Ocho — Oh So Beautiful!

Fellow blogger, Shannon Ahern, recently posted a wonderful article about the new Ocho Lounge at the Hotel Havana.

Based on her story, we just had to pay a visit. The scene is absolutely delightful. The architecture is its own form of entertainment and the views to the River Walk below are fantastic. With cooler weather, it will be a wonderful walk along the newer stretch of the San Antonio River Walk from The Pearl to Ocho for a scrumptious brunch.

Their menu is inspired by Cuban and Latin Cuisines. Our little group of foodies definitely voted top awards for their breakfast items. Our favs were:

The TOASTED JO’S BANANA BREAD with Chunky Peanut Butter, Sliced Banana and Honey. (I asked for the peanut butter on the side 🙂 ) The banana bread was toasted on a griddle and had honey spread on top. The recipe came from their other restaurant, Jo’s Coffee, on the Hotel San Jose property in Austin. Absolutely scrumptious, and…

The SWEET PLANTAIN GRIDDLE CAKES ($14) with Mexican Crema, Blueberries and Maple Syrup. We had to exceed our $10 limit on this item because it was soooo worth the mention! You’ll taste the flavor of the plantains in these griddle cakes and the Mexican crema is made in-house. Oh, how I love FRESH! To top them off, the blueberries are marinated in agave nectar.

Andy Erdmann, the Food and Beverage Manager of the Lounge, said you certainly don’t have to be a Hotel Havana guest to stop by their restaurant. All Ocho guests are special guests!

Be sure to read Shannon’s blog, at The Long Table,  for more details and a great interior picture. This is definitely a YES place for breakfast (especially for the sweet items) when you are ready for a leisurely treat. They are actually open long hours and their All-Day Menu is intriguing.

Ocho Lounge at The Havana Hotel – 1015 Navarro St., San Antonio

Food Truck Throw Down This Weekend

Food Truck Foodies unite!  It’s a “Food Truck Throw Down” this Friday through Sunday in San Antonio  (July 29th – 31st) at  Boardwalk on Bulverde (preferred haunt of the Rickshaw Stop)!   All food is affordable and the entertainment won’t stop. We hear that 28 food trucks from all over the state will be there with cuisines as varied as the towns in Texas.

Here are a few of the regular food trucks at Boardwalk on Bulverde.

K-Hill BBQ

Rickshaw Stop

KC’s Cones

Watch for the Duk Truck (random rotating cuisine), Guilty Pleasures (comfort food) and Tapa Tapa (small plates, but especially fresh fruit with pop rocks) along with many others.

If you fall in love with Boardwalk on Bulverde, return for “family-friendly fun,” on Kid’s Movie Night each Thursday this summer. Friday and Saturday evenings include a DJ who brings the kids in on the musical fun, too.

To Boardwalk on Bulverde

(click on map for full view)

*We recommend: 1) Evenings in the summer month, and 2) Sample a little of everything!

 

Too Fun to Describe in a Headline

Gather your adventurous friends and family members and get ready for the most unique Texas Hill Country Night Trip (as opposed to Day Trip) you’ve probably ever had. We can personally testify that, though the weather is as hot as can be, the journey is a HOOT.

Once you round up your “podnas” you’ll head out to the

Brick’s River Cafe Along the Medina River

Cowboy Capital of the World — Bandera, Texas. Where you’ll definitely want to plan an early dinner at Brick’s River Cafe. After an informal poll, Judy at Twin Elm Guest Ranch, recommended Brick’s as the best dining spot in the area. Owner, Brick Gibson, promises to offer you a warm welcome, friendly service and a wonderful meal in a great atmosphere. Brick says that folks LOVE the handbreaded Angus chicken fried steak with two homemade sides. Healthier alternatives include grilled talapia or chicken with lots of salad choices. Almost all meals are $10 or less. Here’s a map to get you there, but be sure to note this cozy spot is located behind the River Oak Inn.

Twin Elm Rodeo

After dining along the Medina River, it’s off to the Twin Elm Rodeo. This is a small regional rodeo held every Friday night all summer long. We can personally attest to the fun of sitting just yards away from every event and watching locals practice their rodeo skills. Don’t want to drive home? The Twin Elm Guest Ranch folks will be glad to put you up for a night. Just give ’em a call ahead of time to be sure they have a spot for you! If you stay for a while you can have your own horseback ride there.

So ya’ll pick yurselves a good Friday to mosey on over to Bandera and have a whoppin’ good time.

From Frugal Finds to Dine & Date

CHANGE is our summer slogan around here, and our second change (following the new look of this page) is the switch from our Frugal Finds category to Dine & Date. Not much difference in the content — we’ll still be telling you about unique activities or events near one of the best restaurants in the area (which  happens to offer GOOD food for $5 or $10).

For example, we have a real adventure coming up for you soon in the Cowboy Capital of the World! In fact, as we prepare for that, we’d like to know what your favorite restaurant is in the big city of  — well, we’ll tell you — BANDERA, TX. We’ll be watching for your recommendations!

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.

Celebrate San Antonio

Texas' Largest!

We’ve always loved San Antonio, and one of the many things we’re crazy about  is the great fun you can have on any budget. It’s a beautiful place to visit — especially this time of year! If you’re really adventurous you’ll make plans to attend the biggest annual New Year’s celebration (that’s FREE) in Texas! Here’s the scoop:

Ticket Cost: FREE
Location: 600 Hemisfair Plaza Way, San Antonio, TX 78205
Link: http://www.celebratesa.org
Times: 6:00 PM – 12:30 AM
Phone: 210-212-8423
Event Date: Friday, December 31, 2010

Celebrate San Antonio

This event has something for everyone. The huge downtown fiesta begins on S. Alamo Street between Market and Durango and throughout historic La Villita. Admission is free and festivities continue until 12:30 a.m. The highlight is the countdown to midnight and the spectacular Fireworks Extravaganza showcasing the Tower of the Americas.

This is a great way to usher in the new year. Organizers stress that it is family friendly, with a focus on good entertainment and safety.

Not interested in a big party? We would be remiss not to mention the great food and wonderful service at our $5 and $10 Dining restaurants in San Antonio.

However you plan to spend your big weekend, we hope that you and your family will have a fun and safe celebration, and that your New Year will be prosperous and blessed.

Happy New Year

The $5Dining & $10Dining Team