As a Helotes native, twice removed and back forever, I have grown quite fond of our revival and eclectic charm that once was. The traffic grows and the people crowd but Old Town Helotes continues to feel like home.
Just a short drive northwest from San Antonio—22 miles from city center to city limits—you’ll feel like you’ve transcended to a Hill Country oasis. As a visitor you can park on either end of what the locals call Old Town, and stroll to the other end on foot, bike, or pushing a stroller. Dining, wine spots, and cute bakery cafes all have outdoor dining availability, which makes the city a perfect-weather destination. Stay a few hours, the entire day, or book and overnight stay above a bakery where the smell of fresh roasted coffee is your alarm clock.
Let me be your guide.
For the Coffee Lover:
Texas Grounds Coffee Company
Fresh roasted coffee beans, dirty chai to die for, and cream puffs that make the world go round (trust me). The roaster sits in the back room of the quaint dining area. Look at it long enough and the lovely owners will come out and tell you all about it. You can grab and stroll with the daily offerings in the bakery case but you will need a table, two forks, and an empty stomach for their famous cream puffs. If you’re drooling at the thought of having that in your own room, away from the world for a night or two, they have the most adorable inn right upstairs. It boasts the perfect view for local parades, festivals, and post concerts at Floore’s Country Store. www.texasgroundscoffee.com
The Cracked Mug Coffee House
The perfect place to sip on a lavender latte while catching up on emails or finishing the book that’s been staring at you for months, the Cracked Mug is charming and smells like I imagine heaven to. They have coffee, breakfast, and lunch available for inside, outdoor, or to-go ordering. If the weather is nice, the best place to sit is in the vast outdoor courtyard that it shares with Wine 101. If your four-legged, leashed friend joins you, this is the perfect spot. www.crackedmug.com
For the Barbecue Lover:
You really can’t visit without trying some of the best barbecue in the area, even if you grab some when your belly is relieved from your morning indulgences. With staples including brisket and sausage, which are great, the outliers like brisket nachos and brisket grilled cheese are our favorites. If meat is not your thing, the coleslaw and mac and cheese are equally as mouthwatering. www.bdaddysbbq.com/
For the Music and Texas History Buffs:
Floore’s Country Store
Whether you go for a live show or just for a walk-through visit, Floore’s is an original Helotes history staple. Growing up I danced on my dad’s toes and chased cute boys around here, which is still true except I am dancing with my husband and chasing my cute son around these days. The pictures on the walls, the boots hanging from the ceilings, the old green truck outside, and the written messages on the bathroom walls are worth the visit to check out. www.liveatfloores.com/
For Retail Therapy Lovers:
There are shops and boutiques up and down Old Bandera Road, selling everything from candles to bicycles. There is something for everyone to enjoy, so while you check out leopard print blouses, bored spouses or friends can walk down to the hardware store or unique antique stores.
The Helotes Gallery
This is a newer spot that has quickly become one of my favorite places. Brilliant local artists round out the indoor spaces, with a wide price range and changing styles, there is always something new to discover. The outdoor space in front of the store is a garden of painted rocks to look at, create, and trade. My children visit regularly to swap out rocks. www.helotesgallery.com
For Date night, Girl’s Night and the In-Between:
Wine 101 and Tapas Bar
With great wine and shareable plates, this is our local spot for MNO and fast unplanned date nights. The outdoor patio is large enough to never feel crowded, even on the weekends. The wine bar hosts ladies nights, Wine Wednesdays, and specials nearly every day of the week. The menu also includes enough beer to satisfy those that do not love wine. Even before it was cool, we ordered the meat and cheese board to share for the perfect evening. www.wine101tx.com
I invite you all to share in the love I feel for my hometown.