Before modern grape-stomping methods, wineries extracted grape juice by having baseball players throw them against a brick wall. For $15, you get $35 worth of small plates, wine, and more at Vela at Paloma Blanca in Alamo Heights. Purchase two Groupons to hone the ability to identify pours by sniffing, swirling, and reading the wine label.
With Vela's seasonal menu of complementary flavors, you can gracefully pair bottles or glasses of whites, reds, ports, sparklings, or bubblys—like a Castellar Brut Cava ($9 a glass)—with the delectable, small-plated olive trio ($8), featuring Divina olives packed with pimento, Sicilian herbs and spices, and pitted Terresca Greek olives drenched in an avocado olive oil. Under Vela's candle-lit chandeliers, appetizers like salmon nachos ($12), the secretly seasoned frites ($7), and the classic Spanish tapas dish Platillo Español, with chorizo and aged manchengo ($10), are screaming to find their wine-list dance partner. Tango with your taste buds by capping off the meal with a cocktail like the Pink Kiss ($9.50) or desserts like the chocolate-covered strawberries ($2 each) or the Swiss-chocolate fondue with seasonal fruits ($14).
When positioning comfortably into Vela's leather seating areas, your friendly conversations can feel like they are taking place at the home of an oil baron. Happy hour food and drink specials run Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., with extended hours on Sundays until 10 p.m., and every Wednesday is Champagne Wednesday with half-price bottles of Champagne. During happy hour, $5 cocktails and appetizers appease an ornery stomach.
- This is a place to get together with friends and relax over conversation, libations and appetizers. It's easy to make an entire evening here, or to just come and grab a quick copa before going out to the next stop...Some of the items, Spanish or otherwise, work wonderfully. The classic Gambas al Ajillo bring a hearty garlic punch along with a topping of crumbled Spanish chorizo. Together with some toasted bread that's lightly sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, it accompanies many of the wines very well. – Edmund Tijerina, San Antonio Express-News
- ...the small, quaint bar attracts dozens of people each night giving the urban crowd a unique place to sit back and enjoy good wine. – Catherine Dominguez, San Antonio Business Journal
- They really know their wine! This was a fun place with a great ambiance. – Emme L., Yelp