A SAN ANTONIO HOLIDAY TRADITION
By LAUREN BROWNING
Photography by JANET ROGERS
With holidays upon us and family and friends among us, San Antonio’s River Walk beckons us to return to its dazzling lights, scrumptious fare, jubilant smiles and jingling bells. At this chilly time of year, when traditions reign supreme, we the people of San Antonio relish in rounding up our blankets, zipping up our jackets and making our way down to the River Walk to delight in its magical state.
And one of the most treasured destinations along the River Walk is Boudro’s Texas Bistro, a haven for American Southwest cuisine for over 30 years. So hop on a dinner cruise or enjoy dining by the vibrant lights, and see all this San Antonio staple has to offer.
Specializing in fresh Gulf seafood, black Angus steaks and chops, the restaurant from its beginnings followed a South Louisiana theme, hence the name. In fact, when Boudro’s opened in 1986, the original spelling was Boudreaux’s. Over the years, the name changed to reflect its true South Texas identity, but the bistro continues to offer many crowd-pleasing Cajun and Creole classics like duck and sausage gumbo, blackened Gulf fish, shrimp and grits and, of course, their famous bread pudding with whiskey sauce.
Probably the most legendary item on their menu is their fresh guacamole, made tableside. Rumor has it they were making tableside guacamole long before it was trendy in San Antonio. Some of my other favorite appetizers include the chile-fried Gulf oysters served on crispy yucca chips and topped with serrano honey aioli and pineapple pico de gallo and the wild field mushrooms served over grilled polenta, goat cheese and roma tomatoes and chipotle-thyme sauce.
And the deliciousness does not stop here. Executive chef Robbie Nowlin and his culinary team deliver great finesse with consistency through the entire menu. Many popular items come from their wood-fire grill, which imparts a lovely smoky essence into these Texas-inspired dishes. Choose from almost every mouthwatering cut of black Angus beef imaginable (prime rib, loin end cut rib-eye, filet of sirloin and flank, to name a few), or and sink your teeth into the Niman Ranch double-rib pork chop rubbed with chipotle chile adobo and served with a sweet potato, pineapple and chorizo hash and a stack of onion rings. For fish fans, there’s the fresh fish of the day or Atlantic salmon cooked delicately on the grill — ideal choices for anyone dreaming of having one of their rapturous desserts, like warm winter berry cobbler and vanilla ice cream, all to themselves.
Boudro’s is considered one of the top River Walk destination restaurants for out-of-town tourists as well as San Antonio natives. Its success is built on much more than just great food. Fast, attentive and professional service, a substantial wine cellar with selections pleasing aficionados and novices alike, and, of course, inviting surroundings on a convenient stretch of the River Walk all contribute significantly. Above all, Boudro’s brings people together, giving families, groups of friends, couples, and others the opportunity to more fully experience the River Walk together.
But wait, there’s more. To further experience this expanse of downtown. discover or rediscover Boudro’s community barge dinners — the next echelon of holiday memory-making on the River Walk. While dinner and barge cruises can be arranged for private parties, community barge dinners run all year around. Subject to availability, reservations can be made as early as two weeks prior to the date requested. During the month of December, however, reservations fill up quickly, so don’t delay. Barges accommodate up to 20 diners for a four-course dinner lasting about two hours. In the warmer months, cruises begin at 8 p.m., but in the cooler months, they begin at 6 or 7 p.m., depending on the day. Cost is $50 per person, not including beverage service, taxes or gratuity.
The evening begins with guests sipping on wine, beer or one of Boudro’s famous margaritas. The illustrious tableside guacamole follows, and just as the southwest caesar salads arrive, the barge leaves the dock for the first part of the relaxing journey. The second part of the journey includes the main course, either the combination plate of black Angus beef tenderloin filet and house-smoked shrimp and Gulf crab enchilada with side of corn pudding or the grilled Atlantic salmon with Creole mustard butter, garlic mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables.
Finally, the barge docks, and guests leisurely conclude with toasted nut brittle ice cream in a pool of hot fudge for a divine dessert. Add holiday lights and festivities at this time of year, and you have a unique way to savor the season in San Antonio in all of its twinkling glory.