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Beautiful garden setting with peacocks and Asain phesants roaming the grounds. Diverse menu apealing to all tastes with an array of desserts and specialty drinks.
Citrus may be the yellow-headed stepchild of the Hotel Valencia's vibrant V Bar, but its serene dining room dishes up an array of well-wrought dishes, from a unique white gumbo to seared scallops with shrimp-topped risotto and honey-laquered duck breast in a hard-cider reduction.
ECLIPSE CAFE HAS CLOSED :-( (04/08)
The Eclipse Cafe's neutral decor plays the straight man to its menu, including the oven-roasted crispy chicken. Moist and oozing with peppery juices, the chicken beats most any in town. Go early and often: Eclipse does not accept reservations unless you are on the "preferred customer" list.
Ellington's provides a casual atmosphere with "Texas" fare along with fine wines.
Great Mexican dishes of both the seafood and solid ground variety. Ernesto's also features home-made ice cream and nine different sauces.
Think of it as a view with incidental (and expensive) dinner. Some apps and desserts are exemplary, the crab cake and chocolate torte among them, but consider ordering them in the classy bar and forget dinner. Weekend reservations often fill two weeks ahead.
San Antonio has spent lavishly on Houston Street for the very purpose of equalizing the traffic. We have widened sidewalks in anticipation of the madding crowds. There are lighted palm trees and the vaunted connection at Presa Street between Houston and the River - a stairway and associated water feature calculated to "suck" people up off the River Walk. Unfortunately, the water feature is as often featuring mud as not, and the Presa-connection public art, a series of neon-illuminated, etched glass "manhole covers" set into the sidewalk as way-finding runway lights, hasn't functioned fully since its installation. (It's useless during the day even when working properly.) Should you, despite all odds, actually make it to Houston Street - past the handsome, and brave, glass gallery and the Buckhorn's enthusiastic, bless 'em, barkers - your first big urban experience is a view of a parking lot. A real crowd-pleaser every time.
This is all a shame, for Houston Street doesn't need to be our very own Boulevard of Broken Dreams. There is already a lot to offer: Between the brash Buckhorn and the posh, new Valencia hotel alone there are several cultural and commercial attractions - the Children's Museum and the Majestic and Empire Theatres among them - worth the attention of locals and visitors alike. And there are classy bars and upscale restaurants, pioneers on an underpopulated frontier. In addition to strategic and inventive marketing, the street needs the bars and the restaurants. Among the first to stake a claim was the Houston Street Bistro, and their most recent reward for vision and perseverance has been the canceling of the final portion of the symphony's season in the adjacent Majestic. So much for the prix-fixe, pre-theater menu - at least on symphony nights. - Ron Bechtol
Beer bottlecaps crunch under your feet under the city’s best tree canopy. Such is the atmosphere at La Tuna, a Southtown fixture where bikers and artists peacefully coexist over cheap beers in the shadow of one of SA’s coolest industrial backdrops.
Housed in a defunct Denny's, Lulu's is about comfort food, wi-fi, and late-night eats: platefuls of chicken-fried steak, and, for bad cases of bottle flu, greasy omelettes slathered in fresh salsa.
Perched on the second floor of Neiman Marcus, mariposa's brightly lit, midcentury-modern dining room offers ladies who shop and lunch a refined respite, from the simple generosity of a fresh popover and demitasse of chicken broth to the rich and buttery seared rare ahi tuna salad.
Dark wood floors and high-backed booths give Oro a handsome air of sophistication. Mine the menu for strikingly modern mac 'n' cheese with a decadent truffle accent, or sample the variety of earthly soups. 50-cent Grey Goose martinis are offered with lunch Tuesdays and Fridays.
One of the few true bistros in town, as exemplified by a classic entrecote with frites and a delicious croque madame.
Hand-cut and handmade donuts, cinnamon rolls, twists, and both savory and sweet kolaches.
Kolaches-of-the-day on weekends
Baker made the best donuts while in the Highland Lakes Area according to readers of "The Picayune."
