Tag Archive | "Robert Riddle"

Big Bob’s Brings Blazing Burgers Downtown

Big Bob’s Burgers is headed downtown.

big bob'sThe burger joint, which offers a variety of grilled burgers, fries and jumbo onion rings, will be opening its second location on Monday, Sept. 9. The location, at 100 N. Santa Rosa, is in an apartment building called the Vistana; despite the address, the entrance faces Houston Street and has sidewalk seating.

Bob Riddle is opening a second Big Bob's Burgers.

Bob Riddle is opening a second Big Bob’s Burgers.

The space had previously been a Taco Garage and an IHOP Express, but owner Robert Riddle, Big Bob himself, thinks the area is ready for a place where people can just hang out over a freshly grilled burger and a beer. “This neighborhood is extremely food curious,” he said on a recent tour of the space.

As if to prove his point, two passersby attempted to stop in for a burger. Not for another couple of weeks, Riddle told them.

The menu at the new location will be the same as the one you’ll find at the other restaurant, 447 W. Hildebrand Ave. That includes the 50/50, a burger made of half ground bacon and half ground chuck; that San Antonio tradition, the bean burger; a Patty Melt; a Buffalo Chicken sandwich; and a quarter pound hot dog. He plans on keeping the prices the same.

Riddle is planning an extensive beer program as well, with $3 domestics, $4 craft beers and $5 imports, plus three favorites on tap: Shiner, Dos Equis and Alamo.

Managing the space will be Joshua Vara, who has worked for Riddle for several years now.

big bob's2

The new Big Bob’s should open in the first week of September.

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Dishing The Dish: Three Perspectives on Porky Heaven

Today, we introduce a new feature on SavorSA that will focus on some of great work that’s being done in restaurants around town. It’s called The Dish and it will shine a light on a culinary creation that’s worth singling out for praise. It could be something seasonal, a new sensation or an old favorite. The sole point is to make you aware of the savory treats in SA.

If you have any favorites you’d like to share, either post them below or email or

This initial effort features three pork-related dishes to wet your appetite. Each illustrates porcine perfection in a unique way.

Pig Face Wood-Fired Pie at Bin 555

Pig Face Wood-Fired Pie
Bin 555 at the Alley
555 W. Bitters Road
(210) 496-0555

Who can resist a pizza baked in a wood-fired oven that’s hot enough to scorch the bottom of the dough, giving it a slightly burnt taste that’s practically irresistible?

That’s just the beginning, though, of the joys of this pizza from chef Robbie Nowlin, who creates his own house-made torchon using, you guessed it, the whole pig’s face.  The meat is cured in salt, pink salt, white pepper and sugar for one day. Then parts are braised before being added back to the torchon before it’s ready to use.

Then come toppings of slivers of radish, strips of pecorino and, in an inspired touch, pickled mustard seeds. The chef finishes it off with leaves arugula just before serving that add a fresh green vibrancy as well as a peppery bite.

I had a couple of leftover slices for breakfast the following morning. The radish flavor intensified, giving the pizza a welcome wake-up bite.

Using the pig’s head is, like using a cow’s head in barbacoa, a wonderful way to use as much meat on an animals as possible without letting it go to waste. Place another of these beautiful pizzas in front of me, and you’ll see another example of food not going to waste.

The 50/50 Burger at Big Bob’s.

The 50/50 Burger
Big Bob’s Burgers
447 W. Hildebrand Ave.
(210) 734-2627

Bacon cheeseburgers have long been justifiably popular, but why not take that experience to a whole new level by adding the bacon to the burger and not just on top of it?

That’s the appeal of this burger, which is made up of equal parts ground chuck and ground bacon. So, all that pork goodness fills every bite, while the chuck gives it a sturdy structure with plenty of meat and fat for the required beefiness and juiciness. Add a slab of sharp cheddar and chef Robert Riddle’s grilling, which lends it a smoky flavor, and you have a big fat phenomenon.

Of course, you could crown that combination with crisp bacon strips, but I can’t decide if that’s a bit too much or just a deliciously new means of satisfying my inner oinker.

A word of caution to those Texans who want their beef dead done: The whole patty is pinker than you may be used to. The grilling on the outside adds a little blackness, but the center is pinker than you may want. That’s from the addition of bacon, not the cooking technique.

For those of us keeping low-carb, Big Bob’s also offers the burger on a salad with artichoke hearts, garbanzos, olives, pepperoncini and more laid over a mound of spring greens. Good and healthful, just the way I like it.

The Peacemaker Po’Boy
Where Y’at
Alamo Street Eat-Bar
609 S. Alamo St.
(210) 420-0069

The SA food truck scene is burgeoning with exciting new flavors to please most any palate. Place this po’boy from Pieter Sypesteyn at the top of your must-try list.

