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!

 

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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!

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.

The Quest Begins

$5 Dining’s quest for the best meals under $5 has begun. The introductory video and first three installments are viewable on $5 Dining’s YouTube channel. If you haven’t started watching, yet, you’ll want to start now. These videos sample amazing meals for $5 and tell a little bit of the history of the restaurant.

Filming the videos is a lot of fun. $5 Dining gets to talk with owners, see kitchens, and sample the delicious meals offered for $5 or under. We also get to find out fun facts and stories.

Filming at Taco Haven

Filming at Taco Haven

For example, when $5 Dining arrived at Taco Haven to film week 2, we found it was the exact day of their 40th anniversary. Ben got to interview Olga Torres, the daughter-in-law of Taco Haven’s original founder.

Watch the videos and tell us what you think. What meal do you think is the best meal under $5 in San Antonio?

Happy Dining!
Annie
$5 Dining