Luvin’ that Magazine

“True, Texas” is the cover story for this month’s issue of Texas Highways Magazine (September, 2011). For years, we have pointed our hearts toward the destinations the writers in this magazine tell of. They’ve been our inspiration for travel and dining and just plain Texas pride for many years. With regard to the cover story they write, “We searched the state to select this year’s slate of true Texas icons. All the elements in our mythical town resonate with Texans everywhere.”

I especially enjoyed the story about the “Bakery Cafe” in Aransas Pass (no website or Facebook page at this time). The timing of this article is perfect. Summer is almost over — at least in relation to school starting. Touristy Texas will calm down a little and we’ll hit the road. One of our stops will now be the Bakery Cafe because the description of their diverse and delicious menu. In the meantime, we’ll try our best to avoid thinking of the hand-breaded chicken fried steaks or hand-patted burgers. If imaginations of their steaks, seafood or Mexican food start forming in our minds, we’ll just shut out the torture pack up the car, and do some first-hand sampling ourselves.

Why not check them out?

The Bakery Cafe in Aransas Pass

434 South Commercial Street
Aransas Pass, TX 78336-1808

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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‚ÄôS BANANA BREAD with Chunky Peanut Butter, Sliced Banana and Honey. (I asked for the peanut butter on the side ūüôā ) 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

Honoring A Bit of San Antonio Dining History

Featuring locally owned restaurants is our specialty. We love focusing on the epicurean entrepreneurs — the owners and their families — who dig deeply into their daily existence to serve fresh food every day their way.

A slice of¬† San Antonio entrepreneurial history can be found at Earl Abel’s Restaurant on the Austin Highway.¬†¬† We recently came across this video the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce produced because Earl Abel’s Restaurant has been a participating member since 1933! We could tell you wonderful things about the faithful staff and great food at Earl Abel’s, but the video says it all. Simply click on the picture below and enjoy!

Congratulations to Roger Arias and the great staff at Earl Abel’s!

 

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!

 

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

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‚Äôs 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