The headwaters of the San Antonio River that attracted early nomadic Texas Indians also beckoned early settlers. One of these early setters was George Brackenridge (Brackenridge Park), who built a mansion in this area and then named the surrounding lands Alamo Heights. Today Alamo Heights is a city surrounded by San Antonio and is just a few miles north of downtown.
Locals refer to Alamo Heights residents as 09ers, as their zip code is 78209. Those who live in this upscale neighborhood have formed a close-knit community of families, many with deep roots in the area. While most of the city is residential, the main stretch of Broadway in the heart of Alamo Heights has many locally owned inventive restaurants, colorful boutiques, interesting museums and happening nightlife options.
Key Area Highlights
The Broadway 5050, an Alamo Heights fixture since 1947, is a popular bar and restaurant, well-known for nachos and burgers, as well as a live music venue. Paloma Blanca is a cool and contemporary restaurant for interior Mexican food, as well as an impressive selection of margaritas and fine 100% agave tequilas. Don’t miss BIRD Bakery, owned by actor Armie Hammer and wife Elizabeth Chambers, for delectable cookies, cupcakes, pies, breads, muffins, sandwiches and more, all made from scratch daily. Families enjoy Cheesy Jane’s for burgers, malts and a model train running around the diner. Rest for a bit at Local Coffee, where passion is strong for “fearless brewing” using the finest coffee beans available.
Tong’s Thai serves traditional dishes from the northern region of Thailand (Chiang Mai), Chinese dishes, sushi and bubble tea in an eclectic setting. Silo Elevated Cuisine is a restaurant you reach by elevator, with an extensive fine dining menu offering a variety of creative and sumptuous choices for lunch and dinner. Casual and upscale, Cappy's Restaurant offers innovative American and regional cuisine. Cappyccino's ("Little Cappy's") is just across the patio and offers quick light fare.
Central Market is more than a grocery store, offering an incredible selection of domestic and imported cheese, wine, beer, coffee, chocolate, produce and more, including chef-prepared meals to go, a dining area, a bakery and a cooking school
Spend an afternoon browsing the McNay Art Museum, established in 1954 as the first museum of modern art in Texas. The museum is on the 23-acre estate of the late Marion Koogler McNay and features an outdoor sculpture garden and works by modern masters, including Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Alamo Heights is a great neighborhood for outdoor enthusiasts. If you’ve got the bird-watching bug, check out the Judson Nature Trails next to the Alamo Heights Swimming Pool in Olmos Basin Park. There are several running and bicycle stores in this area that offer group exercise options, including Soler’s Sports, Fleet Feet Sports and Bike World.
This area is also adjacent to Brackenridge Park, the San Antonio Zoo and the Japanese Tea Garden, as well as Broadway Cultural Corridor attractions, like the San Antonio Museum of Art, the San Antonio Botanical Garden, the Witte Museum and the DoSeum.
Golfers will love the course built in a quarry at, where else, the Quarry Golf Club.
Head to the Alamo Quarry Market shopping center for Lucchese Boot Co., a movie theater, restaurants and many stores you’ll recognize. The shopping center is on the site of a former cement factory, and the factory’s four smokestacks remain as a landmark towering above the retail center. Quarry Village and The Shops at Lincoln Heights are nearby for abundant shopping options, such as Kendra Scott, and dining selections, such as Torchy’s Tacos.
Offbeat, unique or quirky finds:
Near Central Market, look for artist Dionicio Rodríguez’s “faux bois” bus shelter, created in 1931, at the corner of Broadway and Patterson. The artist, born in 1891 in Toluca, Mexico, was taught by a Spaniard how to make structures from cement that look like wood, hence the use of the French term for “fake wood.”
You may not believe it, but Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum, based in his garage in Alamo Heights, features close to 1,200 seats that this nonagenarian (and retired master plumber) has decorated to commemorate travel, slices of life, pop culture and historical events.