Creative chefs and a close-knit group of shop owners have tapped in to the legacy of Pearl Brewery, one of Texas’s greatest breweries, to forge a cultural hub that’s bringing new life and new ideas to the Alamo City.

When the 23-acre Pearl Brewing Company complex closed in 2001, it marked the end of a spirited, 118-year era in San Antonio. Plans quickly took shape to transform the complex into Pearl, a cultural and economic end cap for the River Walk a mile north of downtown and just under two miles north of Hotel Valencia Riverwalk. The vision wasn’t fully realized, though, until its restaurant scene exploded around 2013 – seven years after the first commercial tenant moved in.

“The first few years almost killed me,” says Marla Ross, who moved her then-35-year-old “pueblo chic” clothing shop, Adelante Boutique, to Pearl in 2010 because she was enticed by the area’s promise. “It wasn’t until more restaurants started opening that the area’s cool factor finally reached the masses.”

Today, Pearl features 15 independent restaurants and breweries (including renowned chef Andrew Weissman’s five-star Il Sogno Osteria), the Culinary Institute of America’s third US campus, 13 locally owned shops, more than 300 apartments, and eight commercial offices. Here are some of the standouts of things to do, eat, buy, and see that give Pearl a distinctly local cultural flavor.


Pearl District

Photo courtesy of Robert J. Lema

Lick Honest Ice Creams Horchata? Goat cheese, thyme, and honey? There’s nothing plain about this shop’s 20-plus flavors, where even classic standbys, like vanilla, get an extra kick from Hill Country ingredients.

The Granary A mere six months after opening in 2012 in the former home of Pearl Brewing Company’s brewmaster, Esquire declared this craft brewery and eatery “the future of barbecue.”

Southerleigh This 15-barrel microbrewery and “elevated comfort food”-slinging gastropub added another chapter to Pearl’s brewing tradition when it opened in 2015.

Bakery Lorraine This classic French patisserie’s buttery signature is its flavored macarons (good luck eating just one), but imaginative breakfast sandwiches and lunch fare make it far more than merely a sweet tooth fix.

Cured Chef Steve McHugh skips barbecue country’s thick sauces in favor of meticulously aged flavors in this celebrated palace of meat and charcuterie inside Pearl Brewery’s renovated 1904 administration building.


Pearl District

Photo courtesy of Jason Risner Photography

Dos Carolinas Designer Caroline Matthews’s bespoke guayabera shirts have been giving San Antonians custom hand-sewn siestas from uncomfortable button-downs since 1987.

Roo & Me Handmade onesies, shirts, outfits, toys, and accessories – plus store cat Roo – add a level of fun and playfulness to this trendy boutique, which specializes in baby and children’s clothing.


Échale! Latino Music Estyles From Memorial Day weekend through September, this all-ages weekly block party brings truckloads of Latin flair, national touring musicians, food, and art to the Pearl Amphitheatre.

Bike World Pearl’s architecture and San Antonio’s Spanish missions are among the must-sees within easy reach on guided tours from this full-service shop.

Stay with us:

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk

tagged in San Antonio