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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

The Pigpen Neighborhood Bar is wiggling its way out of a lengthy Covid closure. The Broadway mainstay took to Facebook on October 24 to announce it had ended its two-year hiatus. The family friendly destination has been on hold since June 2020, when Governor Greg Abbott closed Texas bars a second time in response to the pandemic. Although the post did not elaborate on the prolonged absence, it revealed that it would serve the same menu as before.

Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery also reemerged on October 24 after a brief reset. The Pearl staple shuttered on August 22 to undergo a few improvements. Among them were a few new menu items like stuffed ruby red trout, fried calamari, and classic Southern barbecue shrimp.

A new Peruvian concept has pounced on the former location of Tutti’s: A Place for Foodies in Southtown. Leche de Tigre, at 318 E. Cevallos St., is keeping its opening date mum. Still, diners can water their mouths by perusing an online menu full of cebiches, traditional favorites like lomo saltado, and pisco-based cocktails.

Anticipated arcade bar Be Kind & Rewind is officially pressing play at 115 Alamo Plaza on October 28. Owner Alex Amaro has stripped the former Fuddruckers of its workaday vibes, replacing it with neon and blacklight. Opening weekend will take full advantage of the retro set with an ‘80s night on Friday, a ‘90s/ Y2K party on Saturday, and karaoke on Sunday. Expect at least one version of “I Want it That Way.”

East Side spot Truth Pizzeria has bid arrivederci to San Antonio, according to an October 13 social media post. The small restaurant opened in the heat of the pandemic in June 2020, serving a menu of Neapolitan pies. The message did not offer an explanation for the sudden closure.

In brighter East Side news, trailblazing food truck park the Boardwalk on Bulverde is set to reopen in 2023. The space opened in 2011 as San Antonio’s first food truck park, closing in 2016 so the owners could focus on their Cruising Kitchens business. In a social media post, the team shared that it brought the concept back to address a need for “more impactful community activities.”

The Hill Country will taste la belle vie on November 1 when Bakery Lorraine opens its sixth location in Boerne. Located at 134 Oak Park Dr., the shop will serve the same sandwiches, salads, and pastries as the other outposts. Following the unveiling, guests can get their macaron fix Monday through Thursday from 7 am-6 pm. and Friday through Sunday from 7 am-8 pm.

Ahead of its first anniversary, Bubby’s Jewish Soul Food is getting a facelift. Owners Jason and Charlie Nuttall-Fiske announced the temporary closure on October 25, explaining the move is intended to “amp up [the] Bubby’s experience.” An expanded menu, gussied-up interior, and other improvements will be unveiled at a birthday celebration on November 14.

7 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Modern Pearl lounge teases new tropical bar

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

The owners of The Modernist are trumpeting a new project but are so far keeping most details on mute. In a July 31 Instagram post, the bespoke cocktail lounge teased a new concept called La Ruina. The bar will be dedicated to the spirits of tropical America with a focus on rum (the tagline is “ron y mas”). The location, however, remains a mystery. Zillow sleuths were only offered one tantalizing clue — the spot will be “housed in a graceful but well-worn building.”

Japanese chicken spot Krazy Katsu burst into the San Antonio scene with a grand opening on July 30. The fast-casual restaurant, located at 5257 McCullough Ave., specializes in herb-brined and panko-breaded chicken sandwiches slathered with sauces like Bourbon teriyaki, Kewpie mayo, and chipotle ranch. The eatery also nods to its hometown in various offerings, including hibiscus agua fresca, craft beer from local fave Viva Brewery, and a fusion take on chicken on a stick.

Francis Bogside gave an Irish goodbye to Southtown on July 31. According to a media alert, the popular pub will soon move to a new space. The long-running bar has been pouring since 2015, save for a year interrupted by a devastating Halloween 2016 fire. After extensive renovations, it commandeered sibling restaurant Brigid’s space and reopened with a small stage and wraparound bar. There is no word yet on where the bar will start its third act. Details are promised in the upcoming weeks.

It’s out with barbecue, and in with cheesesteaks at Weathered Soul Brewing Co. South BBQ is moving out of the brewery’s kitchen on August 7 to make room for Broadway food truck Eleanor 1909. Owner Brie Morris, a former Food Network stylist who has worked with Bobby Flay, Rocco DiSpirito, and Lorenzo Polegri, will bring some sparkle to traditional pub grub. Highlights include a smash burger with pimento cheese and candied bacon, oxtail queso, and smoked salmon deviled eggs. According to social media, Morris will start serving on August 9.

In another switcheroo, New Braunfels Italian joint 188 South closed its doors July 30 to make way for a second location of San Marcos bistro Cody’s Restaurant. There are no details yet on when Cody’s will start dishing out its upscale fare, but the restaurant has absorbed many of 188’s former staff members.

Other news and notes

River Walk tiki bar Hugman’s Oasis rolled out a new food menu on August 1. Well-known Alamo City chef Teddy Liang has developed five new dishes for the watering hole, including Kalua pork sliders and two flavors of popcorn chicken. The must-order item is sure to be the watermelon coconut bowl — a tropical concoction topped with fruit, ginger, roasted almonds, and chili salt dramatically presented tableside with dry ice.

Tickets are finally on sale for the hotly anticipated Tasting Texas Wine + Food Festival on October 27-30. As previously reported, the mega event is a collaboration between the James Beard Foundation, Visit San Antonio, and local food nonprofit Culinaria, featuring a daytime Culinary Market on the San Antonio River and a stellar cast of national and homegrown culinary talent. Snag passes here.

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.

Country music icon and Texas legend Mickey Gilley passes away at 86

remembering mickey gilley

A Texas country music icon has passed away. Mickey Gilley, the artist whose career spanned more than 50 years, died surrounded by his family on May 7, according to Pasadena mayor Jeff Wagner. He was 86.

Born in 1936 in Natchez, Mississippi to a famed family that included iconic cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart, Gilley cut his teeth at small clubs, eventually charting some 39 Top 10 hits and 17 No. 1 singles.

He became a Houston-area fixture as he gigged at the Nesadel Club in Pasadena. In 1970, he opened his now-famed, eponymous Gilley’s honky-tonk in Pasadena, which would eventually be known as the “world’s biggest honky-tonk.”

The club — and its legendary mechanical bull — would eventually create a memorable setting in the 1980 John Travolta smash hit, Urban Cowboy. An over-the-top movie premiere at the club in 1980 saw the likes of Lynn Wyatt, Andy Warhol, and Diane von Furstenberg. Gilley not only starred in the blockbuster, but his cover of “Stand by Me” became a pop and adult contemporary hit that year, marking a resurgence for the singer. (He later recounted that magical era with local TV legend Dave Ward.)

With Urban Cowboy putting him back in the spotlight, Gilley moved to television in the 1980s, appearing in popular series such as Murder She Wrote, The Fall Guy, Fantasy Island, and Dukes of Hazzard.

His Gilley’s club no longer operates in Pasadena (a store is located nearby), as it shuttered in 1989 due to dispute between Gilley and one-time partner Sherwood Cryer. In 1990, the honky-tonk burned down; the fire was ruled as arson by local investigators.

But the club brand also grew to an entertainment complex in Dallas, Las Vegas, and Durant, Oklahoma. Gilley’s retro gear has become a Texan “if you know, you know” fashion favorite.

The longtime Pasadena resident boasts a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, six Academy of Country Music Awards, and a place in the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. Fittingly, a street in Pasadena is named for the star: Mickey Gilley Boulevard.

“Pasadena has lost a true legend,” Wagner said in a social media post, adding that “his talent and larger-than-life personality helped ignite a new interest in country music as he introduced the world to Pasadena through his dance hall and Urban Cowboy in 1980. We were so honored to have Mickey perform at our State of the City in February, 2020. Our prayers for comfort and peace are with Mickey’s family, his loved ones and his fans.”

The 7 best breweries in San Antonio craft the future of local beer

Meet the Tastemakers

From the 19th-century trailblazers catering to German immigrants to blue-collar titans like Pearl and Lone Star, San Antonio's brewing culture runs deep. Still, by the early 2000s, it seemed the once-proud tradition would be permanently swept into the dustbins of history. That is, until a coterie of home brewers, industry vets, and suds-obsessed dreamers decided it was high time for a brewed awakening.

Since then, Alamo City has become a magnet for emerging talent. Some stick to the tried-and-true methods of the town's original beer-making greats; some add Tex-Mex flavor or go entirely off-script. But each of the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards nominees for Best Brewery proves that the craft of making local beer never really died.

Raise a glass to the contenders below, then snag your tickets to our brand-new San Antonio tasting event and awards program, taking place April 26 at the Espee. And while making your way through Fiesta events, stop by these top breweries for a pint. Sometimes it's a lovely thing when history repeats itself.

Black Laboratory Brewing
The owners of this East Houston Street microbrewery, Tim Castaneda and Jeff Weihe, are both scientists — a background that serves them well when creating their exacting small-batch beers. Though much of their offerings are accessible styles like vanilla coffee stouts and hazy IPAs, the pair have been drawn to experimentation lately. Their Fiesta-themed Puro San Antonio tinkers with the flavors of Alamo City's favorite Piccadilly raspas, adding chamoy, pickle juice, and cherry Kool-Aid to a blonde ale base. Electro-Lite, the brand's first hard seltzer, outdoes Sonic with cherry, lime, and salt.

Dorćol Distilling & Brewing Co.
Though perhaps best known for its Kinsman apricot rakia, this long-running distillery is just as adept at making beer as it is at spirits. Its High Wheel line features a quartet of easy sippers, mostly inspired by classic European styles like Belgian Saisons or English porters. Although respectful of tradition, the team is comfortable mixing things up with newer trends. Its 56, a West Coast-style IPA, is a must-try. Notes of citrus and tropical fruit lend sunshine to the brew, while a hefty pine waft keeps it grounded in the stink.

Freetail Brewing Co.
With a pair of medals from this year's inaugural Texas Craft Brewers Cup and "best of" awards from almost every San Antonio publication imaginable, this nearly 15-year-old operation is used to setting the standard for local beer. And they do it over an impressive range of approaches. Its most well-known beer, silky lager Bat Out of Helles, pays homage to the city's deep German roots. ¡Puro! Pickles Picoso gives Tex-Mex flavors a whirl, grafting ancho, chipotle, and chile pequin peppers to a cucumber gose. Nothing brings more majesty to a michelada.

Islla St. Brewing Co.
Owned by brothers Josh and Joaquin "J.D." Peña, Islla St. Brewing is as culturally specific as it gets. Inspiration comes from family recipes or the many panaderías and snack shops that make San Antonio's culinary culture unique. A stout cozies up with the spices of Mexican hot chocolate, a blonde ale zings with cantaloupe and cumin, and pineapple empanadas shack up with an IPA. Still, no beer captures Mission City as perfectly as the sell-out Rojo, a sudsy tribute to the town's favorite barbacoa bestie.

Künstler Brewing
The name "Künstler" translates to "artist" in English, a fitting encapsulation of what owners Vera and Brent Deckard do with their palate of beers. Head brewer Vera is a visionary, creating quirky brews that make more sense in the glass than on paper. Sichuan peppercorns in a Belgian ale and an IPA modeled off of blackberry streusel might make German beer purists clutch their pearls. The rest of us admire them for the gems they are.

