The San Antonio River Walk, the number one attraction in Texas, is one of the most romantic Texas adventures to visit. It’s worth the splurge to reserve a hotel room with a River Walk view, and right now, some hotels are offering “unpublished” rates when you call directly. The River Walk central area, situated below the downtown street level, is the River Bend, where the San Antonio River makes a rectangular loop when looking at a map. You can walk along the river, stroll into restaurants and storefronts, and see landscaped gardens, arched stone bridges, and narrated riverboat rides for touring.
The River Walk is 15.2 miles in length, broken into three sections. In addition to the downtown River Walk, the Museum Reach extends approximately 4 miles north, populated with condominiums, apartments, hotels, and several museums.
The Mission Reach extends south, transforming an 8-mile area of the river into a wetland woodland ecosystem. The Mission Reach connects four of the five UNESCO missions. The Alamo is the fifth mission located in the downtown area.
Best Restaurants On The River Walk
Restaurants are plentiful along the River Walk. You’ll find just about any Mexican Food venue you can think of, including Casa Rio, the first since 1946, with the colorful umbrellas lined up along the river. Plus, find the Hard Rock Cafe, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Joe’s Crab Shack, Rainforest Cafe, Landry’s Seafood House, and many others. Let’s explore some smaller, individual culinary bistros that are unforgettable.
You will find three restaurants located in the Hotel Emma, 136 E Grayson, in the Pearl complex. The first is Supper, where Chef John Brand prepares what’s in season, part farm table, and part bistro table. Order breakfast, like a poached egg and smashed avocado with pumpkin seed and relish on grain toast, or cinnamon and ricotta beignets with cranberry sauce, powdered sugar, and dulce de leche. For dinner, share the country pork terrine with pistachio, mustard, gherkins, olives, and ciabatta. I recommend the steelhead trout with braised cannellini beans or roasted chicken breast with spinach crepe for the main course. Save room for chocolate cake with salted ginger caramel and honey vanilla ice cream. Reservations advised.
Larder offers a coffeehouse, fine groceries, flowers, wine, beer, baked goods, house-butchered meats, sandwiches, and prepared foods to eat in or take out.
Sternewirth, the hotel’s tavern and club room named Sternewirth Privilege, allowed 19th-century employees of breweries to free beer during the workday. You’ll find classic cocktails and hardy small plates. Sample a signature cocktail, The Three Emmas, made with Pearl beer, rose cordial, sherry, gin, grapefruit juice, and lemon juice. For small plates, savor the smoked salmon on toast or the local ranch beef burger.
Las Ramblas Restaurant In The Hotel Contessa
In a romantic, riverside setting in the Hotel Contessa, Las Ramblas serves Spanish cuisine and cocktails. For breakfast, I ordered my favorite Migas, a hearty mixture of scrambled eggs, jalapeno sausage, potato, bacon, onions, green peppers, salsa, and queso Fresca with tortillas. For dinner, we start with the short rib empanadas. My husband orders the eight-ounce craft burger with gouda cheese, tomato, crispy onions, arugula, roasted poblano mayo on a brioche bun, with fries or a side salad. After 5:30, you can order signature plates like the 14-ounce mesquite ribeye or the Norwegian salmon, my favorite.
The Cork Bar In The Hotel Contessa
The Cork Bar in the Hotel Contessa offers happy hour daily from 4-7 p.m. We like to get the chicken tortilla soup and the fish tacos. The La Contessa, the signature margarita with Anejo, fresh lime juice, agave, and triple sec is my favorite.
Dorrego’s At The Hotel Valencia
The only Argentinian-inspired eatery with influences from Spain, Italy, and France on the River Walk, the restaurant Dorrego’s highlights a Flamenco guitarist Wednesday through Saturday. The empanadas de Carne, flaky pastry fill with braised beef, green olives, carrots, and caramelized onions, is a perfect starter. I like the Pescado del dia, the market fish of the day. Don’t forget to save room for fresh seasonal berries with lemon curd and white chocolate ice cream. I can always find an Argentinian Malbec on the wine list here.
Acenar, 146 E Houston Street Near The Hotel Valencia
Bold flavors, spectacular River Walk views, and a modern menu of Texas regional Mexican cuisine are Acenar, located just steps away from the Hotel Valencia on E Houston Street. The margaritas are killer! I love the Jicama Shrimp Tacos and the Poquito de Todo for two with skewered shrimp, carnitas, grilled marinated beef, spicy sausage, charbroiled chicken served with chiles, grilled green onions, charro beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo. Enchiladas de Mole is the real thing. Save room for caramel flan or pastel de tres leches/three milk cake.
Ostra At Mokara Hotel And Spa
Executive Chef Camron Woods oversees exceptional seafood, fresh oysters, crab, shrimp, and ceviche at Ostra, recently awarded the AAA four-diamond award. Enjoy a full wine list, crafted beers, and specialty tequila tastings. The feature is the Oyster Bar. Indulge in the seafood tower with east and Canadian coast oysters, chilled shrimp, snow crab claws, ceviche, and lobster tails, or fruits de mer pasta with linguine, scallops, shrimp, and mussels. You can get a “Not Seafood” special as well. Save room for the warm seasonal cobbler served a la mode.
