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One Night in San Antonio

27 December 2013 15,221 views 7 Comments

Adam and I recently went to San Antonio for a little one night getaway — well, not exactly recently — it was last Christmas Eve to be exact. It was my first time staying in San Antonio overnight and it’s been on my “to blog” list ever since. We stayed at the Liz Lambert owned Hotel Havana which was originally built in 1914 and opened in 2010 as a boutique, dog friendly hotel.

Hotel Havana Sign

Our dog Lucy approved of the simple and evocative room decor.

Lucy in our room

Hotel Havana provides freshly laundered and bleached bedding for both human and canine guests. Lucy settled right into her bed near the window.

special Lucy bed

The exterior of the building is designed in Mediterranean Revival style and each floor features a patio that is available to all guests. Ocho — a bar and restaurant with Cuban flair — is nestled near the hotel entrance.

Hotel Havana

Lucy and I posed in front of Ocho on an evening walk. This was before we settled her into the room and went down their ourselves for drinks and huitlacoche quesadillas. It’s a beautiful space that opens up to the River Walk, with cozy velvet couches and romantic lighting.

Lucy and Jodi Ocho

After our drinks and appetizer, we walked from Ocho to Bohanan’s – a ten minute walk that was sketchy for the first half and lovely for the 2nd half. Bohanan’s was very classy and we both greatly enjoyed our cocktails. I ordered a Brooklynite with Anejo rum, lime juice, honey, and angostura bitters. That cocktail was so tasty and well-made — to this day I dream about it.

Photo Credit: Bohanan's Bar

Photo Credit: Bohanan’s Bar

Both Adam and I weren’t feeling any pain at this point and we headed to dinner at John Besh’s Luke. It was Christmas Eve so perhaps they were under-staffed that night, but neither of us particularly enjoyed our meal for what we paid. However, Adam really likes John Besh’s food and he says he would give it another shot on a normal night.

The next morning, we ordered room service at the Hotel Havana, which I assume was made at Ocho, and it was delicious (and reasonably priced). The highlight was the basket of griddled flour tortillas with blackberry butter and local honey but the pancakes had nothing to be ashamed of either. The best part was that we were able to eat on the patio (joined by Lucy).

delicious breakfast

Here we are snuggled on the patio after breakfast. Please excuse the PDA — we were celebrating our 1st anniversary!

Adam and Jodi Porch

After breakfast, we took Lucy for a walk on the River Walk just outside the hotel.


Before we headed back to Austin, we did San Antonio Conservation’s self-guided driving tour to check out historic signage and buildings around the city. Among the stops was Pig Stand #29 that has been open since 1931.  We stopped in for a chocolate milkshake.

Coffee Shop

Other worthwhile stops on the driving tour were the El Tropicano (originally opened in 1962 and still operates as a hotel), Kiddie Park (dating back to 1925, it has been touted as the nation’s oldest public park for children  - new owners spruced it up in 2010), Ranch Motel (opened in 1948 and still runs – you probably don’t want to stay there now), and Earl Abel’s (the neon signage from the original Earl Abel’s restaurant was salvaged and moved in 2006 prior to the original building’s demolition).

flickr anniversary


 Overall the driving tour was interesting, although many of the “stops” on the tour no longer exist, so that was disappointing at times. That said we enjoyed getting off the beaten San Antonio tourist path and enjoyed the treasures we uncovered.

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  • jodibart

    My friend and former colleague Cheryl Jividen also sent some recommendations for San Antonio that I wanted to include — our time there was short and we were there on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so our options were limited, but here’s what Cheryl recommended in case it’s helpful to anyone else (or to us in the future): Must eat at Lukes. Service is HORRIBLE legendarily bad, but the food is worth it. The Alamo. Tree is spectacular. Carriage ride if you newlyweds are into that. The bar at Hotel Valencia is sexy and not over crowded and loud. Mi Tierra. You’re eyes will hurt from the visual richness – this is an experience. Pastry shop does pan dulce and candies 24 hours. Pinantas cover ceiling. It is crowded, but worth it. It is decorated for Christmas year round. If you get real lucky you’ll be int he room with the techno colored Xmas tree. Or sit on the el mercado side so you can see the folks coming and going. There is a Mexican specialty shop a few doors down that sells candles for luck, cures from ailments etc. Pearl Brewery is a no brainer. great new shops but also Melissa Guerra’s which is like Sur La Table but all Mexican. FUN. CIA school cafe is nice for grabbing a pastry. San Antonio Art Museum is good, and so is the McNay Art Museum. Just down the road next door to the Witte Museum is Tre Tratorria one of Jason Dady’s restaurants. Never super busy, but convenient and incredible food. Don’t miss the Nutella three ways. Shopping. Annie Gogglyn is fun for clothing and accessories Try like crazy to get a meal in at Dough. Highly regarded in SA. Go early wait can be grueling. It is near North Star mall on 410 at Blanco. Downtown MUST go to Guenther House at the Pioneer Flour mill. My daughter Bridget used to work here. NO Joke the wait for brunch on a Sunday can easily be three hours. Open for lunch too. You will have no problem on a weekday. If the weather is nice walk around the surrounding neighborhood King William, pricey beautiful victorian homes settled by the wealthy Germans. They don’t allow tour buses here, but you can drive or easily walk. IF all the planets line up you can catch an outdoor movie and great food at the Friendly Spot just on outskirts of King William.If you want to spend some bucks not insanely expensive but in total pricey go to Andrew Weismen’s Il Songo in the Quarry. Hands down the most incredible breakfast in town is at Magnolia Pancake Haus. You will have a wait no matter when you go, but it is worth it. CRAZY good. other bars: The Brooklynite, Esquire Tavern, 1919, Gusto, Social House

  • Jetté Momant

    Hotel Havana is one of my favorite hotel’s in San Antonio. My fiance also enjoyed Ocho at Hotel Havana
    when we stayed there. We enjoyed the cocktails a little TOO much and I
    was thankful that our room was only seconds away from the bar. A very
    good night, indeed.

  • jodibart

    Update from Cheryl: Jodi – loved your anniversary pics and Lucy vacationing in the Alamo City! So update – Luke has corrected their service issues. We eat there often and never have problems anymore. Some way some how I said Il Songo was in the quarry thats incorrect its at Pearl. Next time you are here you must go to Lorraine Bakery (near Pearl) we were there yesterday and got the last champagne macrons. So good.

  • Natalie Tate

    I’ve heard good things about Hotel Havana, but haven’t tried it out yet (pitfalls of actually living in San Antonio – you never go downtown!). Favorite restaurant in the downtown area is Biga on the Banks, though.

  • Natalie Tate

    Also, happy anniversary – glad you got to spend it having fun in SA.
    Natalie – todrinkandwrite.com

  • jodibart

    Thanks for the rec, Natalie! I know some of my fellow Austin Food Blogger Alliance members were in San Antonio this weekend. Did you get to catch up with them?

  • jodibart

    Thank you, me too!