The Vineyards is the only restaurant hereabouts where you can get a glass of wine made from grapes grown right outside the dining room windows. Located about 30 minutes outside of San Antonio, the Vineyards is a destination restaurant for most of us, and as such it satisfies most fantasies. The drive, after leaving I-35 at the Natural Bridge Caverns exit, is a pleasant one; the restaurant, situated above a three-acre vineyard, is rustic-looking and unpretentious, and the interior even sports a pot-bellied wood stove - not of more than atmospheric interest for much of the year, but welcome the weekend of winter's last, recent gasp. The youthful serving staff belies the rural setting in both its earnestness and its sophistication, and although some of the wine information being dispensed to adjacent tables wasn't altogether accurate, neither was it totally misleading. And the same menu pitch - with all its attendant culinary terminology - was given to both the prom couple (he in tux, patent leather, and spiked hair, she in floor-length, off-the-shoulder red with judicious sequins) and an older pair celebrating an anniversary. So far, so good. -Ron Bechtol
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Penned in 1816 by German author E. T. A. Hoffmann, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King formed the fantastical springboard for the Tchaikovsky-scored two-act ballet The Nutcracker. Premiered in 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia, with choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, the holiday mainstay has inspired an eclectic array of adaptations—from B. Bumble and the Stingers’ boogie-woogie hit “Nut Rocker” to the burlesque satire The Slutcracker. Choreographed by Gabriel Zertuche and conducted by Akiko Fujimoto, this local production unites Ballet San Antonio and the San Antonio Symphony for dancing around the Christmas tree, a war between gingerbread soldiers and menacing mice, and an enchanting voyage in a dolphin-powered boat to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Land of Sweets.
Lady Gaga may be trying to shove “art pop” down our throats, but critics increasingly recognize Kanye West as the king of the avant-garde/radio top 40 hybrid. New York magazine’s art critic Jerry Saltz credited the rapper’s insane “Bound 2” video with creating “a collective cultural fracturing … that I call the New Uncanny.” None other than the late Lou Reed reviewed West’s Yeezus, a deeply polarizing album that dropped this summer (“lookout, this guy is making connections,” wrote Reed about West’s ability to merge hip-hop with other “high art” pursuits). Now, reviews of his Yeezus Tour describe the effort as “an energetic, artistically ambitious and at times majestic ‘concept’ concert.” The spectacle includes cultish back-up dancers, a jeweled facemask, two mountains, White Jesus, snow and more. Take that, Gaga. Kendrick Lamar opens.
The book Tamales, Comadres and the Meaning of Civilization reminds that tamales have served as “one of the keys to the survival of humans for the last 7,000 years in the Americas.” Deceptively simple in appearance, these holiday staples can prove quite challenging to make, which is the premise behind Alicia Mena’s Las Nuevas Tamaleras. Since its 1993 debut, the production has emerged as a favorite fans consider “as much a tradition with the San Antonio community as The Nutcracker.” Touching on the hard work, bonding and mishaps intrinsic to Yuletide tamaladas, Mena’s one-act comedy stars Kinya Cano, Melissa Silva and Sonia Rodriguez as first-time tamaleras who get an unexpected assist from the ghosts of tamal experts Doña Juanita (Rita Duggan) and Doña Mercedes (Lorraine Pulido).
December 8 marks the 33rd anniversary of the murder of John Lennon at the hands (gun) of an idiot whose name I don’t want to remember. Lifelong Beatles/John fan Jenny Luna started the Lennon Lives celebration with a mixed bag last year. Dozens of local artists did their best to cover Lennon’s songs and, as is usually the case at events like this, some succeeded and some didn’t. This year, those paying tribute to John include the Rosedale Highs, Tera Ferna, lovelettertypewriter, Jeremiah Bredvad, Christina Quick and more. But this is more than just about music: the tribute fest is free, and all you need to get in is non-perishable food, a blanket, warm clothing and/or toys to benefit the needy, and stay until the end for the candle vigil. I didn’t know the man personally, but something tells me John would be OK with that.
When it comes to blues piano, nine-time Blues Music Awards-winner Marcia Ball is the full package: an exhilarating combination of Texas roots and Louisiana blues, a terrific song selection (as of late, mostly written or co-written by her) and solid albums (the latest of which, Roadside Attractions, earned her a fifth Grammy nomination). Born in Orange, TX, she grew up in Vinton, La., but moved to Austin by accident in 1970, when her car broke down on her way to San Francisco and she fell in love with the Lone Star capital. She’s at her best in a live setting and Sam’s is the perfect-sounding venue for her, so get close to the stage and bring your dancing shoes and your partner—the Queen of Boogie-Woogie can sing heart-melting ballads too. With Austin-based soul, pop and R&B diva Lauren Silva.
On display will be three of Gassiot’s sculptural video installations: Empty Crib, Every Bath, and Circadian Rhythm. Brooke Gassiot is a Texas native, currently based in Austin. Her work has recently been featured in the East Austin Studio Tour, and at the Art Car Museum (Houston, TX) and Red Arrow Contemporary (Dallas, TX). That same evening The Lullwood Studios will host a small works sale in honor of the holiday season—a great opportunity to pick up unique gifts and support your local art community.
San Antonio, TX 78215
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