Will This be Your First, First Friday?

What’s First Friday? Think  FUN, FOOD, FRIENDLY and FABULOUS.  The first Friday of the month is a Southtown fav for area foodies who want to spark up their night life with extra food choices, events, people and traffic. Okay, the traffic doesn’t sound too exciting, but it comes with the package.

Map of SouthTown - south of downtown San Antonio

Granted, First Friday’s original focus was art exhibits in the area, but our focus  is FOOD and many San Antonio Southtown restaurants participate in First Friday. Why not??

Knowing Frank’s Hog Stand has a unique venue, as the world’s first ride-in restaurant, we decided to check in with them to see what they have going on. Naturally, they’ll have live music starting at about 7:30, featuring Bear Fax. This is a big biker night, too, so you weekend bikers can cruise on over and compare your wheels.

Not a biker? No prob. Believe it or not this is a family friendly spot with yummy food in hearty portions. In fact, they’re offering up Blue Bell ice cream cones for 50 cents each this summer. Naturally, I had to sample a strawberry cone, just to be sure I could recommend it with authority. 

New manager, Samantha Solis, is making things happen over there. Even in the middle of a weekday afternoon, guests were pouring in — a good testimony about any restaurant. The always friendly staff surely has something to do with that, though the continuously playing ’50’s music adds to the fun.

While there, Samantha and I set up some great new $5 Deals for the next few months. Be sure to “Like” us on Facebook to snatch up these bargains each day.

Frank’s is already offering incredible weekday lunch deals for $6.99. Any weekday, you can order up a shrimp poorboy, mushroom-swiss burger, country fried steak, two hot dogs, chicken fajita salad and more. All come with a side and a drink! I assure you, you won’t leave hungry.

New Manager, Samantha Solis

Can you picture yourself there yet? Good food. Good fun. Good location. Friendly folks.

And, if you’re ready for your first, First Friday, Frank’s Hog Stand is worth the trip. More pics of their “First Friday” events can be found in their Facebook photos.

Other Southtown restaurants include MadHatter’s Tea House and Cafe and Taco Haven Mexican Restaurant.

Happy Dining!

Cyndy Bartelli

Tilapia Dinner w/ Homemade Cole Slaw

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A Plate Heaped with Tasty Treasures

Our Quest for the Best Botana Platter Continues

Readers recently helped me realize  that Botana Platters are not universal menu items in Mexican food restaurants. In fact, if you haven’t eaten this fav cuisine in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, you probably don’t know what a “real” Botana Platter is.  These platters reign on the throne of my absolute favorite Mexican food of all time. Though it puzzles me why they’re only a regional item,  I’ll just go where the Botana Platters are!

This last weekend we took an unexpected trip to the Valley for a couple of days and made a point of going to another reader-recommended destination for great Botana’s. It’s called “Koko’s Uptown Cafe” and we were not disappointed. It was 10:50 in the morning and we were determined to wait out the breakfast menu to be sure we sampled their locally renowned Botana Platter.

In case you didn’t see the previous posting introducing our search for the ultimate Botana, the platter is by definition, a large plate of appetizers.  I usually count at least 10 different ingredients on each plate. Though many are consistently there (like a corn chip base, cheese, tomatoes and fajitas) the other ingredients vary like the weather.

With Koko’s version you can check out the layers of crispy corn tortillas, American cheese, chopped tomatoes and

Another View of Our Tasty Botana

onions. Top these with grilled bell peppers and onions and incredibly tender beef fajitas.  The toppings on this banana split of Mexican food? A crispy cheese quesadilla and a chicken flauta resting in a mound of quacamole.

This meal is $12.95 at Koko’s, so I thought I’d have to disallow it from our $10 price cap — until the plate was placed before me. Hellooooo! This Botana Platter for One could easily feed two. If someone’s worried about still being hungry, a shared Flan w/ Pecan Topping (Mexican dessert custard w/ caramel sauce) would likely satisfy the hungriest of diners.

BTW Breakfast Lovers — there are lots of choices of traditional Mexican breakfasts for $5 or less, too!

Gerardo Menchaca

The service from Arturo was TOP NOTCH. The restaurant was clean and comfortably crowded. Manager, Gerardo Menchaca, made sure we knew of their other restaurant in Piedras Negras, MX (which incidentally serves Botana Platters, too). I think we’ve discovered our first international listing! Stay tuned as we continue our Quest for the Best Botana Platters around!

Over 20 Cuisines in One Place

You say it can’t  be done? Visit the Texas Folklife Festival on June 10 – 12 in San Antonio and you’ll be able to sample over 20 cuisines from around the world! Add to the more familiar options like Italian and Mexican —  Greek,  German, Lebanese, Belgian, Irish, Nigerian, Salvadoran and many more.

The great thing is, you can enjoy plenty of these diverse menu offerings for $5 or less! Here’s the official online menu that has been posted. Check out those Belgian Au vin blanc mussels, or the Lebanese Falafel Sandwich, or the Salvadoran Pupusa. My heart started perking at the thought of Bratwurst on a Bun w/Sauerkraut. (I love clinging to my German heritage!)

Granted you have to pay an entrance fee (Adults $10 in advance, Children $5 or free if under 6 yrs), but the venue and offerings make it all worthwhile.

The Festival’s 6 stages, located throughout the grounds, feature all types of ethnic and cultural entertainment.   Be on the look out for roving performers on the grounds like the South Texas Gunslingers and the San Antonio Pipes & Drums.

So, grab your friends and family and head out for a fun weekend. What better city to celebrate your heritage (and everyone elses’) than San Antonio?

