Brenner's on the River Walk/ Facebook

Talk about a prime location. On July 20, storied eatery Brenner’s Steakhouse opened its first location outside of Houston on the banks of the San Antonio River Walk.

The new restaurant, located at 215 Losoya St., is only the third location under the Brenner’s name. Herman and Lorene Brenner founded the concept as a casual café in 1936 before the construction of the Katy Freeway spurred a change of location. A second outpost followed in 2007 after Landry’s Restaurants owner Tilman Fertitta revitalized the name.

Though officially part of a conglomerate that includes touristy spots like Rainforest Café and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., the new Brenner’s takes a more upscale approach. Steaks range from a six-ounce A5 Wagyu filet to an intimidating 36-ounce tomahawk, all of which can be dressed with tony accompaniments like cognac-peppercorn sauce, foie gras, or truffle butter.

For less decadent days, executive chef Abel Sanchez offers plentiful alternatives from pan-roasted chicken breast to braised short rib in mole. Naturally, the restaurant also serves plenty of surf to go with the turf, including bacon-wrapped shrimp, a pair of sushi rolls, and an indulgent seafood tower layered with king crab, lobster, oysters, mussels, shrimp, caviar, and more.

While deciding on their entrée selection, guests can rifle through a wide-ranging wine list including more than 300 bottles. Additionally, the full bar includes beefy tequila and whiskey selections, beer, and cocktails ranging from tried-and-true classics to originals like a coconut-rose riff on ranch water.

If the menu didn’t offer enough clues, fanciness is also the MO of the interior. The walls are sheathed in limestone and exposed brick, accented with dark wood. Of course, each of the three levels, containing a mezzanine, patio, bar, and main dining room, offer sweeping views of the River Walk.

To add frisson, a live pianist will tickle the ivories. Though a press release promised a variety of music genres, surely jaws would drop if they busted out a few bars of “WAP.” Guests should also be aware that Brenner’s does not have the come-as-you-are laxity of most San Antonio joints. The dress code prohibits gym attire, beachwear, and baseball hats — presumably, even the $600 Loro Piana cashmere cap seen on Succession.

Those who don’t mind getting gussied up can visit the Brenner’s bar starting at 3 pm daily. Dinner service begins at 4 pm and extends through 10 pm most days and 11 on Friday and Saturday.

The San Antonio River Walk/ Facebook

San Antonio flips the switch for tickets to annual Ford Holiday River Parade


Whether swatting pterodactyl-sized mosquitos or figuring out which outfit best says heat bubble chic, most San Antonians are probably not thinking much about the holidays. But soon enough, everyone will be trading in well-worn chanclas for fuzzy slippers — or at least mistletoe adorned Crocs.

Even in Tatooine, it’s fine to entertain a few summer delusions, so crank up the AC and bundle up. Tickets are now on sale for the Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony. November 24 will mark the 42nd edition of the annual tradition kicking off the holiday season downtown.

With 28 illuminated floats and more than 100,000 lights, the dazzling display will set sail at 6 pm at the Tobin Center. This year’s theme will be Holiday Stories, which might inspire some controversy if one of the floating spectacles is a scale reproduction of Nakatomi Plaza. (For the record, we do think John McClane’s heartwarming exploits in Die Hard qualifies as a Christmas tale.)

Tickets, ranging from $15-$40, guarantee seasonal revelers a seat, but several viewing areas are offered on a first-come, first-served basis free of charge. Bring a chair and a Thermos full of eggnog and camp out on the east side of the River Walk between Pecan Street and Richmond Avenue.

For a more immersive (read: boozier) experience, most of the River Walk’s restaurants also offer dining packages. Though none have released their packages at press time, spots like Biga on the Banks, Hotel Valencia, and the Thompson Hotel offered packages including prix-fixe meals, free Wi-Fi, and luxury accommodations in 2022.

Whatever one’s preferred viewing spot, the festivities will begin with the lighting of the River Walk at 7 pm, followed by the televised parade between 7-8 pm. Guests sitting at the Arneson River Theatre will be treated to a pre-show between 6-7 pm. The River Walk lights will dazzle visitors from sundown to sunrise until the weekend following New Year’s Day.

