Welcome to Ryley Writes, a collection of thoughts, stories, and work from deep in the heart of Texas.

In Defense of San Antonio

In Defense of San Antonio


Y'all know I love a good Texas city shakedown. I've lived in Austin, Houston, and Dallas at this point; and besides writing generally about each place as I've lived there, I recently ranked all three in various categories, doing my best to give you a fair taste of each one.

However, I have since been passionately informed that I am doing the state of Texas an injustice by not including (/generally acknowledging) San Antonio.

Sorry, first of all. Okay? SORRY SAN ANTONIO. It's just that we don't really know each other all that well, and I forget about you, and my only experiences within your city limits — besides Spurs games, hallelujah, amen — were the touristy section of the River Walk and like, one mall. You weren't that great, okay? But it's on me for allowing my sub-18-year-old experiences deter me from giving you a second chance. You deserve it, I'm sure. Besides, the people were rioting for one.

This weekend, I started remedying the situation by spending Saturday in SA. It wasn't nearly enough for an entire city guide or objective ranking (because my rankings are so objective, you know?), but it did give me a taste, and left me wanting more.


With fearless tour guide Jacob Karre in the lead, stop one was the Pearl District, which I promptly fell in love with. Its old-world-meets-new architecture and abundance of trees and flowers and greens made it an instant happy place for this wannabe plant lady.

Between the regular weekend farmer's market and Final Four out-of-towners, the area was buzzing. We ducked in and out of shops, took in the (much less touristy, much prettier and more peaceful) stretch of River Walk alongside it, and I generally just wandered aimlessly around taking photos and happily pointing out dogs and plants I liked.

("THIS IS LITERALLY RAINBOW CHARD," I exclaimed with delight at one point, coming to a screeching halt next to a raised bed overflowing with it. I gestured to the multicolored stems enthusiastically, petting the leaves like they were small pets. "THEY'RE JUST USING IT FOR DECORATION BUT YOU COULD ACTUALLY EAT THIS!")

Local Coffee kept us caffeinated and I'm still thinking about Hot Joy's miso-honey butter fried chicken steam buns. (Think classy, Asian fusion version of a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit. You didn't know you needed that in your life until now, did you? You're welcome.)


We remembered the Alamo, which, somehow, as a 24-year-old born and raised in Texas, I had never visited myself.

Is it touristy? Yes. Is it kind of underwhelming? Yes. But did it have to be done anyway? As a Texan, also yes. Very important. Glad I got that checked off.


My favorite stop of the day, though, might have been Confluence Park. Newer to the city, apparently, it's one of those little havens that's tucked into an unexpected area and makes you feel miles away from where you actually are. The swooping, sculptural concrete arches make for a dramatic (but not too dramatic somehow — Jacob got a better photo) scene, and the whole park is hemmed in by the river and chock-full of native plants — many part of natural landscape conservation efforts, with I love on the nerdiest level. (Realizing that my favorite parts of San Antonio were decorative chard and Confluence Park's conservation projects? It's fine.)

We were there for a couple of hours, but it could have been all day and I would have been perfectly happy.


I'll throw San Antonio in the rankings once I know it well enough, but for now, just know that I deeply regret my previous omission of it. SA and I have officially (re)started off on a very good foot, and I'm looking forward to exploring it more!

Go Spurs Go.

Weekend Roundup: April 21

Weekend Roundup: April 21