Street view of Houston Street at Soledad Street Intersection facing west
| |

Downtown San Antonio: W Houston Street

I’m not sure if you’re like me but sometimes you just wanna go downtown. There’s a certain mood and vibe you get that’s a little bit different than the Pearl and Southtown. And as the pockets of delightful chill spots grow, one of my favorites is W Houston Street. I’ll be honest, I went down a rabbit hole of research when I started digging. There is obviously so much history along this street that I can’t even begin to scratch the surface. So know that I’ll likely be missing some info, but hopefully I can fill in some gaps in later posts as I keep fiddling through all the great history. 

W Houston Street

Based on old city surveys the street used to be called Callejon de Rivas. It was changed to Houston Street around the 1870s for obvious reasons (some dude named Sam Houston), but I haven’t figured out who Rivas is. My digging has just started, so I’m hoping I can find that one out. The street has always been one of the go to spots as it’s developed through time being the second most busy street in SA history next to Commerce (formally Alameda). It was also part of the old San Antonio trolley routes and if you’re up for a self-guided walking tour, you’ll find informative kiosks along it’s length from S. Alamo Street to Santa Rosa Street provided by the city.

Because there is so much history along this I’m focusing on the spots between St. Mary’s Street to the San Pedro Creek Culture Park. Sure, sure I know I’m missing a bunch east of here with the Gunter Hotel, the Majestic Theater, the Buckhorn Saloon and a mess of other stuff. But I’m partial to these blocks. At least for right now. From Hotel Valencia to the new Frost Bank, and one of my new favorite buildings at 244 W Houston (aka Sojourn), there is so much to take in and enjoy.

Street view from Houston Street Bridge facing east with Hotel Valencia in foreground
Texas Theater and Hotel Valencia

Hotels and Theaters

I love hotel bars and lobbies. Love them. There’s no shortage of awesome hotel bars (future post) you can go to sip and shoot the shiz at. Hotel Valencia is one of those hotels, and it’s riverside restaurant Acenar is a yummy option if the tummy is a-grumbling. The bar has a great almost hidden patio that is a couple of stories above the river but you can still enjoy the view without being all up on it. Built in 2002, its design was influenced by a 1898 former building at that corner designed by architect Alfred Giles thanks to George M. Maverick. The southwest corner still has its its limestone facade and includes one of the original San Antonio Conservation Society markers. However, the rest of the building was reconstructed in the Italian Mediterranean style with an interior that is more modern with terracotta ceilings and dark rich furnishings. 

Across the street is the beautifully ornate Texas Theater facade built in 1926 and was kept when the IBC Bank office towers were built in 1984, replacing its associated Texas Theater Building. From here, crossing the bridge that was originally built in 1851, that’s when you get into W Houston Street proper. Facing west, you’ll have the Embassy Suites to the south along the river and within it you’ll have the delicious Range restaurant. Another great spot to get some grub and a cocktail.

Ornate detail on the Rand Building and refreshments from Double Standard

The Rand and the Frosts

Just after crossing Soledad Street, the Rand Building (1913) stands tall overlooking a parking lot to the south. Once a department store called Wolff & Marx, Co. the eight-story beauty has almost delicate ornate detailing to admire from the street. But don’t stand out there too long, cuz you’ll get parched. It’s okay if you do though because you can saunter over to Double Standard and get you a solid double drink and not to mention delicious food. They have a GREAT happy hour and their $1 buck oysters and $3 beers NICE. 

Now we get to the Frosts. Old Frost Bank and new Frost Bank. Old Frost Bank was built in 1975 replacing Older Frost Bank, once called Houston Building. Some call it ugly, but it’s getting close to being ‘historic’ in age. That’s right ya’ll. Once it’s 2025, this building and all buildings from 1975 will be the new historic structures that conservationists and historians will have to consider. Yeah, I’m still trying to process that too. It’s now going to be City of San Antonio offices which is sweet for them given that they’ll have Legacy Park right across from them and Pinkerton’s Barbeque. Haven’t tried it yet but it’s on the list.

Building view of Frost Tower and Frost City Tower in San Antonio, Texas
The Frosts

As for the New Frost Tower, it fits. It just fits into the historic landscape because it’s not too much but still enough to lure you in. And lure you in it will, as the Paseo on Houston initiative brings in vendor pop-ups like the Last Chance SA market to its lighted promenade for the public to enjoy. The promenade extends the entire block from Flores Street to Camaron Street so you can stroll between the trees right toward the San Pedro Creek Culture Park. So basically, you have direct access from riverwalk  to… well, new riverwalk, or creekwalk on W Houston Street with lots of fun spots to enjoy along the way. Now i know you’re thinking I left out Sojourn right across the Frost Tower at the southeast corner of Houston Street and Camaron Street. And did I totally forget about the San Pedro Creek Culture Park itself? No, because there’s a post for that. But I didn’t forget about Sojourn Trading Co. either. That’s gonna be it’s own post ‘cuz it so darn cute!

Please let me know below if you got to visit any of the spots along W Houston Street and what were your favorites. Want me to dig further on any of the buildings? Let me know!

graphic of san anotnio w houston street

Similar Posts

One Comment

  1. I love reading about all the hidden gems and spots you should go to in different cities! Will be making sure to hit all of these when I visit San Antonio!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *