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SW Aviator Feb/Mar 2001
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The Stinson Airfield Patio Cafe
San Antonio, Texas
Story and Photo by Irene Burnett

One of the pleasures of flying cross-country is visiting unfamiliar airports for fuel and food. One such stop on a recent Lakeland-Phoenix trip was at Stinson Municipal Airport in Texas. This historic airfield has the distinction of being the second oldest continuously operating general aviation airport in the country. Founded in the early 1900’s, it is named in honor of an entire family of early aviation pioneers – Jack, Katherine, Eddie, and Marjory Stinson – the famous “Flying Family.” Stinson Field (SSF) is the designated general aviation reliever airport for San Antonio, and is only six miles from the “Alamo” city.

We arrived just in time for lunch, and parked directly in front of the terminal building, which also houses the control tower. The Stinson Airfield Patio Cafe is located in the lobby of the 1930’s terminal building. Esther Fowler, new owner of the Cafe, greeted us. Esther is a San Antonio native who has spent the past fifteen years serving tourists in La Villita, an 1850’s residential settlement, now a popular shopping area, at the south end of San Antonio’s famous Riverwalk. This is Esther’s first venture into airport dining, and she is obviously enjoying the experience.

The menu at the Patio Cafe is a mix of Mexican and American cuisine, and I was delighted to hear that everything is made from scratch. We ordered a chalupa grande (beef, bean, and cheese) and a taco salad. We were not disappointed, the food is good. Favorites with local patrons are the enchilada plates, either cheese, beef or chicken, served with Spanish rice, refried or borracho beans, lettuce, tomato, and two homemade tortillas at $3.99 - $4.50; or the hamburger and fries at $3.50. Daily lunch specials are also available. The lunch rush lasts from noon until 2 p.m., and with seating for only 26 lucky diners, it does get crowded.

One of the niceties of dining at an airport is watching the airplanes. Well, unfortunately, the cafe is tucked away on the street side of the terminal building. However, the recent addition of six tables with umbrellas on the patio affords diners the opportunity to view the activities on the airfield.

There are three FBOs on the field. A pilot in the restaurant recommended Check Six Aviation to us, so we tied down on their ramp space and were provided with reasonably priced avgas and excellent service by Larry Carr, one of the owners. We decided to stay overnight to visit some of the sights in San Antonio, and generally check out the area. Check Six does provide a courtesy car for local usage, but we opted to rent an Enterprise car instead.

San Antonio has much to offer visitors: the Alamo, Riverwalk, Sea World, lots of golf courses, and a world class horseracing track. The Stinson Airfield also has an attraction. The Texas Air Museum is located on the north side of the airport. It contains a wealth of information regarding the history of aviation in Texas, as well as the Stinson Family’s operation at the airfield. Call the museum at 210-977-9885 or check their web site at for more information.

Before our departure the following day, we stopped by the cafe for breakfast, and an amiable young lady served us. Rose Marie, Esther’s daughter, was helping Mom out for a few days. My companion ordered the cheese enchilada plate and I ordered the bacon and egg plate. Our meals arrived promptly and both were a good buy. Breakfast items include huevos rancheros with bacon, chorizo, and egg for $3.50, and a cheese omelet, with ham or bacon or chorizo for $4.00. Each of these items is served with refried beans, potato, and two tortillas. Thirteen varieties of tacos run the gamut from bean taco at 90 cents to the potato, egg, and chorizo taco at $1.59. Everything on the menu is reasonably priced, and this is a cozy place to relax and enjoy good home cooking. After breakfast we were well satisfied and set off for home, adding yet another airport eatery to our list of places to revisit.
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The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publications and the staff neither assume any responsibility for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising fom it
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