Tag Archive | "Fiesta San Antonio"

It’s Time to Party, San Antonio

The German Club float the Texas Cavaliers River Parade.

The German Club float the Texas Cavaliers River Parade.

Fiesta is here, but you already knew that. In just a few days, however, we’ve learned not to trust the weatherman and just play it all by ear.

Tubs of baked oysters, ready to be shucked and slurped down.

Tubs of baked oysters, ready to be shucked and slurped down.

Sure, the fireworks over Fort Sam were canceled because it was wet beyond wet. And yet, despite forecasts of thunderstorms, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade and the Fiesta Oyster Bake both went off without a hitch.

Here you can enjoy a few visual memories of both events as you get ready for NIOSA, the Battle of Flowers Parade, Fiesta Flambeau and more.

You can expect to get your fill of your favorite treats. Already I’ve enjoyed my annual chicken on a stick crowned with a jalapeno as well as a tub of oysters. But this year brought something new to Oyster Bake: freshly cut and fried potato chips that were too good for words.

Gorditas, corn in a cup, borracho beans, sausage on a stick, corn dogs, paletas, cotton candy and more have all been a part of my Fiesta diet. And I’m making Cowboy Klopse at NIOSA on Tuesday. I don’t eat like this the rest of the year — honest. How about you? What are you favorite Fiesta flavors? Let us know.

Workers bake sacks and sacks of oysters each year to keep up with the demand.

Workers bake sacks and sacks of oysters each year to keep up with the demand.

Friday at Oyster Bake draws music lovers to its many stages.

Friday at Oyster Bake draws music lovers to its many stages.

The Texas Cavaliers enjoy their own parade.

The Texas Cavaliers enjoy their own parade.

Many of the floats are works of art.

Many of the floats are works of art.

Partying with Fiesta royalty on the water ...

Partying with Fiesta royalty on the water …

... and on land (with Rosenda Rios, Latin American Heritage queen for 2016).

… and on land (with Rosenda Rios, Latin American Heritage queen for 2016).



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Fiesta Specials Capture the Color, Flavor of SA’s Favorite Party

lilys fiesta1

Fiesta runs through April 27. Here are a few food and fun events happening that you can enjoy in between the parades, the Oyster Bake, NIOSA or whatever your favorite event is.

Lily’s Cookies Add Color to Your Fiesta

Lily’s Cookies, 2716 McCullough Ave., is getting into Fiesta in a huge way.

The bakery is offering all sorts of colorful cookies, from sombreros to colorful attire to flowers that you can enjoy throughout Fiesta.

For more information, call 210-832-0886.

Ocho Dishes Up the Fiesta Specials

The Hotel Havana and Ocho, 1015 Navarro St., have gotten into the Fiesta spirit. Guests receive a Fiesta wreath on their doors, while medal collectors can purchase the hotel’s third annual collectible.

Meanwhile, Ocho’s chef Toby Soto has created a special Fiesta menu that includes:

  • Pork and Golden Raisin Empanadas with Salsa Roja, $8
  • Pollo Verde Stuffed Piquillo Peppers with Mole Negro,$8
  • Albondigas de Res with a Smoked Tomato Broth, $8
  • Martinated Vegetable Skewers on a bed of Yellow Rice, $8
  • Mini Funnel Cakes, $8

Drink specials include:

  • Havana Margarita, $5
  • Cuban Breeze, $5
  • Sangria, $5
  • Sol, $4

Art and a Drink at a Great Price at Barriba Cantina

barriba1Barriba Cantina on the Riverwalk, 111 W. Crockett St., is ready to party in style.

Barriba is again featuring renowned local artist and designer H. Michael Karshis with his Countdown to Fiesta creation.

“Fiesta is the iconic San Antonio event that belongs to visitors and residents alike, so we are teaming with Dulce Vida tequila to offer anyone that brings in a Fiesta medal—old or new—our ‘Skinny Rita’ drink, one of our signature handcrafted drinks, for $3.25 (half off the happy hour price),” says Barriba Cantina general manager Gina Hartbarger. “We are limiting this offer to one discounted drink a day, during Fiesta only (through April 27), but the customer also gets a keeper glass with the recipe on it and a Fiesta-pink Barriba Koozie….what a deal! We will also post the medals on the Fiesta Wall near the Countdown to Fiesta artwork.”

