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Photo courtesy of Visit Marble Falls

With the end of this brutal summer finally (hopefully?!) in sight, it is time to start planning for fall. Call it second summer, as in still plenty warm for enjoying the outdoors but no longer hot enough to melt pavement. Here are six places perfect for a much-needed autumn getaway. Take one (or more) as your just reward for surviving another scorching Texas summer.

Lake Bastrop North Shore Park
This LCRA park in Bastrop hugs the shore of a constant temperature lake for swimming, paddling (canoe, kayak, SUP, and Corcl rentals available), or fishing (with a boat ramp and pier). The park features almost 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, including one connecting to Lake Bastrop South Shore Park, and a sand volleyball court, too. Stay in one of 5 Airstream campers, 2 cabins, or 6 safari style tents. All have grills for cooking and decks for enjoying views of the lake and the stars while sipping a cold one. Other dining and entertainment options in nearby Bastrop, including a distillery and several breweries and taprooms. Neighbor's Kitchen & Yard and Iron Bridge Icehouse, both on the banks of the Colorado River, serve food, craft beer and cocktails, and live music.

Lake Georgetown
At this Corps of Engineers reservoir, choose from four campgrounds with RV and tent camping options. Enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking (rentals available at Russell Park), and hiking. The crown jewel is the Good Water Trail, a 26-mile loop around the entire lake through a variety of terrain, with multiple trailheads offering the opportunity for shorter hikes. Dining options, wine bars, breweries, and other lodging options are nearby in Georgetown. Check out Barking Armadillo Brewing and, on the courthouse square, three wine tasting rooms and multiple dining options.

Matagorda Bay Nature Park
Located where the Colorado River meets the Gulf of Mexico, Matagorda Bay offers miles of uncrowded beaches for combing and wetlands for paddling. Rent beach chairs, wagons, and kayaks (guided tours available), play miniature golf, fish on the beach or pier, or birdwatch. In addition to Airstream rentals and camping and RV sites, visitors now can rent one of 10 new bungalows that sleep from six to eight people, with fully equipped kitchens, outdoor decks, gas grills, and fantastic views.

Port Aransas
Miles of beach, without summer crowds: What else do you need? Well, perhaps a place to stay, and you’ll find every option from fancy condos to kitschy cottages in this seaside town. Plenty of dining and entertainment options, too. Try the local seafood at places like La Playa Mexican Grill, Fins Grill & Icehouse, and Seafood and Spaghetti Works. Have a cold one at Bernie’s Beach House, the Port A Beer Hut, or Moby Dick’s. Rent bicycles, golf carts, surfboards, and kayaks at Island Surf Rentals (check out the Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail). Or just sit on the beach.

Painted Sky Inn
Located on a tranquil inlet of Lake Buchanan, this waterfront property offers rooms for two to ten people with kitchens and lake views, as well as a tiny home and a vintage Airstream. Amenities include fire pits, BBQ grills, a fishing pier, and canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park (day pass reservations recommended), or tour several nearby wineries (Torr Na Lochs and Fall Creek, to name two) and breweries (Save the World Brewing and Double Horn Brewing), plus dining options in Burnet and Marble Falls.

Frio River
The aptly-named Frio River is famous for swimming and tubing in the summer. The most popular way to enjoy the river is Garner State Park, but getting weekend reservations can be tough. Another option is Neal’s Lodges, a sprawling family-owned complex that includes 81 cabins, 10 lodges, 17 condos, 45 RV hook-ups, and 16 tent sites, plus a country store and dining room. See a bat emergence at nearby Frio Cave or a bit farther away in Kickapoo Cavern State Park. Saturdays are for fine dining at The Laurel Tree and diner fare at Lost Maples Café, both in Utopia, and Concan has several eateries as well (some close after the summer season, so check websites).

Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park near Marble Falls.

Photo courtesy of Visit Marble Falls
Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park near Marble Falls.

Gruene Music and Wine Fest brings more good times to a historic venue

Going Gruene

Wine, music, and super-old dance halls are the best offerings of Central Texas. Texas’ oldest dance hall, in fact, Gruene Hall, is bringing both wine and music together at the 36th Annual Gruene Music and Wine Fest from October 6 to 9. In collaboration with KNBT 92.1 FM Radio, ticket and drinks sales from the four-day event in New Braunfels will benefit United Way of Comal County, which in 2021 received nearly $148,000 from the event.

Other festival costs are covered by sponsors (JP Morgan Chase & Co., New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, and Texas Hill Country Wineries, to name a few). Visitors can participate in wine and beer tastings in between watching live shows at Gruene Hall and The Grapevine wine bar, another one of the event’s sponsors.

On Thursday, October 6, attendees will gather in the Grapevine Garden for tastings from Llano Estacado Winery, Becker Vineyards, Hilmy Cellars, and an unnamed brewery. Admission is free, and tastings are managed with drink tickets in increments of $5 per drink, which decrease to $4 when purchased in larger quantities. There will be live music and giveaways, followed by a ticketed performance from Josh Abbott Band at Gruene Hall.

Friday’s events are already sold out, but could inspire an itinerary for another day in Gruene, visiting the historic Gristmill River Restaurant right next to the dance hall. One of the draws to this day’s tickets was a “Great Guitar Auction,” followed by a performance from Pat Green.

Back at the Grapevine Garden on Saturday from noon to 6 pm, is a new event that mirrors Thursday’s tasting, this time with six wineries: Lost Draw Cellars, Fiesta Winery, Texas SouthWind Vineyard & Winery, Texoir, Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, and Messina Hof. Josh Baca & The Hot Tamales and The Johnathans will play visitors through the six-hour tasting and into a ticketed concert by the Lost Gonzo Band, founded in 1972.

Sunday unplugs for a string of acoustic performances from 2 pm to 9 pm at Gruene Hall. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but Mattson Rainier of KNBT will emcee the all-day, 21-and-up show. The event ($40) promises “some of Texas’ best songwriters.”

When the festival was in its nascent years, it only filled one day, raising $450 for the United Way. The gigantic non-profit conglomerate claims a mission to “advance the common good,” which in Comal County includes support to several kids’, medical, and Christian groups. It also supports multiple food banks and resources for victims of domestic violence.

In general, tasting events are free and tickets can be pre-purchased online, or at the event. Concert tickets must be purchased ahead of time and may sell out. For more information and purchase links, visit gruenemusicandwinefest.org.

Photo by Joe Rodriquez

8 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Sultry new bar opens downtown

News you can eat

Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio's restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

Sojourn, a sultry new concept from hospitality veterans Derik Cortez and Andrew Carrillo brightened the former Juniper Tar space with a "public grand soft opening" on August 5. The 244 W. Houston St. bar offers a broad range of cocktails, including tiki classics like Mai Tais and playful originals like a martini made with oolong tea and umami bitters. The small kitchen churns out easygoing bites like crudo, dressed oysters, and a braised pork shoulder Cubano.

A new pizzeria has sliced into the River Walk. Fiume Pizzeria and Wine Bar introduced itself to the downtown scene on August 8. Located at the Palacio Del Rio hotel at 200 S. Alamo St., the eatery bills itself as Texapoletana — a portmanteau of Texas and Napolitana. The Texas part comes from seasonally sourced ingredients culled from local farms. The Neapolitan part comes from the blistered pies, panini, and appetizers like burrata.

Following the sudden departure of Playland Pizza in late June, another business has closed in Maverick Building. On August 4, Local Bar announced it had said goodbye to the downtown hustle after a decade of business. A Facebook post did not divulge a reason for the move.

A San Antonio raspa shop is limiting its hours following the closure of two neighboring businesses. Chamoy City Limits announced that it would temporarily reduce operations to Saturdays and Sundays, explaining via Instagram the February shutter of anchor business Smack's Chicken Shack has left its strip mall home feeling "sketch" after dark. The concept has suffered a string of thefts in 2022, including the April heist of a rooftop air conditioning unit. According to the post, weekday hours will resume once an unnamed new restaurant is up and running next door.

Though Chamoy City Limits didn't spill the beans on the name of its future neighbor, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission filings offer a clue. A concept called Lady Bird Beer Garden has applied for a mixed beverage permit at the 447 W. Hildebrand address. There are no details yet on the upcoming watering hole. A website and social media presence appear to be still forthcoming.

