Fiesta Oyster Bake- The Heartbeat of Fiesta

You may have heard Fiesta San Antonio referred to as “A party with a purpose” and if you have ever been to Oyster Bake at St. Mary’s University, you know it’s a huge party with a great purpose.  This year’s festival marks the 100th anniversary of one of the biggest and best Fiesta events this city has to offer.  The Fiesta Oyster Bake committee estimates 7,000 volunteers work over 50,000 hours to put on this 2 day event for 60,000+ attendees. Held the first Friday and Saturday of Fiesta every year, this year’s event was just as fun as it always is. 

The event boasts some of the best festival food and drinks along with various stages with bands playing tunes to suite almost any musical taste.  This year, some of the headliners included rock band Chevelle, Texas country singer Kevin Fowler, and Tejano star Bobby Pulido.  There was also a carnival on site that buzzed all day and night long.  April in San Antonio usually means heat, humidity, and rain and it is looking to be no exception this year.  There was a high chance of rain threatening the day but that didn’t stop the crowds from showing up and luckily for everyone, it didn’t end up raining at all.  
  The Oyster Bake carnival is perfect for kids (and kids at heart) while others use the grassy area near by to take a break from the fun.

In my experience attending Oyster Bake, I can say there are two types of people who attend:  1) Arrive early to enjoy no lines and the laid back atmosphere of the day 2) Arrive after 5pm, deal with the crowds and rock out to the headlining bands.  

I used to be a group #2 attendee but over the last few years I have converted and I am now a proud member of group #1.  No matter which group you belong to, you will no doubt have a great time.  
  
The infamous Chicken on a Stick.  

Food options at Oyster Bake vary widely.  Of course, there are oysters!  You can get them baked, fried, and as a shot (raw served in a little plastic cup).  If you have never been to OB, as a first timer, you have to get the baked oysters just for the experience.  After renting an oyster shucking knife, find a spot to crack open your oysters to enjoy.  Don’t forget to find the oyster shell recycling station when you’re done!  As an Oyster Bake veteran, I opt for the oyster shot.  Less mess and easy to garnish with cocktail sauce, horse radish, lemon juice and Tabasco. 

Other food options include everything from fajita tacos and pizza to hamburgers and turkey legs.  And there are so many options for food on a stick- shrimp, sausage, steak and of course chicken.  I found out yesterday that not only can you order a chicken on a stick with a jalapeño, you can ask them to dip it in the jalapeño juice for a little extra zing! 

Food and beer options vary from  $2 to $7 (at .50 cents a coupon) depending on what you’re buying.  Definitely plan ahead based on how hungry and thirsty you are.  A chalupa at Oyster Bake

 
Pro-tip #1:  Use Via Park and Ride to get to Oyster Bake.  The event takes place on the St. Mary’s campus which is surrounded by neighborhoods so parking on the streets fills up fast or you’ll have to pay $15 -$20 for anything nearby.  The Via will drop you off right in front of one of the entrance gates and only costs $2.50 each way (discounts available for kids, students, and seniors).  Plus, you get a free coupon for a bottled water or soda to redeem at Oyster Bake.  Check out their website for more info on how to use Park and Ride for the remaining Fiesta events here: http://www.viainfo.net/SpecialEvents/FiestaService.aspx

Pro-tip #2: If you’re planning to stay into the evening to watch the headlining bands, bring your lawn chairs and umbrellas to set up.  Find a great spot for watching the shows and make it your home base for the day.  Not only will you have an area to come back to through out the day for resting and cooling down from the heat, but you’ll have a great area for watching the headliners later in the evening.  Don’t worry about leaving your chairs unattended while you walk around, they will be there when you come back- San Antonio is friendly like that!  PS: no coolers are allowed.

Want more information about this event for next year? Find it all here: http://www.oysterbake.com/index.html

Be sure to put this event on your calendar for 2017…Happy Fiesta!

