Quantcast
Courtesy of Project Pollo

Project Pollo is really spreading its wings: The popular plant-based chicken chain announced its 15th location in Texas, coming soon to 9390 Huebner St. in San Antonio.

Opening in August, the medical district spot will be the sixth San Antonio location for the growing chain, which celebrates its two-year anniversary this fall.

A ribbon cutting on August 18 will commemorate the official opening with the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, while a grand opening will take place on August 20. The lucky first 50 guests will win gift cards granting free Project Pollo for a whole year.

Can't wait that long? A soft opening will commence at the new location on August 9, showcasing the new full menu, including the famous crispy, plant-based "chickn" sandwiches, popcorn chikn, loaded fries, oat-based macaroni and cheese, creamy milkshakes, and much more.

Named one of the top 15 vegan fast-food chains in the U.S. by VegNews, Project Pollo is the brainchild of Lucas Bradbury, who appeared on Shark Tank earlier this year.

The company has been ruffling industry feathers with its unprecedented growth since it first launched, and is no doubt part of the reason San Antonio made a recent list of the top 20 vegan cities in the U.S.

With a combination of plant-based affordability, convenience, and sustainability, the company markets itself as one that "gives a cluck," with a motto of people over profits (though with 12 locations already, they seem to be doing just fine on the latter, too).

Photo by Paul Bardagy

Iconic Texas restaurant Fonda San Miguel unveils innovative chef duo

Fonda News

Last week may have marked the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, but Texas' iconic interior Mexican restaurant Fonda San Miguel celebrated more than Cinco de Mayo. Ahead of its 47th anniversary, the legendary Austin staple of authentic Mexican cuisine announced two co-chefs now at the helm of the historic restaurant.

Co-founded in 1975 by Tom Gilliland and late chef Miguel Ravago, Fonda San Miguel was the first Austin restaurant to focus on authentic cuisine from interior Mexico. Ravago’s recipes were inspired by his grandmother’s kitchen, and he was known as a master of authentic Mexican food and a giant in the Texas culinary industry. He passed away in June 2017 following a battle with lung cancer, and the two new co-chefs will be the first to fill his post at Fonda San Miguel.

“No one could ever replace Miguel,” says Gilliland in a release. “He wore many hats and filled multiple kitchen roles in a way only he was capable of. It felt right to hire not one, but two skilled chefs to carry on his legacy.”

The two new chefs are Mexico City native Carlos Monroy and sourcing expert Blanca Zesati. Formally trained at the Colegio Superior de Gastronomia, Monroy boasts a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts with a specialization in regional Mexican cuisine. He most recently served as executive chef of Servido, a Mexico City catering company known for servicing celebrity clients such as Shakira, Dua Lipa, and Paul McCartney.

“I want to continue showing the world that Mexican food is more than tacos, burritos, and quesadillas,” Monroy says. “Fonda San Miguel is the perfect place to do that. What Tom and Miguel built almost 50 years ago has stood the test of time and will continue to live on. Our customers are already familiar with the beauty of Mexican cooking, and I am humbled to carry on the tradition.”

Although born and raised in Chicago, Zesati likewise boasts Mexican roots. Her most recent post was as executive sous chef at Austin’s renowned Miraval Resort & Spa, where she spent eight years creating inventive menus for guests with dietary restrictions. Zesati spearheaded a fully organic menu program that changed nightly and provided complete nutritional information to guests. Her extensive experience with procuring unique ingredients has made her an expert ingredient curator and a frequent partner of niche producers throughout the city.

“I’m excited to learn more about my own culture through food,” Zesati says. “My dad is from Mexico, so we visited often growing up. I want to see how I can incorporate what I’ve learned over the course of my career with what I know about my family’s heritage, and hopefully bring Austin some healthier, plant-based Mexican food along the way.”

Gilliland attributes Fonda San Miguel’s longevity to its ability to adapt and evolve while staying true to its core identity, which is part of the motivation behind hiring these two innovative new chefs. He is equally excited about Monroy’s mastery of Mexican breads such as pan dulce as he is about Zesati’s experience crafting creative, organic menus.

“Over the last decade, I’ve noticed a marked increase in guests with dietary restrictions,” says Gilliland, “Vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free — and what those people might not know is that those options already exist. Authentic Mexican cooking is largely plant-based, so that’s what Blanca’s focus will be; researching, sourcing, and incorporating those dishes into Fonda San Miguel’s menu.”

Ultimately, Gilliland tasked both Zesati and Monroy with expanding the existing Fonda San Miguel menu while retaining the restaurant’s core offerings.

