A Quick Mediterranean Pleasure

It was time for a lunch meeting. We would be hovering around the I-10/Wurzbach area in San Antonio and I remembered how much I enjoyed Pasha Mediterranean Grill in the past. We decided to meet there, but had to plan ahead:

Problem – they’re just too crazy-busy during the lunch hour (that speaks volumes 🙂 )

Solution – go to lunch at 11

Result – fast service, three friendly servers for our table, great food and quiet surroundings until noon

Pasha’s Gyros Plate

This is what I ordered. This is what I always order. When I discover something really good, I have to feel especially adventurous to stray from it — boring, but dependable.  So, when my lunch buddy ordered the Gyros Wrap (almost identical to my plate) a mighty-menu-meal struggle waged in my mind. Do I order something different for the sake of the blog? Or, do I stay dedicated to my Gyros Plate fav? You see the answer pictured above.

One bite told me I’d made the right choice. The generous pile of lean ground beef and lamb had lots of flavor. I always appreciate the authentic Grecian Sauce which I use to make my own Gyros wrap. The hummus and fresh Greek salad are lite, tasty compliments to the otherwise hearty meal. It’s well worth the price — especially with the unlimited servings of hot naan (a HUGE fluffy sort of Mediterranean tortilla).

This location is near the Medical Center, but they’ve just opened a new location on 1604 and Blanco. Click here for more info about Pasha.

We recommend: Almost any menu item. Also,  go during “off hours” because of the crowd.


Can’t Stop Thinking About the Pakistani Food Truck

Rickshaw Stop Food Truck

When we received an invitation to stop by Rickshaw Stop — a local Pakistani street food truck — we went ready to meander through their entire menu. As it turns out, the menu was short and uncomplicated. The food was fresh and delicious!

We pulled into the Boardwalk on Bulverde (regular haunt of the Rickshaw Stop), and realized this visit was going to be an adventure. Food trucks were circled around a picnic area like pioneer wagons for the night. Kids were playing on the gym equipment while folks were ordering up their favorites from the trucks  serving their specialties.

Sameer and Meagan Siddiqui

Owners, Sameer and Meagan Siddiqui, made us feel especially welcome with their friendly descriptions of the menu items. Sameer’s mother, aunt and uncle are all key players in this family venture, too. The family’s journey, which began in India and Pakistan, ended in San Antonio via New York.

Chicken and Beef Kebabs

Our little band of foodies ordered up everything on the menu and shared around the picnic table. The Kebabs (not Kabobs), look somewhat like a Mexican taco, but the flavors are very different. Wrapped in a Paratha (Pakistani tortilla?), the beef or chicken Kebabs were packed with flavor — especially after we sampled the various freshly made sauces on top. Our favorite Kebab? The chicken with Tamarind sauce. Mmmm. Loved those Parathas, too.

Next came the Samosas. These crusty little pillows of flavor are inexpensive and fun to eat — smaller and lighter than the Indian versions we’ve eaten in the past. And dare I tell you? They’re obviously deep fried (uh oh), but the pastry shell is hand made and the fillings are great. Again, the three sauces were generously applied at will. All three Samosas (beef, chicken and vegetarian) were a hit with me, but then, I did use the word “fried” in my description didn’t I?

Samosas (chicken, beef and vegetarian)

What’s Kheer? Think rice pudding, made with rice milk, sugar, cardamom and rose water. These tasty little cups of unavoidable goodness are topped off with crunchy chips of almonds and pistachios. Speaking of desserts, we weren’t allowed to leave without sampling the one non-Pakistani item on the menu… Mom Siddiqui’s own recipe for Baklava. This version has much less honey, but plenty of flaky pastry. Sameer confesses his frequent addiction to crumbled Baklava stirred inside a bowl of Kheer. Ooooh,  Yum + Yum = YUM!

Baklava

This place is “family-friendly,” too, with a Kid’s Movie Night on Thursday. Friday and Saturday evenings include a DJ who brings the kids in on the musical fun. Be sure to check the Rickshaw Stop website for their various hours of operation (usually just three evenings and Saturdays) and more details about their menu items.

In the end, I knew this place was a hit when, just five hours later, I was thinking about when I could return.