Renderings by Studio8

Easygoing brewery pours into booming River North in San Antonio


The San Antonio area has been called the next big thing for so long that it’s been hard to keep up with the hype. National publications like Eaterare wowed by our culinary diversity; Condé Nast Travelerpractically lives at Hotel Emma — heck, even the Gray Lady pulls up her monocle to have a closer look. The only question left to ask is when next becomes now.

That may be closer than locals think, as a new brewery plans to make Alamo City home. Unlike most homegrown players in the city’s beer arena, this one comes from one of the major forces behind Los Angeles’ nightlife scene.

Californian hospitality group Pouring With Heart will debut Idle Beer Hall & Brewery this summer at 711 Broadway — the property adjacent to the upcoming food hall Make Ready Market. The concept, developed in collaboration with Hixon Properties, will be the firm’s second foray into San Antonio after acquiringThree Star Bar in October 2022.

Details are still forthcoming, but a press release promises Idle will serve an ever-changing selection of approachable craft beer, draft cocktails, and an affordable array of agave spirits. There was no mention of a food program, but guests can enjoy scores of bites from Make Ready’s lineup of 10 food vendors.

While waiting on the menu, San Antonians can marvel at another stellar example of one of the city’s strengths, adaptive reuse. Accomplished firm Studio8 made use of the historic Cavender Cadillac property for both Make Ready Market and Idle. The beer hall will be housed in the former machine shop of what once was a car lot.

Lilianne Steckel, an Austin interior designer responsible for some of the city’s most popular eateries, offset the industrial elements of the structure with earthy materials. Mexican-inspired features like carved wooden doors and equipale chairs add warmth — along with a collection of rafter slogans to remind patrons to sit and relax.

While future patrons may be lounging, the players behind this River North development make it clear that the 305-year-old city is about to see some significant change. Buckle those seatbelts; it’s going to be a blockbuster summer.

Idle Brewery

Renderings by Studio8

Idle Brewing's building was adapted from a former car dealer machine shop.

Photo courtesy of the Westin Riverwalk

Classic River Walk restaurant unveils stunning new revamp


Millions harvested carrots in FarmVille, the Black Eyes Peas turned up every wedding reception, and belts grew in inverse proportion to scarves. Few touchstones from 2009 had staying power. By providing a quiet respite from the rowdy River Walk, Zocca Cuisine D’Italia managed to outlast them all. Still, we can’t begrudge the long-running restaurant for getting a little work done.

After a meticulous renovation, the Westin Riverwalk has unveiled the revamp of its signature restaurant and bar. Dallas-based design firm Waldrop + Nichols drew inspiration from San Antonio and Italy to create a warm, neutral palette accented with metallic flashes and rich textures.

The team opened the space to include a sumptuous lounge outfitted with overstuffed alcove banquettes and chunky contemporary seating. Earth-toned abstract frescos and glistening parabola fixtures lend brio to the otherwise minimalist space.
Naturally, the interior took advantage of the River Walk views just beyond the walls. Retractable windows catch the breeze and allow patio guests a peep into the restaurant.

Not resting on its laurels, the Westin Riverwalk also recently appointed executive chef Ron Mays to reinvigorate the menus. While firmly rooted in Italian cuisine, Mays brings a playful approach to dishes like ossobuco di Agnello, shrimp and polenta, and a tiramisu affogato.

“The opportunity to breathe new life into an iconic establishment such as Zocca is an absolute honor,” said Mays via a release. “I am excited to share a palatable, yet approachable menu made for everyday dining with an elevated experience attached.”

The cocktail menu fits in the same mold. White Lotus habitués will surely find succor in the two Negronis or a tropical take on the Aperol spritz. Guests who have wondered what those imposingly tall bottles of Galliano are used for should check out brunch. A fern bar mainstay, the Harvey Wallbanger, is reinvented with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Zocca is now open daily from 6:30 am-10pm on weekdays and 7 am-10 pm on weekends. Bar hours are 11 am-midnight daily. Guests will be serenaded with live music during Sunday brunch from noon-3 pm and Thursday nights 5-6 pm.