Texas’ Best Breakfast Re-Visited

Texas’ Best Breakfast – Reggie’s Weekend Special $7.50

One year ago this month, “The Food Network Magazine” recognized Taco Haven on S. Presa, as the destination for Texas’ Best Breakfast. They won this coveted award because of their Reggie’s Weekend Special (which is served any day, BTW).

We thought we’d check back in with Taco Haven to see what’s been happening since the article was published and were not surprised to learn business is booming more than ever. Olga Torres explained they have sold over 14,000 of the Reggie’s Weekend Special in this last year, so though the annual recognition may pass to another deserving dining spot, Taco Haven’s winner will no doubt keep its popularity.

For those whose tummies are already rumbling over the thought of this little

Fresh Pico de Gallo

breakfast “snack”, here’s what you’ll find on your plate: 2 eggs (any style), papas con chili (Mexican potatoes), barbacoa (beef cheek meat), refried beans and small quesadillas (with mozarella cheese and perfectly crunchy corn tortillas!). All of this arrives with freshly made flour tortillas and fresh pico de gallo.  The meal is available all hours they are open and is obviously memorable. If you’re squirming a little over the idea of eating barbacoa, I say “rethink cheek meat.” It’s actually quite tasty. I will say, however, that a planned jog around the nearby San Antonio Mission Concepcion would be a good idea afterward. 🙂

As a side note, this historic Mission Concepcion (circa 1755) celebrates a bilingual mass on Sunday morning at 10 and a Mariachi Mass (in English) at noon. Your visit to Taco Haven could be an extra treat in conjunction with one of these unique services.

More great news. As of June 1st, Taco Haven is now open for all of you evening diners as well. You can stop by any night ’til 10 or ’til midnight on Friday or Saturday. They’ve even added a daily Happy Hour from 5-7. I’m personally intrigued by the live music provided on the 1st and 3rd Fridays. (You can call 210.533.2171 for up-to-date info on that!)

Olga and Jerry Torres

The Torres Family is an excellent example of hardworking, dedicated small business owners who are part of what makes America great. The vision and faith of founders, Mr. and Mrs. Jerry V. Torres, when they opened this spot in 1969, was more than fulfilled.  We love to tell their stories and will continue to do so.

Tortilla Soups…. Our Quest for the Best!

We had such a great response to our Tortilla Soup discussion on Facebook yesterday, that we had to dash out to one of the recommended restaurants on our way to church last night. Guajillo’s was the next stop on our Quest for the Best Tortilla Soup in Texas — and beyond!

Actually, our visit there became quite an adventure when we discovered that Guajillo’s menu includes items from the interior of Mexico. Having done a little traveling in Mexico City, Cuernavaca and in between, we recognized some favorites.

Guajillo’s Sopa de Tortilla – Before

The Guajillo’s Sopa de Tortilla is made with the Guajillo chili pepper and, though it was a little spicy, it was still delicious to a “spice phobe” like me! $2.40 was little to pay for the generous bowl it was served in, too.

Guajillo’s Sopa de Tortilla – After

So, we’re having such a good time with this, we’ve decided to launch a mini-campaign to seek the best tortilla soups in existence!! Please send us your suggestions. We’re heading off to Boerne ASAP to sample our latest reader’s recommendation! Oh, and we’ll be maintaining our Facebook “Best Tortilla Soups” album, too!

There’s Tortilla Soup and There’s Tortilla Soup

Okay, today it’s finally raining after ?? days of dry, dry, dry weather here in the San Antonio area. I’m cozily beginning to think about lunch and sure wish I had a bowl of GOOD tortilla soup.  Soup lovers will tell you that there are few absolutes when it comes to this yummy concoction, found at almost any restaurant around here. The only ingredients you can count on are chicken or chicken broth, a few crispy corn chip slivers and some cheese. But what those ingredients are all swirling in when that bowl is placed in front of you, can vary like TV channels when hubby is controlling the remote. Is the broth thick or thin? Is the base tomato or clear? Is it spicy or mild? Is there avocado or guacamole?

I have my favorites and I know a local tortilla soup connoisseur who has tossed her votes my way.  So, here’s our official/unofficial tortilla soup report, just for you.

Jim’s Tortilla Soup

La Fiesta Patio’s Tortilla Soup

Jim’s Restaurant – A totally unexpected source, unless you’ve heard about their various awards and recognitions for this bowl of palate pleasing liquid. The price is great, too. I enjoyed this bowl the other day for only $3.49!

 La Fiesta Patio Cafe – My personal favorite, though really different from Jim’s version. I was a little hesitant when I didn’t see any tomato base in this soup, but one bite shot flavor alerts through my mouth and my brain screamed, “More!”

Votes also came in for Cappycino’s Chicken Tortilla Soup and the Paloma Blanca Tortilla Soup.

Don’t hold back. Tell us your favorites, too! We’d like to know. In the meantime…

Taking the Tykes Out to Eat

Taking the kids out to eat has its challenges. Getting them to sit still for a period of time, in public, is the first challenge. The second challenge (and perhaps it should be the first challenge) is paying for the meals. We’ve done some research and want to tell you about a few locations that actually have a Kids Eat Free program. Before I name names, though, I’ll throw out a request that when you go to these places, you remember the servers who appreciate being tipped generously for all of their hard work. 🙂

KIDS EAT FREE (all meals require purchase of an adult entree)

Golden Phoenix – (3 yrs) all days and all hours

Lucky Burger – (12 yrs) Tuesday night

Flour Power – (12 yrs) Friday night

Earl Abel’s – (10 yrs) Mon-Thurs 5-8 p.m. All day Tuesday

Jim’s Restaurants – (10 yrs) Mon-Wed 5-9 p.m.