Texas Hill Country Resort Chef Cooks Up Thanksgiving Menu

Rosie Carbo's picture

Home cooks aren’t the only ones planning the annual Thanksgiving feast. Chef Jake Andrews of the newly opened SweetFire Kitchen restaurant at La Cantera Hill Country Resort offered a preview of his Thanksgiving menu recently.

Chef Jake Andrews of the newly opened SweetFire Kitchen restaurant at La Cantera Hill Country Resort offered a preview of his Thanksgiving menu recently.

“Our philosophy here at SweetFire is mainly home-style cuisine, which means that 98 percent of our food is made from scratch,” Andrews told a crowd of food journalists and bloggers based in and around San Antonio, Texas.

La Cantera Hill Country Resort is just a 15-minute drive from the city’s nerve center. The main draw is Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo), but the River Walk attracts hordes of visitors, especially for the annual after-Thanksgiving parade.

The Thanksgiving preview tasting menu featured a generous platter of giant, Poached Shrimp with red, homemade cocktail sauce and other condiments. A cheese board topped with scrumptious portions of select Charcuterie followed.

Poached shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce. From Texas Hill Country Resort Chef Cooks Up Thanksgiving Menu

Charcuterie and cheese board. From Sweetfire Kitchen, La Cantera Hotel Resort. Texas Hill Country Resort Chef Cooks Up Thanksgiving Menu

The Slow-Roasted Turkey with Pot of Gravy took center stage on the elaborately decorated dinner table. But smoked, Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream garnish could not be passed up. The main course was accompanied by Traditional Turkey Stuffing, Glazed Yams, Whipped Potatoes and Green Beans.

The seated dinner allowed food critics to sample an array of delicious, chef-prepared foods that make up the Thanksgiving menu. Another luscious plate that delighted food lovers was the Baby Gem Romaine Salad with Bacon, Local Cheddar & Croutons.   

Baby Gem Romaine Salad with Bacon, Local Cheddar & Croutons. SweetFire Kitchen restaurant at La Cantera Hill Country Resort

Homemade Pumpkin Pie topped with luscious whipped cream and Apple-Cranberry Tarts brought an end to a wonderful dinner that visitors are sure to love. Of course, this was just a preview of the Thanksgiving smorgasbord planned.

Pumpkin Pie! Texas Hill Country Resort Chef Cooks Up Thanksgiving Menu

The actual menu includes a Raw Bar with “Shucked Oysters on the Half Shell,” a Charcuterie and Cheese bar with “Duck Pastrami and house-made Tasso Ham,” a Salad Bar, Carving Station with “Brined and Smoked Prime Rib,” Hot Entrees, Action Station with made-to-order Spanish Paella and a splendid array of homemade desserts. There’s also going to be a Beverage Interactive Station.

Dessert - Texas Hill Country Resort Chef Cooks Up Thanksgiving Menu

Adults are $65 each and children ages 5 through 12 are $25 each. Children under age 4 dine for free. Reservations for SweetFire’s Thanksgiving buffet can be made through Open Table or by calling the concierge at (210) 558-6500. Reservations for eight or more can be made by calling the restaurant directly at (210) 558-2479.

Texas Hill Country Resort Chef Cooks Up Thanksgiving Menu

The evening menu offered the unparalleled opportunity to glimpse at two new infinity swimming pools, part of a multimillion dollar hotel renovation that began in October 2014 and required the resort to close temporarily.

In April, La Cantera Hill Country Resort reopened under Destination Hotels Collection, the new hotel management company selected by the resort’s owners, USAA Real Estate Company. Nestled atop 550 acres northwest of San Antonio, La Cantera has earned its place among luxurious resorts.

La Cantera Hill Country Resort, San Antonio, Texas

Property owners assembled a team of experienced professionals to oversee every detail of the new restaurants. In addition to Andrews, Carlo De Leon, La Cantera’s new Food and Beverage Director, was picked for the job. De Leon, with more than 15 years of experience gained at posh resorts in California and Virginia, is the key architect in re-imagining La Cantera as a culinary destination as well as a luxurious destination.   

