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Restaurant Notes and Quotes: Erick’s Plans to Expand, Plus Bites Along the Barbecue Trail

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As the 2011 begins, here are a few of the things we’re seeing:

Erick’s is expanding

Erick's Tacos is growing.

Erick’s Tacos, the great little taco truck at 12715 Nacogdoches Road, is expanding. The building next door should be ready within a month, the owners say.

It looks like it will offer indoor dining, something we would have appreciated on a recent blustery Saturday when we stopped by for a plate of chorizo con bistec tacos and a cup of fresas con crema (strawberries smothered in Mexican crema).

Things weren’t too cold. The heat from the habanero salsa kept us warm.

For more information on Erick’s, call 210-590-0994 or click here.

On the barbecue trail

Plenty of you have traveled up to Taylor, northeast of Austin, for the barbecue at two famous eateries, Louis Mueller’s Barbecue and The Taylor Cafe. Last week we stopped for  brisket, chipotle sausage and a smoky half-chicken at Mueller’s (photo at right), then headed over to say hello to Vencil Mares, proprietor of The Taylor Cafe.

Mares, 87, still tends the pits at the cafe he purchased in 1948. His brisket is legendary, as is the unpolished, mid-century ambiance of the restaurant, which faces the railroad tracks near a State Highway 95 overpass.

Mares was greeting a smattering of friends and fans — light clientele on a cold, rainy Tuesday night. He still points out the fact that the restaurant once was segregated, right down the middle. The two long, old counters with bar stools are still there, facing each other across a serving area that runs the length of the restaurant. The segregation, happily, is a thing of the past — but there is something very nice about the fact that Mares is still there to oversee the creation of some of the state’s best barbecue.

Weissman to address CIA graduation

Andrew Weissman of Il Sogno and the Sandbar in the Pearl Brewery has been asked to address the next graduating class of the Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park, N.Y., campus.

On Jan. 21, the chef will speak to the associate’s degree graduates in the culinary arts and baking programs.

This is exciting for Weissman, who graduated from the campus before launching his own culinary career.

Thumbs up for Luby’s salad ‘bar’

You can now build your own side salad at Luby’s — at least at the Main Avenue location just north of downtown.  The popular cafeteria has reconfigured the bowls of greens, vegetables and other salad ingredients at the beginning of the serving line. Point out your choice of greens and the server will custom build your salad for you. Pepperoncini, sliced cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, bacon, feta cheese, hard-cooked eggs and more can add up to a pretty good-sized salad. It could easily be a main dish as well. If it’s the tuna salad or the creamy lime Jell-O mold you like at Luby’s, those types of salads are still there, too.

This sent us looking on the Luby’s website where we found a photo depicting a prototype of a new generation Luby’s. It looks great — will there be one built in San Antonio? Or, maybe they’ll remodel some of the older Luby’s. We’ll keep you posted.

Casa Grande opens

Casa  Grande has opened at 389 N. Loop 1604 W. It offers Mexican food, including a dish called a casuelita. Call 210-545-7600 for hours.

Two closings

Pizzabella, 14218 Nacogdoches Road, has closed. A sign on the door thanked its customers but said it was closing , 13777 Nacogdoches Road, is closed.because of the economy. The Italian restaurant opened in 2005.

Fatty’s Burgers, 13777 Nacogdoches Road, has closed.

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