“Zocca has an established reputation for creating authentic dishes with a relaxed al fresco Italy-like atmosphere conducive for socializing, relaxing, and connecting,” said Maria Martinez, general manager of the Westin Riverwalk, in a statement. “We’re pleased to revive the vision and spirit of the restaurant, a true River Walk staple, and we’re proud to share this concept with our hotel guests and locals alike.”

Zocca San Antonio

Photo courtesy of the Westin Riverwalk

Zocca's bar plays peekaboo with the River Walk beyond.

Image courtesy of Briscoe Western Art Museum

Blockbuster Western art exhibition and sale stampedes into San Antonio

Luck of the draw

No other region has quite captured the public’s imagination quite like the American West. From the sweeping mountaintop vistas to the harsh desert flats, the landscape has fueled countless works of art. Although many still view it through the amber of history, the realities and myths of frontier life still resonate today.

It’s a subject well-known by the Briscoe Western Art Museum, whose annual Night of Artists Exhibition and Sale returns to San Antonio March 24 through 25. The two-day spectacular showcases nearly 300 new works by 80 of the nation’s vanguard Western artists. The event kicks off a six-week public viewing included with admission to the museum.

The paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media works displayed reflect a panoramic vision of the Western United States, ranging from portraiture to nature studies. Works by greats like Billy Schenck, Don Oelze, Z.S. Liang, C. Michael Dudash, George Hallmark, Kim Wiggins, Bonnie Marris, Michael Ome Untiedt, Teresa Elliot, and Jan Mapes will be quickly snatched up by collectors.

The blockbuster show also gives guests a chance to discover emerging artists. Among the notable new talent this year are Jeremy Lipking, Eric Bowman, Glenn Dean, Dustin Van Wechel, Bob Guelich, Kevin Red Star, and Tony Pro.

"With a rich array of works from today’s top artists, events like Night of Artists prove the strength of Western art," said Michael Duchemin, Briscoe's President and CEO, via release. "The genre continues to flourish thanks to the talent showcased by our participating artists and the increasing number of collectors and enthusiasts drawn to the beauty and spirit these works capture,”

Opening weekend kicks off with an exhibition preview in the Briscoe's Jack Guenther Pavilion on the River Walk banks. The exclusive evening begins with cocktails amongst the art before a seated dinner. A high-spirited auction will provide a dramatic crescendo.

Guests wanting a more in-depth understanding of the Western art can participate in the Briscoe Bison Society Collectors Summit on March 24 and 25. Collectors, gallery owners, and artists will chat at a series of panels held at the Westin Riverwalk, offering expert advice on market trends.

Other highlights include The Night of Artists awards luncheon and the exhibit opening reception in the McNutt Sculpture Garden, both on March 25. Art fans will surely want to check out the evening Luck of the Draw sale, where attendees can snag up pieces at a fixed price.

Tickets, benefiting the museums exhibitions and programs are available online. Those who are not able to make it can view the dazzling collection March 26 through May 7.

Courtesy of Hotel Contessa

Revered River Walk hotel reveals new executive chef and revamped menus

Contessa me in

One of the River Walk's most elevated hotels is reaching for even higher heights, announcing Michael Collins as the new executive chef. Collins will be responsible for all culinary experiences at the boutique Hotel Contessa, from in-room dining to the sophisticated chic Ambler Texas Kitchen + Cocktails.

“We’re thrilled to have Chef join the team and bring an elevated approach to our Texas-inspired offerings,” says Denise Mojica, director of marketing for Hotel Contessa, in a release. “Since coming on board in August, he’s already made a huge improvement to our food program at Ambler; our new and loyal guests alike have been noticing and fully embracing the thoughtful and intentional changes.”

The chef brings 30 years of experience to the role, with extensive experience in the Texas Hill Country. He previously served as food & beverage director and executive chef at JL Bar Ranch Resort & Spa in Sonora, Texas, which he helped open. In San Antonio, he directed culinary operations and vision development as food & beverage director and executive chef at the Hilton San Antonio and held executive chef roles at the Elian Resort & Spa and Tapatio Springs Resort & Spa in nearby Boerne. He also boasts additional resort experience in prestigious locations across the country, and most recently served as an independent consultant for properties such as Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa in Moab, Utah; Lucky Arrow in Dripping Springs; the Kessler Collection in Orlando; and many more. He plans to put his own unique mark on the menus at Hotel Contessa.

