One of the best burgers in Texas, at least according to a high profile, Austin-based magazine, is the Texas Burger at The Cove. To their reviewers, this burger (with refried beans, corn chips and red onions, avocado and salsa) outshone more popular burger havens in town, including the traditional local favorite, Chris Madrid's.
We have patronized The Cove for years, enjoying the food and the odd location — it's also part car wash, part Laundromat. Play areas inside and outside are there for the kids, and a big, beer-hall style dining room is in back where one can escape most of the summer's heat.
Hardy San Antonio diners, though, can be found in just about any weather, seated under shaded patio areas outside. At lunchtime during the week, there may be a line extended out the door -- which has to be the very best advertising of all for any restaurant. You do stand in line to order at the counter, but someone delivers the food when it is ready.
So, we have enjoyed the flavorful, meaty taste of these now-famous burgers at The Cove. Note that the S.O.L. notation on the menu stands for "sustainable, organic and local." The Bison burgers are cooked right (that is to say, not overcooked) and served with chipotle sauce; lamb burgers are laced with salty Mexican cheese. Veggie burgers are available as well, including a grilled portobello mushroom with spinach, red onions and cheese. We had a bite of a burger on special last week, the meat topped with a perfectly fried egg. It could've won a mention, too.
While The Cove has plenty to offer, including a beer list with more than 100 beers, it is notable that the owners, Sam and Lisa Asvestas, were paying attention to certain buzzwords before they really got buzzing. They use recycled goods when possible; they pay attention to sustainable, local, fresh and organic when it comes to the food. "Homemade" is another word to throw in there, too.
The fish taco (now commonplace in San Antonio but just catching on in the rest of the world, apparently) is not fancy or overloaded. It's made with mild-flavored, grilled tilapia, a fish I prefer to catfish. The shaved red cabbage and the spicy poblano chile sauce boosted this warm, foil-wrapped taco to better-than-ordinary.
I was tempted to go back for seconds, but managed to resist after a friend passed along a bite of her entrée. This was an Organic Falafel Sandwich with spinach salad, with hummus on the side. It was very good — something I'd eat instead of a burger and not feel at all meat deprived.
In general, one of the things I like about this restaurant's menu is that they put the right foods together. This sounds elementary, but you might know what I mean. Like, I am never happy to find, say, canned pineapple chunks in a tuna salad, for instance. They just plain don't belong there.
I do approve of bacon paired with avocado in just about anything, or goat cheese with a salad that includes grilled apples and walnuts. And, there appear to be two or three kinds of organic hummus available, which is a plus any way you look at it.
I will have to return to The Cove to sample the Jalapeño Carrot Cake. As it was, I was allowed to have not one, but two, bites of a friend's Green Brownie. It was gluten free but flavor packed, moist but firm, and the essence of deep, dark chocolate. Go and have one.
Check out the website
for the music schedule, to learn about the chef and owners, and read the entire menu. If it sounds good on paper (or looks good on your screen), when you sit down to eat at The Cove you can believe it will taste good, too.
Lunch: Monday-Saturday. Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday.