Category Archives: Drinking

Best Brunch: Tre Downtown

Free valet, the biggest and oldest yellow lab mix you will ever see, dollar mimosas, and food by Jason Dady. What more could you really ask for in a brunch? Seriously, though, I am curious. What more? NOTHING MORE.

A post about brunch at Tre Trattoria Downtown has been a long time coming, folks. I have dutifully done my research, visiting this fine establishment with ladies and gents, parents, a classy bachelorette party… you get the idea. After having tried close to everything on the menu, I now must deliver the following message: GO THERE FOR BRUNCH. That’s really all you need to know, but feel free to let me convince you by continuing to read.

The food. You really can’t go wrong, but I’ll share some notes on my top three (actually four because there’s a tie for number one… always a good sign).

  • Number three: Creamy Marscapone Polenta. As the name indicates, it’s a rich, creamy, tomato-y polenta (definition: slow cooked cornmeal) with Italian sausage and a fried egg. Doesn’t a fried egg on top make everything better?
  • Number two: Goat Cheese, Pistachio and Balsalmic Cipollini pizza. Just the right mix of sweet and salty, this pizza is potentially large enough to take some home for post brunch snackin’.
  • And tied for first place: Pan Seared Gnocchi and Crispy Duck Confit. I love the gnocchi best in the creamy gorgonzola sauce, but if red is your thing there’s a San Marzano tomato option. The pan seared potato dumplings are beautiful, soft, and too delicious to share. As for the Crispy Duck Confit, this stack of corn, sweet potato, and duck confit (definition: duck that’s been slowly cooked in its own fat; translation: falling-apart tender and ridiculously flavorful), with a fried egg on top will definitely inspire entrée envy among your fellow brunchers, so eat quickly. Taking this dish and the DUK Truck into account, it’s safe to say that ducks should fear Jason Dady.

Crispy Duck Confit

Pan Seared Gnocchi

The booze.  Mimosas! Get your first two for one single dollar each. You have your choice of several variations (classic, Bellini, pomegranate, etc.), but my favorite (meaning it’s your favorite, too, right?) is the Tropic Thunder with pineapple, OJ, and a kick of Tabasco. Always delightful and sometimes makes me cough.

Tre Mimosa. Holla fo a dolla.

The scene. Located next to the Fairmount Hotel at 401 South Alamo, Tre’s downtown location is beautiful, spacious, and boasts plenty of windows for observing the two Occupy Hemisfair Park protesters (three on a good day). The park is also nice to look at. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday runs from 10am to 3pm and is equally well-suited for a midmorning nosh with friends, parents, out-of-towners, significant others, or by yourself. An added bonus: as you walk through the hotel lobby into Tre, you’ll get to meet The Fairmount’s Director of Pet Relations, Luke, an ancient, sweet, and gigantic lab mix. Yes, he has his own business cards.

Any questions? Here’s Tre Trattoria on Facebook and Twitter. See you there!

Tre Trattoria Downtown on Urbanspoon

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Riverwalk Record-Breaker

Imagine for a moment that you are a visitor to San Antonio. You are a greenhorn, an amateur, a tenderfoot, if you will; one who is unaware of the rich offerings of food, drink, and activity that the Alamo city has to offer. What are the first images your neophyte brain conjures at the words, “San Antonio”? The Alamo? The Riverwalk? Ripley’s Believe it or Not in Alamo Plaza?

First of all, I do love Texas and Texas history, so please visit the Alamo, but don’t let your tour stop there. Secondly, the Riverwalk has too many mediocre, overpriced Tex-Mex restaurants for my taste, although there are some notable exceptions. And finally, no one ever needs to pay money to see (spoiler alert) a terrifying wax replica of Sarah Jessica Parker. Ever.

While I typically try and steer natives and newbies alike towards more interesting and less stereotypical destinations in the city than those mentioned above, it’s time for me to give credit where credit is due and recognize a true gem on the Riverwalk. A diamond among the shops filled with taxidermied cowboy armadillos, isn’t that how the saying goes? No?

