a.m., Tuesdays through Fridays; Saturdays at 5 p.m.; and Sundays at 9 a.m. and noon.

TriPoint YMCA

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Earth Day is every day in the Alamo City!

I’m always sad when April comes to a close because it’s the month we honor and celebrate the Earth. No need to despair, though! Here are 10 ways for you to be green and $ave green all year long in San Antonio, Texas:

1. Pop some tags! Shop at thrift stores.
Blue jeans at a department store: $50. Blue jeans at a thrift store: $6 (adults) or $3 (kids).
Boysville Auxiliary Thrift Shop
Goodwill Stores and Donation Stations
Half Price Books
Off My Rocker
Otra Vez Couture Consignments
2. Eat less meat. Join the Meatless Mondays movement.
One pound of beans costs $1.34, one pound of boneless chicken breast costs $3.32, one pound of lean ground beef costs $3.50, and one pound of sirloin steak costs $6.
Green Vegetarian Cuisine
Vegeria
3. Collect rainwater and AC condensate to water your native plants, garden and lawn.
Rainwater and AC condensate: free. One gallon of SAWS water: 16 cents per gallon.
San Antonio Botanical Garden
4. Plant your own veggies and herbs.
Plant tomato seeds ($3.49 per packet) to enjoy tomatoes all summer or spend 78 cents to $1.48 for one pound of tomatoes to enjoy once.
Pearl Farmers Market
5. Drive less. Walk, ride a bike, carpool or take the bus.
The average American drives 1,200 miles per year. If gas costs $3.50 per gallon at 22.5 miles per gallon, that’s more than $1,800 a year spent on gas. Plus, the average yearly operating cost for a car is $8,220.
Brackenridge Park
Crownridge Canyon Natural Area
Government Canyon State Natural Area
Mission Reach Hike and Bike Trail
Phil Hardberger Park (East)
Phil Hardberger Park (West)
Salado Creek Greenway (Loop 410 to Lady Bird Johnson Park)
Salado Creek Greenway (McAllister Park to Lady Bird Johnson Park)
Salado Creek Greenway (Robert L.B. Tobin Park to Oakwell Trailhead)
San Antonio B-cycle: Mission Reach
Síclovía
Sunken Gardens
VIA’s #7 Sightseer Special
6. Don’t idle in parking lots or use drive-thru lanes.

By not idling, you’ll improve our air quality and save up to $70-650 a year, depending on fuel prices and your vehicle type.
7. Stop buying bottled water and soft drinks. Fill reusable bottles or glasses with tap water.
If a 16-ounce bottle of water or soft drink costs $1, that’s equal to $8 per gallon.
8. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer.
Each degree you raise the thermostat on your air conditioner or lower the thermostat on your heater will save 2 percent on your electric bill. Five degrees equals a 10 percent savings!
9. Unplug electric devices when not in use.
Each standby device (cordless phone, TV, DVD player, computer monitor, cell phone charger, etc.) consumes about 5 percent to 10 percent of your monthly bill.
10. Only use rechargeable batteries.
A four-pack alkaline AA batteries cost $10.50. A four-pack of rechargeable batteries that are capable of being used more than 500 times cost $14.99.

San Antonio B-cycle: Mission Reach

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I know that pride is one of the seven deadly sins, but I just can’t help myself. I’m so darn proud of the Mission Reach and Museum Reach additions to the San Antonio River Walk that I might burst.

My husband and I lived in Austin for six years while I was in graduate school, and the thing we missed most when we moved back to San Antonio was abundant, user-friendly green space. We lived in Married Student Housing on Town Lake, now Lady Bird Lake, and the location was/is pretty hard to beat. However, the addition of these new segments to the original River Walk, not to mention the Howard Peak Greenway Trail System, means that San Antonio is now in the same league (or even better) than Austin. (Pride again. Please forgive me.)

I wrote about the Mission Reach in an earlier post, but my husband and I tweaked our route this past weekend when a friend, once a long-time resident of San Antonio, came for a visit. Here’s how to ride B-cycles from the Blue Star Arts Complex to Mission San Jose, approximately 4.5 miles, in just over an hour and a half, while enjoying birds, bluebonnets and blue skies along the way:

