San Antonio has a rich history in Black American culture, with notable landmarks and venues in the neighborhood just east of downtown. Ellis Alley, one of the city’s first Black American settlements, is known as the birthplace from which the east side of San Antonio developed. In celebrating black heritage, San Antonio offers many events, including an annual Soul Food Festival, one of the largest MLK Day marches in the country and a lively Juneteenth celebration.
St. Paul Square, named after one of the oldest African-American churches in town, is now a bustling dining and entertainment district filled with beautifully restored historic buildings. Dignowity Hill, two miles east of downtown, is considered the city’s oldest elite residential suburb. The Dignowity Hill Historic District was created to help preserve the culture and heritage of the neighborhood, which is now going through a tremendous period of revitalization.
Buffalo Soldiers Memorial Park is home of the Bexar County Buffalo Soldiers Association, dedicated to educating the public about the history of the Buffalo Soldier and Black Indian Scouts. Buffalo Soldiers served as the first African American military companies following the Civil War and were critical in securing the frontiers of Texas and the American West.
Key Area Highlights
When you're planning a pizza party, put Big Lou's Pizza
Texas Pride BBQ
at the top of your list. They offer many sizes, but the granddaddy is the 62-inch diameter pizza, which requires more than one person to carry. Get great home cooking at Ma Harper's Creole Kitchen
, where Ma Harper herself is behind the stove. Fans say that, in addition to items such as po' boys, gumbo, fried fish and red beans and rice, you have to order the swamp water (tea and lemonade). Mark's Outing
--Home of the original Fatty's Burger--is in a bright yellow building that you can't miss. Inside you'll have a choice of 13 different homemade burgers in addition to Mark's "famous beans," sandwiches, salads, hot dogs, and desserts.
began as a little cafe in a little country gas station in the 1920s. Today the restaurant is known for slow-cooked brisket, pork ribs, chopped beef sandwiches and peach cobbler. If you want to know "where real BBQ is smoked," check out The Smokehouse
, where your lunch comes straight off the pit and is sliced right in front of you. Sweet Yams Organic
offers dishes such as sesame ginger shrimp, blackened shrimp and chicken and lemon garlic shrimp, alongisde delicious vegetables, salads and vegan and gluten-free items.
The Lord's Kitchen specializes in burgers in a variety of sizes (up to 3 lbs.), hand-cut fries and onion rings. Tucker's Kozy Korner features jazz music, cocktails and a soul food menu that includes chicken and waffles, a ham hock sandwich and chicken-fried grits. Toro Taco Bar is an open-air taco bar offering freshly made frozen fruit drinks and Mexican-inspired bar snacks. It's a great place to quench your thirst with agave-based drinks and Mexican, South American and Texas craft beers. Dignowity Meats specializes in smoked meats sold by the pound, hand-crafted sandwiches and specialty sides.
Alamo Beer Company brews four beers: Alamo Golden Ale, Alamo Amber Lager, Alamo Pilsner and Alamo German Pale Ale. Visit their beer garden, beer hall and brewery, located just beneath the historic Hays Street Bridge. Big Hops, also at the Hays Street Bridge is a beer garden and dive bar serving "the best craft beer in San Antonio."
Find even more Eastside restaurants at sagesanantonio.org
The AT&T Center is the home of the NBA San Antonio Spurs, WNBA San Antonio Stars, AHL San Antonio Rampage and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. The event center also frequently hosts superstar concert performances.
The Alamodome is located next to Historic Sunset Station (a meticulously restored 1902 train depot that is now an event venue) and is a center for major sporting events, concerts and conventions. The Cameo Theatre, part of the Sunset Station complex was built in 1940 to serve the east side of San Antonio and featured a vaudeville stage and a movie screen. Musical greats who performed there included Louis Armstrong, B.B. King and Fats Domino. Today the Egyptian Art Deco theatre hosts events ranging from film and multimedia to plays, concerts and theme parties. The Carver Community Cultural Center, a few blocks away, is a historic pillar of the African-American community, providing artistic programs and presentations, community outreach activities and educational programs.
The Old San Antonio City Cemeteries Historic District is bordered by N. New Braunfels, E. Crockett, Nevada and Pine Streets. It covers 103 acres of 31 contiguous burial grounds established from 1853 to 1904. You'll discover numerous types of sculpture, statues, markers and monuments built from materials ranging from marble to wood.
Enjoy a day at Splashtown San Antonio, a waterpark designed for family fun, featuring more than 50 rides, a wave pool, dive-in movies, a restaurant and a covered picnic area.
The Salado Creek Greenway is part of a network of hike and bike trails circling the city. This 5.6-mile section begins at Jack White Park and continues south to Covington Park and beyond.
The Hays Street Bridge is a pedestrian bridge built by the Southern Pacific Railroad around the turn of the 20th century. The 1,400-foot-long bridge was renovated in 2010 to provide a recreation area for both the community and visitors, and as a bonus, it affords fantastic views for taking pictures and sometimes hosts yoga classes.
Fort Sam Houston Museum tells the story of the U.S. Army post, the birthplace of military aviation, from 1845 to present. The historic Fort Sam Quadrangle, where Geronimo was once held, is open to the public. The U.S. Army Medical Department Museum campus at Fort Sam Houston is east of the Quadrangle and covers seven acres. The complex includes the main museum building, a restored hospital train car and two pergolas, one of which contains modern wheeled ambulances and the other contains helicopters. The galleries and outdoor exhibit areas tell the more than 200-year history of the U.S. Army Medical Department, both in war and peace. Today, San Antonio is a leader in military medicine through a joint agreement by the Army and Air Force to create the San Antonio Military Health Systems (SAMHS), with the majority of the mission based at Form Sam Houston.
The Dixie Flag & Banner Company is a great place to get national, state or historic flags, plus flagpoles, hardware and more.
Yeya’s Antiques & Oddities owners describe the store as an “independent, creative antique, random objects, junk shop” where every aisle is unique.
Offbeat, unique or quirky finds:
Drive to Pittman-Sullivan Park to check out a 32-foot-tall, orange sculpture of an open hand that's dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. The sculpture, by Boston-based artist Douglas Kornfeld, is called Open Hand, Open Mind, Open Heart. Pittman-Sullivan Park serves as a community gathering place during the city’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. March and commemoration.
San Antonio artist Bill FitzGibbons, internationally known for his light installations, created Light Channels using hundreds of programmed LED lights running in a 20-minute cycle to colorfully illuminate two underpasses at Commerce St. and Houston St.