Friends, let me introduce you to The Esquire Tavern.

The Esquire exudes a vibe that I like to describe as a little bit Don Draper and a little bit Clint Eastwood. Which, if it’s not obvious, is a HUGE compliment. The Esquire is dark inside, making it at once mysterious, effortlessly cool, swanky, and steeped in history. And the bar, oh the bar. Stretching over one hundred feet long, The Esquire boasts the longest wooden bar in Texas. With both intimate booths and a larger open area for tables, The Esquire is perfect for a romantic evening but also willing and easily able to accomodate large parties (I was there with 20 of my closest friends last weekend) and even small wedding receptions.

The Esquire’s list of cocktails is extensive and hellafancy. I have not tried anywhere near most of them, but personal favorites include the Oaxaca Mule (mezcal, lime, ginger beer), the Pinky Swear (rye whiskey, grapefruit & lemon juice, pink peppercorn simple syrup, topped off with a local IPA), and a seasonal drink you definitely should enjoy right now, Too Tall for Fall. My advice? Ask your server for a recommendation based on what liquor you prefer, and then try a different drink or two each time you go.

The exceptional quality of fare at The Esquire doesn’t stop at drinks. The food is absolutely worth every penny you are going to pay for downtown parking. First, the appetizers: fried pickles, chili salt fries, and (from what I’ve heard) deviled eggs are all excellent introductions to your meal. For a main course, my top picks are the sirloin cheeseburger (go for Gouda cheese on it) and bison burger. Right now, you can get seasonal showstoppers like meatloaf (when was the last time you ordered meatloaf in a restaurant that wasn’t Luby’s? Probably never.) and pork belly with Brussels sprouts (!!!). And finally, a dessert you should try: the snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich. I shouldn’t have to explain why you need to sample that one.

Other things to note: their ketchup is homemade, the aioli served with fries and on other dishes is delicious and interesting, the hamburger buns are smallish, crunchy, and quite tasty, and the outside seating affords an excellent view of the river. (On one visit, while seated on the far left side of the balcony at a proud little table all by itself, sipping on my Ender’s Game cocktail with a handsome man, I had the great fortune of witnessing an exasperated river barge operator attempt to remove an intoxicated and belligerent man from the boat. Awesome.)

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the to-go boxes are compostable. I love that, because styrofoam is for chumps and composting is the future. You heard it here first.

Well done, Esquire Tavern!

The Esquire Tavern on Urbanspoon

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A Feast Fit for King William

Last Friday night, after a solid Howl at the Moon happy hour where we maxed our credit cards and got kicked out of the bar, we hit the boulevard and headed down to First Friday in Southtown. The first stop, naturally, was the Blue Star Brewing Co. for some post-Howl grub. It was a great idea. So great, in fact, that everyone else in the city had the same idea. Meaning the wait was over an hour. After signing in with the hosts, perusing the subtly shocking exhibit by John Webb titled “Bodies of Work” (spoiler alert: bodies. Er, body parts. Private ones.) at the  Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, and buying sausage on a stick in the parking lot, the wait was STILL an hour. Person whose name was after mine in the queue: you’re welcome. I left.

A short stroll north on South Alamo led me to stumble upon something bright, shiny, extremely trendy, and brand spankin’ new: FEAST. Open just since September, Feast in King William by Chef Stefan Bowers offers small fancy plates and royally rad cocktails. Also – BIG NEWS – Sunday brunch at Feast is slated to begin THIS SUNDAY, folks. That means you could be one of the first to try it, AND, even better, you might see me there.

So, let’s talk food. On their dinner menu, noshables are descriptively categorized as Hot, Chilled, Grilled, Crispy, Melted, or Mains. Did I mention how trendy this place is? I’ll hit you with my thoughts on items from a couple of categories. If you have a hankerin’ for Hot (but not too weird), try out the Spice Barbacoa. Served on a long, skinny, and very chic rectangular plate, you’ll likely drip barbacoa juice on the table and look like a fool. So maybe ask for a small round plate. The very yummy barbacoa is complemented by a garlic yogurt and comes served in lettuce wraps. These are great to share with the table, but also work as an entrée if you split one or two other small plates. In the Crispy section, while the Fried Calamari wasn’t anything to write home about, it earned some points with me because there was not a tentacle in sight. (I love creatures of the sea, but I don’t necessarily want to see them on my plate looking almost the same as when they are still kickin’ it in the sea, you know what I mean?) The adult chicken fingers are good, but even better is the coriander cream that accompanies them. Moving on to Melted, the Stuffed Grape Leaves were QUITE tasty. Filled with goat cheese, they’re a far cry from your typical Greek dolma, but very flavorful and rich. I’ll definitely get these puppies again. Finally, let’s talk Jack Cheese Mac: a little bit creamy, a little bit crunchy, Feast has successfully made it cool for humans over the age of 6 to order mac and cheese.

The ambiance of Feast is (have I mentioned yet?) VERY HIP. And I’m not just talking minimalist-menu-with-one-and-two-digit-prices-and-no-decimals-hip; no, I mean the degree of hip that requires clear chairs, sparkly modern chandeliers, model-like waiters, oddly shaped plates, and thumping music fit for a club. Oh, and fiber optic hanging light balls outside. Yes, FIBER OPTIC! Food-wise, Feast would be a great place to go with a small group so you could sample lots of menu items. Vibe-wise, you should take (a) anyone who thinks they’re cool to prove to them that, no, they’re not, or (b) anyone whose car has a bumper sticker that says Keep San Antonio Lame.

Feast is for sure a needed and very unique addition to the ‘hood. As evidenced by my affinity for hot dogs and the fact that I accidentally wore Converse into Feast (oops?), I’m perhaps not quite as trendy as their target audience. But believe you me, as those Brussels sprouts on the menu that I have yet to try are my witness, I plan on faking it from time to time.

Photo cred to my dear friend, Ben H.

Feast on Urbanspoon

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Lovin’ on El Monty

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, in the site of the Tower of the Americas and the internets, to celebrate the holy matrimony of the constantly changing and the consistently delicious; the familiar and the unusual; the retrofunk vibe and the distinctly San Antonio feel. I present to you, kind people, The Monterey.

What can I say about The Monterey. I’ll start with this: it is currently my favorite restaurant in this city. Yeah. I’ll give you a moment to consider the gravity of that statement.

Right, so, The Monterey, conveniently located on South St. Mary’s, is a gastropub with indoor and outdoor seating, a constantly rotating (and totally rad) food menu, an expansive beer and wine selection, and an atmosphere that says, in the absolute best of ways, Come! Sit in my perfectly xeriscaped patio garden, drink this obscure beer, and have some pig head torchon! Or a grilled cheese? Or turnips and foie gras? Green curry shrimp and plantains? Fried BBQ chicken?! Now, let’s compare our interesting tattoos.

I’ll pause for some definitions.

  • Retrofunk: origin – me. Made it up. Definition – a hip and trendy yet comfortable atmosphere with eclectic and arguably retro décor, including but not limited to elements such as patio lights, bright colors, classic cars, unisex bathrooms (puzzling to newcomers.. it’s ok, use either one) and ironic/scary decorations.
  • Xeriscaping: Environmentally responsible landscaping that uses drought hardy and bodacious desert plants. Alternatively, growing a lawn on your roof or out of your chimney. (Not necessarily that last part.)
  • Turnips: Please don’t “turnip” your nose at me. Valentine, be mine!

The skinny on the food is that it’s all kind of unusual, if you couldn’t tell by the sound of their menu, but it is ALL tasty, tasty to the max. And if something sounds normal, be advised that the creative geniuses of El Monty’s kitchen have probably put a weird (BUT DELICIOUS) spin on it. You can always ask the well informed and friendly staff for a description of a menu item, or for a recommendation.