1. Park at Blue Star, 1414 S. Alamo.
2. Check out a bike from the San Antonio B-cycle station. We have an annual membership, but a one-day (24-hour) rental fee is $10. Bring your credit card and a bike helmet. We also packed a picnic. Each bike has a roomy basket. Bring along a pair of binoculars, a.k.a. birdnoculars, too. Birds sighted included blue-winged teals, green herons, red-shouldered hawks, yellow-crowned night herons, and Egyptian geese that must have escaped from someone’s aviary. (They’re native to Africa.)
3. Head south along the river. It’s pretty much downhill going this direction.
4. So that you aren’t charged any additional fees, check your B-cycles in and back out at Roosevelt Park, Concepción Park, Mission Road, VFW Boulevard, and Mission San Jose*, which is currently the southernmost docking station. You have to dock your B-cycle every 30 minutes. Watch B-cycle’s demo video to familiarize yourself with this process.
5. Picnic at San Jose under the shade of an oak tree. Enjoy Blessed Virgin Mary, quinceañera and spiny lizard sightings on the grounds of Mission San Jose.
6. Check out San Jose’s renovated chapel before jumping on VIA Bus #42, headed north. Ask the driver to please let you off at Brackenridge High School. Walk north along the River Walk back to Blue Star.
7. Enjoy a cold brew at the Blue Star Brewing Company and celebrate San Antonio’s added fabulousness.

*Keep your eyes on the mission’s bell tower from the river. This part of the ride was a little tricky. The first sign pointing to San Jose led us to an unfinished piece of the trail. We rode farther down the river to Padre Park and then up Pyron to the mission.

You may follow San Antonio B-cycle on Twitter and on Facebook. You may also download a B-cycle app to help you locate docking stations.

Las Colchas

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If you want to lower your blood pressure and recharge your creative batteries, Las Colchas is the place for you. Even if you’ve never handled a needle and thread in your life, you’ll be welcomed and inspired by this quaint quilt shop tucked away in downtown San Antonio.

Francine and Toni opened Las Colchas, which means quilts in Spanish, more than 30 years ago after meeting as students at Our Lady of the Lake University. I can’t remember how I found their shop, but I’m glad I did. It’s always a joy just to walk in to see what’s on display. Plus, they always have coffee and treats set out for their guests. What’s not to like about that?!

Las Colchas has fabric to suit every taste: traditional (Civil War era), Tex Mex (Dia de Los Muertos), modern (Kaffee Fasset), international (Japanese) and more. Plus, they have ready-made kits for those who don’t have a clue how to get started.

I’ve taken three classes at Las Colchas: crazy quilt with Maria, vintage embroidery with Carol, and punched embroidery with Francine. In Maria’s class, I learned how to assemble a crazy quilt and embellish it with embroidery, including a Victorian spider’s web. She also taught us how to do silk embroidery, where I made a tiny hummingbird sipping nectar from a rose. In Carol’s class, we assembled vintage handkerchiefs, sheets and hand towels into a pillow top, and in Francine’s class, I learned how to do punched embroidery, the kissing cousin of hooked rugs but on a much smaller scale. I bought a kit for the heart displayed in the slideshow above to make for my mother-in-law whose birthday is near Valentine’s Day. Punched embroidery is MUCH easier than cross stitch, especially for anyone who has trouble seeing the teeny-tiny squares. The watermelon is another kit they sell.

This store is one of a dozen shops participating in the 15th annual Bluebonnet Shop Hop from April 11-14, 2013. If you visit all 12 shops during this 4-day period, you’ll be entered to win a Grand Prize or one of 12 prizes, all worth a total of more than $17,000.

Las Colchas, located at 110 Ogden Street in between McCullough and Main not far off of Interstate 35, is opened Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Treat yourself and go in. Better yet, sign up for a class! You’ll make something lasting to share with generations to come.

Madhatters Tea House and Café

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My day job is teaching journalism/mass communication, so it pains me to type Madhatters without the apostrophe. (It’s possessive, not plural, so it should read Madhatter’s Tea House and Café.) However, I’m willing to overlook the missing apostrophe because delicious food always trumps correct punctuation.

Madhatters Tea House and Café, located at 320 Beauregard, is in the King William neighborhood, Texas’ first historic neighborhood, according to the King William Association website. It’s surrounded by stately homes built by German immigrants. Madhatters isn’t stately, but it is comfy.

Patrons may choose to sit inside or outside. The variety of seating options will please both the solitary and the communal. We met two guys, friends since high school, who sat outside while enjoying a slice of apple pie. My lunch companion and I sat inside after we placed our order at the front register.

We both ordered from the Original Cheapo menu. For $6, you get half a sandwich, chips and salsa plus ice tea, coffee or a fountain drink. You may add a cup of soup or a small Ceasar or field salad for $1.69 more. I got the cold spinach and chicken salad with sprouts and tomato on sourdough bread with a side of gumbo, while my friend ordered a smoked jalapeño tuna salad with mashed avocado, tomato and sprouts on wheat bread with a side of tomato basil soup. We were both happy with our selections.

Other Cheapo choices include turkey with mashed avocado, chipotle cream cheese, greens, tomato and pickled onion on sourdough bread; egg salad with greens, tomato, pickled onion on Black Russian rye bread; or a cup of soup with a small Caesar salad. The Cheapo plates are only available from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays.

The diners at the table next to us ordered a Tea Party for Two ($18). You may select the High Tea, the Afternoon Tea or the Kids Tea. I’m not sure what our neighbors ordered, High or Afternoon, but it looked divine and is now on my to-do list. Don’t forget to bring your own white gloves.

The menu at Madhatters includes daily breakfast, daily lunch, Saturday brunch, Sunday brunch and a comprehensive list of teas. Aside from the restaurant’s cool vibe, my favorite thing about Madhatters is choosing which tea cup to employ from their vast selection. The experience always reminds me of Sister Mary Brian Sherry, a nurse who worked at the Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital. Every afternoon, she would sip hot tea out of a lovely porcelain cup with pink roses and gold trim. She claimed that the beautiful cup made the tea taste better, and she was right.

Madhatters is open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., Mondays through Fridays; 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturdays; and 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sundays. On First Fridays, it is open until midnight.

Don Pedro Mexican Restaurant

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You may have had your flu shot and think you are invulnerable to infection, but a bowl of Don Pedro’s caldo de pollo (chicken soup) to ward off any extraneous bad juju couldn’t hurt.

Actually, any of this South Side establishment’s caldos sabrosos (savory soups) will hit the spot when the temperature drops. Caldo de res (beef soup), tortilla soup, menudo, chili and chicken soup are served from 11 a.m. until they run out. Ask for a side of corn tortillas…half the calories and fat of flour tortillas, but twice the deliciousness.

Don Pedro also offers daily lunch specials from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Mondays are Pollo con Calabacita (Chicken with Zucchini). Tuesdays are Costillas de Res (Beef Ribs in Sauce). Wednesdays are Carne de Puerco con Calabacita (Pork with Zucchini). Thursdays are Pollo en Mole (Chicken Mole), and Fridays are Asado de Puerco (Pork Stew).

Happy Hour at Don Pedro runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, with $3.25 margaritas, piña coladas, and Mexican beer.

The menu at Don Pedro is gigante (huge). Download their 4-page pdf to see for yourself. Don Pedro has been in business for more than 40 years, and they serve more than 12,500 customers per week. How many San Antonio eateries can say that? They obviously are doing something right.

Don Pedro, located at 1526 S.W. Military Drive, is open Sundays through Thursdays from 7 a.m. until midnight and Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. until 2 a.m. Call (210) 922-3511 to place a to-go order. If you do that, though, you won’t be able to listen to Emilio on the jukebox.

San Antonio Romance Recommendations

San Antonio, Texas, is one of the most romantic cities on the planet. Don’t take it from me, take it from nine of my fellow Alamo City bloggers. The problem is, you’re going to need more than one day to take advantage of all that our fair city offers! Instead of Valentine’s Day, how about Valentine’s Month?! Or better yet, Valentine’s Year! ¡Viva San Antonio!

Cooking Classes
By Amanda Reyna

cooking classesEveryone has a different concept of what romance is:
– flowers and chocolate
– dinner out
– candlelit meals
– love letters (you know, on paper)
– dancing (not at a club)

Romance is knowing what the other person will appreciate and making it happen for the enjoyment of the other. If cooking with/for your main squeeze sounds like a good way to go, here are some options for you to explore:

Sur La Table
“Celebrate your love and join us for an intimate evening of courtship in the kitchen. Working alongside your special someone, you’ll discover how fun and romantic it is to prepare a meal together. Delicious, authentic and approachable, this meal will offer you the opportunity to experience the passion that comes from sharing great cuisine.”

Central Market Cooking School
Learn how to make macaroons, a Valentine’s Day dinner, Lobster for Lovers, a chocolate brunch and more!

Boerne Cooking Cottage
Classes in February include Chocolate Ingulgence, Be My Valentine, Italian Cuisine and the Mediterranean Diet.

Gaucho Gourmet
The secrets of making chocolate truffles and chocolate mousse will be revealed on February 2 at 10 a.m. and at noon.

Now, I’m not sure how romantic it would be to have an intimate meal with a dozen or so other people, but hey, different strokes.