Roadmap Brewing Co.
Like many craft brewers, entrepreneurs Hannah and Dustin Baker started Roadmap as a hobby after receiving a home brewing kit as a gift. The gift kept on giving, eventually laying the foundation for their River North hot spot, a favorite with weekend warriors. Solid makers of uber-popular IPAs, this brewpub most deftly navigates when the road gets dark. Its Craven Cottage won a 2021 U.S. Beer Open bronze. Just as worthy of praise is the Plain Black T's, a toasty stout with a bop of dark chocolate.

Weathered Souls Brewing Co.
Much of what makes Weathered Souls singular has nothing to do with their recipes. Indie to its core, the business relies on word-of-mouth instead of flashy advertising. More importantly, the company is a leader in social justice. Projects like co-founder Marcus Baskerville's Black is Beautiful initiative, which raises funds for organizations committed to racial equality, put its money where its mouth is. It's heartening, then, that the recipes have the right stuff. Made exclusively from Texas grains, the lagers and stouts make magic out of the wort.

Freetail Brewing Co.

Freetail Brewing Co./ Facebook
Freetail Brewing Co.

8 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Popular wing bar flocks to the South Side

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

A fourth location of Pluckers Wing Bar is coming to roost in San Antonio. The popular fast-casual chain announced via a press release plans to open a trio of new stores in Texas in 2023, including one at Brooks, the sprawling redevelopment of the former Brooks Air Force Base. Although the exact opening date is still up in the air, the company promised to be slinging sauce by the year's first quarter.

Rapidly expanding Austin chain P. Terry’s Burger Stand celebrated the opening of its third Alamo City location on March 28. Located in Ventura Plaza at 530 N. Loop 1604 W., the outpost sells the same affordable fare as the brand’s other location, including burgers, shakes, fries, and chicken sandwiches. A fourth San Antonio shop is still forthcoming at Loop 1604 and Potranco Rd., according to a release.

Industry vet Natasha Riffle, mother Veronica Riffle, and business partner Melanie Martinez are teaming up on a sassy new West Side bar. Natasha tells CultureMap that Chiflada's (meaning "spoiled" or "bratty") will open at a former residence at 1804 W. Martin St. by mid-fall. The concept will add to a growing West Side scene, including nearby Jaime's Place.

A murky new concept appears to be sneaking into 1024 S. Presa St., the Southtown block home to Taco Haven and newcomers Bar Ludavine and Hands Down. According to Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission records, a concept called Near Dark has applied for a mixed beverage permit in the building, turning the stretch into a verifiable nightlife hub. There's not much sunlight on the concept, however. The project has yet to establish web or social media presences.

New Braunfels development Creekside Town Center is getting a pair of new restaurants, according to an announcement from commercial real estate firm NewQuest Properties. Lupe Tortilla, the Houston-based Tex-Mex chain known for its tableside guacamole, will first sprout up in the summer. Scottsdale pan-Asian titan P.F. Changs will follow in the fall.

Other news and notes

Wayne Beers and Michael Bobo, proprietors of Broadway corridor favorite W.D. Deli, have sold their 32-year-old business. But that doesn't mean fans of their Cuban sandwiches should be pressed. In a March 22 Facebook post shared on the business page, local couple Steve Clemens and Kelly Palubiak announced they have taken the reins of the lunchtime classic. The property had been on sale since 2020.

Those patiently waiting for the summer opening of Austin chef Berty Richter's Mediterranean restaurant Ladino at the Pearl can get a first taste at a preview dinner benefitting the San Antonio Food Bank. The prix-fixe dinner, held at 6:30pm at Hotel Emma's luxe Elephant Cellar, will include a lavish spread with cocktails, various dips, hot and cold mezze, grilled meats, and dessert. Tickets are $225 and are available online.

Gigi's Deli chef Matt Garcia kicked off a new pop-up series on March 23 at Vista Brewing. Spaghetti Western Wednesdays will run from 6pm to sell-out and feature beer, Texas wine, classic films, and plenty of opportunities for some Lady and the Tramp-style canoodling.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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.