-CL

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Let’s Fiesta, San Antonio!

Hey San Antonio!  It’s that time of year again- Fiesta 2016!

If you’ve been in this town for any period of time, then you probably already knew that.  I read a Facebook post earlier this week where someone said “we can feel it in the air!” and they couldn’t be more right.  Let’s face it, although the festivities don’t officially begin until later today, the party has already begun.  For the last two weeks there were Fiesta medal launch parties popping up all over the place (my collection is out of control!), houses and businesses are decorated with papel picado, and I just received a Chicken on a Stick cookie!

It’s my favorite time of year.  Yes, even more than Christmas.  Who else out there has their yearly Fiesta staycation all lined up?  This year you will catch me at the usual events- Fiesta Fiesta for Pin Pandemonium, Market Square, Oyster Bake, The River Parade, NIOSA, The Battle of Flowers Parade, King William Fair, and the Fiesta Flambeau Parade.  I’m also going to be trying out a few new events I have never been to like the Deco Festival, Chilli Queen Fest, and Cornyation (yes, I know- I’ve never been!).

For those of you who don’t know, Fiesta started as a single parade to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto but has grown to 11 days of parties, festivals, parades, and so many other events.  It is also now referred to as the “Party with a Purpose” because official Fiesta events raise funds for various charities and services through out the city.  Fiesta 2016 is the 125th anniversary of Fiesta!

It's time! #fiesta2014

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One of my favorite pictures event though the Hemisphere Arch is no longer there- wasn’t she so pretty all dressed up for Fiesta?

A few Fiesta virgins have asked me about where to go that would be a good first time event and my recommendation is the Southwest School of Art Festival this Saturday and Sunday (4/16 & 4/17) or Tuesday night at NIOSA.  For NIOSA, get there before gates open to grab good parking (or even better- grab an uber) and walk in when the gates open.  It’s usually less crowded on Tuesdays so you’ll be able to walk around and enjoy before the craziness starts.  The lines for the chicken on a stick and the anticucho get really long- be sure to hit those booths up early to avoid the lines.

What would you recommend to Fiesta first-timers?

NIOSA 2015

NIOSA 2015 with Valdez family and friends

NIOSA 2014 fam

NIOSA 2014 with Vera family and friends

Chicken on a stick! Fiesta must- have! #fiesta2015 #safoodpics

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You must get a Chicken on a Stick- find them at Oyster Bake or at NIOSA in the Froggy Bottom area.

 

Follow me on Instagram @mrs_liserio for fun events and Fiesta information.

You can buy your own chicken on a stick cookie (plus other cute Fiesta inspired cookies) here-  https://www.facebook.com/nancysfancycookies/?fref=ts

Check out this link to find a full list of events-  http://www.fiesta-sa.org/events

Looking for the free events? Check here-  http://www.mysanantonio.com/fiesta/article/Fiesta-for-free-30-events-that-don-t-charge-7226466.php#photo-4494858

¡VIVA FIESTA!

-CL

 

 

The Clean Plate

I’m just going to get this out of the way now- The Clean Plate is one of my all time favorite restaurants in San Antonio.  I don’t know why they picked the name but I suspect it has to do with either the fact that it’s a farm to table restaurant that only uses locally sourced, non-GMO food or that their food is so good you will literally clean your plate.  Probably both reasons right?

Ok, now a bit of bad news.  Their ridiculously delicious fried chicken is not currently on the menu. This stuff is seriously the best fried chicken in SA.  It was two large pieces of juicy, fried chicken served with smashed potatoes, the best glazed carrots I’ve ever had in my life and this wonderful tarragon cream gravy.  Keep an eye out for it to show up on the menu again and then get there as quickly as you can to try it out!  The good news is that it has been replaced with a chicken fried steak that made up for all of the sorry chicken fried steaks I’ve been subjected to.

Lil Emma’s shrimp nachos as a starter- chipotle, black beans, cilantro cream, cheese.

