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Archive for the ‘San Antonio’ Category

Best Brewpub in the Alamo City…In My Humble Opinion (but many others agree with me!)

In Beer, Pizza, San Antonio on July 20, 2011 at 3:03 am

Simply put, Freetail Brewing Company is by far my favorite brewpub in San Antonio…when it comes to beer and pizza. I’m tempted to go ahead and compare Freetail with Blue Star Brewing Company in Southtown, but I’m going to save my comments on Blue Star for another day. Let’s just say I’d love for Freetail to have Blue Star’s location and then I’d be really happy because it would be close to downtown and therefore closer to me! You can read about the city of San Antonio’s failure to bring Freetail downtown, thus pushing Freetail to downtown Houston by clicking here.

Unfortunately, I often make the trip all the way out to NW Military Highway and 1604 to drink some great brews and enjoy a favorite pizza of mine. Ever since Freetail opened in 2008, it has been producing some rockin’ beers. Named after the Mexican freetail bat, the official Texas flying mammal, this brewpub has made a name for itself. In 2009 and 2010, Freetail won “Best Place for Beer” in San Antonio Magazine’s Best of the City. Just last year, “Rubio Fumando” was the winner of Draft Magazine “Top 25 Beers of 2010” in the smoked beer category. (I’d be curious how many beers were in this category!) Finally, BeerAdvocate.com, a website I often consult, rated Freetail the #1 brewpub in Texas.

Not only is Freetail brewing some great beers, but they continue to offer a great selection from which to choose.

La Rubia, a blonde ale, is light and flavorful. The Rye Wit, is citrusy and refreshing. Freetail Ale, an American Amber/Red Ale is a very balanced beer. I wasn’t all that impressed with the pale ales, but their wild, sour ales like the Woodicus, are to die for. Sadly, it was seasonal.

First-timers must order a sampler to start, then order a pint of your favorite.

Along with their tasty brews, Freetail can make some delicious, artisan pizzas. A couple of my favorite pizzas which are hard to find elsewhere include the brisket pizza and the buffalo chicken pizza. Since I really like pizza and love hot wings, the buffalo chicken pizza is the where the best of these two worlds come together!

The buffalo chicken pizza has tomato sauce, gorgonzola, buffalo spun chicken, carrots, and celery. A small, which is perfect for one person costs $14 and the medium and large cost  $18 and $22 respectively. It may be a little pricey, but well worth it.

The Buffalo Chicken Pizza

If you live in San Antonio or planning to visit sometime, and especially if you love beer, make your way to Freetail Brewing. There you’ll be able to enjoy some food and beverages, while watching a game or listening to some great live music. All this together makes me say that Freetail is the best brewpub in the Alamo City…in my humble opinion.

And FYI, starting next week, every Monday will be 5g Series Night. They’ll tap a special 5 Gallon batch with another one on backup in case the first sells out. You can alway keep up with what’s going on by “liking” them on facebook.

Live Music On The Patio

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Mela Indian Bar & Grill

In Indian, San Antonio on July 16, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Let me begin by saying I don’t like buffets. If a restaurant has a buffet then I generally stay away…with the exception of Indian food. Indian is high up on my list of favorite cuisines. From India to England to the U.S., I’ve had some perfect Indian dishes. What brought me to Mela Indian Bar & Grill (adding Bar & Grill just sounds wrong!) was a coupon for a free buffet and I’m glad it was free!

Conveniently located on NW Loop 410, Mela offers a variety of dishes from Tandoori chicken,  biryani, to chicken tikka masala in a clean, modern atmosphere. What Mela has going for it is location, decor (although I don’t prefer modern decor), and naan (leavened, oven-baked flatbread). Overall, I wasn’t impressed with the quality of the food. Their chicken tikka masala, which had to be special ordered, was the worst I’ve ever tasted. I thought their best dishes included Chicken Cashmere (chunks of chicken cooked in a cream sauce with cashew nuts and raisins and the Palak Paneer (Indian cheese cooked with spinach, ginger, garlic, and chili). The mango lassi was acceptable. On a scale of 1 t0 10, I’d give Mela a 4 or 5. So, if you’re in the mood for Indian food in San Antonio, I’d recommend you just go elsewhere. We have at least one better option. Sorry, Mela.

