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La Cantera Resort & Spa

SweetFire Kitchen at La Cantera Resort & Spa will present the Grinch’s Brunch Feast. The feast menu includes roast beast; Who mashed potatoes; Horton’s cereal-crusted French toast; Truffla tree pancakes; Cindy Lu fruits and vegetables; candy cane macaroons; beezlenut splash; and more.

The Grinch will be available for photos with children, and guests can enjoy a private reading of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” narrated by the Grinch.

Five dollars from every ticket sold benefits Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas.

Photo courtesy of Brasao

3 San Antonio steakhouses make the cut among Bumble's date night destinations

It's A Date?

There's still something romantic about meeting someone you really click with over a meal, and it looks great to suggest a cool, delicious restaurant for that first get-together. But it also adds to the pressure: According to a press release, an OpenTable and YouGov survey found that the top “stressor” for people going on first dates is “picking the right spot/activity.”

To address that unfortunate idea gap, OpenTable and Bumble teamed up to create a dining guide in 2021, listing the 100 Best Restaurants for a Date in America. This year, they reprised the popular list across Bumble’s three verticals — romance, friendship, and business — and three of those standout restaurants are in San Antonio.

“At Bumble, we’re fueled by bringing people together to build genuine connections across every stage of their life: dating, making friends and professional connections,” said Olivia Yu, Bumble’s global vice president of partnerships, in the release. “We saw great feedback from our community following our partnership with OpenTable last fall … [and] couldn’t wait to partner with OpenTable again.”

Before going any further, it’s time to acknowledge any weirdness in categorization. The methodology compared user ratings on OpenTable to determine the “best” restaurants, and then sorted them based on tags indicating whether each was "romantic," “good for groups,” and “good for business meals.” Although Bumble and OpenTable teamed up for this, the data is all automated.

In San Antonio, Brazilian steakhouse Chama Gaucha appears on the Best Restaurants for a Date list, while Brasao Brazilian Steakhouse lands on the Best Restaurants for a Friend Date. (Some crossover is probably permissible, but the OpenTable hive mind makes the rules). J-Prime Steakhouse makes the cut among Best Restaurants for a Business Meeting. Apparently San Antonians enjoy steak.

Austin also scored three restaurants on the lists, with a lot more variety. For dates, sushi restaurant Uchiko charms as always, and Trattoria Lisina (technically out in Driftwood) transports visitors to Italy. Both restaurants are often cited as must-tries, and have earned their popularity in large part because of atmosphere. One other Austin restaurant, Steiner Ranch Steakhouse, made the friendship list; none made the business list.

“People are craving connection, and partnering with Bumble to debut curated diner guides means skipping the dreaded ‘where should we go’ question and instead focusing on nailing that first impression,” said OpenTable chief growth officer Susan Lee in the release. “The win-win is that this movement for in-person socialization also supports the still-recovering dining scene.”

Now through August 18, these lists will pop up for users in Bumble, who can swipe for a link giving recommendations. Those who would like to browse more intentionally can view the lists on OpenTable. All can book, and if they don't agree with this year's lists, feel free to leave the reviews that build next year's.

Photo by Megan Bucknall

New service brings top chefs from San Antonio and beyond into your kitchen

Getting Personal

Life in the restaurant industry is complicated, but Texas does love its chefs.

Zach Knight, an Austin restaurant industry vet of 12 years, was on a gondola in Aspen with his friend Emmie Nostitz when the idea for Tivity was born in 2020. Knight received a call from a client, if he could call them that, asking to be connected with an Austin chef for a private at-home dinner. He had been making those personal connections to keep the restaurant spirit alive during the pandemic, but it wasn’t a business yet.

Nostitz, a creative director in advertising living in New York, saw that call as the signal it was: there was a market for this kind of connection. For the next six months, Knight and Nostitz traded calls and texts full of incidental ideas for an informal product slowly unfolding.

One of Knight's calls included an acknowledgment (that Tivity had to be real) and an invitation (that Nostitz should join, no pressure). Like many New Yorkers ready for a change, Nostitz found herself in Austin for a visit two weeks later, and for a home in 2021.

Tivity has branched out since then — with markets in Austin, Aspen, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago — but the service is still in a sweet spot between having an established community, and enjoying total freedom within its own system. It's not even tied to those markets; anywhere an individual chef is willing to travel is fair game, with nearby places like San Antonio representing a great opportunity to build lasting new cross-city relationships. That ethos extends to everything Tivity does. Most questions about how the service works are met with a question back: “How do you need it to work?”

As of July 2022, there’s a Google form to get things started. It asks about the necessary logistics, and opens up to “vibe.” The text boxes solicit information on the purpose of the event, the desired feel, and the type of guests, but notably, not the name of any chef or restaurant. But pulling from a wide pool of talent — sous chefs, chefs de cuisine, chef teams, and more from recognizable local restaurants — it’s hard to choose wrong.

“I think one of the best representations of what we do is a dating app. We are a matchmaker for chefs and clients,” says Knight. “We know what the chefs do, we know what the clients want, and we are matchmaking those experiences.”

Like a consultant, Tivity offers an opinion, or at least an idea. The team has noticed patterns early in conversations — clients choosing the same chefs and the same types of plates, again and again — that keep the service unnecessarily restricted.

“They say we want the chicken or the steak, and they don't know how to think outside the box,” says Nostitz, putting that paralysis of choice in sharp focus. “We end up talking to them and offering a Peruvian meal that they never, ever would have thought about.”

One of Tivity’s earliest, most defining meals took place during a more restrictive phase of the pandemic, for a client organizing her husband’s birthday. She requested steak. When she and Knight started planning over the phone, she mentioned that they would usually be in Spain, but couldn’t travel for birthday festivities. Tivity connected the couple with a chef to recreate “the dinner they would have had [in Spain],” who made a Spanish cake that caused the birthday celebrant to shed a tear over dessert.

“Before Uber, having a black car pick you up was getting a chauffeur,” says Knight, “and having a chef in your home was only stuff you saw on TV. We're really trying to bring that down so that it's a common idea.”

They’re succeeding. Tivity can get things started for a custom meal 24 hours after receiving a form, with about a month recommended in advance. Taking into account the huge variability Tivity offers (and the flexibility of pricing necessary to sustain that), a simple buffet-style spread could run a client in a home city roughly the same bill per person as most of the lower priced prix fixe menus around town on holidays. Meal preps are priced even lower, but for bigger budgets, a plated course dinner is comparable to one at top restaurants in Texas.

It’s as ready for an exclusive corporate celebration as it is for girls’ night. And hopefully, the duo says, it can make life easier on chefs, too, who suddenly have the chance to get creative and build a brand outside of the kitchen, to make some cash on the side, or even to offset a leisure trip near a far-away client.

Both Knight and Nostitz talk about the life-changing potential of food, for chefs and for everyone else at the table. Why should we be picky about whose table it is?

More information about Tivity, including an in-depth inquiry form and transparent pricing, is available at thetivity.com.

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 courtesy of the Jerk Shack

The Jerk Shack spices up San Antonio with new Sunday brunch service

Jerks Who Brunch

Fried chicken on a weekend morning just took on a new flavor, as the Jerk Shack starts offering Sunday brunches. The husband-and-wife team put a Caribbean twist on some Southern American brunch classics that might wake you up and then immediately knock you right back out.

That means new menu items like catfish and grits with jerk remoulade, sweet potato and cream cheese French toast with dulce de leche, and a “Texas Toast Benedict” highlighting jerk pork or chicken (or regular bacon, if you’re not trying to stay on theme).

There’s no rush at all to get there early; the brunch menu is available from 11 am to 5 pm, alongside the regular menu, which already offers up items that pair perfectly with brunch: fried green tomatoes, a crispy chicken sandwich, or tacos smothered in avocado cream and pineapple pico de gallo. An array of colorful frozen drinks awaits hot summer days and stretches out those slow brunch vibes.

In January, 2022, the Jerk Shack opened its new location, replacing the actual shack with a modern interior and counter service, plus a drive-thru pickup window. Lines wrapped around the building. Since then, it’s started selling merch, chef Nicola Blaque was nationally recognized by Yelp on International Women’s Day, and staff participated in a donation drive by packing meals for Uvalde first responders.

Next, an additional location is slated for the very un-shack-like historic Schultze House at Hemisfair. This location is slated to open in "mid to end of 2023," a publicist confirms.

The Jerk Shack is located at 10234 Highway 151, Suite 103.

Cullum's Attaboy opens on the Strip with charming ode to San Antonio's culinary past

First look

“When I was a kid, everyone would always say San Antonio is so lame, and that wasn’t my experience,” says Chris Cullum, the chef and proprietor of Cullum’s Attaboy. “I’m trying to show what has been awesome all along.”