The menu here is small but packed with so many delicious options.  You won’t be disappointed with anything you choose.  There are so many rave reviews about the Mac and Cheese as well as the Gua Bao (braised Asian pork belly in a steamed bun) and those reviews are right.  If you go with a group, order a few appetizers to share with the table.

You also cannot go wrong with the Spaghetti Bolognese.  It sounds like a simple dish but there’s something about the meat sauce that really makes it more than just a bowl of spaghetti.  I haven’t had the waygu burger myself, but Jonathan is a fan.

Chicken fried steak with smashed potatoes, glazed carrots (of my dreams) and bacon cream gravy. 

On top of how awesome their food is, the waitstaff is amazingly friendly and helpful.  Don’t let the tiny little building throw you off- good things come in small packages!  Find some time to stop by while we are still having this nice, mild weather and grab a table on the patio.

Fettuccine Alfredo with grilled shrimp.

Pro-tip #1- The Clean Plate does not serve alcohol BUT they are totally BYOB friendly.  Bring your own wine then sit back, relax, and get ready to enjoy your evening.

Pro-tip #2 – I hear lunch time during the week can get pretty busy so it might be best to try this place out for an early dinner or on the weekend.
You can find them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and here: http://thecleanplatesanantonio.com

– CL

SoLuna

It may be raining and  cold-ish in San Antonio right now but earlier today when the sun was still out, I had an awesome lunch on the patio at Sol Luna.  First, I’ll start with this: If you have never had a chispa from Sol Luna, your life is not complete.  Seriously.  Sol Luna is on my top 5 list of  best Mexican restaurants in San Antonio for more reasons than just the Chispa.  Located on Brodaway, less than a mile inside Loop 410, it’s a super central spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Luckily this place is located very close to my comadre’s* house so we eat here more often than we probably should.


  The patio is back there behind those trees, plants and flowers- which offers a shady spot to enjoy an afternoon. 

Sol Luna has a very big menu that offered everything from traditional Tex Mex to more traditional Mexican fair.  Today, my dining partners had the cabrito tacos and cheese enchiladas with meat sauce while I had the Avacado Relleno.  I’ve had quite a few things off of the menu and haven’t been disappointed yet.


Guacamole appetizer with Pico de Gallo. 

When you go to Sol Luna, you must order a Chispa.  It’s basically a margarita that packs a big punch. 

Some other things to know about Sol Luna:  1) If you’re in the mood, you can also catch Mariachi’s wandering around looking to play songs for you 2) On Sundays they serve a paella brunch  3) Their sister restaurant is El Mira Sol on Blanco (near Bitters) where the food is just as good and you can also get a Chispa.

 

The menu offers more than traditional Tex-Mex food.  This is the Avacado Relleno- stuffed with crab and shrimp salad and tossed with a light vinaigrette.

Pro-tip #1- I’ve said it already, but don’t order a margarita- order the Chispa.

Pro-tip #2- Grab a seat on the expansive patio, especially on really nice days.  It’s covered with lush plants and flowers so it offers the right amount of shade perfect for sipping drinks.  This place can get busy on Friday and Saturday nights, so get there early.

Find them on Facebook and here: http://calvillosmexicanfood.com/

Happy eating!

-CL
*Comadre = Godson’s parent in Spanish

Coffee with a View at Paramour

To start with, I will say that Paramour is one of my favorite coffee spots.  But I’ll be completey honest- I was kind of disappointed the first time I went to Paramour because of the vibe and crowd it attracted.  It is such a beautifully built and decorated bar with a HUGE selection of beer and liquor to choose from but it reminded me that the atmosphere of a bar really makes a difference.  When I found out that they decided to start a coffee program, I got excited to go back and give the place another try.  So we went back and now it’s one of my favorite morning spots for coffee. 

Even on a cloudy day, you can’t beat this view in SA. 

