Meet the mermaids (yes, mermaids) at a San Antonio Aquarium – Texas Monthly – Advice Eating

In the Texas Monthly Recommends series Texas Monthly Writers, editors, photographers and producers offer their latest cultural discoveries from the great state of Texas.

A few years ago, my now eight-year-old daughter started writing non-fiction. She brought me a stack of printer paper and asked me to make a binding, then set to work filling the pages with reverse lower case letters and (pretty impressive in my opinion) illustrations. The COVID-19 pandemic — which resulted in a remote kindergarten and an abrupt end to extracurricular activities — accelerated its pace, and as the months went by I noticed a trend. Her favorite protagonists were mermaids: enchanted alien mermaids, wish-granting mermaids, brother-sister mermaids moving away from home (major pandemic sentiment). One of her stories grew into a series and then a full-scale — read: backyard — production, in which she cast her two younger siblings, titled “Mermaids of the Lost.”

This weekend, my little prodigy (and yours!) may meet their muse when Sea Life San Antonio hosts dive shows and meets mermaids. Mermaids will dive into the aquarium’s 160,000-gallon ocean tunnel, interact with children by giving high-fives, blowing bubbles and giving “hugs” through the glass, according to Sea Life staff. Over the next two weekends, May 6-8 and May 13-15, guests can see the mermaids swimming with marine life – including sharks, rays and sea turtles – and then snap a photo with them on land. The performances are from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Meet and greets run from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Both are included in the price of admission, which starts at $25.99 these weekends.

—Sandi Villarreal, deputy editor, Digital

Chow on oh so many tacos

Whisper the word “tacos,” and the Texans shout and rally. They’ve done it in larger numbers every year at Taco Fest: Music y Más, another reason to visit San Antonio. Maybe that’s because tacos are the perfect dish for food festivals — they gained popularity early on pushesor street stalls.

Puestos will abound at this year’s Taco Fest, the largest yet, which will showcase the best tacos from San Antonio and beyond. The big taquiza (taco party) starts at noon on May 14th in Travis Park and lasts until 11pm. That’s a lot of tacos! Local favorites like Chela’s Tacos and Carnitas Don Raúl are served alongside newcomers and low-key establishments like Ay Que Rico, Stixs & Stone and Mi Frijoles Catering.

Armando “Mando” Vera of Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que in Brownsville will make a rare appearance outside of the Rio Grande Valley. Vera, the owner of the only Texas restaurant allowed to put Barbacoa de Cabeza in the pit, will be giving a cooking demonstration on one of the stages set up for entertainment (both culinary and musical). Of course, no Alamo City taco festival would be complete without a controversial panel discussing the merits and rivalry between Austin and San Antonio tacos.

General admission for early birds is $20, while VIP access (which includes taco and drink tickets, plus free chips and salsa) is $70. Children under the age of ten have free entry. Best of all, each vendor has committed to selling at least one $2 taco. Tickets are available at tacocapitaloftheworld.com.

José R. Ralat, Taco Editor

Spend Mother’s Day in the lavender fields

Mother’s Day is fast approaching and Chappell Hill Lavender Farm, located about thirteen miles northeast of Brenham, is celebrating mothers with a Spring Festival on Saturday. From 9:00 am, the farm will be dotted with vendors, flower stampers, plants for sale, a food truck and even a painting class (from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm) for the whole family. Grab a glass of lavender lemonade and spend the day exploring the farm’s two dozen acres—be sure to check out the pond and gazebo—while enjoying the aromatic lavender all around you.

If you can’t make it this weekend, don’t worry. The farm is open to the public until November. You still have months to get your family and friends in the car, head to Chappell Hill, and pick your own lavender bouquets. To complete the trip, make a stop at the original Blue Bell Creameries, where you’ll find, in my humble opinion, the best ice cream in Texas.

Jacqueline Knox, editorial intern

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