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

There’s a Delicious “Kick” to Their Tortilla Soup

Another Tortilla Soup Blog? Here’s what we figure. If our readers/followers/fans keep telling us about their favorite Tortilla Soup dining spots, we’ll compile the biggest Tortilla Soup directory in the country. ¡Vamos! (You can see our up-to-date photo album on Facebook.)

So, here’s the latest. Another reader, Margaret Fisher, recommended Sweet Temptations in McAllen, Tx as the best spot anywhere for Tortilla Soup. Her comment was, “I know it’s not in S.A., but when in the Valley, you’ve got to try Sweet Temptations…both the ‘tortilla’ and the ‘green chile’ are the best!”

Sweet Temptations Tortilla Soup

We recently chatted with owner, Marty Lipscomb. Marty and his wife, J.P., make their Tortilla Soup fresh every day. Though they make several fresh soups each week, this is their guests’ favorite.

Did we use the word “meatless” yet? This version has no chicken (yay, vegetarians!) with whole field tomatoes, zuccini, seasonings, cheddar and their own in-house white corn tortilla chips. (Now that makes me wonder what else they’re making with the whole tortillas!?) You’ll find Rotel tomatoes in the base with a few other secret ingredients. The only dairy is the cheddar on top. This favorite soup is made fresh daily and, oh, we must tell you the spicy “kick” is there, but it’s slight and just right.

What else can you enjoy at Sweet Temptations? Chicken Cordon Bleu, hand breaded Chicken Fried Steak and Shrimp, wonderful salads w/ house made dressings, a variety of other freshly made soups, and on and on.

These folks are open for breakfast and lunch only, so be sure to call ahead for their hours of operation. Here’s the link to their website once again.

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!

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

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?