When it comes to coffee, I’m pretty simple.  I like strong, dark roasted black coffee.  So when I go to Paramour, I order the drip coffee (which comes with a free refill).  Their menu contains most of the standard items you’d expect for a coffee bar so you should find something you like easily.  They also have some special things like the Americanski which is a tiny americano (watch out that glass is really hot when served!).  I’ve also tried a hot jasmine tea and an iced mocha which were both very good.  They have added drinks like an Irish coffee and bloody Mary’s to the menu which are perfect for some day drinking.  Everything is prepared on demand and with attention to detail so it’s not a place for a quick cup of coffee- it’s a perfect place to spend some time relaxing and checking out the view.

The bar, located on the 4th floor of the Phipps Building, is beautifully decorated and has plenty of couches and chairs.

Another reason I like this place for coffee so much is the people who work there.  It doesn’t hurt that Jesse, the Manager of the Coffee Program, and the rest of the baristas are incredibly knowledgable and super friendly.  If you have any questions about the menu, ask away.



Irish coffee- Irish whiskey, espresso, demerera sugar, heavy cream.

Pro-tip #1:  Parking can be tricky here especially if it’s more crowded.  There is some street parking available or valet (at night) if nothing is open in walking distance that you’re cool with.  As always, I’ll recommend taking an Uber. Also, be prepared to hike it up 4 flights of stairs since it seems like the elevator is often not available for use.  Hey, taking the stairs is good for you.

Pro-tip #2:  This is a great spot to get some work done.  Bring your laptop and grab a spot at the bar.  There are plugs installed underneath the bar so you don’t have to worry about running out of power.  I’ve also seen others use this as a meeting spot.

Find them on Facebook or at http://paramourbar.com.

– CL

Cured at Pearl

Have we talked about how much I love happy hour?  If not, I really appreciate a good happy hour.  What better way to unwind from a crazy work day.  For me, a good happy hour consists of a few things depending on what mood I’m in.  Today, I was in the mood for great cocktails, delicious food and something within walking distance.  Enter, Cured at Pearl.

First of all, this restaurant is just amazing any time of the day.  I’ve had the chance to visit for lunch, happy hour, dinner and brunch- and I’ve never been disappointed.  If you don’t know any thing about Cured, the best way for me to explain it is that they are all about the meat.  When you walk in, you’re greeted immediately by a case of hanging cured meats.  The restaurant resides in the former administration building of the Pearl Brewery and you can see where they have maintained some of the original building with the exposed brick and the old vault turned into a storage and walk in cooler space.  It also sits right in the middle of the Pearl Campus with a green patch of grass out front that attracts families, acro-yogi’s and others just looking for a good cup of coffee from Local Coffee.

I also finally learned about the XXX symbol that I’ve been seeing all over campus including inside Cured.  It dates back to European royalty where a courier would sample beer at inns along the way.  Inns serving average beer would get marked with a single X while  Inns with good beer would get marked with two X’s.  Three X’s signifies excellent beer.  Thus, the XXX symbol everywhere.


Quail legs- $0.50 a piece during happy hour.

Ok, back to the happy hour thing.  This place rocks for happy hour.  It’s a great way to try out some of their food and drinks at more affordable prices.  You can choose from the blue ribbon burger, an awesome gumbo, and fried quail legs in addition to some other rotating options.  For drinks, the signature cocktails, wines by the glass, and select beers are 1/2 off.

Are you into beer and want to try something new?  Ask for Forrest.  He’s the house Ciccerone.  A Ciccerone is like a Sommelier but for beer.


The Single Blue Ribbon Burger and fries- Bacon and beef blend burger, onion jam, and American cheese.

If happy hour isn’t your thing, that’s ok.  Still make sure you come back for lunch, dinner or brunch. 
The Starter Kit- vodka, grapefruit, jalapeño, lime, and salt.  Yum. It’s like a salty dog but with tequila and spicy. 

