Thursday, February 14, 2013

Drunken Valentine

This is what I'm talking about...
(Idea via Mr. Kate)
Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mini-Travel Feature: San Antonio Pearl Brewery Complex Staycation

It's been a while since I've featured a travel posting. In fact, it's been quite some time since hubby and I have been traveling since our honeymoon in Hawaii (read about it here.) We have been all home remodeling and no play. We are fighting the dull boy/dull girl syndrome.

Today I'm featuring a newer side of our home town that we are quite impressed by. All that was required was that we venture outside of our comfy routine. How many times do we frequent the same restaurants and shops? Do you drive the same road home, without taking a new route at random? What about taking the time to read the local newspaper in a search to try something new? It's easy to be a creature of habit.

Since we have been stuck in San Antonio with a big list of to-do's, we decided to try some of the newest bars, restaurants and cafes that have popped up in the Pearl Brewery Complex of San Antonio. This complex has really made a facelift for San Antonio, in my opinion.

You see, locals never care to go to the downtown Riverwalk. Indeed it is a gorgeous part of the city, however, I find that many of the restaurants and bars leave much to be desired and take a big hit on your wallet. And where else is there to go in the city that doesn't include the typical Tex-Mex and hamburger fare? The Pearl Brewery Complex has satisfied a much-needed culinary and visually-pleasing desire. If you are going to empty your wallet, you might as well have enjoyed the process!
(photo via
First of all, you may ask where the heck is the Pearl Brewery Complex? To explain, the Pearl Brewery is pretty close to downtown.  The "Pearl" is actually located off of the Riverwalk extension,(a.k.a. the "Museum Reach.") There is plenty of parking on site or you can walk and/or take the River Taxi from downtown.

The Pearl Complex has quite a history and the restoration of the buildings have been top-notch. I give the developers two-thumbs up for providing modern services to a sleepy city all while keeping its historical elements. Not too many cities nor developers achieve both.

1) The Granary Cue and Brew 
(photo via
Although I'm from Texas, I've never been a huge barbeque lover. But the Granary had me at hello with "handcrafted brew" so naturally, I had to stop in. Housed snugly inside a late-1800s home at the Pearl Complex (read of its interesting history here,) you immediately feel at home.
(photo via Art and Facts)
We partook in a shared 3-course meal that was decadent on so many levels. We started off with the Texas Toast. Sounds pretty generic but oh no buddy...this will rock your world. This heavenly appetizer is comprised of toasted buttermilk bread, and on the side, a large dollop of barbeque butter with fresh cracked pepper to smear all over that bread. Barbeque butter can best be described as the brainchild of the juiciest drippings from slow smoked meat and sweet honey butter. We stuffed our faces with delight by the time I realized that I wanted to document this wonder.
We shared our "main" dish and dessert, both eloquently described below with photos. Need not say more...
(photos via Art and Facts)

2) The Boiler House Texas Grill and Wine Garden
I loved what I saw when I walked into this restaurant. The interior encompassed the love of historic preservation that the Pearl stands for. The Boiler House actually occupies the former "boiler house," which powered the Pearl Brewery more than 100 years ago. You will actually get to see two of these enormous boilers inside the restaurant, behind the bar area. Hence the name. 
(photo via
Now, if you like to try as many items an eatery can offer, this is the place for you. The Boiler House offers small plates with big flavor. It doesn't stop there. You can pair your small plates with a wide variety of beer and wine. Talk about mix and match heaven. If you thought that was as good as it could get...there's more! All items on the menu are transported from local farms and markets. Supporting a local economy while eating amazing food = Bingo!
(photos via
These are just a few teasers from the menu. You will have to try it yourself to understand the gastronomic fun I had while visiting the Boiler House. 

3) La Gloria
La Gloria was one of the first restaurants that went in at the Pearl Complex. Needless to say, this one has been one of our routine spots to nosh. The owners of this little place coin their fare as "street foods of interior Mexico." That's right boys and girls...this is not your typical run-of-the-mill Tex-Mex. Their platform is on small plates, but you get unique gourmet traditional Mexican food. Doesn't hurt that the chef is a successful CIA grad and has been featured in many travel magazines...
(photo via
The vibe is terrific--there are murals, metal sculptures and a view of the river. The patio is quite the cozy retreat. Surrounded by metal sculptures and an open lawn, La Gloria is one of the few restaurants in San Antonio where you can be as dressed up or as dressed down, bring the kids or bring the dog...just come as you are.
(photo via
Hubby and I like to try new plates each time we visit, with the only constant being a refreshing Mojito (or two)! Never have we been disappointed. If you want something very unique to Texas/San Antonio, you definitely have to give La Gloria a try. Salivating yet???

