Gerardo De Anda was flipped into the air by a bull while participating in the traditional run in Pamploma, and perhaps that gave him the courage to team up with his sister, Vanessa, to open their first restaurant in the fickle San Antonio market in February. My husband and I met Gerardo, the charming owner of Toro Kitchen + Bar, when we stopped in for an early bite last Saturday night. The casual yet sophisticated ambiance and cozy space—warm wood, white brick, with nods to the Spanish menu in the artwork and wine—immediately reminded us of the now-defunct Malaga, one of our favorite restaurants in Austin. We have been lamenting the lack of tapas restaurants in San Antonio for years, so we were thrilled with the variety of tapas the Toro menu offers. Three of our favorite were Jamón Serrano con Melon, a tasty Serrano ham with cantaloupe; the Al Ajillo, a nice garlic & chili spice sauté, which we had with shrimp; and the Queso de Cabra Frito, a fried goat cheese with caramelized onions and honey. They have award-winning paella on the menu, too, which smelled incredible as it arrived at a neighboring table.
The patio, with both shaded and sunny seating areas and a large fountain at the center, is a perfect after-work retreat, especially with the addition of happy hour weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m. A Spanish guitarist sets the mood on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and brunch is available on Saturday and Sunday.
If you haven’t found Toro yet, it may be because it’s a little hidden. Tucked into a space in the Mediterranean-style shopping plaza at Tuscany Stone and Loop 1604 in Stone Oak, you almost have to be looking for it to see it. From the looks of the full tables, plenty of folks are doing just that.
Check out Toro Kitchen + Bar at 115 N. Loop 1604 E., Suite 1105 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to midnight; and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, click on Toro Kitchen + Bar. (And a special bonus—you can also find the video of Gerardo’s bull encounter there.)
My whole team loves #brunch, so we were excited to hear that Snooze an A.M. Eatery, is opening its doors March 1 in the Quarry Market. Founders (and brothers) Jon and Adam Schlegel knew they had a hit on their hands when they opened the first location in Denver in 2006 and had people lining up in the snow that year to get their Brewmosa and Benedict fix. We’ve enjoyed the Austin and Denver locations, and love the fact that you can opt for something super healthy like the quinoa bowl with roasted veggies and wild mushrooms, or go for decadent indulgence—can you say pancake flight? Another plus, Snooze is dedicated to working with local purveyors like 44 Farms and Mill-King dairy and lists them right on the menu, so you’ll know just where your eggs and bacon originated.
Another big name heading our way—New York-based cult favorite Shake Shack. The popular fast-casual burger joint is set to open in late 2017 on land next to the Sears store at the intersection of San Pedro and 410. Expect burgers and dogs with shack sauce, seasonal shakes and even a few treats for your four-footed friend. The San Antonio location will be the company’s fifth in Texas. We’ll keep you posted on an opening date.
It’s Time Once Again to Embrace Your Inner Foodie as Restaurant Week Returns to the Alamo City August 13-27, 2016.
For 15 days, participating restaurants will be enticing diners to escape the summer doldrums with special three-course prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner throughout the city. No tickets or reservations are required to participate, but a quick call to the restaurant in advance wouldn’t hurt. Whether you decide to enjoy your go-to neighborhood spot or branch out to a place you’ve wanted to try, there is something for everyone at a price that won’t put a dent in your pocketbook. Restaurants designated Tier 1 offer a $15 lunch and a $35 dinner, and Tier 2 restaurants offer a $10 lunch and $25 dinner menu. Better yet, when you order from the special Restaurant Week menu, restaurants will donate $1 (for lunch) and $2 (for dinner) to Culinaria and the programs it supports. So you not only eat well, you can feel great doing it!
Not sure where you should start? Try one of these “Best Bets”:
J. Prime Steakhouse turns the standard steakhouse on its head, bringing authentic Brazilian flair and flavor to the traditional steak and potatoes menu. Inspired cuisine, impeccable service and a lovely dining area provide all the reason you need to head there—but $35 for their perfectly finished 6 oz. filet mignon or the decadent herbed lamb chops, plus lobster bisque and a candied-bacon topped wedge among other choices, make it a must do during Restaurant Week! This has been Judy’s favorite restaurant for over a year and the site of our client appreciation party.
J-Prime Steakhouse, 1401 N Loop 1604 West; Phone (210) 764-1604; http://jprimesteakhouse.com/
Looking for something to please the kids, or just the kid in you? Brian West has put together a dinner menu at Smoke that showcases his celeb-chef skills, but with an extra helping of fun. With chicken and apple sausage corny dogs, finger-lickin’ BBQ-glazed ribs, all topped off with a whoopie ice cream sandwich, it’s down-home goodness the whole family can enjoy.
Smoke, 700 E Sonterra Blvd; Phone (210) 474-0175: smoketherestaurant.com/
Did someone say oysters? Silo Terrace Oyster Bar has them on their lunch and dinner menu, along with a pan-roasted barramundi with truffle-oiled fingerling potatoes, and their deep dark chocolate torte with orange hazelnut crust as a finisher, among others. It’s elevated cuisine (quite literally when you take the elevator to the posh upstairs space) at a bargain basement price
Silo (Terrace Oyster Bar), 22211 IH-10 West; Phone (210) 698-2002; www.silosa.com
Haven’t tried NAO: Latin Gastro Bar at the historic Pearl yet? Now is the time, as the Culinary Institute of America-San Antonio’s signature restaurant offers a bay scallop ceviche starter and a choice of grilled strip steak with sweet plantains or a glazed heritage pork belly with hominy and tomato, along with a spiced sweet cream tres leche cake to send you off with a smile.
Nao: Latin Gastro Bar; 312 Pearl Parkway; Phone (210) 554-6484; http://www.naorestaurant.com/
For more information about these and the many other participating restaurants offering delectable discounted menus during Restaurant Week, check out Culinaria’s website.