Speaking of TABC filings, a new nightspot dubbed Miranda's is headed to 415 E. Cevallos St. Again, the internet offers little clues to the concept. However, a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation record for the address does include plans for a rooftop bar. We assume the spot is not a temple to master's degree candidate and Che Diaz paramour Miranda Hobbes, but one can always hope.

Other news and notes

Local favorite Texas Nitro Coffee edged out hundreds of Texas food businesses as a finalist for H-E-B's annual Quest for Texas Best competition. Each year, entrepreneurs vie for marketing support, grocery placement, and a cash prize. This year's winner will be announced on August 24 at Dallas' Fair Park.

Fans of the Alamo City's signature condiment will have plenty to pucker over as Chamoy Challenge takes over Rolling Oaks Mall on August 20. Organizers Que Retro Arts promise plenty of sweet-sour treats, with the chamoy champion crowned by celebrity panelists and attendees. Admission is free from noon-5 pm.

Courtesy of Wild Barley

Sourdough reigns supreme at wild new restaurant and brewery near Alamo Heights

What's Brewing

It has been more than a decade since Wild Barley Kitchen and Brewery owners Holland Lawrence and Marc Fogelsong first met while attending Texas A&M University. It was not long before they imagined themselves opening a restaurant with craft beer brewed in house.

That dream gradually became a reality — first with a food truck launched in 2019 as Lawrence and Fogelsong served up bagels and pizza on the go.

Now, the duo has a brick-and-mortar version of their food truck, Wild Barley Kitchen Co., offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner north of Alamo Heights, in the north Broadway Street space last occupied by the restaurant Taco Garage.

The food truck, which was initially stationed at the Shops at Broadway News outdoor market, remained active while Fogelsong and Lawrence were remodeling the former Taco Garage, opening up the new business in phases over the last several months.

“We’ve been opening various parts of the restaurant,” Lawrence said. “It took us about seven to eight months to get us to a spot where we could open the property.”

Lawrence and Fogelsong decided in spring 2022 to sell the mobile kitchen and fully focus on the brick-and-mortar eatery, where wood-fired dough and fermentation are key to the brewpub’s signature dishes, including sourdough sandwiches and brick-oven pizzas.

Lawrence learned a lot about fermentation during his time as head brewer at Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling, now applying those lessons toward the bites and beers at Wild Barley.

“Fermentation is behind all aspects of what we do here,” he said.

A closer look at Wild Barley’s evolving menu reveals a variety of bagels that can be enjoyed in different ways. There is a range of sourdough sandwiches available for breakfast and lunch, and a diversification of dinner-time pizzas from which to choose.

Wild Barley’s owners said many diners who like certain menu items to be available during one part of the day return and end up enjoying a different dish during another part of the day.

“Our customers work their way through the menu, and they’re finding out what they love,” Fogelsong said.

As far as the beers are concerned, Wild Barley will contain 12 taplines for brews produced by the restaurant’s seven-barrel system. Craft beer fans who visit Wild Barley will find an assortment of beer styles, from IPAs, pale ales and lagers to sours, porters, and stouts.

Lawrence said he plans to release a blackberry framboise and a light cream ale this summer, alongside a collaboration brew with Second Pitch Beer Co. Wild Barley released its first collaboration beer with Kunstler Brewing Co. last spring.

Lawrence said there will be an emphasis on designing food specials to pair well with a specific in-house beer: “There’s going to be something for everyone,” he added.

Additionally, Wild Barley will fill up to-go growlers. Patrons seeking non-alcoholic beverages have options such as cold brew coffee, hop water, Liquid Death water, and products from San Antonio’s Southside Craft Soda.

Wild Barley is friendly to both families and pets, with dogs allowed on the patio. The brewpub is also available for catering, and will host activities such as trivia night, outdoor markets and live musical performances.

Fogelsong and Lawrence said Wild Barley also emphasizes slow food, meaning the staff is careful about preparing the dishes with high-quality local, regional, and seasonal ingredients. “Our philosophy is to make slow food move fast and get it out to you fast as possible so you can enjoy your visit,” Fogelsong said.

