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Courtesy of Wurstfest

San Antonians could stop by their favorite after-work haunts for happy hour this week, but New Braunfels, a relatively short drive away, can offer a lot more.

Wurstfest is in full swing again, coming out of its first weekend of 2022 festivities. This year’s fest runs from November 4-13, spreading that massive population influx across two weekends, and shorter days in between. Sweetening the pot, admission is free from Monday to Thursday.

Realistically, although the German food is at least half the draw, Wurstfest could be called Bierfest with the sheer volume of beers it serves. And they’re not expecting too many visitors drinking before business hours end in the rather quaint New Braunfels. So, Wurstfest starts at 5 pm on weekdays, but the five hours it’s open (ending at 10 pm) offer plenty of ways to pass the time.

All weekdays start with live music at 5:30 pm on all five stages across the old German grounds. (For those who haven’t visited, this is basically a theme park: visitors wander through timber framed beer halls, past many, many concession stands, down the Comal River to a fairground, all without stepping out of Germany, it seems.) From those opening sets, there’s near-constant music on three of the stages.

Most of the entertainment comes from live music and the novelty of wandering around amongst the lederhosen and dirndls. (Those drinking less than friends should strongly consider bringing a book — this is from experience.) But there is some light programming every day to break up the drinking and dancing, especially for visitors with kids.

Monday promises a science show and masskrugstemmen (beer holding) contest. On Tuesday, more beers are held and Rapunzel and Flynn Rider make an appearance. Wednesday brings, you guessed it, more beer holding, and a magic show. On Thursday, kids can hear some storytelling, and Friday, Veteran’s Day, honors veterans with a salute. Following crowds will also bring visitors to shopping, sausage-making demonstrations, and children’s fair rides.

Perhaps needless to say, the food is legitimately excellent; this is, at its heart, a culinary event, and serves more than standard fried fair foods. Obviously, sausage is a great choice, but there are potatoes, gravy, pickles, and sauerkraut to go around. Returning revelers are thrilled to share their best recommendations for the food and imported beers. Pacing yourself, three to five hours is a very reasonable stretch for trying as much as possible and returning to old favorites.

Wurstfest tickets (free Monday to Thursday, $18 online for the weekend) are available now at wurstfest.com, along with more information and entertainment schedules.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Valencia Riverwalk

River Walk hotel swoons with romantic tango series this November

A Night in Argentina

The last tango in San Antonio has not yet been danced, as the ballroom series returns to Hotel Valencia Riverwalk. The ornate riverside hotel offers an annual “Tango in the Courtyard” series, now in its third year, aiming for romance above all.

Weekends in November bring professional tango dancers to the courtyard, an intimate, old world space surrounded by arches, plants, and a decorative waterfall. This ticketed event offers an excuse to visit the hotel as a non-guest, enjoying the atmosphere even without an overnight stay. (Those who do decide to stay overnight may watch from their courtyard balcony if they book the special package.)

Atmosphere is everything for this series, which comes with a bottle of Malbec (a varietal tightly associated with Argentina), an unnamed “traditional Argentinian cheese dessert,” and a red rose. (No one seems to know, definitively, how the red rose between a dancer’s teeth became a tango cliché, but handing it off to your date to remember the night is a classy flourish nonetheless. Perhaps the series, which offers some history with the dancing, has a theory.)

Tango hasn’t always been such a posh pastime. Almost everyone, regardless of dance history knowledge, can recognize the dance that became a sensation thanks to immigrants and lower classes in Argentina during the mid-to-late 19th century. The modified salon dance, European in origin and African and Cuban in alteration, gained a florid reputation as most lower class movements do, as art forms practiced for passion rather than for the eye of high society.

The tango in particular emphasizes close bodies and stiff elegance juxtaposed with moments of high drama. In one of dance history’s most overt gentrifications, the tango made it back to Europe, was reportedly banned by several notable members of 20th century European high society (which always seems to add fuel to the fire of public interest), and a century later, is the height of poise and romance.

The “Tango in the Courtyard” series runs from 7:30-9:30 pm on November 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, and 26. Tickets ($129 for two) are available at hotelvalencia-riverwalk.com. Valet parking is included.

Photo courtesy of Main Event

Entertainment chain Main Event serves up new restaurant at San Antonio locations

Bonus Event

Main Event, the entertainment chain known for its arcade games, sports, and prizes, can’t resist adding even more to its roster. With two San Antonio-area locations (one on North Loop 1604 East and one on TX-151), the games are still the main event, but now dinner is taken care of too — not just a few items at a concession window, but a full restaurant called Family Kitchen that boasts “nearly 50 new and unique menu items.”

These items start with the standard arcade food staples — burgers, sandwiches, pizza — but Family Kitchen applies its own spins for a more creative menu. Whereas before, the entertainment venue served many more generic items, Family Kitchen revamped every item to make sure it was unique to the restaurant, in addition to adding new ones.

A Triple Lava Burger comes with cheese and cheese sauce; a PBB&J Burger combines the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a less-expected blueberry jam and a totally left-field burger, bacon, and cheese; and chicken wings come in eight different sauces and rubs, including a Nashville hot blend and a lemon pepper rub.

“Family Kitchen was developed with extra care, attention to detail and a focus on premium quality ingredients,” said Chef Wiley Bates III, director of culinary innovation at Main Event Entertainment, in a press release. “We’re excited for our guests to experience our new menu offerings, which have been seasoned with salt, pepper and love, and added playfulness that customers experience throughout the rest of the Main Event center.”

