Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for January...Featuring San Antonio Detours' Pearl Brunch Tour

This month’s edition of The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out features San Antonio Detours’ tasty and fun weekend walking brunch tour of San Antonio's Pearl Brewery District. This tour company is based in Austin and recently expanded to San Antonio. They offer a wide variety of group tours that explore some of the city's famous historical well as a pair of food-based tours that spotlight some of San Antonio's best food. San Antonio Detours' motto is "We Create Fun!", and they really deliver on that promise. Group tours are kept to no more than 11 people to ensure a more personalized feel. Samantha was our tour guide, and she was friendly and knowledgeable. During the 2-hour the Pearl Brunch Tour, we enjoyed amazing food and beverages...and we learned a lot about the Pearl Brewery District that we didn't know. 

Known by locals as simply "The Pearl", this hot spot is located on the historic site of the former Pearl beer brewery. This multi-use complex offers area residents and visitors so much to see and do! The Pearl has several residential areas, 15 of the city's best restaurant, 13 retailers, 18 businesses, and a very popular twice-weekly Farmers Market. That makes this vibrant, growing neighborhood a fabulous place to explore on foot. One thing’s for sure: the Pearl District is one of the coolest places to eat and drink in San Antonio. With some of the city’s best restaurants, it’s a true culinary destination! The Pearl Brunch Tour weaves through the complex, making four different stops. At each location, Samantha told us about its history, what makes it so unique, the various cooking styles and ingredients used, and why certain menu items are so popular.

The first stop of our tour was for a cup of freshly brewed coffee at Local Coffee. As their name implies, Local Coffee sources the best coffee beans from around the world. The coffee beans are then roasted locally at their Merit Roasting Company. Local Coffee's commitment to quality means customers get to enjoy a cup of coffee that’s robust and smooth-as-silk. Local Coffee is very popular with San Antonio residents, as the line outside the door ably demonstrated!
The next stop of our tour was Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery, where we enjoyed a cocktail and chilled starters. Southerleigh is located adjacent to Hotel Emma and offers seasonal comfort food and a variety of house-made craft beers. We started our brunch visit with a refreshing Pineapple Cocktail, which was a very nice change from the typical brunch mimosa. This delicious sparkling cocktail includes pineapple cider, champagne, and pineapple juice. While we sipped our cocktails, we enjoyed a trio of cold dishes. First up was the lovely Green Salad with Shaved Radish, Sweet Onion, Soft Boiled Egg, White Cheddar, and a delicious house-made Dijon vinaigrette. Next out of the kitchen were Iced Texas Gulf shrimp, which were served with house-made Fresh Horseradish Cocktail and Celery Root Remoulade dipping sauces. Finally, we sampled a seasonal fresh fruit plate with a variety of berries and melon. Everything was perfectly prepared and so fresh!

From there, we made our way to Nao Latin Gastro Bar for a duo of hot brunch items. Nao is the student-run restaurant at the San Antonio campus of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. It features inventive Latin-inspired cuisine and modern, sleek d├ęcor. While at Nao, we enjoyed both sweet and a savory dishes. First up was Chicken and Tortilla Chips in Tomatillo Salsa, their delicious take on the Tex-Mex classic comfort dish chilaquiles. The tender chicken and earthy tortilla chips were bathed in tangy green tomatillo salsa, then topped with queso fresco, white onion, and cilantro. The flavors and textures in this dish were amazing! Next up was Torreja, Nao’s Latin twist on classic French toast. This decadent dish features thick slices of cinnamon milk-soaked bread, sweet dulce de leche, stewed plantains, cashews, and lightly sweetened whipped cream. It was so good we were all dueling for the last bite!
The final stop of our Pearl Brunch Tour was Lick Honest Ice Creams. It was a chilly December day, but that didn’t stop people from lining up to enjoy Lick’s delicious ice cream. Lick provides seasonable, sustainable artisan ice cream flavors made with all handmade ingredients – in fact, every item served in their shops is homemade. 
Lick started in Austin and now has Scoop Shops in both Austin and San Antonio. They’re known for their fun, creative ice cream flavors – we tried four delicious varieties during our visit: Cinnamon Sugar Cookie, Gingerbread, Caramel Praline, and the surprising Beet-Mint. Lick’s ice cream is super creamy and tastes amazing! I especially enjoyed the Cinnamon Sugar Cookie and the earthy Beet-Mint!

Besides all of the delicious food and beverages we sampled, we also learned so much about The Pearl via Samantha’s facts and anecdotes about how the long-running Pearl Brewery operated throughout the years. The Pearl Brunch tour is meant to be enjoyed by both locals and San Antonio visitors, and it’s an ideal way to try several of the complex's amazing restaurants. Its location, just a few miles from the main Riverwalk area, makes The Pearl an easy destination for visitors to make their way to. If you’re looking for a fun walking tour where you can experience some amazing food and drinks, then this is definitely the tour for you! The Pearl Brunch Tour departs outside the Hotel Emma on Sundays at 10:30am, and the cost is $55 per person. To reserve a spot, simply give them a call at (210) 632-7839 or e-mail them at

Disclosure: San Antonio Detours provided us with a complimentary four-stop Pearl Brunch Tour to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

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