“The new items aren’t replacing anything,” he says. “But I’m confident adding them will help us be more approachable to more people. I’ve been around long enough to know that the best way to create an enduring legacy is to continue evolving, continue pushing the envelope and consistently make everyone feel welcome, seen and loved.”

Fonda San Miguel is located in Austin at 2330 W. North Loop Blvd. Guests can visit fondasanmiguel.com to make reservations.

The legendary Mexican restaurant announced new co-chefs and an expanded menu.

Photo by Paul Bardagy
The legendary Mexican restaurant announced new co-chefs and an expanded menu.
Photo courtesy of SweetFire Kitchen

10 festive San Antonio restaurants making Christmas dinner merry and bright

Season's Eatings

With the flurry of gift buying, decking the halls, and baking cookies for the annual exchange, Christmas dinner can add unnecessary stress. It’s enough to make anyone say, “bah humbug!” Luckily, these 10 San Antonio restaurants still have slots open for the big day. Skip the cleanup and the prep work and put the wonder back into the most wonderful time of the year.

Boudro’s Texas Bistro
This longtime bulwark against the touristy River Walk puts a Hill Country spin on the Dickensian holiday feast with its prix fixe offering, featuring herb-crusted prime rib and sticky toffee pudding. Those wanting something a little less Victorian can order from the regular menu — a treasury of Southwestern hits like pollo asado, blue crab tostadas, and tableside guacamole. $45. 11 am-10:30 pm.

Frederick’s Bistro
This Alamo City staple spreads holiday cheer with a festive menu available both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Go classic with a walnut Roquefort salad, glazed ham, and a mango creme brulee or break the Yuletide rules with Vietnamese dumplings and Norwegian salmon with a Champagne artichoke velouté. Either way, don’t forget to sample the impressive wine menu for some extra cheer. A la carte. 4-9 pm.

Kona Grill
Roll into Christmas Day with this upscale chain’s sushi selection, ranging from crowd-pleasers like the spider to originals like the artsy Picasso. Featured dishes — available for eat-in or take-out service — include a filet with lobster cream and miso asparagus, honey-glazed ham, and macadamia-nut-crusted turkey breast. Kids’ meals are also available for the tikes. A la carte. 10 am-midnight.

Ostra Mokara Hotel & Spa
The Italian-American Feast of the Seven Fishes traditionally occurs on Christmas Eve, but who’s to say it can’t be celebrated on the big day? This elegant eatery at the Mokara Hotel & Spa reels in holiday revelers with catches like ahi tuna carpaccio, fruits de mer pasta, and applewood-roasted salmon with smoked duck succotash. The eggnog cheesecake will have the sugar plum fairies doing the Woah. A la carte. 5-10 pm.

The Palm Restaurant
Those who appreciate a good holiday pun will no doubt want to flock to the Mrs. Clausmopolitan, this downtown steakhouse’s holiday take on the 1990s’ most iconic drink. Follow that with a hearty prix fixe featuring a 26-ounce prime rib and choice of salad or soup, or opt for a take-home dinner for two with lobster and chateaubriand. What’s better than feasting in jammies? $99-$175. 11:30 am-11 pm.

Supper American Eatery
This contemporary American eatery in the stunning Hotel Emma has decked the halls for a memorable Christmas feast. Indulge in seasonal treats like salt-and-vinegar Brussels sprouts, roasted chicken breast with a spinach crepe, and wood-grilled sirloin sauced with tomato chimichurri. For drinks, one can’t go wrong with the Creation menu, a selection of original cocktails pleasurable to any palate. A la carte. 5-11 pm.

SweetFire Kitchen — La Cantera Resort & Spa
Instead of suffering on the in-laws’ air mattress, book a luxe retreat at the La Cantera Resort & Spa. After opening gifts and taking the requisite wintertime selfies, head over to the in-house restaurant. The prix fixe meal includes choices like rosemary and citrus turkey, rosemary and garlic roasted prime rib, and porchetta with fig and walnut chutney. $70 for adults and $32 for children. 10 am-10 pm.

Texas de Brazil
Have yourself a meaty little Christmas at this downtown churrascaria, which offers all the bread, salads, sides, and desserts one can handle. Of course, the slow-roasted cuts are the main attraction. Devour filet mignon, lamb chops, pork ribs, chicken breast, or Brazilian sausage, then waddle over to nearby Travis Park to take in the light display, glide on the ice rink, or take part in the holiday lotería hunt. A la carte. 4-9:30 pm.

