ON A ROLL
Splashy seafood pop-up docks at St. Mary's Strip wine bar
The pace of restaurant openings might have slowed down in the blistering San Antonio summer, but enterprising chefs are keeping the culinary scene fresh through pop-ups. The latest debuts at 6 pm on August 5 at a frequent stop for aspiring restaurateurs: St. Mary’s Strip wine bar Little Death.
Down Bad is the work of chef Chris Martinez, an alum of local restaurants like Shuck Shack and Go Fish Market. After a stint running the kitchens for Seattle’s Craftbent Hospitality group, he returned to Alamo City and couldn’t quite find his footing. So, he decided to branch out on his own with a name inspired by Twitter slang.
“Our chef was feeling lost after coming back from Seattle and not really finding a solid home in any kitchens here in [San Antonio],“ explains co-owner Bobby Criollo. “He felt down on his luck, he was down bad…so the name fit.”
Criollo and his wife, Lisette Rodriguez, decided to go along for the ride. Though neither had much industry experience, they share Martinez’s passion for food.
“All three of us are really close friends, like family,” says Criollo, “so when Chris decided to start this business, it only made sense to include his two closest friends.”
The debut menu focuses on one of Martinez’s specialties — seafood. The offerings include rolls filled with beurre blanc-poached lobster, “Nashville hot” spiced soft-shell crab, and fried mussels. The flavors are international, incorporating fermented Fresno pepper jam, kewpie mayo, and Old Bay.
Eventually, the team hopes to parlay the concept into a brick-and-mortar. Martinez shares that the goal is to open a wine bar with eclectic fare.
Until then, seafood fans can find Down Bad at Little Death. After giving a first taste on August 5, the concept will be back on August 11 and 12 before starting a Thursday through Sunday residency beginning August 17.