As expected at the arcade, the first priority across much of this menu is shareables, including loaded fries, nachos, and pizzas. The shareability does start with volume, with “Family Feasts” bundling commonly ordered items for four to six people, but it also means more inclusive options like vegan Beyond Meat substitutes and salads. Mocktails are also available, although the presence of a “Cotton Candy Shirley” makes it clear these selections are more about being fun for kids than catering to sober adults. (Alcoholic drinks are available at the bar or the restaurant, but are not included on the online menu.)

“The Family Kitchen was largely inspired by Main Event’s brand promise to be a place for families to bond,” said Main Event Chief Marketing Officer Ashley Zickefoose. “From shareable favorites with our Family Feasts to offering something tasty and memorable for everyone in the family….”

Main Event may remind visitors of Dave & Buster’s, for good reason: the two entertainment and food venues are owned and operated by the same parent company. Dave & Buster’s, initially from Dallas, is the significantly larger brand with 148 stores, but Main Event is catching up. The latter is founded and headquartered in Coppell, Texas, and now has 52 locations. Main Event centers are also more kid-focused, and typically larger than those in the Dave & Buster’s, since they offer games like laser tag and escape rooms.

Family Kitchen is accessible to any visitors, whether or not they play any games, but there are food and game bundles to streamline the experience. More information about Main Event and the new restaurant are available at mainevent.com.

Dinner Detective Interactive Murder Mystery Dinner Show

At The Dinner Detective, guests will tackle a challenging crime while they feast on dinner. The criminal is lurking somewhere in the room, and guests may find themselves as a prime suspect before they know it.

Each admission includes a full dinner, murder mystery entertainment, wait staff gratuity, prize package for Top Sleuth, and more.

Photo courtesy of Earth Burger

Pioneering San Antonio vegan fast-food chain poised for national expansion

Down to Earth

Despite the seeming uniformity of fast food, tides of public opinion about it are constantly changing. From the initial innovation, to commodification, to general mistrust, ironic obsession, and a genuine desire to enjoy something simple and ubiquitous, vegans have mostly been watching from the sidelines.

Earth Burger, the small San Antonio restaurant chain founded in 2014 that claims to have been the United States’ “first-ever plant-based fast food restaurant,” has placed a bid on the greater fast-food economy with a national expansion. The burger joint will move through the franchising process with help from Sinelli Concepts International, a Dallas group which operates and shares a founder with Which Wich Superior Sandwiches.

Sinelli Concepts and its investee Earth Burger know the market is there for franchises after receiving “hundreds of inquiries” from individuals and companies, many of whom have demonstrated experience in restaurants. A launch party on November 10 in San Antonio will invite others interested in franchising to gather information and get to know the business, from the food to the team. Attendees can also win prizes, from free Earth Burger for a year, to a full franchising fee ($30,000).

“Sinelli Concepts is proud to partner with a Texas-based brand that takes pride in offering customers accessible plant-based options,“ said founder Jeff Sinelli in a press release. “We’ve seen a trajectory of demand for plant-based food and more sustainable options. The future of fast food is here, and we know plant-based lovers and novices alike will enjoy Earth Burger’s flavorful offerings.”

The partnership initiated a complete rebranding, including unspecified changes to the menu, but the idea remains the same. The menu is meant to be very convenient — initially for co-founder Mike Behrend and his vegan collaborators’ kids — while remaining environmentally sustainable. And because Behrend, who used to be known for his chicken-fried steak, knows firsthand that none of this is useful if it doesn’t taste good, the restaurant places a heavy emphasis on flavor.

“As a Texan, I can strongly confirm meat is a central part of Texas food culture – but believe me when I tell you these burgers are just as tasty,” said Behrend in the release. “You’re not settling for an average bland fast food meal at Earth Burger. Our completely meatless menu features bold recipes and sauces we create in-house, bringing out the best flavor in our dishes. We want to provide a really delicious meal that just happens to be plant-based.”

Earth Burger makes it sustainability choices public on its website, with a list of sustainable products that it prefers to use when supply is available, including recycled and biodegradable materials. It also donates “a portion of sales from select menu items” to its Peach on Earth Project, according to a press release, although information about this foundation does not seem to be publicly accessible.

Space at the franchising event is limited. RSVP at earthburger.com, and have some info on hand to fill out the form.

Fish City Grill swims into third San Antonio location in the Shops at South Rim

I'm on seafood diet

San Antonio may be land-locked, but seafood options still abound, and one staple is casting a wider net: Fish City Grill announced a third location opening on Monday, August 29.

Founded in 1995, the neighborhood favorite serves fresh seafood in a comfortable setting at 20 locations throughout Texas, Arkansas, Florida, and Oklahoma.

The newest location features a bar that opens onto an expansive outdoor patio, nestled in The Shops at South Rim, a new upscale shopping destination located at the northwest corner of Loop 1604 and Vance Jackson. The restaurant's interior is equally expansive, with 3,200 square feet to seat 110 customers inside and an additional 35 on the patio.

Menu highlights include the restaurant's signature smokin’ hot shrimp and oyster nachos, as well as old favorites such as fish and chips; shrimp and grits; shrimp and crab-stuffed flounder; and garlic caper grilled salmon. Five to six fresh daily seafood dishes rotate twice a day on the chalkboard specials, and the restaurant also offers a full bar with a specialty cocktail menu.

“San Antonio customers have been so supportive of Fish City Grill’s locations in Northwoods and Culebra,” said co-founder and CEO Bill Bayne in a release. “We are looking forward to connecting with diners in the South Rim area and bringing them our casual, coastal dining experience.”

Seafood aficionados will find Fish City Grill's third San Antonio location at 5311 North Loop 1604 W, Suite #124. The restaurant is open 11 am to 9:30 pm Monday through Thursday; 11 am to 10 pm Friday and Saturday; and 11 am to 9 pm on Sunday.

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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.