Guests wake up to Cuban espresso and sweet Mexican pastries at the 27-room Hotel Havana (doubles from $149), set in a newly restored 1914 hacienda. Twenty minutes from downtown, the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa (doubles from $259) is one of the brand’s newest (and largest) properties, with 1,002 rooms done in leather, wood, and stone, six restaurants, a 26,000-square-foot spa, two golf courses, a greenhouse, nature trails—even a water park.
Chef Johnny Hernandez spent seven years in Mexico researching the country’s street foods for La Gloria (dinner for two $45). Grab a seat on one of the patios for potent lime margaritas followed by a sope, a crispy tortilla topped with spicy chicharrones (pork rinds), or skirt steak served in a molcajete (stone bowl). At the neighborhood’s new Il Sogno (dinner for two $110), industrial floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the kitchen where chef Andrew Weissman whips up seasonal Italian plates, including house-made crostini and pasta allo zafferano—mussels, shrimp, and pancetta with saffron cream sauce.
In the same building as Il Sogno, cookbook author Melissa Guerra stocks hard-to-find housewares from Central and South America and Mexico at her Tienda de Cocina. Molinillos, hand-carved milk frothers from Mexico, and Chilean clay earthenware pots make useful souvenirs.
City officials have plans to extend the San Antonio River Walk to 15 miles by 2013. Phase one, which was completed in May 2009, already connects Pearl Brewery to the heart of downtown. The walkway, now four miles long, passes the San Antonio Museum of Art, Donald Lipski sculptures, and glow-in-the-dark murals by Mark Schlesinger.