Amanda Reyna is a a work in progress trying to learn more about life, feed those around her, and work to remain an eternal optimist and adventurer with a toddler, teenager, husband, baggage, and mother in tow. Her blog is Optimistic Heathen.

Grey Moss Inn
By Shari Biediger

Grey+Moss+Inn+Outdoor+DiningEven at dusk, it is a long, dark and narrow road, bordered by mossy trees and the occasional bungalow, that leads to San Antonio’s oldest and most revered romantic dinner spot nestled in the hills of the Grey Forest.

Then, as you enter the gravel driveway and stop beneath the centuries-old oaks, the glow of lights inside the historic Grey Moss Inn ease you into a dreamy, relaxing and true-Texas ambiance.

The Grey Moss Inn menu has remained virtually unchanged for decades, and there’s something comforting about that, as well as in knowing your steak is grilled over an open pit the way they were meant to be. (The spirit of the original owner is said to be lingering about just to make sure all goes according to her standards.)

If you go, here’s how to amp up the romance:
Take someone you love.
Dress comfortably and give yourself the entire evening.
Request a table on the enclosed garden patio.
Do order the sirloin-for-two dinner.
Say yes to the complimentary olive-twist appetizer.
And, if your date pops the question, as in my case 25 years ago, say yes again.

Shari Biediger is a freelance writer and grant writer in San Antonio. Between assignments, she blogs at sbiediger.wordpress.com. Connect with Shari via Twitter @sbiediger1.

Hardberger Park
By Megan Ortiz

hardbergerSome men like it cheap. It just so happens that in my relationship that person is me. I not only prefer cheap, but convenient, too.

We tried to take the tot to a steakhouse downtown once. About five minutes in, she puked up goat’s milk on the floor, table, chairs and a well-done steak for all to see and smell. That night was neither cheap nor convenient.

Since then, we’ve been aiming not so high. By accident, my fiance and I ended up on the perfect cheap and convenient date. We took the little to Hardberger Park to play on the new rock wall. She’s a climber. We were sure she would have fun. Wrong. She didn’t care about the swings or slide or rock wall. She led us to the field instead.

On a beautiful Saturday in San Antonio, instead of running errands and planning for that moment, the moment found us. It was perfect with the capital P. Us laying on hay bales and our daughter trotting around the field as we watched her from a distance. Watching her gain independence and spending a much needed hour of uninterrupted conversation. OK, OK. It was interrupted a few times with the tot seeing how fast she could wade through the grass back over to us for a re-up on milk or water and, of course, a kiss.

Off she would run again, exploring and having the time of her life. What better compromise for Valentine’s Day without a sitter?

Megan is a San Antonio-based Digital Marketing Specialist and the mommy behind Pistol Wears, a toddler fashion blog, and Mean Baby, a baby planning and photography service, allowing parents-to-be to kick back and relax while they wait for baby to arrive and Megan takes care of the prep. When she’s not optimizing digital content, taking pictures around the state or building baby registries for her clients, Megan can be found cycling around town with her little one in tow.

Hotel Havana
By Patty Vela

hotel havanaI’m one of those unattached gals…at least for the moment.  However, IF I were to have a special fella on Valentine’s Day and he wanted to surprise me with the best staycation in town, I would sincerely hope he would choose an evening at Hotel Havana!

While the hotel has been around for some time, it was recently purchased by the genius hotelier Liz Lambert of Hotel San Jose and Hotel St. Cecilia fame.  Miss Lambert has lovingly and brilliantly restored Hotel Havana.

The moment you walk through the glass front doors, you are swept away into a hauntingly exciting time warp of understated elegance and pristine simplicity.  Dinner is served at Ocho, located in the sun room overlooking the San Antonio River.  If you choose to dine al fresco, you are treated to an old, silent film about Cuba projected onto the backside of the building.  After dinner, retreat down to the basement bar where tattered blue walls are illuminated by nothing but votive candles set in red glass holders.  The setting feels eerily familiar…as if you’ve experienced this before…but in a time far gone by.

Rooms are located on the first, second and third floors and are accessed by hollow wooden floors and old elevators.  Each room is unique, but each has a perfectly understated quality.  The attention to detail is impeccable from the Smeg refrigerators to the gifts that can be purchased from the gift basket.  Breakfast arrives at your door, and you can lazily sip on your French pressed coffee while enjoying the view from the various balconies.  An overnight stay at Hotel Havana is a step back in time…a sweet evening where for just a little while you forget who and where you are!  Cheers!