“Fiesta is part Texas, part Mexico—just like Barriba Cantina,” says Karshis. “This installation has been up for a few months and I love it that customers are celebrating birthdays or anniversaries at Barriba and taking photos in front of the countdown.”

For information, call 210-228-9876

Earl Abel’’s Goes Global

Earl Abel’s, 1201 Austin Highway, is celebrating Fiesta with a new globally inspired dish every day through April 27. The special will be priced at $9 and will be available for both lunch and dinner.  Here are a few of the specials being offered:

  • 4/11: Greek cuisine featuring a Gyro Sandwich with Fries or Chips.
  • 4/12: Mexican cuisine featuring a Beef Taco, Cheese Enchiladas, Rice & Beans.
  • 4/13: German cuisine featuring Venison Sausage, Red Cabbage & German Potato Salad.
  • 4/14: Carribean cuisine featuring Fish Tacos with a Mango Salsa, Sweet Potato Fries or Chips
  • 4/15: Italian night featuring Spaghetti and Meatballs and a Dinner Salad.
  • 4/16: Texan theme with BBQ Beef Ribs, Baked Beans and Potato Salad.

Call 210-822-7333 for information.


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Fiesta Arts Fair: Great Therapy After a Bad-News Week

Fiesta Arts Fair Brave Combo

Brave Combo entertains dancers and onlookers at Fiesta Arts Fair Saturday.

The Fiesta Arts Fair, for me, is the No. 1, not-to-miss event because it has it all: Handmade art and crafts you don’t find in stores, Fiesta food, live music, a charming and historic setting, tons of people to watch and places to sit and watch them.

In fact, the combination of cool breezes and sunny skies for this juried event at the Southwest School of Art’s Ursuline Campus, was just the therapy I (and hundreds of others) needed to put a terrible week behind us.

While shopping is my main focus, this year’s highlight on Saturday was Brave Combo, the band out of Denton. It’s purportedly a polka band, but at any moment they’re likely to change pace and suddenly belt out some salsa, 40s jazz or maybe Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5 combined with a popular Italian folk song. Or “Wooly Bully.” Brave Combo does not play here every year, so I gladly spent about an hour and a half sitting in the courtyard, listening to them and cheering the brave dancers. (See note below.)

Then, it was time for my finely honed Fiesta Arts Fair routine — and here it is: First, I go alone. That is because I have learned, after 24 years of experience, that it’s best for everyone that way. I move fast, erratically, and get very antsy (that’s the nice word for it) if companions are dawdling at booths I have no interest in. Sound selfish? Sure, it is, but I bet there are lots of others that have a similar approach!)

Red Cat Bag Fiesta

Cat bag from fiber artist Leslie Bowman-Friedlander.

After covering the fair at speed, I then work my way back to the beginning and hit the booths I’ve mentally marked as “prime.” That’s when the serious shopping begins. Slowly, this time.

Saturday, I also took time out for a sausage taco and a warm chocolate chip cookie from Guillermo’s booth after making a grand total of two purchases, both from the same fabric arts booth (Bowman Fiber Designs, Booth 88).  I found no earrings (my usual quest) or other temptations, mostly at the pottery stands.

When the “work” of the day was done, I sat on a bench and talked to a woman whose family had been in San Antonio for five generations. We discussed the virtues of the old-style bean burros to the new, super-stuffed burritos. We like the smaller ones of days past better. We also wondered together why there wasn’t a place to get free water at the fair. (Maybe there was, but we couldn’t find it.)

I also discovered, and mourned, the loss of the gift shop — a regular stop on my path– before heading back to the car. On the way, I stopped to bury my face in the deep bank of confederate jasmine in bloom along a fence on Augusta Street, and to breathe in its fine, spicy scent, surely one of the best in the world. It was a good reminder that yes, bad weeks, even very bad weeks, always come to an end.


— If you go to Brave Combo’s website, here, read about their connection with West, Texas and plans for helping fundraising efforts in upcoming weeks for the city that was torn apart in an explosion Wednesday.

— The Fiesta Arts Fair, at the Southwest School of Art’s Ursuline Campus, 300 Augusta St. at Navarro Street, is open again Sunday, April 21, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

— The 3D art on the front page of this article on SavorSA is from S.D. Meadows Folk Art Studio and Gallery  in Palestine, Il.

Jasmine blooming along sidewalk at Southwest School of Art

Jasmine blooming along sidewalk at Southwest School of Art

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Fiesta Shrimp Tacos

Fiesta Shrimp Tacos

Fiesta Shrimp Tacos

Pretty enough to serve at a party, these Fiesta Shrimp Tacos can be served dressed just with lemon, or with your favorite sauce or dressing.  However, the acidity of the lime, along with the sweetness of the mango and buttery texture and light flavor of the avocado are all a pretty good mix to just eat as-is. These can be made with smaller chalupa shells and make perfect appetizers, too.

Fiesta Shrimp Tacos

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Pinch salt
1 large avocado, cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 large mango, peeled and diced (if the pit is large, use a couple of mangoes)
4-6 radishes, trimmed and sliced into sticks (see photo)
2 large limes, divided use
1-2 tablespoons minced cilantro (mint and parsley are also good, so you could use a mixture)
8 chalupa shells, crispy taco shells or other type of taco shell you like. (see note)

Cover the raw shrimp with cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and let shrimp cook a minute or so until they are firm. Pour off water, let shrimp cool to at least room temperature.

In the meantime, assemble the diced avocado, mango, sliced the radishes in a bowl and dress them with lime juice from half of the lime. When the shrimp are cool, add them to the mixture along with the cilantro and other herbs, if using. Then, squeeze on more lime juice. Gently toss. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp mixture into the crisp shells. Serve with wedges of lime, if you want.

Note: I made these taco shells by shaping them (with a couple of spoons) into bowls while frying them. Only do this if you have time and find this sort of thing fun, as I do!

Makes 4 servings.

From Bonnie Walker

Photograph by Bonnie Walker




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A Taste of the Northside Rolls Out 14th Fiesta Bash

Taste of the Northside 2Brighton Center’s 14th annual A Taste of the Northside (TONS), a favorite San Antonio Fiesta event, will be rolling out another night of savory bites, delicious drinks, high-energy entertainment and more for you and your closest friends. Co-presented by Lynd and  H-E-B, it happens Wednesday, April 24, from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at The Club At Sonterra.

Fifty of  San Antonio’s most popular restaurants will be dishing up favorites: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro will be serving their famous chicken lettuce wraps;  Z’Tejas’ has fruit-inspired dishes including Ahi Chipotle Citrus Bites and Prickly Pear Meatballs; Rumi Lounge & Grill brings back their thirst-quenching cucumber martinis — a great way to beat the heat. Other well-known restaurants will join this year’s event including BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Freebirds World Burrito and Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse and Las Palapas.

Fine dining from restaurants such as Ounce Steakhouse, Sustenio, and Tejas Steakhouse will featuring pairing a variety of specialty wines for V.I.P guests. (Limited V.I.P. tickets are available for pre-purchase online here at for $200 pre-sale.)

Tastings of a variety of wines courtesy of Glaziers and Silver Eagle beers will be on tap to quench guests’ thirst. Music from Blue Finger Disco, Melina Band, and The Decibel Band will provide music in three distinct areas at an exclusive country club setting.

All-inclusive general admission tickets are $55 in advance and can be purchased at any San Antonio H.E.B. location or online here. Each ticket provides the holder with eight food tastings, five beer or wine tastings, entertainment, free parking and shuttle service. Additional food and drink tickets will be available for purchase on-site. Parking information and a complete list of restaurants are available on the website.

Brighton has been serving the community for over 40 years. Brighton Center serves over 2,700 children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families each year through four distinct initiatives – an inclusive child development center, early childhood intervention, parent education and advocacy training. Brighton Center continues to fulfill its vision to create a society where all children are valued and included.



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Upcoming Events

July and August

Pearl Farmers Market goes on summer hours to help vendors and customers beat the heat. The market will be open from 8 a.m. to 12 noon.

July 5

First Thursdays at Pearl

First Thursdays of each month during the summer, 5-8 p.m., will be a night of special deals from Pearl shops such as Melissa Guerra, Adelante and Twig Book Shop. There will be pop-up sidewalk sales. The Pearl, 200 E. Grayson St.

Tour of Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard

Saturdays, 11 a.m. Sandy Winokur, founder and owner of Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard will give you a brief history of the olive industry from ancient times to the new Texas olive industry. Learn about the numerous varieties of olive trees grown and sold at Sandy Oaks. Visit the facility where many of the products we sell are produced, including our olive oil. Sample our culinary and skin care products. The tour lasts about 30 to 45 minutes and is free.  No reservations required.

