Tag Archive | "Chama Gaucha"

Fralo’s Plans to Add Microbrewery, Plus Eating Vegan and More

Artful pizzas at Fralo's that taste as good as they look.

Fralo’s Art of Pizza, 23651 I-10 W., is expanding at its Leon Springs location.

Owner Frank Hakspiel says he has purchased microbrewery equipment from Sea World and plans to open his own brewery on the property in the spring. The microbrewer from Sea World has agreed to help him get started once the equipment has been moved to the site.

He has already named one of the beers, Grant’s Pale Ale, for his infant son. Grant’s name is also on the caramelized pear and prosciutto pizza the restaurant offers.

Hakspiel is also talking about adding a second restaurant next door. It would offer high-end Italian food prepared by former Il Sogno chef Luca Della Casa, who has been working at the restaurant, making all of the revamped pasta dishes and providing specials each weekend. “He makes all of the pasta,” Hakspiel says.

Della Casa has also added a Torino pizza — Italian sausage, chicken, arugula, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella and provolone cheese with a spicy tomato sauce — that was named after his home region in Italy. Torino is also a possibility for the name of the new restaurant, Hakspiel says.

Isn't she a beauty? Fralo's is going to transform her into a catering truck.

As if all that weren’t enough, Hakspiel has plans for the 1940s-era fire truck he has on the property. He plans on adding an oven to the back of the truck and use it for catering. Kids of any age who have played with a miniature fire truck should love having the real thing at a party.

We learned this over a wonderful lunch at Fralo’s with vegan travel blogger Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, who produces and writes She was able to get a vegan pizza that she declared one of the five  best she has ever had. In keeping with Fralo’s ongoing desire to please a multitude of tastes and diets, the restaurant also offers gluten-free and whole wheat crusts as well as an off-the-menu feature of a miniature pizza made on a portobello mushroom for those who are avoiding flour.

For more information about Fralo’s, call 210-698-6616 or click here.


Exploring more vegan options

Carolyn Scott-Hamilton and her husband, Dan Hamilton: Healthy Voyagers at Fralo's.

Other restaurants Scott-Hamilton and her husband, Dan Hamilton, also her cameraman, visited during their stay were Mi Tierra, the Cove and Adelante. She described the latter, with its riot of color and collection of whimsical Mexican folk art as looking “like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.”

The couple are from Los Angeles and were here on a Convention and Visitors Bureau trip for travel writers. A Boston blogger who writes about women traveling alone and an Orange County mom who writes about traveling with her kids were also invited. All three were part of teams that competed against each other in a series of events that ranged from feeding the lorikeets at the zoo to lassoing a statue of a cow. On Sunday, in the heat, the couple found themselves running from the Tower of the Americas to the Alamo, where they had to start a conga line and encourage as many participants as they could to join in.

If you’re wondering why Scott-Hamilton and her husband didn’t go to Green, Pavani Express or the city’s new vegan restaurant, Vegeria, which opened last week at 8407 Broadway, it’s because she likes to focus her trips on restaurants where vegans are welcome, even if the place is not entirely vegan.

At the Cove, she was able to get the Vegan Bacon Cheeseburger and a Vegan BLT along with a gluten-free beer before heading off to First Friday.

If you are looking for vegan food and are unsure if a restaurant can accommodate your tastes, give it a call first and ask. It’s as simple as that.

Wine Spectator honors area restaurants

Wine Spectator magazine has released its annual roundup of restaurants with excellent wine lists. New this year is Antlers Lodge at the Hyatt Hill Country, 9800 Hyatt Resort Drive.

Others to make the list are Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood, Biga on the Banks, Chama Gaúcha Brazilian Steakhouse, Coco Chocolate Lounge, Fleming’s, Fogo de Chão, Francesca’s at Sunset, Kirby’s, Las Ramblas, Morton’s the Steakhouse, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Silo, the Melting Pot, the Palm and Wildfish Seafood Grille.

The importance of the list has been debated, but despite any faults, it does bring in customers, which is why you’ll find a restaurant like Morton’s unveiling a new program, the Sommelier Selections of its wine list. This area includes boutique wines and rare gems that include Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mountain 2005) and Freemark Abbey Cabernet (Napa 2002), which are available only at Morton’s domestic locations.

Wine on tap

We always thought wine sales would go up if you could get a great glass without having to buy the full bottle. This is the secret behind the Boerne Wine Company, 302 S. Main St., Boerne, where you can try such top-shelf wines as PlumpJack and Palmaz by the glass from their dispenser systems that keep an open bottle fresher for longer period of time.

Now, is reporting that a few wineries are selling their best by tap. “That’s right, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir from kegs, not bottles, dispensed from a tap like beer and ale,” the article says. “The approach promises to remake restaurant by-the-glass programs by lowering costs, dramatically reducing waste (wine in open bottles deteriorates rapidly), and making the whole process considerably greener. … But a switch won’t happen overnight.”

Costs, of course, are a factor. But if this catches on, it will be a revolution in wine and dining.



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Griffin to Go: Kids! Why Can’t They Be Like We Were …

To some diners, that's just not a pretty sight.

Kids are a touchy issue when it comes to dining. Parents looking for a little time off from kitchen duty can often be seen at restaurants trying to get a moment’s peace and quiet, while the kids play. Sometimes it’s in the aisles, though a few places offer some diversion. Willie’s Ice House, for example, offers a sandbox for the tots. Others offer crayons and pictures to color or arcades filled with video games and occasionally and old-fashioned pinball machine.

But what happens when the restaurant is not equipped for kids? I recently sat behind a small child who was about 2 years old and who delighted in shrieking at the top of his lungs. His slightly older brother noisily tried to get him to hush, which caused the youngster to scream all the louder. Dad was seemingly oblivious to all this because he let both kids raise a ruckus without saying a word.

I was ready to either to clobber one of the kids or ask for my money back — I face enough stress elsewhere, whether it’s in the traffic coming home from work each evening or listening my parrot’s deafening squawking  — but the little dears thankfully left before I could inaugurate a re-enactment of “Sweeney Todd” with me as the barber.

It seems that a growing number of diners have had enough of the noise from unruly youngsters. A national website, Happily Childfree, lists restaurants around the country that “don’t cater to the Chuck-E-Cheese crowd.” It starts off with a list of places to avoid, which is strange, because five places in Manhattan, including Gramery Tavern and Cafe Boulud, are displayed followed by one place in San Antonio: Gourmet Burger Grill.

I haven’t had any enfant terrible problems at GBG. But I was pleased to find at least one place in town singled out for praise: Alamo Draft House, which does not allow children under age 6.

What's your opinion on allowing children in restaurants?

In days gone by, higher end restaurants were not places where children ran amok or made too much noise, with the exception of whatever restaurant was twirling atop the Tower of the Americas. But children are popping up with greater frequency at linen table-topped places. At Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse recently, a family with three children sat across the aisle from us. They were made to feel as welcome as we were, and the younger set were model diners.

It reminded me of an evening at the fondly remembered Le Rêve. Dinners there could last more than three hours on occasion, depending on how much food you ordered and how much fellowship you wished to share. So, imagine my surprise when I saw a table with a mother and her two children. Both of them ate everything set before them and appeared to love every last bite. In fact, they behaved far better than most of my party did. So, who’s to say what should be the grounds for allowing children into a restaurant? And should it be by age?

I know you all have opinions on the subject. Please post them below.

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