The restaurant — an iteration of the much-missed trailer of the same name — certainly has reverence for Alamo City’s past. Although Cullum has only been operating in the 111 King’s Court space since March, there’s a timelessness to his approach.

Prewar jazz warbles on the sound system while the staff scutter around in crisp soda jerk hats. A map by Southwest modernist pioneer O’Neil Ford (notably the architect of Tower of the Americas) has pride of place on a back wall.

When conceiving Attaboy, Cullum says he looked to the “’90s backward” to revive the easy conviviality of yesteryear. But the restaurant is no exercise in mere nostalgia.

“I’ve grown up with it,” Cullum explains. “I wanted to express that part of my culinary education.”

Indeed, the chef has the hospitality industry in his blood. At 11, he was handwashing dishes at the Landing, the River Walk haunt founded by his late father and iconic cornetist Jim Cullum Jr. The food at Attaboy would not have seemed unfamiliar in the jazz club’s heyday.

On the menu, nary a sauce squiggle nor tweezer touches the plate. There are homages to French Creole standard-bearer La Louisiane and Spudnuts, a once-mighty doughnut franchise popular throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s. And, of course, there is the Attaboy burger that built the food truck’s name.

The rest of the offerings bring luxury to everyday with dishes like an unfussy filet with bearnaise and white fish meunière served with potatoes. A menu section devotes itself to caviar and roe, priced to make the delicacies accessible.

They perch by a gaggle of brunch staples such as steak and eggs, omelets, and impossibly buttery pancakes. All are available from 9 am to 10 pm.

“If it’s late and you want pancakes and a Benedict, you can get it,” says Cullum.

The drink program is equally unpretentious. Naturally, bubbles stand ready to mingle with caviar. The cocktails are standards like the Salty Dog, Martini, and Ramos Gin Fizz.

“I grew up serving an older clientele, and these are the things they would always ask for,” Cullum says. “These are the cocktails I think should be served at a place like this.”

Cullum wants to ensure that sense of place remains alive in San Antonio.

“I’m going backwards to all those amazing restaurants,” he says. “It’s a shame some of those things died off, and I want to get people to realize those special things are a flash in the pan.”

But should fans be worried Attaboy will be gone in a Champagne pop, Cullum assures he is in this for the long haul. The grand opening on Friday, June 3 is just the start.

“This is my last restaurant,” he notes. “Personally, I want to grow old and touch the business every day.”

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Legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers heat up San Antonio with 2023 tour stop

one hot minute

One of alternative rock's most legendary acts is headed to San Antonio on their highly anticipated North American tour next year. Red Hot Chili Peppers will play the Alamodome on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.

Kicking off in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29, RHCP will also stop in Houston's Minute Maid Park on Thursday, May 25 to close out the North American leg of the tour before heading to Europe. Effortlessly hip modern rock band The Strokes will support the Chili Peppers on both Texas stops, along with talented bassist-vocalist Thundercat.

Tickets go on sale at 10 am Friday, December 9 online. Other supporting acts along the way include Iggy Pop, The Roots, The Mars Volta, St. Vincent, City and Colour, and King Princess.

Touring in support of their two No. 1 studio albums released in 2022, Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, the Chili Peppers have played sold-out shows in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and more with notable artists such as A$AP Rocky, Anderson.Paak, Beck, and HAIM.

The first rock band in 17 years to score two No. 1 albums in one year, the band has been red-hot on the Billboard charts and at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they received the Global Icon Award and brought the house down with a performance of the No. 1 single “Black Summer,'' which also won the award for Best Rock Video.

Fronted by the impossibly chiseled and ageless (he's 60!) Anthony Kiedis, the Chili Peppers formed in 1983. Unabashedly proud of their LA roots, the band burst onto the scene with early singles such as "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away," both showcases of bassist Flea's slappin', funk-fueled basslines.

Throughout the peak of alternative music in the '90s, the band saw tragedy, personnel changes at guitar, and reinventions — Kiedes' rap-singing, Flea's bass grooves, and singalong choruses all constants over the decades.

While many '90s alt-rock acts fizzled, the Chili Peppers stayed relevant; the band boasts two anthemic singles with more than 1 billion streams — "Californication" and "Under the Bridge" — and more than 25 million followers on Spotify.

Expect this show to be packed with Gen Xers and new fans for what promises to be one hot minute.

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2023 tour dates:

  • Wednesday, March 29 – Vancouver – BC Place
  • Saturday, April 1 – Las Vegas – Allegiant Stadium
  • Thursday, April 6 – Fargo, North Dakota – FargoDome
  • Saturday, April 8 – Minneapolis – US Bank Stadium
  • Friday, April 14 – Syracuse, New York – JMA Wireless Dome
  • Friday, May 12 – San Diego – Snap Dragon Stadium
  • Sunday, May 14 – Phoenix – State Farm Stadium
  • Wednesday, May 17 – San Antonio – Alamodome
  • Friday, May 19 – Gulf Shores, Alabama – Hangout Music Festival
  • Thursday, May 25 – Houston – Minute Maid Park

Texas-based 3D printing company tapped by NASA to build on the moon

To infinity and beyond

An Austin-based builder of 3D-printed homes, ICON, is making one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind by signing a $57 million contract with NASA to build on the moon.

According to a release from ICON, the Texas company will soon venture into a new frontier of space dimensions. The contract, announced on November 29, was awarded to the company under NASA's Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. This program allows ICON to use the $57 million award to build their Olympus system, which adds to previous construction done by both NASA and the Department of Defense for exploration of the moon and beyond.

"ICON’s Olympus system is intended to be a multi-purpose construction system primarily using local lunar and Martian resources as building materials to further the efforts of NASA as well as commercial organizations to establish a sustained lunar presence," the release stated.

The project will work in conjunction with NASA's Artemis program, which launched its first rocket in 50 years on November 15. ICON will work with the program to:

  • Use lunar regolith samples brought back from Apollo missions, in addition to other regolith simulants, to see their mechanical behavior in lunar gravity.
  • Bring advanced hardware and software into space through a lunar gravity simulation flight.
  • Create results to inform future lunar construction approaches for the space community.
  • Establish critical infrastructure necessary for a sustainable lunar economy and habitation.

“The final deliverable of this contract will be humanity’s first construction on another world, and that is going to be a pretty special achievement," said Jason Ballard, ICON co-founder and CEO.

"It's a construction system we call Olympus system that will allow us to use the local materials of the moon to build all the elements of infrastructure necessary for a lunar outpost and ultimately a moon base ... launch and landing pads, roadways, habitats, you name it, all the things on the moon," said Ballard.

He added that they hope to start building on the moon by 2026, starting with a launch and landing pad.

In addition to the grant, ICON was awarded a subcontract in 2021 to support NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate to create the world's first and only simulated 3D-printed Mars surface habitat. Called Mars Dune Alpha, it is located at NASA's Johnson Space Center and is assisting in long-duration science missions.

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Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

6 things to know in San Antonio food right now: New beer garden quietly opens

New 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 owners of Gold Feather have unofficially untapped a new venture, LadyBird Beer Garden. Although official channels are keeping details mum, a Facebook page run by landlords VLA Real Estate spilled the beans on the November 25 opening. In addition to serving craft beer, the concept at 447 W. Hildebrand Ave has a full kitchen, bar, and a small patio for enjoying the mild December weather.

Months after coyly announcing a second location, Elotitos Corn Bar sprouted a new Government Hill location on December 3. The snack shop is well known for its aguas frescas and elotes flights, offering the street food staple in various flavors. The new outpost is open Monday through Saturday, 3-9 pm.

Following the recent San Antonio expansion of Oregon-based Dutch Bros Coffee, another out-of-towner is gaining some local buzz. According to Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation records, Arkansas franchise 7 Brew Coffee is brewing its first Alamo City location at 4825 Walzem Rd. Barring delays, the project will be completed in May 2023.

Pop-up concept Rose Hip Coffee has found a permanent home at 116 W. Olmos Dr. in Olmos Park. The broadened Rose Hip Market combines caffeine with boutique retail, offering everything from kid's clothes to ready-to-eat sandwiches and salads. The playful equestrian wallpaper might make it a can't-miss selfie spot.

Other news and notes

A new cocktail conference will lift San Antonio's spirits in January. The Culinaria-hosted Third Coast Cocktail Summit will feature seminars, tastings, dinners, and tipsy soirées during its five-day run from January 10-14. All-access passes are now available for $250 for industry and $500 for general admission at the nonprofit's website.

In other booze news, Kinsman's Brandy Alexander Tour is back in full swing for the holiday season. Dorćol Distilling's annual celebration of the famous desert cocktail has drafted 14 spots to offer the renowned desert cocktail this year, including several newcomers like Allora, Bar Loretta, Double Standard, Ladino, and Sojourn Trading Co. A full list of participants can be found here.