Saturdays, 1-3 p.m. After a tour of the orchard, stay for lunch and enjoy the chef’s Special-of-the-Day.  Beverages are also available. Sandy Oaks is in Elmendorf, about a 25-minute drive from downtown San Antonio. The address is 25195 Mathis Road. 210-621-0044

July 10, Aug. 7

Wine Camp at 20Nine Restaurant & Wine Bar, Quarry Market.  If you’ve always wanted to learn about wine – not only what to drink, but how to taste and evaluate wines, this Wine Camp is for you. The first sessions (8 classes per session) begin Tuesday, July 10 and continue each Tuesday in July. The second sessions begins Tuesday, August 7 and continue each Tuesday through August 28. Wine camp is from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sessions are $20 per session, per person or $140 for all eight sessions. Attendance is limited and confirmation may be guaranteed by advance credit card payment. For reservations or more information call, 210-798-9463.

Culinaria’s Hot, Hot Summer

Cinema Culinaria. Every Thursday between now and Aug. 16,  EZ’s Brick Oven & Grill is partnering with Culinaria to present Cinema Culinaria. Check out Culinaria’s list of foodie movies, then enjoy a snack at EZ’s Sunset Ridge Shipping Center location, 6498 N. New Braunfels Ave. No reservations or ticket necessary, just come and enjoy. Culinaria website

Restaurant Week, Aug. 18-25.  It’s time to highlight some of San Antonio’s favorite restaurants offering great prices. Here’s the bottom line: You get a three-course meal for $15 at lunch and $35 at dinner. These are chef-created menus specifically for Restaurant Week. Keep informed by follow Culinaria on Twitter @culinariasa, for updates. They’ll be announcing participating restaurants soon. SavorSA, @mysavorsa will also be tweeting updates as we receive them. Restaurant Week reservations are not required; however making them is a good idea. Make your reservations by calling the participating restaurants.

Aug. 11.

Rambling Rosé

In the hottest part of the summer, Culinaria reminds you that a perfect summer wine, especially for Texas’ spicy food, is a great, dry rosé. Rambling Rosé will again be hosted by Becker Vineyards, Aug. 11. You’ll participate in a blind tasting of a varied selection of rosés along with a panel who will help guide you through the palate of flavors.

Chef John Brand of Las Canarias at the Omni La Mansion del Rio Hotel and Ostra at Mokara will provide tastes of food that goes well with a cool glass of rosé to complete the day.

There are two sessions: 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The cost is $25 per person. Click here to make your reservations. Becker Vineyards is off Highway 290, near Stonewall, on Jenschke Lane.

Culinaria Summer Jazz Fest:  On three Saturdays, Aug. 18, 25 and Sept. 1. Jazz in the comfortable surrounds of the Shops at La Cantera.

Oct. 7

Culinaria has added a healthful living event to its lineup this fall.

Culinaria and HEB will be bringing you Feastivál at the Pearl Amphitheater on Oct. 7, noon until 3 p.m. Feastivál will give you a chance to explore a range of wholesome, savory dishes that won’t expand your waistline. Feastivál will also offer cooking demonstrations, wine seminars and plenty of recipes to show you how healthy living can be delicious!

Tickets will be $10 in advance at your local H-E-B and $20 at the door.








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WalkerSpeak: Fajitas, Art, Music on a Fiesta Saturday

The scene at the Fiesta Art Fair at the Southwest School of Art Sunday was all about the ceramics and baskets, jewelry, photographs and fine art, but food and music played a part, too.

Art fair goers stop for snacks, drinks at the Southwest School of Art Saturday.

“I think the quality is great this year,” said Sandy White, walking around and checking out the booths. “If you can afford it,” she added ruefully.  I had to agree with her about the particular item she wanted to pick up and “maybe use as a purse.” A basket with a price tag of $5,800.

I’m not saying the basket wasn’t worth it. I firmly believe that artists and artisans know the time and skill that went into their products. And the basket maker’s booth was one of my favorites, too. Plus, there was plenty of affordable art on hand. I never miss the gift shop at the center, either;  Christmas is less than eight months away.

Marimba player Toro Flores entertains with band Hot Sauce.

After doing my usual first fast walk through the aisles (I do the stop-and-examine walk-through after), I stopped to marvel at the marimba player for the band Hot Sauce. Toro Flores is incredible and all I might have wished for was to be transported (along with the music) to a breezy cabana overlooking the Caribbean, with icy margaritas delivered by, well, breezy cabana boys.

