The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.

We often hear about the talent San Antonio loses when young people move away for college or career opportunities. What we don’t hear about as much is the talent the city gains when people from the border move here for those same reasons. I grew up in the Rio Grande Valley and for many of us, San Antonio was the big city we aspired to move to and where we envisioned ourselves getting an education and building our careers.

After high school, I moved to San Antonio to study at Our Lady of the Lake University, where I quickly got caught up in the kind of trouble it’s easy to fall into when you’re away from home for the first time. But an ultimatum from my parents and a transfer to the University of the Incarnate Word set me back on the right path.

I was fortunate to learn alongside driven classmates in small classes where we could build relationships with each other and our professors. I made friends who I now consider part of my squad for life. Many of us are from outside San Antonio and came here to forge our own paths. Though we’ve graduated and started careers and families, we remain close and even live near each other in North Central San Antonio.

Since 2010, I have lived up and down Blanco Road in this part of town. This area is comfortable and safe and it reminds me of home. At first, especially living in apartments, it was difficult to get to know my neighbors and build connections. But I’ve gotten better at striking up conversations with neighbors and have gotten to know some great folks in my Churchill Estates neighborhood. It’s a diverse neighborhood where you’ll find older, retired people living next door to young families. 

  • Hardberger Park features a few playgrounds and other family-friendly recreational areas throughout.
  • Serna enjoys his regular order of two papa and chorizo tacos and one ham taco at the Las Palapas on Blanco Road Friday.
  • Patrons dine inside of WiseGuys-A Chicago Eatery, one of Serna's favorite spots.

Having Phil Hardberger Park within walking distance has definitely made me more active. When you’re out for a walk there, it’s not your typical stroll in the park. You really feel immersed in nature and forget that you’re in the middle of a big city. And now we’re blessed to have the Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge over Wurzbach Parkway. It’s the largest wildlife crossing in the U.S. and cameras have been set up on the bridge to record animals making use of the bridge. It’s encouraging to see investment in projects like this.

It’s also reassuring to see that street repairs get taken care of quickly. If there’s a pothole or a broken streetlight, it gets handled so it doesn’t become a bigger problem. However, the difference in the level of upkeep and investment between areas with apartment complexes and areas with single-family homes is definitely evident. Perhaps it’s due to a misconception about apartment living and socioeconomic status, but fewer businesses have been set up near areas with more apartments. But those of us who live or have lived in apartments are just as much a part of the community and contribute to its economy just as much. 

For someone who loves food and trying new restaurants, having options nearby is key. Some of my local favorites include Ito Ramen, one of the best ramen spots in town; WiseGuys for a good Philly cheesesteak; the best Las Palapas location is here; and you can’t go wrong with Ruthie’s for Mexican. In just this area between Blanco Road, West Avenue, Bitters Road, and U.S. Highway 281 there are so many excellent restaurants. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the owners over the years, and they are lovely people. San Antonio is an amazing city for foodies. We’ve not only shed the Tex-Mex-only image and embraced different cuisines but also have a lot of forward-thinking chefs making their marks on the food landscape. Not to mention San Antonio has been designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, something I love to brag about.

As much as I enjoy going out to try new restaurants around town, I also enjoy cooking at home and having my friends over for a good meal. I consider my UIW friends to be my second family, and it’s comforting to know that they’re nearby and we can have impromptu gatherings. My two specialties are fideo and lasagna. I love that I can call up my friends and say, “It’s lasagna night. You bring the garlic bread, and you bring the wine, and let’s have a family dinner.” 

There’s a lot to love about San Antonio and my Churchill Estates neighborhood, but having my UIW family here to make memories and share milestones is what truly makes it feel like home.

Alexis Serna

Alexis Serna loves exploring San Antonio's food scene and sharing his finds on Instagram. You can follow him @sanantoniomunchies.