Pizza Napoletana Fantastico!

In Pizza, San Antonio on July 10, 2011 at 3:28 am

Dough Pizzeria Napoletana has some major credentials. Their website says that this pizzeria “is to date one of an elite 32 restaurants in the United States and #292 in the world to receive the prestigious certification from L’Associazones Vera Pizza Napoletana for serving authentic Pizza Napoletana.” So, as one who has actually been to Naples and enjoyed authentic Pizza Napoletan in one of the best pizzerias in the city, I had to see how it compares.

Let me begin by saying bravo, Dough. Well done! I was a little concerned at first since this fantastic pizzeria is located in the Blanco Junction Shopping Center of all places! Yet, as I got closer and closer, and especially after walking in the door, I had totally forgotten the suffocating shopping center. After a brief wait, I was seated at the best seat in the house which is at the corner of the pizza bar where you can watch the Pizzaioli (pizza makers) in action.

My View of the Pizzaioli

As I’ve already said, I came to compare pizzas, so I ordered a small Margherita “STG.” This pizza comes with tomato sauce, Mozerella di Bufala, Parmigiano Reggiano, and basil. That’s it.

The Margherita "STG"

An authentic Margherita Pizza from Trianon Pizzeria in Naples, Italy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, they look very similar. The only major difference is size. When taste is compared, I found it to be pretty much the same as the one I ate in Italy. However, I thought the Margherita “STG” needed a little more tomato sauce and cheese. Other than that, it was gooood. When paired with a Peroni beer and followed by a cappuccino, there’s no closer place in San Antonio to Naples than at Dough.

No Italian meal is complete without a cappuccino.

If only the outside of Dough looked like this!

Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling Produces Charm and Significance? Really?

In Beer, Hot Dogs, San Antonio on July 2, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Named after a small creek here in San Antonio, Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling is proud of its birthplace and so honors Texas with its name. As their website says, “The little creek embodies the spirit of what we’re trying to do. It’s not the biggest creek around, but it has charm and significance that’s hard to ignore.” I actually tried to ignore Ranger Creek, but I’m an open person who’s willing to give credit where credit’s due. After spending a couple of hours at their recent open house, I am still not ready to acknowledge its charm even though I really wanted to do so! Open house consisted of a tour of the “brewstillery” (at least some people got a tour somehow), three samples of their four beers, no music even though music was advertised, and a pint glass all for $5.

Gourmet hot dogs, from San Antonio-based RC’s Heavenly Dogs, were also for sale. I’ll just say they know how to make a hot dog! I had the chili cheese dog and wow, it was good! It came with a soft poppy-seed bun, a little spicy-sweet  Mama’s famous chili, and the perfect amount of cheese, onions, and jalepenos which were “heavenly” when paired with a thick 100% Akaushi beef dog.

$6 Perfection. Who knew the hot dog would steal the day?

An Average Joe in San Antonio, one of my favorite local blogs that is so much more  informative and broader in scope than my blog, recently mentioned Ranger Creek in the Quick Bites 3.June.2011 post. San Antonio Joe notes that this is San Antonio’s only craft brewery in operation. I agree that their La Bestia Aimable, a strong dark ale, is really good. I also like their Mesquite Smoked Porter and Oatmeal Pale Ale. I have enjoyed the South Texas Lager a couple of times before attending the open house. The batch they were serving on this day unfortunately tasted more like a malted barley, water, and maybe some hops brewed with some kind of chemical compound. It wasn’t good…at all! Overall, their beers are above average, but maybe in time there will be some charm to this brewery. I’ll give them signifiance since they are the city’s only craft brewery.

It is important to mention that Ranger Creek is not only a brewery, but a distillery, which means it also produces spirits. The primary spirit they distill is bourbon. For a brief summary of the difference between bourbon and whiskey, click here. Unfortunately, their first small, experimental batch is still maturing and won’t be ready until the Fall of 2011.

Here’s how Ranger Creek describes their bourbon, “Our flagship whiskey will be a traditional straight bourbon whiskey aged using traditional methods. As with all bourbon, corn is the primary grain, but we also use rye as our flavor grain to give our bourbon a spicy undertone.”