Meanwhile, grill cook Jerry Perez from La Margarita was turning slabs of skirt steak, destined to be cut into fajitas, on a long grill at the restaurant’s food booth. If there is an iconic aroma that signifies Fiesta, it is meat and smoke. Maybe it’s the iconic scent of San Antonio, because I swear if I’ve been traveling for more than a few days out of town, I know I’m home when I drive through downtown and catch that scent on the air.

After covering the booths at the art center and allowing myself one fajita taco, it was a trip down to Milam Park to check out the beginning of the makings of the Rey Feos’s 300-foot enchilada.

Caterer gets participants started at the World's Largest Enchilada event at Milam Park Saturday.

Having just done an outdoor cooking event that involved health department permits, I had wondered what the setup would be, and I found pretty much just what I imagined — at least as far as the screening protection went. The 300-foot long cover for the enchilada assembly seemed to be workable. I was less convinced by the foil pans over Sterno. As it turned out, n0 Guinness Book record was set Saturday. According to the rules, the enchilada must be made with one 300-foot tortilla. And, the enchilada must be dipped in oil after the filling is inside.

Huh? I’ve dipped plenty of enchiladas in my life, here and in Mexico. The tortilla goes into the hot fat — which softens it— before, not after it is filled. Good grief. Do you really want all that oil leaking into your queso? I think  San Antonio needs to challenge those rules, seriously.

But let’s hope los feos try again. Does anyone have a 300-foot comal on which to heat up that monster tortilla?

Fiesta de los Reyes is new this year and continues through next weekend in Market Square. The event supports the Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation, which offers scholarships to deserving high school students.

I thought about the enchilada construction as I roamed around the Fiesta Home Tour in Monticello Park area later that day with a friend. Surprisingly, gorgeous kitchens were not my favorite part of this tour. The houses ranged from unpretentious to near-grand, and each was lovely in its own way. But it was a free-form swimming pool at a Spanish-Mediterranean house on West Mulberry that really caught my fancy. After a hot day of Fiesta travels, a dive into the pool would have made a perfect ending. Along with one icy margarita …

Check out more upcoming Fiesta events by clicking here.

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Can San Antonio Make the World’s Biggest Enchilada?

San Antonians know that our restaurants produce the state’s best enchiladas, but can we make the world’s biggest enchilada?

Led by the Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation, along with more than 20 local restaurants, plans are underway to build a 300-foot-enchilada. That is one big enchilada,  nearly the length of a football field. The goal here, however, is to secure a  Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Enchilada.

It all will happen at Market Square, with the presentation of the monster enchilada (it must weigh more than 3,122 pounds, or about 1.5 tons) taking place at 4 p.m. April 9. This will be in conjunction with Fiesta de los Reyes, a new official Fiesta event hosted by the Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation.

In order to qualify for a Guinness record, every detail of the production must be carefully documented, including precise measurements on the weight of each ingredient before and after being cooked. Additionally, the team will need to ensure that the construction of the enchilada meet all health codes requirements, be completely edible, and be distributed amongst the community for consumption. The event is free and open to the public.

“It’s so exciting to see all these local San Antonio restaurants come together for this attempt,” said Nick Garza, former Rey Feo XLI and Chairman of the event who has spear-headed the effort to rally support from many restaurants and sponsors. “San Antonio is definitely the home of Tex-Mex cuisine, and when I learned about this record, I felt in my heart that San Antonio is the place where this record should be and Fiesta is when it should take place.”

The team has been busy practicing the assembly of the 300-foot-long enchilada by creating several smaller versions, the most recent of which measuring 8 feet in length.

Participating restaurants and sponsors include Absolutely Delicious, Acenar, Adelita Tortillas, Ajuua, Aldaco’s, Black Tie Catering, Catering by Nick, Catering by Celebrations, Don Pedro, La Batt, La Margarita, Las Casuelas, Lisa’s Mexican Restaurant, Los Barrios, Mi Tierra, Minit Taco, Nicha’s, Paloma, Perico’s, Panchito’s, the RK Group, Ramiro Valdez, Rosario’s, the St. Anthony Hotel, Tiago’s, True Flavors, Tommy’s Restaurant, Tony Davila and Yolanda Gutierrez.

The Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 1982 with the mission to help educate the next generation of Texans. Today the organization has grown to include 18 former Rey Feos and 75 of the area’s most established business and civic leaders. The members of the organization support the traditions and educational activities of the Rey Feo program. The program has contributed more than $4 million dollars in scholarship funds to area college students.

