On our last full day in San Antonio, we headed to the northern part of town to check out both Freetail Brewing Company and Ranger Creek Brewing and Distillery. After thoroughly pleasant tours at both (I highly recommend both breweries), we decided we needed a late lunch as we headed back downtown. And we decided that BBQ is what we were craving. Well, unlike nearby Austin, who has a very vibrant BBQ scene, there’s nowhere near as much good BBQ action in San Antonio (if I’m wrong, let me know here…). Sure, there’s a lot of BBQ places, but a good chunk of them are all Bill Miller BBQ, which basically is the McDonalds of BBQ (they smoke stuff at a central location and ship it out). Bill Miller’s is decent stuff, but it’s not anywhere near the quality of a good Texas BBQ joint. But thankfully, the good folks over at Full Custom Gospel BBQ keep a handy map available of the places they’ve reviewed, and on our way back into downtown San Antonio, we passed pretty close to Two Bros BBQ Market, so we decided to give it a shot….
I’ll admit I’ve got a love for real Belgian waffles. But one of the major problems I’ve had is that you can’t get a proper Belgian waffle here in the US. Sure, a rather large fraction of the breakfast places here will serve you something called a “Belgian waffle”, but what you are getting is really just a regular ole American waffle made in a waffle iron with bigger crenelations, usually served up with a small mountain of fruit (or fruit-like “pie topping”) and whipped cream. Not that there is anything wrong with that, heck, I like a good waffle, and even own an American-style “Belgian” waffle maker myself that gets used several times a month. But a real Belgian Waffle is a different beast. A proper Belgian waffle (also known as a Liège waffle, from the Eastern Belgium city of the same name) is a distinctly more refined item. First of all, it’s not made in a round iron, but a large rectangular iron with an open grid crenelations. A large lump of raised, yeasted batter is dumped right on the surface and the iron closes around it, allowing the lump to spread out into whatever globular shape it wants. The batter also has a bunch of pearl sugar crystals mixed into it, the idea being that as the waffles cook in the iron, the sugar crystals melt, resulting in a rich, crunchy, and caramelized exterior. The result is a nice hot treat that’s a noticeable leg up above the normal “Belgian waffle”, with a nice buttery interior, a yeasty taste, and a nice crunchy exterior. Well, it turns out that many food trucks of the Boardwalk on Bulverde that night included one that makes… proper Belgian waffles. The Begian Waffle Co is a nice, shiny, new food truck run by a pair of pleasant Belgians, offering up a menu of waffles. They start with three types of waffles: their original “Waffle de Liége”, as well as cinnamon and chocolate variants. They then offer up a rather impressive list of toppings: whipped cream, powdered sugar, and butter are free, while various modest surcharges will get you toppings ranging from fresh fruit, to Nutella, to peanut butter, to a variety of savory toppings (eggs, cheese, and ham, for example).
Well, the nice think about the Boardwalk on Bulverde is that, on any given night, there are almost a dozen food trucks there hawking their wares, so after you’ve started a meal at one truck, you can work your way through the many other trucks to find your next course. In our case, Food Truck #2 at the Boardwalk was Spice Runner, a food truck serving sandwiches and “Pocket Pies”.
Like Austin to the Northeast, San Antonio has a growing food truck scene. While nothing like Austin at present, it has a few up and coming areas, like the Boardwalk on Bulverde food court, a rather substantial cluster of food trucks, for some food truck action… (located adjacent to, and run by, a company that makes food trucks, btw). The Boardwalk is a Thursday-Sunday operation, with about a dozen food trucks all located at this one spot in Northern San Antonio. It’s a rather nice little outside area, with the obligatory random selection of seating, a mechanical bulls, and a few other oddments. And, as I mentioned in my review of Erick’s Tacos, it’s only open Thursday-Sunday, so we had to make a separate trip back here to try it out. But on Friday, we finally made it to the Boardwalk, where Stop #1 was Rickshaw Stop, a well-known San Antonio Food Truck serving up delicious Pakistani kebab.