After some serious tasting and consideration, I think Ranger Creek is on its way. I would have  given it a much higher rating if the South Texas Lager wasn’t like drinking 409 or as my friend put it, “nail polish remover.” Thankfully, the OPA and La Bestia Aimable made up for this cleaning solution.

Inside the Brewstillery

Mexican Food At Its Finest in Southtown

In Mexican/Tex-Mex, San Antonio, Top Five Mexican/Tex-Mex on July 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm

“Does the reader pick the book or does the book pick the reader?” I could ask the same type of question about restaurants. Does the foodie pick the restaurant or does the restaurant pick the foodie? It seems like every time I go to First Friday in Southtown, I find myself at Tito’s Restaurant, which I’m convinced, continues to pick me. Side note: I promise to branch out and not do another Mexican food review until I’ve written about two other types of cuisine. Not only is it in my favorite part of city, but it has some delicious Mexican cuisine and is in my top five Mexican food restaurants (as of right now). Apparently, they can make some killer fajitas (the beef fajitas I tasted were tender and impressive), but I keep coming back for their enchiladas.

I really enjoy variety so I ordered the Trio Especial. I chose enchilada verdes (chicken filled and topped with green tomatillo sauce and sour cream), cilantro cream enchilada (chicken filled and topped with cream sauce and fresh cilantro), and a poblano enchilada (also chicken filled and topped with a poblano cream sauce).

Trio Especial

Honestly, I couldn’t taste a whole lot of difference between the three different types of creamy chicken enchiladas, but I still enjoyed them. The chicken inside was really well done. It was moist and not overly seasoned so that the natural chicken flavor complemented very well the creamy sauces. The rice and beans were really tasty as were the chips and salsa (just a little kick of spice). What helped me wash this all down was a Mango Titorita (House Margarita). The Titorita also comes in peach and stawberry flavors.  I was tempted to try the Fresh Agave Margarita, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay $9. They also offer a decent selection of draft beers: Victoria, Dos XX, Modelo Especial, Tecate Light, Negra Modelo, and Sam Adams (seasonal).

Mango Titorita (House Margarita)

So, to all my friends, if you’re ever at First Friday, walk on past Rosario’s and instead give Tito’s Mexican Restaurant a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed even if they oddly ask you to seat yourself while being extremely crowded on First Friday. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Patty’s Taco House

In Mexican/Tex-Mex, San Antonio, Top Five Mexican/Tex-Mex on June 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm

For some time I kept hearing about this place called Patty’s Taco House just south-east of downtown. A good friend of mine, whose opinion I greatly respect about food, describes the mini-puffy taco plate with an enchilada as “guuuud.” This finally motivated me to give this place a shot.

Located just south-east of downtown at 2422 S Hackberry

However, I decided to go with the regular puffy taco plate that comes with two tacos, rice, and refried beans. I ordered one chicken and one beef. My initial impression wasn’t good. I thought the shredded chicken was lacking both in moisture and in taste. The beef one, on the other hand, was really good. What surprised me was the refried beans and rice. Usually sides are an after-thought for me. The green salsa, which was good (even though it wasn’t spicy at all!), made the rice and beans even better. The refried beans had a perfect consistency and great flavor.

Puffy Taco Plate

While Patty’s didn’t blow me away, I do intend to go back with my friend and try their enchiladas. The overal atmosphere was okay, but I was really pleased with the customer service. While I still favor Taco Haven Gevers over Patty’s, my friend and I will just have to agree to disagree on which one is better. If it comes down to enchiladas, Patty’s might just win that one! However, I think Taco Haven will win when it comes to quesadillas, beef short ribs, brisket tacos, breakfast tacos, ranchero beans, carne con papas,  etc., etc., etc. 🙂 I can already hear her booing me.

I guess I liked it enough to clean my plate!

Fried Chicken Plus Some Mac ‘n’ Cheese Happiness

In American, San Antonio on June 16, 2011 at 3:10 am

Ever since I ate some fried chicken after floating the Guadalupe River, I’ve been cravin’ some fried chicken. Today I visited Chatman’s Chicken, which is located on my side of town (1747 South Ww White Road). To be sure, this chicken is top notch. The overall ambiance is nothing great, but that’s one of the things I like about it. You’ve got three fried chicken options:  original or original sprinkled with lemon or spicy seasoning.