Patty blogs at http://www.fetepatty.blogspot.com/

Morton’s
By Michelle Cantu

mortonsI get tempted to hit the town every now and then for a romantic Valentine’s dinner.  When we do venture out, I have one request: we go somewhere where the atmosphere and food is superb.  My all-time favorite romantic spot is Morton’s The Steakhouse.

The basement restaurant is a little gem attached to Rivercenter Mall in downtown San Antonio.  For an extraordinary experience, make sure to make your reservation with a celebration.  Even if the celebration is nothing more than a fabulous dinner, give them a reason to celebrate.  Morton’s will have personalized menus awaiting you. They will snap a keepsake photo of your party before you leave, and we have even had desserts on the house on occasion.

I haven’t met a dish I didn’t like at Morton’s, but if I could suggest the ultimate dinner for two it would be bacon-wrapped sea scallops for an appetizer, Caesar salad, Cajun rib-eye medium rare plus (split for 2),  mushrooms, Lyonnaise potatoes and their legendary hot chocolate cake.

Michelle is a thirty-something mom to three little boys, wife and the voice behind A Thrifty Diva Surviving Mommy Hood.  I adore life outside of the city and spend my days creating great little people of society through homeschooling.  

River Barge Dinner Cruise
By Amanda Raba Gentis

river bargeFor a crowd of two or a table for two, the adventurous romantic might enjoy a dinner cruise on the San Antonio River. There are several restaurants that offer packages for river-dining, from Boudro’s to Casa Rio to Club Giraud, if you’re a member.

Although not very private and susceptible to our mildly unpredictable Texas weather, it is a dinner that will become a dining experience and a cherished memory. Do your research carefully. Some restaurants have a fixed menu and some will accommodate special requests.

If you’re planning this as a surprise for your special someone who might be one who chills easily, it would be thoughtful to bring along a blanket to get cozy under after dessert while you enjoy the sights and the sounds of the bustling River Walk.

Amanda writes about life, new mommy-hood, DIY projects and glitter (oh, so much glitter!) at Petit Lapin.

Sustenio
By Colleen Pence

SustenioKitchenView

Nestled in a cozy, yet stylish, nook of The Eilan Hotel is Sustenio. There, Executive Chef David Gilbert combines the tried and true flavors of Texas with cutting-edge gastronomy techniques and a focus on local and sustainable food.

To celebrate our wedding anniversary last year, my husband and I enjoyed Chef Gilbert’s tasting menu. He created an experience for us that perfectly paired a romantic setting (down to the rose petals scattered around our place settings) with a wildly exciting menu that included chukar, a rich and savory game bird we’d never before tasted, and an exquisite chocolate bread pudding elevated with a dash of jalapeño jam.

We still talk about it as one of the most romantic and delicious dinners of our lives.

Colleen Pence writes at San Antonio Mom Blogs where she combines her love of parenting and lifestyle blogging with her passion for promoting and connecting mom bloggers in San Antonio.

The Palm
By Heather Hunter

The PalmValentine’s Day is a time when we want something special with a touch of romance topped off with a dash of delicious. We need this day to remind us why we are together as a couple and give us an excuse to celebrate our love for one another.

One of my favorite restaurants is The Palm, and their 3-course Valentine’s Day special definitely fills the bill. Beginning Thursday, Feb. 14, and continuing through Sunday, Feb. 17, you and your significant other will relish a lobster dinner for two. Priced at a reasonable $125 per couple, your evening could also include a bottle of Chandon Rosé for an additional $30.

Heather Hunter makes Cowgirl Granola that she sells every Sunday at the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market, which she and her husband founded in May 2011. She also has The Cowgirl Gourmet food blog, which highlights mostly healthy and market-inspired recipes.

The Welfare Cafe
By Laura Nivin

welfare cafeMy husband and I have been married for almost 19 years. We usually consider Valentine’s Day for amateurs and avoid the crowds and celebrate our love on any of the other 364 nights of the year! But some years we are tempted to throw caution to the wind when we want a romantic meal at a favorite restaurant.

Welfare Cafe is located just past Boerne in the tiny town of Welfare, Texas.  Its Hill Country location takes you to a peaceful setting with fabulous food under the stars, well the ones you can see from the barn. It is truly a unique and unforgettable experience.

Laura Nivin is a former mortgage banker turned blogger. She loves to blog about the sassy life in and around San Antonio.  The sassiness can be found at www.livinsassy.com.

Bonus romance recommendation: Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride

Happy Valentine’s Year!

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