Texas Hill Country Resort Chef Cooks Up Thanksgiving Menu

Team member John Zaner was picked as Director of Culinary Operations. Zaner was executive chef at the Ritz Carlton-Kapalua in Hawaii for 12 years. He will also help reposition the resort as a world-class destination. 

Executive Chef Robert Carr, with a stellar culinary reputation and Calin Taralunga, Director of Restaurants, round out the impressive new team, whose overall goal is surpass La Cantera’s past financial success. 

According to the Texas Comptroller’s office, the resort generated more than $9.5 million in taxable receipts during a six-month period starting in October and ending in March, before closing for massive renovation.

La Cantera’s natural limestone facade has a rugged, rustic flair that captivates those who choose to drive up the scenic hilly route. The resort, formerly a Westin property managed by Starwood Hotels, features nearly 500 luxurious guestrooms and well-appointed suites.  

La Cantera Hill Country Resort lobby

UNESCO recently declared San Antonio’s historic Spanish missions-including the Alamo-World Heritage Sites, which means the city is expecting an onslaught of international visitors. La Cantera Hill Country Resort is now more than just another option. 

La Cantera has more than 115,000 square feet of event space, including two large ballrooms and 28 meeting rooms. The San Antonio Grand Ballroom alone has a whopping 17,000 square feet of space and an outdoor terrace offering stunning views of the magnificent Texas Hill Country.

Another 10,000 square-foot ballroom is also available for bridal showers, weddings, graduations, birthdays, bar mitzvahs or any occasion. Two world-class golf courses await the avid golfer while non-golfers may choose to relax at the newly opened super spa.
In addition to SweetFire Kitchen, guests may choose to dine at the Primero Cantina, which offers casual dining amid elegant, “Texas-Inspired” cuisine. Just behind a mammoth painting of a Texas horse, visitors can try hand-crafted cocktails from the Sire Bar.

A mammoth-sized horse painting in the lobby of a Cantera Hill Country Resort

Around the corner from the massive lobby and down the hall, visitors can drop into Henrietta’s for a grab-and-go snack or a casual breakfast. In this cozy corner-eatery visitors can also buy unique Texas souvenirs to take home.
Aside from two infinity pools, La Cantera has four swimming pools. The resort also accommodates adults with children of all ages. So there’s a “kids-only” swimming pool on the property. New pool-side Cabanas make it easier for adults to keep their kids happy, too.

All pools are equipped with private Cabanas accommodating up to eight people. Cabanas are furnished with a flat-screen TV, a refrigerator, and optional bar service. La Cantera wait staff serves drinks from Topaz and Vista Grille, poolside bars.

Guests 21 or older looking for a truly adults-only experience should visit the “Club Level” on the 7th floor. A pass to this private area offers VIP complimentary valet parking, private elevator access, private check-in access, complimentary continental breakfast and a complimentary happy hour in the lounge.

Unforgettable culinary and luxurious experiences abound at this one-of-a-kind Texas resort, which offers free transportation from the resort to The Shops at La Cantera outdoor shopping complex, home to Neiman Marcus, Macy’s and other upscale retailers.

Situated at the bottom of the hilltop resort, next to Six Flags Fiesta Texas entertainment venue, The Shops at La Cantera also has top of the line restaurants such as the Cheesecake Factory and steakhouses to choose from. Guests can even take their children along, since there’s a kid’s playground.
With Thanksgiving looming-and Christmas and New Year’s Eve on the horizon as well-now is the time to make reservations to dine at the SweetFire Kitchen and vacation at one of Texas’ premiere resorts.

Online reservations may be obtained by calling (855) 499-2960 or visit www.lacanteraresort.com



Rosie Carbo is the Lifestyles Editor for Wandering Educators, and is a former newspaper reporter whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines nationwide. Some of those publications include People magazine, The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News. Some of her features were redistributed by The Associated Press early in her career as an award-winning Texas journalist.


All food photos courtesy and copyright La Cantera Hill Country Resort; all other photos courtesy and copyright Rosie Carbo.