Pro-tip #1:  If you’re coming to happy hour, get here early and sit at the bar.  You get a front row to the charcuterie show.  Chances are, you’ll end up ordering a board for yourself because they look that good.  Happy hour runs daily from 3pm to 6pm- yes I said daily which means you can come here on Saturday for happy hour.  Can you say “day drinking”?

Pro-tip #2: Meat, meat, meat.  Seriously, get adventurous and order a charcuterie plate.  Ask for recommendations if you have no idea what you’re looking at.  And as a side note- If you’re not into meat, I’ve heard that Cured has an AMAZING vegetarian option on the menu daily that changes from day to day.

Find them on Facebook and at https://curedatpearl.com/

-CL

PS. I don’t quite know why these pictures are so big but I’m still figuring all this blog stuff out.

TBA Snack Bar & Cocktails

If you know me even a little bit, you know that TBA is my favorite bar in the city.  If someone was looking for me, chances are they could find me here for happy hour on Fridays (and other days TBH really).  Jonny and I stumbled on to this place early on when it first opened and haven’t stopped coming here since.  In fact, one of our best friends these days is a fellow TBA barfly (shoutout to Sean!).  Why do we like this place so much?  That’s easy- not only can you grab a great cocktail and some really good food- but it has a super laid back atmosphere with absolutely ZERO pretentiousness.

Don’t take this wrong, but chances are that if you’ve been out lately, you may have hit up one of those bars where the bartenders are “mixologists”, wear suspenders, old timey hats, and ironic handle bar mustaches.  All the while- only serving one type of vodka and silently judging you when you order a Jack and Coke.  On the flip side, what you get at TBA is those same craft cocktails made with fresh fruit and juices AND you can still order a Jack and Coke if you really want to without getting the side eye.

Do yourself a favor and don’t order a Jack and Coke though.  TBA has a great house cocktail selection featuring some long standing drinks that have been on the menu from almost the beginning.  Get adventurous and try out the Juan Collins, the South Flores, or the Rye n’ Gosling which are all cocktail menu staples here.  Also, it doesn’t hurt at all that they are only $5 during happy hour that lasts until 8pm through out the week.

With all of that cocktail drinking, you’re bound to get hungry.  No worries- TBA has snacks that will hit the spot.  From their grilled cheese sandwiches (accompanied by some of the best pickled veggies I’ve ever had) to the cheese plate and hummus, everything is perfect to pair with what ever you happen to pick as your drink of choice.   You won’t regret ordering the Westsider- it’s a grilled cheese sandwich made of Monterrey Jack and Barbacoa.  Can you say “puro SA”?

The other great thing about TBA is that it is located on the St. Mary’s strip which has many other bar and restaurant options in walking distance.  Located in the space formally known as Salute, the outside is mostly non-descript without big signs and lights.  If you need another landmark, you can find TBA across the street from Hardbodies (don’t even act like you don’t know where Hardbodies is).  Have a drink at TBA and then take a walk down the street to change it up.

image

The Westsider w/ pickles

Pro-tip #1: Don’t show up here expecting to order a Bud Light or Miller Light because they don’t serve those beers here and you should consider that a good thing.  TBA has a huge canned and bottled beer selection to choose from.  Instead of asking the bartenders “what beers do you have?”, walk to the left of the bar and take a look for yourself.  I’m sure you’ll find something you like already- otherwise, don’t hesitate to ask for a recommendation based on what you already like.

Pro-tip #2:  If you don’t frequent the St. Mary’s strip, you may not know that parking can become a nightmare as the night goes on.  Get there early to grab a spot directly behind the bar or on the street.  Or just Uber it.

This is a great spot for a casual first date, a work happy hour, or just to have a few drinks with some friends or homeboys.  Stop by and say hi to Miller, Evan, Peyton, and Haley.

Look for them on Facebook and at http://tbasatx.com

– CL