Since 1947, Rey Feo, known as the “People’s King” has become a cherished ambassador of goodwill, education and Fiesta. Until this opportunity at Market Square, the Rey Feo was the only prominent Fiesta icon without a major, citywide event.

For more information visit

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NIOSA Recipe: Insane About Anticuchos

Gilbert Mancha grills anticuchos.

If you miss the anticuchos booth at NIOSA, you’ve almost missed NIOSA.

This grilled beef on a stick  is a wildly popular, if not the most popular, food served at A Night In Old San Antonio, which ends this evening.  Some 20,000 servings are sold each year, according to NIOSA sources. Anticuchos are sold in the Mexican Market area.

To make at home, you need to start 18 hours ahead to get the succulent sirloin well marinated. Then, prepare for spicy, meaty bliss. Me, I’d serve anticuchos with homemade french fries and a dipping sauce of chipotle mayonnaise.


3 pounds sirloin, cut in 1-inch cubes

3 parts water
1 part red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2-3 serrano chiles, ground up in blender

Cut meat and put it in a large bowl. Refrigerate until you have made the marinade.

For the Marinade: Put all marinade ingredients in blender.  Blend well.  Pour marinade over meat, setting some aside to use for basting).  Cover meat with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let meat marinate for at least 18 hrs, and up to 3 days.

When it’s time to serve, skewer the meat. (If skewers are wooden, soak them in water for 30 minutes to prevent burning.) Discard marinade that had raw meat in it.

Cook meat over hot charcoal fire.  Baste with reserved marinade.

Note: If desired, you can add bacon drippings to the marinade while you are cooking it.

Makes about 6 servings.

Adapted from NIOSA recipe

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Playing at Fiesta, NIOSA Style

Dancers at NIOSA entertain the crowd.

My experiences of Tuesday nights during A Night in Old San Antonio have been that it’s the night to come if you want some elbow room. Sometimes the lines to the food and beer are shorter, too, but it’s a good idea to come early.

Gilbert Mancha grills anticuchos.

Maybe it was the cooler weather, or the fact they got cheated out of the Fiesta opener on Friday, but the crowds were out in force Tuesday at A Night in Old San Antonio at La Villita. By 6:30 p.m. it was looking like a Thursday to me.

“Why is this the best NIOSA ever?” This was my question to several people who looked like they were veterans of the rowdy, nose-to-shoulder party that goes on each night through Friday, 5:30-10:30 p.m.

“Because we needed it the most,” claimed Kim Smith.   True, most everyone had left their day-to-day cares at the gates, if the steady demand for beer and food sales was any indication.

In Sauerkraut Bend, the lines weren’t too bad for the sausage-on-a stick, beer or wine. But, if you wanted to sit and watch the polka dancers, it was hard to find a chair. Maria’s Tortillas, in the Haymarket, were as popular as ever. As the women in colorful peasant dress patted the fresh tortillas, the lines never dwindled.

Lynda Cootey and Casey Burnes enjoy NIOSA.

El Gusto dancers performing El Grito brought the slow-moving current of people nearly to a halt. The swirl of colorful skirts and quick steps of the dance were arresting.

Three other popular food items all came on sticks. The shish kebabs, big hunks of beef alternated with green peppers and anticuchos, spicy marinated beef sold briskly. A worthy contender was the very popular chicken-on-a-stick, topped with a jalapeño and, if you asked, a few of the spiced carrots from the jalapeño bucket.

“Where’d you get the schnitzel?” Someone shouted this to me in passing. I guess one might call it schnitzel — and there’s another idea for Sauerkraut Bend.

Just before I left, I found myself accidentally wandering inside the anticucho booth, so I took a photo of Gilbert Mancha, manning a smoking pile of anticuchos. I also had a brief word with Mark Rockwood, booth manager for the past seven years.

“How much beef will you sell tonight?” I asked.

“About 1,500 pounds,” he answered.

That’s a lot of beef, and testifies to the enduring popularity of anticuchos.

So did the answer to my last question of the night, to Lynda Cootey and Casey Burnes.

“Why is this the best NIOSA ever? “Because of the anticucho booth! We work it every year and every year it just gets better,” she said emphatically.

NIOSA continues through Friday at La Villita. Click here for more information.

Michael Cortines eats chicken on a stick.

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