Tributary — Marriott Rivercenter
Christmas dining often comes at a premium, so it’s refreshing to see this Marriott Rivercenter restaurant’s nod to taxed holiday budgets. Save some cash for New Year’s Eve by enjoying a festive trio of Christmas favorites, including a shaved root vegetable salad, sorghum glazed ham, and Texas pecan pie served a la mode. $35. Noon-10 pm.

Zocca Cuisine d’Italia — Westin Riverwalk
Say “Buon Natale” at this River Walk favorite, known for its modern takes on Italian cuisine. Pasta is, of course, a mainstay here, whether it’s a luscious tagliatelle in Bolognese or more kid-friendly spaghetti with meatballs. For a more casual dinner, opt for a pizza or panini or create an appetizer spread. Mozzarella sticks bring joy to the world any time of year. A la carte. 7 am-11 pm.

Gigi's Deli/ Facebook

Where to eat in San Antonio right now: 9 hottest pop-ups for foodies to feast on

Meals on wheels

Pop-ups have always been a thing in Alamo City. After all, the city birthed the Chili Queens, who would set up camp in plazas to sell enchiladas, chili con carne, and tamales to locals and tourists alike. The challenges of the pandemic, however, have ensured what’s old is new again. Faced with staff challenges and the need to serve outdoors, crafty chefs have revived the tradition of restaurants without walls. The menu is now more international, and the public square has shifted from parks to bars, but open-air food stands are still just as San Antonio as ever.

Dang!wich
Maray McChesney and Matt McLaughlin have already made a mark on the city’s food scene with their South Texas-inspired mixer line Bexar Tonics. Now they are shaking up the pop-up world with their Philadelphia-style sandwiches. Instead of the requisite cheesesteaks, think hoagie rolls piled high with Italian roast pork and garlicky greens or cold cuts and all the fixings — and more to come. As with their first brand, the couple has a knack for the unexpected. Even though this concept only debuted on October 9, it has already left its mark.

Gigi’s Deli
Sure, Subway has salami, but the art of the Italian sandwich in San Antonio has been neglected for far too long. Chef Matthew Garcia is doing his part to correct that with his series of pop-ups at St. Mary’s Strip wine haven Little Death. The menus change with the theme (previous pop-ups have paid homage to The Sopranos and Mean Girls), but guests can expect artisan bread stuffed with creative ingredients like roasted pork, provolone, broccoli rabe, and pickled peppers or fried zucchini, roasted garlic ricotta, and gremolata — along with a specially paired dessert. Mamma mia!

Last Place Burgers
Smash burgers are, as they say in the fashion world, having a moment in San Antonio. Few eateries take them as seriously as this roving concept — frequently found at local hot spots like Tony’s Siesta, TBA, and Jefferson Bodega. Take its latest creation, a still-unnamed burger featuring a wagyu patty loaded with chili crisp mayo, house-made pickles, butter lettuce, and a positively scandalous drape of American cheese. Owner Mark Villareal doesn’t have to take such care with his burgers, as bar patrons aren’t always known to have the most discriminating tastes. But one bite with a Lone Star tallboy easily explains why he does.

Masshole Food Truck
OK, this one may be a bit of a cheat. After all, chef Adam Bylicki’s lobster rolls can be found around town every weekend and he does park an actual truck. Still, you must follow the concept on Instagram to know where it will park next. When guests track it down, they would be wise to order St. Anthony, a Texas twist on the New England staple with sweet onion, jalapeños, and lime. Traditionalists shouldn’t balk, however. There are still pitch-perfect representations of both the Maine and Connecticut styles.

Ooyoo Pan
Owners Aldo Cortes and Nari Hodges fuse their respective Mexican and Korean heritages in this innovative pop-up concept specializing in hand-piped macarons. The adorable character cookies look great in pictures, of course, but it’s the flavors that really stand out. The couple has a knack for creative fillings like lavender Earl Grey, matcha guava, and soybean injeolmi (a variety of traditional Korean rice cake). Perhaps the cleverest of all their treats is the red bean macaron, molded in a fish shape like their waffle-like cousin bungeo-ppang.

Pumpers
Chef-driven food sometimes takes itself way too seriously. That’s why it was so refreshing when Stefan Bowers — one of Alamo City’s culinary powerhouses — debuted this smash-burger concept at the height of the pandemic. Delightfully profane, Pumpers doesn’t try to impress guests with its lexicon of global ingredients and adherence to classic techniques. Instead, guests get a damn fine burger and a jolt of R-rated humor. Though the food truck was recently sold, Bowers promises that the joint is still kicking. It’s hard to tell if the mischievous chef is really rebranding as Humperz, Shrumperz, of Frumperz. A burger by any other name would taste as sweet.

