mural at san antonio shops at blanco

San Antonio’s Shops at Blanco Roundabout

A Pleasant Surprise

I discovered the Shops at Blanco Roundabout at Beacon Hill by accident. I was looking for a well-known burger joint (shout-out to Chris Madrid’s!), but then kept on driving past Hildebrand Avenue on Blanco right into the Beacon Hill Neighborhood. And let me just say…..Um, cuuuute!

The neighborhood is one the earliest suburbial (not a real word) developments of San Antonio. Their neighborhood association has a pretty great historic write-up on Beacon Hill and the Alta Vista ‘hoods located here. The San Antonio electric trolley system helped influence the growth to the area as more folks used it to travel to and from the fabulous recreation area that is San Pedro Springs Park (more on that soon).

I wanted to find out when exactly this stretch of Blanco Road between Fulton and Hildebrand came to be so did some digging. Development began west of Blanco as of 1908, but east of Blanco wasn’t until 1920. Based on historic Sanborn Fire Insurance maps dating to around 1924, commercial buildings were built within the 1700 block of Blanco on either side. Storefronts with ‘concrete tile and curtain walls’ and brick facades as labeled, were the norm. So as soon as it developed into a neighborhood, this was an area primed for shoppity-shop-shops.

A Community of Shops

Starting at the Lynwood Avenue (where there’s parking!) traveling south, the shops extend to the Blanco Roundabout at Fulton Ave. It’s a really short-distance, so easily walkable. If you consider the expansiveness that is San Antonio, the intimacy of a cluster of shops that are genuinely local and home-grown is comforting. Think about neighbors and families running in and out of these shops for almost 90 years, if not longer. A few of the buildings within the blocks still date to the 1920s and 1930s, but they’ve had updates and rebuilds.

So it’s fitting that most of the shops along this half-mile stretch are antique shops with a few restaurants thrown-in. If you’re a sucker for mid-century furniture (honestly, who isn’t), you have to stop by San Antonio Furniture Finders. The owner is constantly bringing in new inventory and selling it quick over Instagram. Within that same building, House of History sits adjacent with more classic antique furnishings and decor. If you’re into woo-wooery, La Botanical la Caridad has a fantastic assortment of sage bundles. And I’m pretty sure if you ask nicely they can hook you up with a quick cura del ojo if you’ve been feeling some kinda bad.

UPDATE!: Keeping to the west side of the road after a historic gas station converted to a mechanic shop (been there a good while based on the Sanborn map) at Elsmere, you’ll find particular block of storefronts that’s seen its share of restaurants come and go. Fresh and bright-eyed after the pandemic, the So-Hill Cafe is still holding strong. Julia’s Bistro and Bar, right next door, is also thankfully continuing to provide a bit French cuisine in this neighborhood.

And taking the place of the White Dragon restaurant, the freshly minted Beacon Hill Market and Deli is serving up delicious sandwiches and cheese steaks with a legit deli. They’re also the owners and purveyors of Bexar Tonics, a home grown company of cocktail tonics for your at-home bartender. I’m betting they establish themselves as another neighborhood go-to for grub. And the mid-century gem Urban Goods Vintage Interiors from Hildebrand Avenue has expanded into the neighborhood with more inventory.

And next block over is my fave Karolina’s Antiques. With more than just antiques, their Fiesta inspired goods will always put you in a good mood. And the best part is, along with the other shops, they carry local artists and products. In fact, both Uriel and Anthony (the sensational siblings), along with Mom, create unique, colorful head-bands (concha ears!), earrings, hand bags, clutches, pillows, aprons…seriously I could keep going. And Anthony (theLemonAd) has his own art and prints to adorn your home and body. The team has also expanded the antique leg of their shop by opening another shop at the corner of Blanco and W Lynwood.

Karolina’s Antique shop in San Antonio

Local Fare, Local Vibes

You may think independent floral shops are a thing of the past and it seems like they are given there are fewer these days. But there are still a few and No. 9 Chocolates – Floral – Gifts is one of them. They just reopened after a hiatus and their gorgeously dark, moody arrangements have a luxurious feel and each is uniquely designed for any occasion. Not only that, they are a full-fledged gift shop for accessories, books, games, home decor, and yummy chocolates.

And just recently, a new coffee shop Bright, has nestled in between No. 9 Chcolates and Karolina’s. Totally recommend the Black Sesame Latte. And if you’re down for some swing dancing?? The shop will open up late night every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month and have an open dance night for anybody that wants to take a spin around the floor.

Spinning around the Blanco Roundabout you’ll notice a decorative steel obelisk know as ‘The Beacon’ marking the Beacon Hill neighborhood. The sculpture, completed by local artist Angel Rodriguez-Diaz, literally serves as a ‘beacon’ to Beacon Hill as it illuminates from the interior during the evening.

Once you take the quick turn-about you’ll find yourself at The Junction with the Clamp Light artist’s studio right next door. Soon after you’ll keep scoring with more of shops such as Pepper’s Antiques, Lolita’s Jewelry, and GG’s Emporium. Closing that block, is the Blanco Cafe. It has the usual staples as well as the classic Mexican Plate, a combo of cheese enchiladas with a puffy or crispy taco that always hits that spot.

In all, you can easily spend the whole morning, afternoon, or day here at the Blanco Roundabout at Beacon Hill. I highly recommend reading up on the history of this great neighborhood and of course visit all the shops. And if you can’t get your fill of antique shopping here at the Blanco Roundabout then I recommend you head on over to Hildebrand Avenue. Another glorious time-suck (in a good way) of vintage home furnishings.

Decorative steel obelisk know as ‘The Beacon’

What’s your favorite shop at Blanco Roundabout?

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One Comment

  1. I’m feeling like a local flower shop would be my favorite place to go if I visited Blanco Roundabout. I’m such a fan of flowers and plants in general, so supporting a shop in the community would be on my list of things to do! P

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