…OR YOU CAN ASK ME! I’ll tell you right now that anything with their crystal Hollandaise sauce is amazing, the expensive cheese omelette and French toast are ridiculous good, and  the corn with yogurt and grilled cheese sandwich both are fantastic. But my numero uno favorite thing I’ve tried here is….

The BRUSSELS SPROUTS. Seriously. Mind blowing. I didn’t even know that I like Brussels sprouts. I don’t think I would in any other situation. They’re not in season right now and consequently not on the menu, but I’m biding my time and hoping they come back soon. My only bad experience at The Monterey was the time I tried to look smarter than I actually am by ordering La Cigarrella Manzanilla Sherry. To be fair, this unfortunate situation was entirely my fault, as the kind server warned me that sherry is awful (in more legitimate words). I didn’t know a damn thing about sherry but obviously pretended that I did and ordered it. REGRET! AVOID! Unless, of course, you’re classier than me and enjoy drinking something that tastes like a dangerous household cleaner.

Anywho, follow them on Twitter, check them out on Facebook, and go see them in person. ASAP!

The Monterey on Urbanspoon

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SOL Food in the Alamo City

Here’s a riddle for ya.

Two trains leave different cities heading toward each other at different speeds. When and where do they meet?

Come on, this is an easy one.

OK, so one train is coming from Houston and the other is coming from El Paso. Oh, except they aren’t trains, they’re cars. Very dirty cars. And the drivers only eat organic food, and one of them has a basket of dirty clothes in the back of her car.

Now with that, tell me: where are they going to meet? (I’ll let you off the hook about when they meet.)

Or how about this: where SHOULD they meet??

DING DING DING, the answer is: The Cove! (And they’re on Facebook and Twitter, too.) Are you confused about the laundry and dirty cars? Let me explain. Adjacent to this funky, SOL (sustainable, local, and organic) food restaurant, one finds both a laundromat and carwash. So good.

But let’s talk about the FOODSTUFFS, y’all. Since April 2001, The Cove has been cooking up grass-fed, non-hydrogenated, totally organic, legitimately local (all from God’s favorite state, Texas), and definitively delicious food for omnivore, vegetarian, and locavore consumption. (Locavore – The Current taught me that one.) You won’t find high-fructose corn syrup sodas here, either, folks; they’re made with pure, wholesome sugar. Personal favorites from the menu include the shrimp tacos, “Lisa’s Special” fish tacos, and the Texas Burger. And the 09’er Burger, which, to me, though very delicious, is a real sinus-opener. Which is to say, PRETTY DANG HOT. Furthermore, my own policy is to get sweet potato fries in large quantities whenever possible, so I should mention those, too. And the menu even features a good selection of vegetarian and gluten free options !

They’re closed on Monday, but open late-ish all other nights (11p or 12p, with the exception of Sunday, 6p). There’s live music every night that they’re open, which you can see here, indoor and outdoor seating, and areas for the little grubby ones to run around and make grubby little friends. Lastly, the bar is equipped with wines and lots’o’beers, bottled and on tap, and offers frequent (nearly weekly) wine or beer tastings.

If this were my blog, I’d say that The Cove is a great place for large and small groups, and perhaps one of the best places to bring friends who claim that (a) Austin is the only cool city in the state and (b) San Antonio is boring and unhealthy. And hey, this is my blog, so I’m going to say it. BAM.

So there you have it. The Cove. Give it a spin! …cycle. Laundromat. See what I did there?

Cove on Urbanspoon

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Feeling Friendly?

Hey, friends. Forgive me for being a little Southtown-centric lately, but there is just so much down here you need to know about! Today, we learn about the friendliest place in the 210: The Friendly Spot Ice House on South Alamo.