Our Recommendations: The Chicken Kebabs with Tamarind Sauce, all of the Samosas, the Baklava and Kheer. Also, go in the evening during cooler hours if  the summer sun is glaring.

Happy Rickshaw Guests

Chuy’s Chewy Tortilla Soup

Perhaps “Chewy” isn’t the appropriate word to describe Chuy’s soup, but I couldn’t resist using it in the title. Actually, their soup is a little on the delightfully crunchy side. Here’s my story in our continuing Quest for the Best Tortilla Soup.

We held a lunch meeting last week at Chuy’s. I’ll admit it, I usually get to pick the locations of our meetings because, well, people think I know where the good food is — especially folks like me who don’t want to spend more than $10!

Chuy’s Tortilla Soup

A Facebook fan of ours had recommended Chuy’s Tortilla Soup in our Quest for the Best Tortilla Soup, so we marched in the door on that 98 degree day with soup on our agenda. Why conduct this search in the summer? Actually, a little heat isn’t a problem if you’re sitting in an air conditioned restaurant PLUS tortilla soup is timeless. No matter what time of the day or season of the year, it’s a favorite among soup lovers who know of its existence.

Each bowl at each restaurant is unique. So far, the only absolutely absolute ingredient for tortilla soup with all of the restaurants we’ve visited, has been the tortilla chips. I’ve realized that all other ingredients are variables. For instance, here’s the lowdown on Chuy’s version.

We loved it. Okay, we love certain parts of almost every tortilla soup we’ve tried, but we only write about the ones that are especially good. What stands out with Chuy’s version? Nuggets of corn buried deep in the bowl. Chunks of chopped tomato allow the absence of tomato sauce in the broth. I especially enjoyed the bits of fresh cilantro, which we surprisingly have not found in many other  soups we’ve tried.

The more customary broth, shredded chicken, white cheese and tortilla strips were all balanced well — not too much — just right. The flavor was really good, though not to the extent that we went “wow” as we took our first bite. In all, it definitely fits in our Best category!

Prosciutto, Kalamata Olives, Peppadew Peppers and More…

Whole Foods Pizza with Artichoke Hearts, Spinach, Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives

Our Quest for the Best sometimes takes us to unexpected places. Recently, I was wandering around Whole Foods in San Antonio. My mission was  to buy organic cotton balls. Cotton balls have nothing to do with food, but let me just say, those SOFT little white things would make the crustiest person feel pampered.

A Terrific Thursday Deal

Getting back to food. My meanderings took me to the huge cheese department, which naturally made me think of pizza. The next thing I knew I was staring at their hot pizza case and thinking about letting Whole Foods prepare our dinner for the evening. That’s when I noticed their sign about the Thursday $10 special.

Fast as a locomotive, I assessed the size of their 16″ pizzas, added up the six enormous pieces, and concluded at least 3 people could enjoy an incredible pizza for only $10 on Thursdays. My brilliant math mind calculated roughly $3.33/person, which left extra money for a trip to their unforgettable fresh salad bar.

Prosciutto, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Pesto and more

No matter what ingredients you choose, I guarantee you will LOVE this stuff. Though each bite is robust with flavor, each ingredient is delicately distinguishable. All ingredients are found on their store shelves and the wheat pizza dough is made from scratch with organic  flour.

I usually recommend a favorite of whatever I sample at the restaurants we visit. However, I have to say that choosing a favorite here is pretty challenging. Previously, the “Grilled Vegetable” pizza (fresh grilled zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, onions, bell peppers and four cheeses) was my fav. Last night’s samples crumpled my clarity and now I can’t decide which ingredients I prefer. I know for sure the peppadew peppers on the pizza pictured here were especially memorable. Whole Foods provides a menu of pizza choices, but I usually buy with my eyes and order up what looks good in the hot case.

Peppadew Peppers and Pesto

Take-out isn’t necessary. If you haven’t made a trip to Whole Foods, they actually have a Cafe where you can very casually “dine”.

So, have a seat. Close your eyes. Imagine you’re in a really cool pizza joint, and think about the flavors as you munch on your hot, healthy piece-a-pizza pie.

Going it alone? Try two pieces for $5 any day! Vegan available, too.

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!