(photos via and

4) Blue Box Cocktails and Spirits
Stuffed after all that amazing food and want a digestif? Or...would you like to start here for an aperitif before picking your restaurant of choice? We have the place for you! And again, located centrally amongst the Pearl Complex!
(photo via
Handcrafted drinks prepared by a trained mixologist are making a comeback everywhere and boy...was I happy to see a bar like this make its way to San Antonio! This bar gets pretty busy late at night so if you want more of a relaxed feel, I recommend you visit early. 
(photo via Art and Facts)
You can order that old fashioned favorite or you can try any of their special concoctions listed on the blackboard. We tried a couple of blackboard items and enjoyed the complex flavors. Perfect ending to a perfect evening.
(photo via Art and Facts)

4) Green Vegetarian Cuisine
The vegetarians and vegans of the world need not feel left out. Green has moved their first of two locations out at the Pearl Complex. In a city full of tortillas, meat and grease, I have to say that Green is my savior. They offer what most don't--healthy food. But's TASTY healthy food!
(photo via
Hubby and I stopped by with dog in tow for a random Sunday brunch. We sat outside in the partial sun on a gorgeous day. Architecturally speaking, this place is something to check out. We were admiring the steel beams and modern garden surrounding the courtyard. Since this location recently opened, we were even more impressed how cleverly they finished out this corner spot at the Pearl Complex.
(photo via
Now, on to the food. We have dined at Green's first original location on Flores Street many times. They have a great assortment of vegetarian food. Green is one of the few places that hubby and I can settle on. I get my vegetarian fix and hubby can find something that is comfort food, yet healthy. When we went to the Pearl location, it was the first time we dined from their breakfast menu. Boy was I blown away! I highly recommend the Avocado Eggs Benedict. I intended to photograph the beautiful plate, but I devoured it before it crossed my mind.

5) The Luxury
If you are venturing away from downtown on the Riverwalk toward the Pearl Complex and find that you are too tired to go any further, (or don't feel like a big production of a dinner,) I must recommend The Luxury.
(photo via
In all honesty, San Antonio can be a little slow on the pickup compared to the rest of the nation. Case in point: funky and diverse mobile food establishments just started becoming plentiful in the San Antonio metroplex. The rest of the nation kicked off that trend a decade ago. I was waiting patiently until The Luxury finally opened this year (two years behind schedule.) Why the baited breath? Famous local chef Andrew Weissman was behind this gig and they set up two cargo shipping containers (one serves food, the other serves beverages.) They stringed lights overhead, and built unique tables and benches in a sort of communal style right next to the river. Killer outdoor vibe.
(photo via
The menu in itself is a challenge. It was quite difficult in making a decision of what to eat at shipping container #1. I decided on the Crispy Fish Bahn Mi and hubby ordered the Lamb Souvlaki sandwich. The Kale Salad will be shared. (In the end, I hogged up the salad!)
(photo via
A wild animal toy was given to us after we ordered. This is the best idea I've ever seen for a food marker. When we took our friends--at a later time--who have kiddos, the children were thoroughly entertained until the food arrived. We ventured to shipping container #2, where you will find an excellent array of brew and wine choices. Tasty adult beverage...check!
(photos via
Above are similar representations of what we ate. We tend to eat there at night which is difficult to photograph. (...And yes, I ate everything before the thought of photographing the food crossed my mind. Noticing a trend?..) All of their cuisine is out of this world! The flavors are quite interesting. Best described as a fusion of African, Thai and anywhere in between fresh and savory, there is nothing quite like this place. The meats were melt-in-your-mouth intense. Fried items were perfectly crispy. Salads had satisfied the tangy/sweet/salty/green flavors that I love so much. I'm addicted.
(photo via
You can stay as long as you want. The Luxury has a Bocce court. And if you are a doodler like hubby and I, they leave colored chalk laying around in buckets for you to doodle to your hearts content on their metal benches and posts. We had a nice time. Unlike most of the restaurants that Weissman operates in town, it was inexpensive, outdoors, low-key, TASTY, and allowed us to play a little!
(photo via Art and Facts)

6) There's More!
There are more divine places within the Pearl Brewery Complex that are not featured here. We simply haven't been able to try them all. As of late, additional eateries and cafes are opening up within and around the complex off of Broadway Avenue. We continue to keep our eyes open for more goodies as we 'staycation' in San Antonio. Hope that if you visit San Antonio, you give these places a try. You won't be disappointed.