One of my favorite places to grab a beer, The Friendly Spot is absolutely every bit as friendly as its name suggets. This outdoor ice house offers over 180 beers (24 on tap), cider, wine, sangria, micheladas, AND things to nosh, including burgers, tamales, nachos, guac and chips and quesadillas. Think we hit all the food groups? No? Well, ok.  The Friendly Spot, open daily til midnight, is great for a group or a pair and has specials every night, notably Tecate Bucket Tuesdays, $2 Shiner Thursdays (a.k.a. tonight!), and Friendly Sunday Funday featuring $2 mimosas. On Wednesdays you can catch an outdoor movie, and weekend nights always draw a healthy crowd. Check out The Friendly Spot’s Facebook or Twitter (which are both updated frequently, kudos to you, T.F.S. staff!) for the daily specials and other exciting happenings.

Here’s something else pretty rad: The Friendly Spot short film competition. You can read about it on their website, but the gist of it is this: 8 minutes or less; focusing on friends, family, or community; and starring me (joking. But I do have a great narrator voice. I can even do some accents.).

Lastly, there’s no need to find a kid or dog sitter when you head to this Southtown hotspot. They’ll be fine on their own. JUST KIDDING – please don’t leave your children at home alone. Did we learn nothing from Macaulay Culkin? Anyway, bring those dependents along! That’s right, The Friendly Spot is ridiculously pet and kid friendly, with a playground for the little wigglies and bartenders who are happy to give you a cup of water for your furry friends.

You know what, I’m going to give you an assignment this week. I said that this place is dog friendly, but I’ve never seen anyone bring a cat (or any other animal, for that matter) to The Friendly Spot. Your goal: snap a photo of yourself or a friend (or a stranger, I don’t care) with their favorite non-canine / non-human companion at The Friendly Spot and tweet it to me (@Miriam210) or post it as a link in a comment. Godspeed.

(Again, all photos by yours truly with a little help from my BFF, Instagram.)

The Friendly Spot Ice House on Urbanspoon

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Prosit, San Antonio!

Guten Tag and happy Friday, friends! It may be three months and thirty degrees away from Oktoberfest, but if you think that’s going to stop me from enjoying some bratwurst, butter noodles, and Spaten Premium Lager  on a Friday night, you are sadly mistaken. So, can one find such things in this city of breakfast tacos and micheladas?  I will answer your question with good news and bad news. First, the good news: yes, one CAN find the delicious, aforementioned German treats in San Antonio! Readers, please turn your attention to The Beethoven Männerchor Halle Und Garten, a full fledged Bier Garten in the King William District / Southtown that’s “over-flowing with German entertainment, good food, wine, and beer, and fun.” Well, that sounds great, doesn’t it? The other good news is that while you polish off more sauerkraut and spätzle than is sane to consume, you will likely find yourself enjoying the fine musical entertainment of a Gartenkonzert (translation: garden concert. Who knew!), which includes Maennerchor, Damenchor, Kinderchor, and Beethoven Concert Band performances. All the chors a human could ask for. The bad news is: nah, there’s no bad news. G-g-g-gotcha!

I paid $5 to enter and then shelled out a few bucks more for various food items (the bratwurst and butter noodles receive the highly esteemed rating of muy guten) and a pitcher (don’t worry, I shared with friends). And bring cash!! While there is an ATM at the Beethoven Männerchor Halle Und Garten, I say that fees are for CHUMPS.

You’ll need to check the calendar online before visiting to make sure that The Beethoven is open to the public on the night you plan to visit (every First Friday and most third Fridays seem to be open, with other public nights sprinkled throughout the month).  And if you’re still not convinced, you can check out their Facebook page to see pictures of happy, beautiful, people laughing and enjoying themselves.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a halle of a guten time, my recommendation is to get thee to the Beethoven. As they say in the motherland: prosit! Salud! Cheers! SEE YOU THERE.

(Check out this picture that Instagram and I took inside of The Beethoven. I did that for YOU. You’re welcome.)

Beethoven Maennerchor on Urbanspoon

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