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Chatman’s has a great selection of side items from which to choose. They offer french fries, delicious mashed potatoes, corn fritters, fried okra, collard greens and a lot of other sides I can’t think of right now. What I found excellent was the mac ‘n’ cheese, which is equal to, if not better than, Luby’s. If you’re ever on the south-east side of San Antonio and want some delicious fried chicken that can fit any budget, I enthusiastically recommend Chatman’s Chicken.

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No Meat, No Problem

In San Antonio, Vegetarian on June 13, 2011 at 1:37 am

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The reason people all too often consider any meal w/o meat as an incomplete meal is because they have never eaten at “San Antonio’s Earth Friendly Restaurant”:  Green (greensanantonio.com). Green, which is family owned and operated,  is located just north of downtown (1017 N. Flores) and is San Antonio’s only 100% vegetarian and kosher restaurant. It opened in 2007 in a 115 year old building. The organic garden in front of the restaurant is every client’s first clue to the freshness of each meal.

The menu offers a wide variety of choices with some great lunch specials. Unfortunately, I can’t get away from the Monk’s Bowl (pic below), which my wife discovered on our first visit and is only $6.50. It’s so good I ended helping her eat her dish and taking mine home for later. The Monk’s Bowl consists of quinoa tabouli, beans, kale, and chipotle aioli and goes well with any of their house teas. It has 20 grams of fiber and 24 grams of protein! Give Green a shot. You’ll love it!

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The Esquire Tavern: oldest bar on riverwalk and longest wooden bar in texas

In American, Beer, San Antonio on May 29, 2011 at 12:13 am

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I recently came across The Esquire Tavern by accident on facebook. A few nights ago I saw they were tapping a cabernet-aged smoked porter from Ranger Creek Brewing and I had to go the next day to have a pint. After checking out the website (esquiretavern-sa.com), I couldn’t wait to go. This tavern boasts the longest wooden bar in Texas (100 ft.) and oldest bar in San Antonio (originally opened in 1933). My experience started out great. The decor and overall ambiance is fantastic and the tavern has a perfect view/balcony overlooking the riverwalk.

As I said before, what originally brought me to the Esquire Tavern was the beer. Unfortunately, they sold out of the rare beer the night before and were even out of Jester King beers. While they have a good selection of Texas draft beers, it was disappointing to strike out on my initial orders. The fried pickles were great, but the small $10 burger didn’t even come with fries. Even though there were some disappointments and despite being understaffed, the newly reopened Esquire Tavern is a must visit. I just recommend sticking with the beer and relaxing on the balcony.

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Taco Haven Gevers: best Mexican food in San Antonio and it’s on the south side!

In Mexican/Tex-Mex, San Antonio, Top Five Mexican/Tex-Mex on May 22, 2011 at 6:45 pm

One thing San Antonio is well-known for is its Mexican food. Mexican food restaurants abound and a lot of them are really good, but I don’t care about good Mexican food. I care about great Mexican food that is delicious and affordable in a casual, family setting. Fancy ambiance doesn’t impress me. I prefer small parking lots, a mostly Hispanic clientele (I love the fact that I’m usually the only Anglo at Taco Haven Gevers), and a friendly wait staff (and having difficulty communicating sometimes in English is always a plus and a good sign!)

Luckily, I live right down the road from what I consider San Antonio’s #1 Mexican food restaurant: Taco Haven Gevers (tacohaven.info) (3019 South Gevers), which I prefer over the other Taco Haven (1032 South Presa). The main thing I have against the South Presa Taco Haven is they charged me for chips and hot sauce and the one on Gevers doesn’t charge.

Taco Haven Gevers is a small, family-oriented restaurant with wait staff that always welcomes you, especially their regulars. They have a variety of homemade tortillas, great tacos, and house specialties. My absolute favorite dish is one of their Thursday specials: beef short ribs. This dish is so fantastic that other customers come on Thursday just to order it as well. Other than this special, I recommend their barbacoa taco, torres special taco, and the carne asado taco with guacamole. In summary, it’s all good!