“I’ve lived in Texas for the past 10 years, and have developed a huge love and appreciation for the preparation of food and ingredients of the region,” says Collins in the release. “We are lucky to have so many great purveyors, ranchers, and farmers right in our backyard. The plan is to utilize their produce and protein whenever possible in the dishes we prepare at Ambler.”

While the Ambler menu will always feature permanent signature items, seasonal dishes play an important role and rotate throughout the year.

“My goal is to offer good, simple comfort food at an elevated level. Think mom's cooking, but refined and using the best product available," Collins continues. “We are using seafood from the Gulf, and protein sourced from Central Texas. One of my favorites on the menu is our Texas Akaushi which we get from Beeman Ranch in Harwood, Texas.”

Other menu highlights will include shared plates such as cast iron goat cheese brulée; codigo poached and chilled shrimp; grilled Bandera quail; char-grilled oysters; and fried green tomatoes. New house specialties like blackened Gulf red snapper and seafood pappardelle will compete with the Texas Akaushi (which comes in flat iron form, New York Strip, tenderloin, ribeye, and Tomahawk) for diners' attention – no doubt necessitating repeat visits to mollify the anxiety of indecision.

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8 San Antonio area celebrations putting the oom-pah-pah in Oktoberfest


One need not look far to see why Oktoberfest is such a big deal in San Antonio. The city’s German heritage is everywhere, from historical homes at the Hemisfair, to the names of streets like Wurzbach and Huebner. Even those who don’t have a drop of Bavarian blood know a good party when they see one.

Of course, that means that Oktoberfest options are nearly boundless in the city. Add the surrounding city’s fetes, and the choices can be overwhelming. Wondering where to start? Peruse the below list of happenings before dusting off the steins on the shelf.

Bier Garten Oktoberfest
This popular River Walk destination’s Oktoberfest annual bash is already in full swing, but guests have until October 29 to enjoy all the merrymaking. Test your lung capacity during an alp horn-blowing contest, or join in on one of the raucous sing-alongs. The beer specials change weekly, giving plenty of reasons for return visits. No tickets are required.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas Oktoberfest Food Festival
For a family-friendly alternative to the boozier celebrations, haul the kids to this theme park’s annual celebration of all things German. On Fridays through Sundays until October 29, guests can sample various Deutsch delights, including chicken schnitzel on a stick, sauerbraten, and apple strudel. For the adults, kiosks are scattered throughout the grounds, serving craft beer and ghoulish cocktails. (It is spooky season, after all.) And Der Wurst Band has a residency on Saturdays and Sundays to give the festivities a little more oom-pah.

Fredericksburg Oktoberfest
Say danke schön to the planners of this citywide celebration, held October 6-8. They’ve booked five stages of entertainment from morning until midnight. In addition to all the polka, there are more than 60 food and beverage choices, a KinderPark for antsy kids, and yodeling tournaments. Advance ticket sales are closed, but admission is available at the gate.

With such a perfect pun, it’s hard to believe that Lockhart is only now hosting its first Oktoberfest downtown. Tons of local businesses are participating October 6-8 with activations and German-themed food specials. Highlights include a mini Bavarian festival at Best Little Wine & Books, polka sets performed by local bands, and even German-themed pizza.

Beethoven Mäennechor Oktoberfest
Unsurprisingly, the oldest German singing society in Texas hosts one of the area’s most popular Oktoberfest parties. From October 6-14, San Antonians can revel in tap beer tastings, delicious snacks, and musical performances. Those feeling competitive can also go for glory during the stein-hoisting competition. Best of all, tickets are only $8.

Hill Country Animal League Barktoberfest
Buy your dachshund a dirndl and head to Boerne’s Main Plaza on October 21. This fetching annual fundraiser combines waggish fun with German tradition. Warm fuzzy activities include a petting zoo, pet adoptions, and doggy dash races. Visitors will also be treated to food trucks and beer booths.

