Mardi Gras in New Orleans may have its perks, but there’s an underrated festival that has managed to stay under the radar on the parade circuit for years—Fiesta San Antonio.
The event first started in 1891 as a parade in honor of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. Since then, it has evolved into a huge celebration of the many diverse cultures of Alamo City.
And when it comes to their parties, don’t mess with Texans. These folks don’t mess around—some 3.5 million revelers enjoy the 10-day festival each year! From parades and performances to sporting events and fashion (check out the dazzling dresses worn by Fiesta queens), Fiesta goes big. Texas big.
Our favorite part of the whole charade? The food. Whether it’s fried, filleted, baked or broiled, the festival fare is delicious with a unique, south-of-the-border stamp.
We looked to Diana Barrios Trevino of the Barrios family—the family and restaurant group synonymous with traditional local cuisine—for the full low down on Fiesta’s treats and sweets. Drool over her recipes below, and read on for our interview with Diana.
What is your favorite part about Fiesta?
The food, of course! You get the opportunity to sample cuisines of many different cultures and learn about each along the way. I also love the Texas Cavalier River Parade where local “royalty” parade on huge floats down the San Antonio Riverwalk, tossing beads and medals to thousands of spectators.
How does Los Barrios celebrate Fiesta?
Well, Los Barrios is a fiesta every single day, so we just keep on serving up the great food and frozen margaritas! We’re also the venue for the Fiesta Hat Party and actually help judge the contest.
When did you first fall in love with cooking?
Being raised by a mom who cooked daily was the beginning of the love affair. She cooked all of my father’s favorite recipes after learning them from his mother. I was nine when my mom bought her first restaurant, and I loved to be there. I learned so much from her.
What is your favorite Mexican dish?
That’s a tough one, because I have so many! I love chiles rellenos (stuffed chilies) and fideo con albondigas (noodles with meatballs) and any Mexican breakfast.
Why do you love San Antonio? What is your favorite part about the city?
San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the U.S., yet it still feels like a small city. You run into friends or family everywhere you go. There are amazing historical sites, and a stroll along the San Antonio Riverwalk is an absolute must! You can’t come to town without visiting the historic Pearl Brewery complex that is home to the Culinary Institute of America, which has been described as the culinary crossroads of the Americas.
We always ask: What would we find in your Target shopping cart?
A little bit of everything ends up in my cart, from produce to dairy to my favorite items for every room in our house. It’s funny—my family actually has a Sunday morning Target tradition. It’s the day I read the newspaper at home, and one of the first things I look for is the weekly Target ad. The entire family will circle what they want or need, so I’ll pick it up on my next trip. If my youngest son is with me, you can bet that we’ll bring home a new game for his Wii!