Photo by Lisa Hause

7 best Central Texas craft brews to beat the summer heat

Pour a cold one

Summer has hit San Antonio with a vengeance. There’s no better way to cope than with a cold, refreshing beer, and Central Texas craft breweries have what we need. We sampled seven brews perfect for summer days or nights hanging by the pool, floating on the river, or cooling off after mowing the lawn. Several are available at your local grocery stores, while others require a short (but worthwhile) trip to the Austin area.

Shiner Beer ¡Órale!
This Mexican-style lager – with a name that roughly translates to “hell, yeah!” – is brewed with agave and has an earthy, mildly sweet flavor that matches well with summer classics such as tacos, hamburgers, hot dogs, and BBQ. The idea for ¡Órale! came from Carlos Alvarez, CEO of Gambrinus Company in San Antonio, which owns Spoetzel Brewery in Shiner, Texas, where all Shiner beers are made. Alvare grew up in Mexico and has worked with iconic Mexican cerveza brands such as Corona. He noted a spike in the popularity of craft-brewed Mexican-style lagers and had this one crafted just in time for summer. Available at stores nationwide and in the brewery taproom, which is open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, and Sunday from 12-6 pm.

Barking Armadillo Brewing Strawberry Poptart Hefeweizen
This Georgetown brewery combined 40 pounds of the filling from Georgetown Pie Company’s handmade strawberry poptarts with a Hefeweizen to make this beer. It has a light refreshing flavor with just a hint of sweetness. (If they’ve run out of it, try El Guapodillo, a light Mexican-style lager, or the refreshing GTX Cream Ale, made with a dash of corn flakes.) A family-owned operation that started in 2013, the Barking Armadillo says it is committed to using carefully selected ingredients in fresh and tasty pours. Available onsite only, along with a menu of staple brews, rotating guest taps, hand-selected wines, and non-alcoholic beverages. There are daily food truck offerings, and dogs and kids are welcome. Open Wednesday through Friday from 4-10 pm, Saturday from 12-10 pm, and Sunday from 12-7 pm.

Beerburg Prickly Pear Milkshake IPA
Beerburg Brewing produces classic styles, seasonal beers, and an experimental Wildcraft Series, made with ingredients sourced as locally as possible (except for hops, which don’t grow well in Texas). Owner/brewmaster and native Texan Trevor Nearburg and head brewer Gino Guerrero have made this seasonal IPA over the years, despite multiple rattlesnake encounters while foraging the fruit. They use vanilla beans, lactose sugar, and lots of oats and hops with melon and berry flavor profiles to boost the earthy melon flavors of the prickly pears. The beer is pink, hazy and delicious, perfect for the summer. It will be available onsite starting June 16 for several months. The brewery features an outdoor deck and wooded beer garden with a fenced-in kids play area and a dog park. Also onsite, Taqueria la Violete, which has an extensive antojito, taco and a la carte menu and an ice cream stand with homemade ice creams and sorbets. Open Thursday from 3-8 pm, Friday and Saturday from 12-9 pm, and Sunday 11 am-7 pm.

Austin Eastciders Passion Fruit Cider
Austin Eastciders uses real fruit in its ciders (including pulp). Passion Fruit Cider, available through August, evokes tropical places with a sweet and tart passion fruit flavor and notes of grapefruit, citrus, and mango. It started as a fan favorite in the Austin tasting room and has a decided summertime flavor, says vice president of marketing Dave Rule. “It pairs well with some of the season’s favorite foods, including Hawaiian BBQ, coconut curry, mascarpone, and sorbet, making it perfect for summer.” Austin Eastciders products are available at major retailers including HEB, Kroger, Target, and Whole Foods and in bars and restaurants, as well as by online ordering or at the Springdale Road tasting room. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 1pm to 10 pm and Sunday from 12pm to 7 pm.

