Willkommen bei Friesenhaus

Friesenhaus In New Braunfels

Since our great-great grandfather came over on the first boat with settlers from Germany to found New Braunfels, we periodically venture to New Braunfels to celebrate our German heritage.

This last trip war fantastisch (was fantastic) for two reasons: 1) Lots of our family members were there together, and 2) We had a blast at Friesenhaus Restaurant.

Coursing through my German veins is a passion for independently owned businesses in America. Perhaps it’s because of my heritage that I’m such a believer in living The Great American Dream.

Günter and Cornelia Dirks, came to New Braunfels from Germany with their family,  just six years ago. They had that same dream in their hearts. Their story is told well on the “About” page of their website. They planted their authentic restaurant in the old Krause’s location (an endorsement in itself) with the goal of helping to preserve the German heritage and traditions of the area.

Jagerschnitzel Lunch Special $8.99

There were 13 of us dining that Saturday evening, so we ordered just about everything on the menu. Since I didn’t want to hopscotch over everyone else’s plates, I sampled a few that we personally ordered. We were told the Schnitzels were all good, so we ordered the two most popular ones. These were  scrumptious. The prices tip-toed over our $10 mark in the evenings, so we shot a couple of pictures of lunch specials for you to

Zigeuner-Schnitzel Lunch Special $8.99

check out. I also tasted the sausage with sauerkraut and German potato salad. Sausage and sauerkraut make me think of my mama, so purely for that reason, I think it’s what I’ll order when I return.

The Dirks Family provides a really fun venue for the whole family on Friday and Saturday nights. The accordion player passes out lyrics to traditional songs for an old-fashioned sing-along. Once the accordion starts playing, children all come to the dance stage for a little

Family Friendly Live Music Friday and Saturday Nights

Kid-Friendly-Texas-Version-Polka Dancing (hardly recognizable to true polka enthusiasts, but clearly delightful for the kids).

Space limitations don’t allow me to tell you about all of the attractions at Friesenhaus, but there’s plenty of info to fill in the blanks on their website. Between the live German music, dancing, huge “Beer Boots,” gift shop, imported tea selection, bakery (did we mention Apple

Apple Strudel

Strudel?)  and good food, Friesenhaus is absolutely a family adventure you won’t want to miss.

Glücklich Essen! (Happy Dining)

Advertisements

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.

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.

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

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!

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!