Day 2: Texas, Luling to San Antonio

March 31, 2021 • 11:00 am

Well, it’s a good thing I posted on the day before yesterday that I was going to eat at the City Market in Luling at 10 a.m.Tuesday, because I met two friends there: both readers of my website who traveled to the BBQ joint to surprise me. One came from near Houston, a four-hour drive, and the other from San Antonio, an hour away. You’ll see them shortly, though I will withhold names as I forgot to ask permission (it was okay to post photos, though).

I went to this place many years ago and pronounced it the best BBQ of any sort in America. I was thus worried that it wouldn’t be as good as I remembered, for there had been dark mutterings on Yelp and other sites that the brisket was sometimes dry.

I needn’t have worried, though.

Below: outside of the City Market in Luling. At 10 a.m. there was nobody there except a guy standing in front of the restaurant. As I walked in, he came up to me and said, “You look like a guy who likes ducks.” He then introduced himself as a reader of my website, and said he’d gotten up at 4 a.m. at his home north of Houston to meet me in Luling. (I had no warnings of this.) He presented me with four lovely miniature wooden ducks (one is in the sipping water posture we often see in our Botany Pond ducks). What a fantastic thing to give me! (I just found out via email that they were given to my friend 25 years ago by an Argentinian dentist.)

He asked if he could join me for a meaty breakfast and of course I agreed instantly. We walked inside this unprepossessing building, and could smell the BBQ instantly.

The inside. There was another guy, somewhat younger, standing right inside. I thought he worked there, and asked him how we ordered (it’s complicated there, as in many BBQ places: you order and pay for the meat in one place, and the drinks and desserts in another). It turned out that he was ANOTHER reader of this site, living an hour south in San Antone, and had independently decided to meet me.

So I got to have breakfast with two readers. How great of them to take the time to drive to Luling to say “hi”! I was very touched, and we had a nice chat. It’s a good thing I always do what I say I will, and at the time I say I’ll do it, or they might have missed me.

Ordering the meat in the back room. I had a sample of their specialities: brisket, pork ribs, and their famous sausage. I also had two slices of bread and a slice of raw onion. That’s all they have besides a pickle and a jalapeño pepper, but you can get beer, soda, tea, and banana pudding in the main room.

Below is my late breakfast (or early lunch): two pork ribs (superb) sitting atop a juicy (i.e., fatty) pair of brisket slices, with a sausage to the right and raw onion on the side. And, of course, sweet tea. The brisket, which I doused with the City Market’s homemade BBQ sauce, was part of a combination that still makes me think this is America’s best BBQ.

Meals are served on butcher paper, not plates, and you’re expected to eat with your hands, but they will give you a plastic knife or fork if you ask.

My newfound pals, neither of whom had eaten there before. They both became instant fans of the BBQ and both ordered some extra to take home. Guys, if you want me to give your names, email me.

The guy who brought me the ducks also brought his dog and his leash-trained cat, named Sagan (after Carl), to meet me. (He said they both travel well.) I got a good cat fix, petting Mr. Sagan. Note the liberal stickers on his car; he’s also a pro-masker and an atheist, so I’m surprised he’s still alive in Texas! (He’s not from Austin, a blue area.)

From Luling it was about an hour and 15 minutes south to San Antonio. I had three hours before I checked into my cheap motel, so I took a walk downtown to visit the area, the famous River Walk, and the Alamo.

I was pleasantly surprised by the old Art Deco architecture downtown, as well as by lots of original stores with their original signs, and many old theaters.

Some buildings (I know not what they are):


Front view of the building above;


Nowhere but in the South could a hotel bear this name:

An old Walgreen’s drugstore with an original sign:

And where do you find big hat stores any more? Here’s Paris Hatters. They specialize in cowboy hats like Stetsons, as this is cowboy country.

Just within a few blocks I found lots of old theaters with their original signs. Sadly, they’ve all been closed for a year.




An old original ticket booth in an abandoned theater. I’m reflected in the window.

The famous River Walk, built along the San Antonio River from the late 1960s through the late 1980s. It’s peaceful, with all the touristy stuff on the streets above, and you can take barge tours down the narrow river.

The River Walk also leads to the most famous building in Texas: the Alamo, It was originally a Spanish mission built in 1824 and called Misión San Antonio de Valero. Its grounds were quite extensive, and housed a whole community of priests and native Americans, who lived and worked on the grounds. What you see below is actually the church of that mission; much of the rest has been destroyed, especially in the great battle between Mexicans and American colonists in 1836.

You can take tours of the inside, but they were all booked up yesterday. I was happy enough just to see the famous facade.

The Battle of the Alamo lasted less than two weeks, from February 23 to March 6, 1836, as the Army of President General Antonio López de Santa Anna of Mexico besieged the structure and the Texans (who claimed the land for their Republic) and Tejanos inside.  On March 6, the Mexicans scaled the wall and slaughtered nearly everybody inside, including William B. Travis, James Bowie, who gave his name to the famous knife, and, of course, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.

The famous battle cry “Remember the Alamo” was used by Texas troops in the the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, when U.S. troops defeated the Mexican Army.

A cannon barrel from the Battle of the Alamo, placed on a reconstructed carriage.

A statue of William B. Travis, commander of the Republic of Texas and of the troops at the Alamo. He was killed in the battle; only a dozen people, mostly women and children, survived. The rest were killed on the spot by the Mexican troops or executed later.

Davy Crockett with his frontiersman garb and coonskin hat. (Yes, I had one when I was a kid because of the famous Disney television series.)

Davy has an eponymous hotel nearby.

A Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus; male) said hello at the Alamo.