Fitzhugh Brewing Hefeweizen
Texans love their Hefeweizens, a yeasty wheat beer, cloudy due to the yeast. The one from this brewery in Dripping Springs is “a perfect beer for sipping on the porch or by the pool on a hot summer day,” according to head brewer Nathan Rice. “Hefeweizens are light-bodied, low in alcohol content and won’t leave you feeling heavy.” He actually set out to create a Kristallweizen, a beer with the flavor profile of a Hefeweizen but clear rather than hazy, but the yeast had other ideas. “It still has excellent flavor and body, it’s just hazy, like a traditional Hefe.” Rice says the brew was inspired by Fitzhugh customers. “While I like brewing obscure historic styles, I’m also very open to customer feedback and requests. The two biggest questions we get at the bar are ‘What’s your lightest beer?’ and ‘What do you have that’s like a Hefe?’ I think people know and enjoy the style, so I thought bringing one to the table was the only smart choice.”

Available on site and to-go through July 4th or until customers drink it all. Featuring a large family- and dog-friendly outdoor garden, a menu of smoked meats, comfort foods and seasonal sides served by PEJ Kitchens, Fitzhugh Brewing is open Thursdays and Fridays from 4-8 pm, Saturday from 11-9 pm (kitchen closes at 8 pm), and Sunday from 12-7 pm.

Lazarus Brewing Black Pearl
A summer offering from Austin's East Sixth street brewery, Black Pearl is a rice lager brewed with a special mountain peppercorn native to Taiwan called Maqaw, which lends notes of lemongrass, ginger and citron to the beer. Black Pearl was inspired when general manager Marcus Ten Harmsel discovered the exotic spice at a local Gin Bar in Taiwan and realized it would lend itself well to a beer. “At 4.9% ABV, it's one of those beers you can drink several of and is immensely refreshing on a hot day,” he says. “And, we won a gold medal for Black Pearl at the World Beer Cup just a couple of months ago. We currently have a little bit left on tap at the brewery, but will have another batch coming soon.” (If they’re out, try East of Eden, a farmhouse-style wild saison with peaches inspired by the ales commonly produced in Belgium and France). Available on tap and in four-pack tallboys to-go. Lazarus features a large shaded patio and deck, and is dog-friendly. Open weekdays from 7:30 am to 11 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 11 pm and Sunday from 9 am to 10 pm.

Zilker Brewing Killer Light
Fermenting with a hybrid German yeast and cold conditioning for three weeks gives this German Kolsch a super smooth experience, says Patrick Clark, one of the co-founders of the East Sixth Street brewery in Austin. “We wanted a clean and simple Kolsch to stave off the mid-summer heat,” Clark says. “This is a super clean, simple, easy drinking light beer.” Available on draft and in cans in the taproom starting June 25th and at H-E-B, Whole Foods, and Specs stores on June 28. Zilker features a food truck on site, as well as an outdoor seating area, and its taproom is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11-9 pm, Thursdays 11-10 pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-11 pm, and Sunday from 11-8 pm.

6 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Celebrity-endorsed Sugar Factory debuts downtown

News you can eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings

The first San Antonio location of Sugar Factory American Brasserie finally has an opening date. The international brand took to social media to trumpet its June 15 debut at 849 E. Commerce St. #109 in the Shops at Rivercenter mall. As previously reported, the restaurant is an offshoot of the Sugar Factory brand — best known for its rhinestone Couture Pops. In addition to serving confections such as a spiked s’mores milkshake, the brasserie loads the calories with dishes like a Flaming Hot Cheetos burger, beer-battered calamari, and roasted lobster mac ‘n’ cheese.

Downtown nightlife will soon get a jolt of energy. According to an Instagram post, Jessica Marinez and Amber Hernandez are taking over the former site of The Davenport Lounge at 203 N. Presa St. for a brand-new concept. An early victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Davenport shuttered in March 2020 and the building has remained vacant since. The couple, who also own the poppy north central venue Picks Bar, did not divulge details on the new project.

Alejandro Paredes, the owner of Carnitas Lonja and Fish Lonja, is transforming the restaurants’ patio into a new concept. On June 1, the nationally acclaimed chef announced Lonja Square, a new nighttime market devoted to Alamo City’s best street food. The property will be divided into eight spaces with a focus on variety. According to the project’s bio, only one taco vendor will be allowed.