Often when I’m traveling, I’ll find that a local place has gotten a lot of positive buzz. It will be on most of the “top 10″ sorts of lists for a city, either in absolute terms of quality, or as a place you are supposed to check out (these aren’t necessarily the same, there are places I heartily recommend visiting while also noting that they aren’t necessarily the best, like Louis Lunch). And the simultaneously get listed as one of the places in their region, and maybe even the occasional mention on national “Best of” lists. Chris Madrids in San Antonio is one of those places. Most any major list of "must eat" restaurants in San Antonio includes Chris Madrids on the list, and it also is a perennial favorite on several “Best burgers in Texas” lists. I’ve even seen it get a few mentions on “Best Burger in the US” lists. Seeing that our B+B was only 2 miles from Chris Madrids, we decided we had to give it a try.
So, after a decent day of exploring the Riverwalk and downtown San Antonio, we decided that was a good time for dinner. And we were craving Mexican food. Well, San Antonio, particularly the Riverwalk, is probably one of the densest concentrations of Tex Mex places in existence, with at least a dozen Tex Mex places (mostly with some sort of “Cantina” motif) accessible either directly on the river, or a short staircase away. Well, we didn’t go to any of those places. Instead, we headed up to street level, and walked several blocks south to the edge of the King William District to El Mirador. El Mirador is one of the elderly statesmen of San Antonio Mexican Places, having been there since 1967, when the owners built the place to be near the HemisFair ’68 World Fair a few blocks to the east, and it’s been doing steady business ever since. It’s also relatively popular with the locals—there’s even a room in the back called the “City Council Room”, since the San Antonio City Council has a tendency to hold informal lunchtime meetings there. In any case, El Mirador was a nice little destination for u to get a nice dinner away from the Riverwalk crowds.
When I started blogging, I decided that my blog would be pretty focused, with just restaurant reviews. Well, over the years I’ve made a few exceptions, like blogging a few special events, and some places that aren’t really restaurants. But during my trip to San Antonio, I finally went to a bar that was “offbeat” enough that it made me ask myself, “Why haven’t I reviewed any bars yet?” The reasons were twofold: while I’ve been to a lot of great bars that I have reviewed here, I still always reviewed them for the food. And the second was my self-imposed rule. Well, the greatest thing about making your own rules is that you can change them… So I’m presenting my first bar review. Last Friday, I was in San Antonio, having joined Carol for a conference. After tooling around the outskirts of town, we ended up going down and doing a fair bit of walking on San Antonio’s pleasant Riverwalk. After a bit of walking and seeing the sights, we decided we were thirsty, and a quick check of online reviews gave really mixed results for places on the riverwalk… but pointed us to one particular place that’s off the Riverwalk. Located in a converted bank building on Crockett Street just barely off the Riverwalk at street level, it’s actually the sort of place you could walk by without much notice (indeed, I didn’t originally think it was open when we first approached it). Inside, it’s rather a funky space: what normally would be a really spacious bar area is broken into two spaces by the presence of the old bank vault, which currently serves as Soho’s wine cellar. The result is a main, but somewhat crowded, bar area, and two quieter seating areas.
For the first part of this trip to San Antonio, we were staying at the JW Marriot San Antonio Hill Country. While it’s a rather nice resort (and indeed, has a really good water park and some nice bars), I didn’t find any of the breakfast options there appealing. Since the general area is well known for Tex Mex food, we ended up looking for a good Tex Mex breakfast place in Northeast San Antonio (since the JW Marriott resorts is rather far outside of downtown). We ended up finding one place that had a lot of good reviews: Grumpy’s Mexican Cafe on Farm-to-Market Road 2252.
And now it’s on to San Antonio, where I joined Carol partway through a conference. The day I arrived in San Antonio, Carol was off at a BBQ and rodeo hosted by the conference, which started too early for me to join in. So my first act after arriving in San Antonio was to drive up to the Boardwalk on Bulverde food court, a rather substantial cluster of food trucks, for some food truck action… …and learned that sometimes I need to research things better. The Boardwalk isn’t open except Thursday through Sunday. So I had to find someplace else nearby for a food truck fix. Luckily, just over a mile away was Erick’s Tacos on nearby Nacogdoches Road, so I headed on over to check out their fare…
You know you’ve been traveling a lot when you can’t even keep track of every place you’ve been. I was getting ready to write up a few places from our New York City trip, when I realized that one place in Austin I hadn’t actually reviewed. So, going back two weeks in the time machine…. Before heading out for a second day of BBQ, we decided breakfast was needed. I’m not sure why, but I’ve found over the two Austin trips that a good breakfast taco is a great way to start out the day. This time, we decided to descend on one of Austin’s better known taco joints, Maria’s Taco Xpress…