17th Annual San Antonio Beer Festival
This hoppy event is exactly as it sounds: a big celebration of all things beer. There will be more than 400 "premium and craft beers" from more than 100 brewers around the world on October 21 at Crockett Park, promising that no visitor will have to settle for anything but their ideal brew. Plus, look out for music, games, wines, ciders, food vendors, and more.

One of Central Texas’ grandest traditions, New Braunfels’ annual shindig has been slinging sausage since 1961. From November 3-12, pilgrims can stretch their lederhosen with festival favorites like Bretzel Wurst, Jager Dogs, and dozens of imported brews. With some liquid courage from a couple of pints, guests can also brave gravity defying carnival rides or take a spin on the dancefloor. Admission allows access to the entertainment; food and beverage is extra.

H-E-B soars to No. 2 in Forbes' prestigious list of best employers in Texas, plus more top stories

hot headlines

Editor's note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From animal crossings to page turning, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. H-E-B soars to No. 2 in Forbes' prestigious list of best employers in Texas. In addition to being based in San Antonio, H-E-B operates more than 300 stores in Texas and employs 154,000 people.

2. Wildlife advocacy tour treks to San Antonio's spectacular land bridge. The land bridge is getting national attention through a promotional road trip meant to highlight the structure's role in protecting local ecosystems.

3. Texas Book Festival releases full lineup of 300 authors, including Roxane Gay and Ali Hazelwood. The weekend will be full of panel discussions, author readings, book signings, and much more.

4. San Antonio foundation pounces on bold program to return ocelots to the wild. Following the proposal, the East Foundation will release ocelots onto a section of its San Antonio Viejo Ranch.

5. Famous furniture store Louis Shanks shutters last remaining San Antonio location. The furniture retailer first opened in 1945, with the San Antonio store opening in 1983.

San Antonio International Airport clears runway for 1st nonstop flight to Europe

booking tix now

Big news for Texas travelers: San Antonio International Airport's first-ever nonstop flights to Europe will begin in 2024.

Passengers can now book tickets via Condor Airlines for flights from San Antonio International Airport (SAT) to Germany's Frankfurt Airport (FRA) between May 17 and September 6, 2024. Flights will initially operate three days a week – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays – and flights to Frankfurt are expected to take a little more than 10 hours, while flights coming in from overseas will last about 11.5 hours.

The seasonal service is a "spectacular win" for the city, according to Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and could bring in an estimated $34 million annually. The airport has been seeing wins left and right, having just been named one of the nation's least stressful airports, and consistently handling busier and busier days.

"Germany is where San Antonio has the most demand for travel in Europe because of the cultural, historic, tourism, military, and business ties," Mayor Nirenberg said in a news conference on September 21.

San Antonio Airport System Director of Airports Jesus Saenz foreshadows that the SAT-FRA flight is "just the beginning" of possible flight expansions for the airport in the future.

"We fully believe San Antonio will utilize this service to Europe and take advantage of Condor’s extremely competitive airfares," he said. "Once that happens, we anticipate Condor will expand their services even further."

The airline will be using a brand new Airbus A330-900neo aircraft for the nonstop flights, which features 30 business class seats, 64 premium economy seats, and 216 economy seats.

"With our growing fleet of A330neos, we can provide better travel options to more Americans every year," said Condor CEO Ralf Teckentrup said in a release. "I am particularly proud to offer the only nonstop connection from San Antonio, Texas to Frankfurt, Germany – the heart of Europe, where travelers can enjoy the popular touristic sights of Germany or travel beyond conveniently by air, road, or rail. I invite everyone to try out our newest and most luxurious in-flight experience ever."

Monday flights will depart from SAT at 10:05 pm and arrive in Frankfurt at 3:20 pm the following day. Returning flights from FRA on Mondays will depart at 3:40 pm and arrive at SAT at 8:05 pm.

For Wednesday and Friday flights, departures from SAT will take place at 8:25 pm and arrive at FRA at 1:40 pm the next day. Returning flights from FRA will depart at 2:00 pm and arrive at SAT at 6:25 pm.