Hip lifestyle shop/ apothecary/ tea bar R+R Collective Co. said hello to Southtown during its grand opening June 3, according to an Instagram Story highlight. The concept comes from the owners of popular online vintage shop Be Kind, Rewind and local wellness brand Relyt. The shop stocks likeminded brands and serves a variety of tea and coffee drinks.

Other news and notes

More than 80 Texas breweries and businesses raised more than $43,000 for the victims of the Uvalde school shooting during a fundraising event at Bandera Brewing on June 4. One-hundred percent of the beer festival’s proceeds were donated to the Robb School Memorial Fund set up by the First State Bank of Uvalde. Those who could not attend the event can still donate here.

Summer favorite San Antonio Burger Week is back June 10-19. The juicy promotion, which benefits San Antonio Food Bank, offers some of San Antonio’s most talked-about burgers for $5-$8. Thirty eateries are participating this year, ranging from fast-casual joints like Burger Boy to upscale destinations like Ocho. See the full list of participants here.

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San Antonio Missions hit home run with new owners, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio's minor league baseball team scores new owners, including Texas sports legends. San Antonio's minor league baseball team is back to being locally owned — by some big names.

2. H-E-B unveils new line of merchandise for super fans, available exclusively at this store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise, in celebration of its 117th anniversary and in honor of its first store.

3. San Antonio market continues to see prices going up and sales going down. San Antonio home sales dropped 19 percent from October 2021.

4. San Antonio Rodeo wrangles even more musical acts for star-studded 2023. Turnpike Troubadours joined the already impressive lineup for the 2023 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.

5. San Antonio children's theater adapts timeless children's book for the holidays. Magik Theatre celebrates The Velveteen Rabbit as a Christmas story, with inclusive special performances.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

New self-guided tour showcases iconic Fort Worth Stockyards' many Hollywood ties

Tinseltown in Cowtown

A new self-guided tour showcasing the Fort Worth Stockyards’ many star-studded appearances in cinema throughout the years recently debuted in time for the 16th annual Lone Star Film Festival, which took place earlier this month in the Stockyards for the first time.

Called Stars of the Stockyards, the eight-stop, go-at-your-own pace walking tour guides folks to famous film sites where celebrities have stepped foot in front of Hollywood cameras. Visitors to the Stockyards can access the PDF tour map on their smart phones via QR codes (no app required) posted throughout the district, namely at hotels and tour kiosks.

"The Stockyards is a historic and celebrated destination for many reasons, but one that may be lesser known is its popularity as a filming location for some of our favorite movies and TV series," said Ethan Cartwright, VP of marketing for Stockyards Heritage Development Co.

The tour and corresponding QR codes are a permanent addition to the district, he said.

Stops on the map include the iconic White Elephant Saloon, a hotbed for Hollywood performances including several by legendary actor and martial artist Chuck Norris in the longtime TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger when the watering hole was portrayed as the fictional CD Bar. The White Elephant was also graced by country music superstar Tim McGraw and Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton for their appearances in Paramount Plus’ hit series 1883.

Also in 1883 and featured on the tour is Hookers Grill, hidden in the less flashy West side of Exchange Ave. The burger shack transformed into a gambling den in the show called The Texas House of Liquor & Sport. It’s the only building in the Stockyards that preserved the façade constructed by 1883’s production team. During operating hours, customers can order at the outdoor burger window and dine at patio tables within the two-story structure.

Cowtown Coliseum is marked on the map for its appearances in the 1983 film Tough Enough, where actor Dennis Quaid played an amateur boxer. It’s also the home of the final rodeo scene in the 1992 movie Pure Country starring country music legend George Strait.

Billy Bob’s Texas, the Stockyards Hotel, and even unassuming historic cattle pens also make the list on the tour, along with notations for the Texas Trail of Fame, which features more than 240 bronze markers honoring contributors for preserving and perpetuating the Western way of life.

Veteran actors Sam Elliot and Robert Duvall, both stars in the megahit TV series Yellowstone, are among the most recent Texas Trail of Fame inductees.

For more information and to get started on the tour, go here.