25 thoughts on “Day 2: Texas, Luling to San Antonio

  1. I like San Antonio, especially the downtown area. I was there on business year before last, though, and Google maps did not like San Antonio. I got some of the goofiest directions I’ve ever seen, and the same with Uber paths.

  2. Nice to see the trees all out but they made me feel itchy. I’m getting allergies already with the new budding of trees here in the North.

  3. Very nice piece. I am trying to think of readers from Texas, maybe these are the silent type. My experience with San Antonio was late 1976. I spent about 6 weeks there in a small distribution center at Ft. Sam Huston. I was living in Dallas so I drove home on the weekends. Back and forth on I-35. The cheap hotel I stayed at was really old. Your room was actually a separate cottage. Really interest place. San Antonio has several military posts/bases in and around it. I think a large hospital at Fort Sam. Lackland AFB is a large Air Force Base mostly training. Everyone who joins the Air Force goes to Lackland for basic training. Some of the other facilities have been closed over the years such as Randolph AFB and Kelly Field.

    1. Been a long time for me as well; been there a few times for the San Antonio Breast Cancer Congress and to give a lecture at the Medical Center when Bill McGuire was amongst the leaders in the field. Did the usual, River Walk, Alamo, etc., and decided that it is a nice place to visit, but wouldn’t want to live there 🙂

  4. I am following your BBQ visits closely as I hope to get back to Texas if this virus ever dies down. I have had some great BBQ in the state, but also have run into some really bad places.

    Near the Alamo is the Menger Hotel, a historic hotel owned by the same people who own the Crockett Hotel.Teddy Roosevelt recruited Rough Riders at the hotel. Worth a brief visit and maybe get a drink in the bar.

    If you tire of BBQ, if that is possible, Mi Tierra is a decent Tex-Mex place

  5. You don’t want to overlook another of the semi-official state dishes, chicken-fried steak, an indifferent cut from a steer pounded into tenderness and thereafter battered, deep-fried, and covered from head to toe in cream gravy. A typical Texas rotation would take you from chicken-fried to barbecue to Tex-Mex to catfish (with hush puppies and fried okra on the side). Shiner Bock should accompany it all.

  6. “The famous River Walk, built along the San Antonio River from the late 1960s through the late 1980s.” I spent several summers in San Antonio, visiting my grandmother, in the late ’40’s, early 50’s. [Pre-air-conditioning. You want air conditioning? Go to Joske’s or the movies.] The river walk was there then. Actually, it was more interesting back then, with decrepit old buildings backing up to the river. All nice and neat last time I visited about a decade ago. And a little googling confirmed my memory: it started as a WPA project in the late 1930’s.
    And the war cry “Remember Goliad, remember the Alamo” was used at the battle of San Jacinto, which won Texas independence in 1836.

  7. I never owned a coonskin hat but I did have a copy of the record ‘ Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier ‘. Would have been ’54 / ’55, a 78rpm. I can’t remember who the singer was. It was almost certainly the first record I ever bought, and with my own pocket money.

  8. After 22 years in the Air Force, I retired in Schertz a few minutes north east of San Antonio (my wife’s parents lived there). We often went to City Market for BBQ; in fact we took a suitcase of sausages back to the Azores after a visit to see the in-laws. In fact Luling sausage (as we call them) made it to Puyallup, Washington and Washington D.C.. Yeah, we love City Market; best BBQ ever.

  9. Those BBQ joints look like lots of fun…especially eating all that delicious food with no utensils! I think I’d have to do beer instead of tea though; unless it’s 10am! LOL!

  10. The Mexican leader at the Battle of the Alamo, General Antonio de López de Santa Anna is a fascinating character.

    He has the unique distinction of being head of state of the same country on eleven occasions (once, for just a fortnight).

    His fancy wooden leg (worth $1,300 back in 1847!) was taken by the victorious Americans in the Battle of Cerro Gordo and is in the Illinois State Military Museum, while his cheaper spare peg-leg was used as a baseball bat by General Abner Doubleday and is on display in the Oglesby Mansion Museum in Decatur, Georgia.

    Yet another of Santa Anna’s claims to fame is that through his habit of chewing chicle gum, whilst in exile in New York, he introduced American inventor Thomas Adams to the substance. Adams bought a ton of the stuff from Santa Anna, which he hoped would be a cheap substitute for rubber. That project failed, but by adding sugar to it Adams founded the chewing gum industry – his company later merged with Wrigley’s, which in 2006 had a turnover of $4.6 billion…

  11. I was born in Australia 13,000km (8000 miles) from San Antonio but I too had a coonskin hat when I was a kid. Such was the reach of American culture.

  12. Sagan is beautiful. I love cats with lots of white. Real white hair, not pink skin that we have and call it white. I’m a painter. I’ve never seen white skin…only white bones, even dead skin isn’t quite “white” is it?

  13. Color me jealous of your trip there. I’m not a big meat eater but I do like BBQ from time to time and the “BBQ porn” you post makes me damn hungry.
    Nice you could meet the readers (also possible in NYC though I can’t vouch for our BBQ) however I’m amazed your friend could make his cat happy and not insane in the car. All the best. keep eating and posting cowboy,

  14. Really missing out if you have not yet made it to Diamond A Goss BBQ & Convenient/Gas Store in Belmont, Texas!! It is a unique, one of a kind excellent experience!! So many homemade goodies to choose from, fresh homemade desserts made daily, smoked jalapeño poppers to name a few…. you will not find better BBQ anywhere!! 5 star, the employees are all friendly and the bathrooms are rated the cleanest in the county of Gonzales!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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