When Food Network celebrity chef Guy Fieri roams the country in search of down-home eats on his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, he follows his gut. Rarely, though, does he stumble upon a “culinary compound.” But such was the case when he and his film crew visited Texas Pride Barbecue, where “It’s all about Texas,” as owner Tony Talanco told the San Antonio Express-News.
The haven of Texas-style barbecue juts out from the tall grasses, mesquite trees, and barbecue-sauce waterfalls that fill the surrounding fields. As an old filling station, Tony’s restaurant not only greets guests with the smoky scents of slow-cooked brisket, ribs, and sausage, but also with waves of nostalgia surging from antique gas pumps, jukeboxes, farm equipment, and artifacts from the 1920s through ‘60s that Tony has salvaged. In the kitchen, Tony and his cooks lavish time on their two most popular items: the brisket and the homemade barbecue sauces. After dry rubbing the brisket with seasoning, they cook it for 12 hours in a pit fueled by mesquite wood. This smoky flavor comes to life when dipped in hot or regular sauce, both of which begin with onions caramelizing in bacon fat.
Texas Pride Barbecue continues celebrating its state heritage with live music and special events that include a Bike Night and a fish fry. Such activities may have been part of the reason the San Antonio Express-News declared Texas Pride Barbecue its “Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests”—one of many awards the eatery has racked up.
A towering chalkboard announces the menu at Chef Mark's restaurant, which certified executive chef Mark Carpenter erases and redrafts each day. Drawing from nearly 40 years of experience, Carpenter oversees an experienced kitchen staff as they whip up hearty comfort breakfasts and lunches from scratch. The restaurant's countertops steam with freshly made platters of pot roasts, meatloaf, and pork chops, and a salad bar showcases colorful vegetables and dressings. Meanwhile, a dessert bar is piled high with trays of warm cinnamon buns, crusty rolls, cookies, and pies. After selecting their meals, customers retire to a sunlit dining room filled with white-clothed tables. The welcoming, communal atmosphere is accentuated by decorative flower arrangements, a bookshelf of reading material, and a prohibition on duck hunting of any kind.
At El Patron, chefs cook up an expansive menu of Mexican cuisine. Fajitas carry bounties of beef, chicken, chorizo, or veggies sizzling freshly on hot skillets, supported by a cast of burritos, quesadillas, and enchiladas, as well as vegetarian options. Meanwhile, a drinks menu details domestic and imported draft beers, as well as margaritas with lime, peach, strawberry, or mango.
Hailed by the San Antonio Express-News for “giving customers what they want,” Sausage Hauze’s owner Joaquinn Arch and his team of culinary wizards whip up savory dishes brimming with Texas barbecue. The restaurant specializes in sizzling up sausages from across the state, while the Come Here Baby sauce renders meals as tender and rich-tasting as a kiss from the Monopoly man. According to the San Antonio Express-News, the restaurant, once home to the historic Grandview Food Center, features an in-house meat smoker that envelops guests in aromatic clouds of wood smoke, much like a beaver's humidor.
Q on the Riverwalk's interactive kitchen sits in the center of a modern dining room as chefs prepare a delectable menu of worldly inspired barbecue spreads and answer questions from hungry onlookers. Sixteen sauces complement the st. louis pork ribs after they're slow smoked and tickled over an oak plank, and roast free-range chicken slathers itself in ancho-chili jus or asian five-spice rub before slowly roasting over a rotisserie grill. A panoply of burgers, such as the 8-ounce Q burger topped with barbecue pork and bookended by a bun of oatmeal brioche, adequately quell meaty cravings. Customers can cast out tongue bobbers to catch bites of the char-grilled grouper burger, a fishier take on the traditional beef-patty sandwich that's decked out in tomato confit and smoked aioli. A coda of dessert concludes nosh fests, imbuing guests with delicious fuel for after-dinner strolls, jogs, or electric slides along the nearby San Antonio River.
Since 1999, Rami's Pizza has packed its signature marinara sauce with fresh ingredients, filling calzones and topping pizzas, pastas, and Italian-style sandwiches made daily. Stone-baked pizzas crowned with traditional ingredients are made to-order, eliminating the need for tricks used by other pizzerias, such as hotboxes and adult-sized Easy-Bake Ovens.
The flavors of New Orleans are as diverse as the people who live there. So when the owners of Big Easy Cafe designed their authentic New Orleans–style menu, they didn’t just pick a few of the city's Cajun and creole classics. Rather, they decided to change the menu every day to incorporate their favorite dishes, granting customers the opportunity to sample spicy items such as Cajun catfish tacos, steaming bowls of jambalaya, and 14-inch po’ boys stuffed with seafood so fresh it's still humming tunes from The Little Mermaid. No southern meal would be complete without one of the region’s decadent desserts, including banana pudding sprinkled with crumbled wafers and bread pudding soaked in a butter-pecan rum sauce.