Pure Heart Foods
Proprietors Priscilla Gomez and Jessica Gaertner started this Alamo City-based company partly out of necessity. On restricted diets, the pair struggled to find commercial grain-free baking mixes that met their family’s standards. Though their products are typically reserved for lazy Sundays at home, the team frequently takes their waffle iron on the road to spots like Southwest Elixirs and Vista Brewing. There, they adorn treats with crowd-pleasing toppings like fresh berries and whipped cream or Wildflower Caramels and nuts. What better way to show that gluten-free eating can also be decadent?

Sijang Korean Corn Dogs
The State Fair of Texas as nothing on this brand-new collaboration between The Hayden sous chef Brian Reese and Extra Fine cook Eddie Barrera. Golden battered, with a hint of sugar, their takes on the popular Korean street food are slathered with Kewpie mayo, encased in ramen noodle crusts, or sprinkled with something called chicken sugar. Though the concept would be right at home in a Seoul night market, it does allow room for some puro San Anto flavor. The SA is a mad mix of XO Kewpie, pork sung (fluffy cotton-candy-like dried pork), and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Vegan and Sara
Vegans often get a bad rap as humorless scolds, but this recent CultureMap Tastemaker Awards nominee is pure joy. Owner Stephanie Lopez specializes in nostalgic “plant-based junk food” that brings up memories of summer afternoons spent at North Star Mall. Chicken-fried steak is transformed with cauliflower, fries are loaded with pickled onions and soyrizo, and pan-fried noodles are lightened up with plenty of broccoli and carrots. These are the universal foods of youth, made better by winking at teenaged angst. Asymmetrical haircuts are strictly optional.

Gigi's Deli brings the art of the Italian sandwich to San Antonio.

Gigi's Deli/ Facebook
Gigi's Deli brings the art of the Italian sandwich to San Antonio.
Photo by Jessica Geisey

Innovative San Antonio restaurant trades downtown for Southtown

Eat Well

Since 2015, chef Elizabeth Johnson has been on a mission to transform how San Antonians think about food. Her downtown restaurant, Pharm Table, is part eatery, part apothecary. But unlike traditional pharmacies, Pharm Table uses food as medicine.

Beginning this fall, Johnson is expanding her innovative concept and moving the restaurant from Auditorium Circle, near the Tobin Center, to Southtown. In a release, Johnson calls the move "the next step in [the restaurant]'s evolution." It opens at 812 S. Alamo St. in late November.

Along with a new space, diners can expect an expanded menu, one that continues to emphasize nutrient-rich dishes and ingredients, as well as a thoughtfully designed space "honoring safety, sustainability and the local landscape."

The menu, according to a release, will continue to meld Eastern, Western, Mesoamerican, and anti-inflammatory diets, and San Antonio heritage foods. At the downtown space, nothing on the menu includes wheat, dairy, sugar, or processed foods. Even cooking oil is extracted onsite from nuts and seeds rather than using traditional cooking oils, a practice likely to continue in the Southtown outpost.

Like the food, the beverage menu, crafted by local consultant Houston Eaves, emphasizes artisanal, botanical, anti-inflammatory spirits. Sugars, of course, will be eschewed when possible, and liberal use of botanicals and herbs will be a "signature" of the program. The restaurant will also sell natural wines and beers.

“There will be a new and expanded menu that reflects global cuisines and the library of world spices that inspire our cooking and mission to heal people with food,” said Johnson. “Our freshly designed space is inspired by ancestry, healthy living and of course fun, while also being mindful of the realities that exist today.”

To help create the space, Johnson tapped an international team of architects and artists to collaborate on the project. The Pharm Table project is even being used as a work model for students at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico. "The group is taking this on as a real-life case study of a restaurant operating and reimagining itself during a global pandemic," notes the release.

Inside, the new space is "configured for modern life as a place of joy and social gathering," while also addressing the challenges that COVID-19 brings — and the likelihood that it's changed dining out forever.

"I’m truly looking forward to creating a new culinary destination for Southtown,” said Kevin Covey of GrayStreet Partners, one of Pharm Table's commercial investors. “Pharm Table is elevating San Antonio’s diverse dining options and fits well into the energy of the neighborhood.”

For now, Pharm Table's original downtown location is still open for patio dining, curbside, takeout, and delivery. It's open 11 am-3 pm, Tuesday through Sunday.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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.

---

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.