Rebelle In The Historic St. Anthony Hotel
The award-winning Rebelle in the historic St. Anthony Hotel is one of the finest seafood restaurants in San Antonio, led by restaurant pioneers Andrew Goodman and Stefan Bowers. Chef Stefan creates exquisite seafood with farm-fresh produce and unique cocktails. The Seafood Tower is over-the-top with steamed Maine lobster, eight-ounce king crab legs, a dozen jumbo shrimp, a dozen east coast oysters, marinated clams, and mussels. The oven-roasted New Zealand Rack of Lamb is tender, juicy, and unforgettably flavorful.
At St. Anthony, enjoy the Gallery on the Park for breakfast with Eggs St. Anthony, and for lunch, I recommend the Grilled Shrimp Caesar Salad. Relax at the St. Anthony Club, with distinguished art, an upscale atmosphere, and traditional cocktails like the Texas Triangle.
Boudro’s, 421 East Commerce
It is almost impossible to get into Boudro’s without a reservation. I always start with a Prickly Pear Margarita and Guacamole for Two, freshly prepared at your table with diced avocado, roasted tomato, serrano pepper, cilantro, fresh lime, and orange juices. Find the recipe using the link above. I love the seared scallops, Boudreaux’s shrimp and grits, blue crab tostada, coconut shrimp, house-smoked jumbo shrimp and gulf crab enchiladas. You must save room for the lime chess pie or vanilla bean creme Brulee.
Best Hotels On The Riverwalk
The cornerstone hotels along the Riverwalk are the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter, the Grand Hyatt San Antonio, the Hilton Palacio del Rio, The Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk, and the Westin Riverwalk, and Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk. You could probably find more competitive room rates at these hotels. However, I have chosen to feature the smaller, more unique, and historic hotels with special River Walk charm.
Hotel Emma, 136 E Grayson
Hotel Emma, named after Emma Koehler, who ran the brewery after her husband died in 1914, was once a 19th-century Brewhouse. Now it’s a riverfront hotel with 146 rooms. The hotel is the headquarters for Pearl’s savory and inspirational community on the northern edge of downtown San Antonio along the River Walk. The Emma has seven top-floor suites, with a unique blend of old-world charm and modern, well-appointed elements. I was delighted to find Albuquerque’s Los Poblanos lavender shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, and body wash products here. Visit three restaurants in the hotel: Supper, Sternewirth, and Larder.
Hotel Valencia Riverwalk San Antonio, 150 E Houston Street
Near the city center, a half-mile from the Alamo and Market Square, this four-star luxury hotel on the River Walk features 213 guest rooms with pillowtop beds and Egyptian cotton sheets. Plus, you’ll find coffeemakers, bathrobes, a luxury spa, a health club, and a limo/town car service. Note: Call 855-516-1090 for unpublished special pricing. Indulge in Argentinian-inspired cuisine at Dorrego’s and the full-service bar with your favorite small plates, cocktails, and River Walk views.
Hotel Contessa Luxury Suites On The Riverwalk, 306 W Market Street
The only all-suite, AAA 4-Diamond hotel on the River Walk, the Hotel Contessa features 265 suites reflecting the local history and vibrant culture of San Antonio. Join Contessa Elite for rewards and special perks for members. Swim in the rooftop pool or visit the state-of-the-art fitness center. Watch for the Spa to reopen soon, offering rejuvenating treatments and rooftop views. Enjoy the Las Ramblas Restaurant for gourmet eats and the Cork Bar for daily happy hours.
Mokara Hotel And Spa, 212 W Crockett
The Mokara Hotel and Spa, a relaxing retreat with first-class amenities, fine dining at Ostra, and a full-service spa, is the only Forbes four-star hotel in San Antonio. Join the Global Hotel Alliance Loyalty Program called Discovery. Relax at The Rooftop Cafe featuring beautiful downtown San Antonio views while enjoying sandwiches, salads, and cocktails.
St. Anthony, A Luxury Collection Hotel, 300 E Travis Street
My husband and I have stayed at St. Anthony for years, and I had to mention this hotel, just three blocks off the River Walk facing Travis Park, for its luxury, history, and recent over-the-top revamp. I have a photo of my daughter taken probably 25 years ago, standing beside the grand piano with the majestic row of chandeliers behind her. Designated as a national historic site, St. Anthony opened in 1909. I still marvel at the chandeliers, the French Empire antique furniture, the piano, paintings, tapestries, and museum-quality sculptures. Enjoy the Rebelle, a fine-dining seafood restaurant, and the Gallery on the Park for breakfast and lunch. Sip the Triple S, the signature drink at the posh St. Anthony Club. Take in soaring views from the Cabana Bar and Grill with a signature margarita overlooking the outdoor pool.
Pro Tip: The Amtrak Station is within a mile of the Downtown River Walk. How much more romantic can it get than arriving by train for this San Antonio dream getaway?