Texas (San Antonio & Waco)
During the first weekend of 2021 Dave and I decided to take a three day trip and visit my sister and her husband (Jackie & Craig) in San Antonio, Texas. It had been a while since we were last there and being that we only had 3 full days we wanted to make the most of it.
We arrived late on a Saturday night, so first thing Sunday morning we were opening up Whisky Cake & Kitchen for their amazing brunch and Bloody Mary's. Whisky Cake is located in The Shops at La Cantera, an outdoor mall. It is rated #25 out of 2,958 restaurants in San Antonio by Tripadvisor. Even though they are a small chain restaurant they use locally sourced seasonal ingredients. Their bloody mary's were fresh with tasty garnishes to include bacon and blue cheese stuffed green olives. Coffee was served in a French press, each serving 2 people. We decided not to order any brunch appetizers which ended up being a good idea because our entrees were both delicious and filling, especially with the 2 bloody mary's I had!
I ordered The Cure, which was a waffle sandwich with sausage, ham, bacon, American cheese and a sunny side up egg covered in maple syrup. Both Dave and Craig enjoyed their Farmhouse Benedict with spicy smoked chili hollandaise sauce. We practically rolled out of the restaurant before heading to our secondary location.
Jackie surprised us with 2pm tickets to a place called Hopscotch in downtown San Antonio. Hopscotch is an interactive art exhibit, with a liquor bar. Because of Covid-19 they only took reservations in order to stagger the patrons and help with social distancing. Many artists are local to Texas but not all of them. There were about 10 different exhibits and each one had it's own room so you did not get distracted. It took us a little over an hour to view all of the exhibits and was a lot of fun!
Monday morning we woke up and went to the Magnolia Pancake Haus . Super delicious! Home of the World's Best Pancakes. I think Dave's pick was the fan favorite, The Banana's Foster Pancakes! Too sweet for me but tastes exactly as it says. Craig had the Banana Nut Bread French Toast and I had the Southern Bennie topped with pulled pork and a BBQ hollandaise sauce. I added some grilled jalapeno peppers to give it some heat. There was a wait (on a Monday morning) but it was well worth it!
Next it was on to Waco, TX home of Magnolia Market at the Silos, Chip and Joanna Gains' empire. It took us about 2.5 hours from San Antonio by way of Austin. Not a bad ride and the weather was perfect for our day in Waco. But first we stopped at Buc-ees! This was our first time at a
Buc-ees and all I have to say is if you have never been to a Buc-ees, YOU MUST GO! We went to the New Braunfels, TX store and it holds the world record for the largest convenience store at 66,335 square feet. It is also a gas station with about 100 gas pumps and has the cleanest bathrooms ever.
Okay, back to Waco. Magnolia Market has two Silos and if you have ever seen the Fixer Upper on HGTV you know about Chip and Joanna. They have created an empire and put Waco back on the map in a positive way. Being at Magnolia is like being in the Disney World for adults.
There is no fee to get in but there are people at the entrances checking to ensure that everyone has a mask on. The grounds consist of approximately 5.3 acres and even holds a church and wiffle ball field along with concession stands. There are food trucks and many individual stores where you can buy almost anything for your home. Magnolia also has a coffee shop and separate bakery. You can come for the day and enjoy the atmosphere, there is no one rushing you out or pressuring you into buying anything. You can even sit and have a picnic on the grass. Outside of Magnolia there are other shops and restaurants in Waco.
My favorite was The Findery. The Findery has two separate locations only about a block from each other. The stores appear to be old warehouses or factories. They carry very unique and different finds. I purchased a cute little purse that I just had to have. Lastly, we had to stop at a brewery before leaving Waco. Southern Roots Brewing Co. it was. Veteran owned and only in operation since 2018. The beer was great, my favorite was the Mango Habanero IPA. They also had tshirts and stickers, mandatory for a visit from us.
On Tuesday, our final day in Texas Jackie did a quick workout in her home gym with a photoshoot for her personal training business. My sister is a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certified personal trainer. Currently she trains out of her home gym as well as a local gym. Her full time job is with the US Air Force but she enjoys helping others achieve their personal fitness goals.
Jackie has competed in multiple figure competitions in Virginia, Florida, Illinois and Texas. In 2013 she won her pro card by placing 1st in her category at WNBF in Virginia Beach, VA. A few other accolades include: 3rd place in the San Antonio Classic 2016, 1st in the Texas State Championships 2016, 1st and Overall Champion in 2017 in the Battle of Texas as well as 3 other National Shows in 2018. If you live in San Antonio or plan to visit and need a good workout you can contact her on Instagram @jrottameduri.
After the workout it was off to the San Antonio Missions. The Missions are a part of the National Park Service, its also the name of San Antonio's minor league baseball team. There are 5 missions: Mission San Jose, Mission Concepcion, Mission San Juan, Mission Espada, and Mission San Antonio better known as The Alamo. Since we had already visited the Alamo we skipped that one and were able to go to 3 others, we missed Mission Concepcion. All missions are only a few miles from each other and although we drove, you can rent a bicycle and ride the bike trails to each one. They were built in the 1700s with Mission San Jose being the largest, known as the Queen of the Missions it is also the most intact one. Catholic mass is still celebrated on Sundays in the churches. The visitor's center was closed due to Covid-19 but the
grounds were still open as well as the churches themselves (as long as you wear a mask). There is also an audible tour available on your cell phones. Basically, the Missions were a place to live in the 1700s centered around Christianity. Their religious teachings extended to many Native Americans who were also taught the basics of western civilization.
After all of that touring of the Missions we were starving! Dave suggested hamburgers and Jackie had the perfect spot, Brenda's Burgers. Delicious and family owned since 1988! I had Berry's Special, which came with cheese, onions and grilled jalapenos. We followed that up with a trip to Kunstler Brewing for some beer to wash it all down with. Another great spot, this one in a residential neighborhood adjacent to the train tracks. They had a great beer selection with outdoor seating as well. And of course, tshirts & stickers.
I couldn't end this blog without a mention of the Texas Longhorns that we visited. Not the college but the animal. One of our goals was to find longhorns so that we could get some good pictures of them. We actually found them only a few miles from Jackie's house. Who knew? They are pretty awesome!