Since opening in 2003, The Tasting Room has morphed from a wine bar to a full-service restaurant with four locations—all while retaining its wine-bar charm and racking up numerous awards and accolades. Diners can select libations from a list that boasts more than 200 wines, pairing them with contemporary dishes whipped up by executive chef Jonathan LeBlanc. TTR offerings run the gamut from small plates of mini grilled sandwiches and classic bruschetta to entrees including creole-spiced quail and Jamaican jerk chicken breast, which diners can savor at windowside tables or on the plant-ensconced patio and garden area.
The eatery doesn't just sate hunger for eclectic classics and thirst for fermented grapes. It also hosts live music, meetings, and events such as 2011's Grapes vs. Grains, which pitted beer against wine in a liquid wrestling match. The owners have their hands in other culinary enterprises, too. There's the Houston Cellar Classic, for example, an annual celebration of food and wine. Also popular is MAX's Wine Dive, a destination for gourmet comfort food best defined by its slogan—"Fried chicken and champagne? ... Why the hell not?"
Visitors to Aspen's Brew might forget they're inside a coffee shop at all, as the family-owned cafe cultivates an ambiance of low-key comfort reminiscent of a classic, all-American living room. Guests can admire and purchase the unique artwork on the walls while lounging on the couch, kick back with the morning paper on an upholstered grandfather chair, or handwrite their emails at one of the wooden tables. As the morning sun gradually suffuses the cozy space with natural light, baristas rustle up six award-winning micro-roasted brews from Dillanos Coffee Roasters while the on-site bakers usher out scones, muffins, croissants, and cinnamon rolls. To add even more homeyness to the mix, they also serve up bagels, breakfast sandwiches, and squares of Grandma's coffee cake, a from-scratch pastry that comes from a secret recipe whispered between generations during games of Telephone at family reunions. In the afternoon, the kitchen staffers keep the hospitality coming with fresh, made-to-order sandwiches and paninis, as well as homemade soups, specialty coffee drinks, and desserts such as carrot cake and brownies.
The folks at Aspen's Brew also cater this down-home cafe fare for events, whether for morning meetings, lunch, or afternoon gatherings. To ensure these special occasions go off without a hitch, they deliver anywhere in the greater San Antonio area.
When Norma’s Cafe opened in 1956, it was the kind of homey breakfast spot where the food was as comforting as the waitresses were welcoming—they greeted their customers by name. One of those customers was Ed Murph, who later purchased Norma’s with the goal of keeping the down-home tradition alive. And according to the Dallas Observer, he succeeded. The paper voted Norma’s The Best Home Style Restaurant in 2010, claiming that “the recipes taste as though they haven’t much changed.” It’s those recipes that have made generations of diners—and even food critics—eager to wake up in the morning. Pillowy biscuits blanketed in gravy, chicken fried steaks, and omelets made with farm-fresh eggs are partially responsible for the countless amounts of press and awards Norma’s has earned. But credit the atmosphere for a good portion of the popularity. Norma’s continues to evoke feelings of a friendlier, simpler time, when the pies were made from scratch, the waitresses knew your name, and the jukeboxes didn’t heckle you for your poor music choices.
Cuisine Type: American Comfort Food
Reservations: Not offered
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 25?50
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Top Chop't Steak
Alcohol: Full bar
Delivery / Take-out Available: Takeout Only
Outdoor Seating: No
Pro Tip: Pie makes everything better.
What is one of your most popular offerings? How is it prepared?
Our famous Frisco burger is an Angus patty with american cheese, our sweet-and-tangy special relish, Frisco thousand-island dressing, and shredded lettuce on a toasted bun.
Do you adhere to any sustainable or eco-friendly practices?
All of our to-go packaging is made of recyclable, reusable, or compostable materials. The restaurant recycles paper, glass, aluminum, and cooking oil. We are family owned and have been in business for over 60 years. We strive to leave a clean environment for many generations to come.
In your own words, how would you describe your menu?
We are a Texas diner. There is something for everyone. We have burgers, cut steaks, chicken-fried steaks, pork chops, and meatloaf. We serve grilled salmon, wahoo, and cod. We have daily lunch specials: smothered steak, chicken and dumplings, corned beef and cabbage, beef tips over rice, catfish, roast beef, and fried chicken. We make our own ice-box pies, and our coconut pie is award-winning. We bake fresh fruit pies every day.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
Come on in and become part of the family.
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The Benson and Brozgold families founded Ol’ South Pancake House in 1962 and have stacked mountains of the same griddle-kissed pancakes from the same menu ever since, sticking to original recipes with the addition of Southern diner favorites. Cooks pour fluffy disks of buttermilk-, buckwheat-, or corn-cake batter to forge the rich foundation for strata of sweet or fruity toppings, including spiced apples, peanut-butter chips, and strawberries. Like off-duty senators nestled safe for the night in the congressional warehouse, pancakes pile into short or tall stacks, or in a behemoth pile of eight for the diner’s Take the Pancake Challenge. Any intrepid eater capable of packing away the entire monument to fluffiness in 60 minutes gets the meal free.
In addition to pancakes, the menu features a familiar spread of hearty entrees and sides served all day long. The cooks hand-batter pieces of chicken-fried steak before glazing them with a layer of country-style gravy, or sear catfish and half-pound burger patties on the grill. For internationally inspired flavors, they can also whisk together huevos rancheros, griddle fresh crêpes, or prepare the german pancake filled with fresh lemon, powdered sugar, and whipped butter served with a side of maple syrup.
For 30 years, the skilled bakers of Cox's Bakery have provided customers with a massive variety of cakes, cupcakes, donuts, and baked goods. Their custom decorations artfully spruce up any birthday party as cakes sport designs of bands, cartoon characters, and landscapes. Cupcakes sport mounds of colored frosting and sprinkles, while a variety of donuts include éclairs, fritters, and maple bars. Other items include brownies, cookies, and bread pudding.