The chef starts with an unbeatable combination of corn meal-breaded oysters and crunchy pork belly, braised in root beer before being deep-fried, both of which add a mouthwatering saltiness that enlivens the layers of mustardy coleslaw, pickles and fresh jalapeño slivers, all slathered with the right amount of creamy rémoulade.

Yet, as special as the combination of pork and seafood is, not to mention the pristine freshness of the other ingredients, were, the real stars of the sandwich were thick slices of perfectly ripe, old-fashioned tomato, which brought everything together in one incomparable whole. Not surprisingly, the tomatoes were from Cora Lamar’s Oak Hills Farm, by way of the Pearl Farmers Market. There’s a reason people rave about local food, and a tomato that tastes like a tomato is it. .

NOLA snobs may turn up their noses at a po’boy not made back at home because of how special the bread there is, but this is that bread. It’s Gambino’s French Bread, imported from the Quarter. For those don’t know the type of bread a po’boy should be served on, think of a baguette, yet one with a crackly exterior that is not too dense and a center that is not too fluffy. In short, it’s sturdy enough to hold its choice filling without falling apart into a soggy mess. Plus, Sypesteyn toasts the bread first and the rémoulade just melts into it.

I made the mistake of getting the half version of this beauty the first time I tried it. I’ve make peace with myself about that and will never let it happen again.


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Tacos and Burgers in the Alamo City. Any Questions?

Barriba Cantina opens Monday at 111 W. Crockett St.

In the kitchen at Barriba Cantina.

Saturday was a night for celebrating the new at two restaurants in San Antonio.

Barriba Cantina on the River Walk at 111. W. Crockett St. is a haven of “tacos, tequila y mas,” as the restaurant bills itself. Though it doesn’t open until Monday, the restaurant hosted a pair of preview parties on Friday and Saturday to help inaugurate the space, which is located on the two stories above its sister restaurant, the County Line.

The sign on Crockett Street.

Tacos filled with chicken tinga topped with caramelized onions, corn pico de gallo and ancho cream sauce or tilapia with jalapeño ranch and avocado tomatillo salsa were dished up.

When the restaurant opens, the tacos will be offered in plates of three with rice and beans, so you can expect heaping potions of the mango pork carnitas with mango and avocado tomatilla salsas, pickled onions, cotija cheese and more. Or the Del Rey, which was created in memory of Randy Goss, the Rib King of San Antonio who had been a part of the County Line’s success for years; this taco featured beef marinated with chipotle chiles and came topped with chipotle slaw, caramelized onions, salsa and cotija.

Purple Reign

A special emphasis is made on using lean meats, whether it’s the pork or the chorizo that was used in the Queso Deluxe, a treat that also featured guacamole and corn pico de gallo on top of the cheesy dip.

Mango Pork Carnitas Tacos at Barriba Cantina.

The bar is a big part of Barriba Cantina’s fun, and house specialties include the Purple Reign made with Ciroc Vodka, limoncello, violet liquor, Dulce Vida Organic Agave Nectar with blueberries as well as the Olé, a potent blend of Cinco Vodka, blackberries, raspberries, lime juice and soda.

Every bar in San Antonio has to have at least one margarita, and Barriba’s lineup includes the Skinny Dulce Vida Rita, a blend of Dulce Vida Silver, a splash of orange juice, agave nectar and lime juice.

Barriba Cantina will be open daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily. Click here for the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Clellan and Matt perform a sound check on the new patio at Big Bob's.

Big Bob’s Burgers, 447 Hildebrand Ave., was also celebrating the opening of its new patio and stage out back.

The new restaurant, housed in what used to be Cookie’s near the San Pedro Avenue intersection, featured Clellan and Matt as the inaugural act performing in the space, which is decorated with picnic tables and a few nice plants. It looks far better than a dilapidated back alley it appeared when owner Bob Riddle first stated work on the space.

Big Bob's Cheeseburger

The visit was also a chance to check out Big Bob’s cheeseburger and a few of his crispy onion rings.

Click here for more on Big Bob’s Burgers.


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Big Bob’s Burgers Now Open on Hildebrand

Big Bob's opens on Hildebrand Avenue.

Big Bob’s Burgers has moved to 447 Hildebrand Ave. in the space formerly occupied by Cookie’s Factory Outlet.

The menu for now is the same as it was at the now-closed Harry Wurzbach location, owner Robert Riddle says. That means juicy flame-grilled burgers with your favorite toppings, from bacon to guacamole to refried beans and killer fries.

“Nothing is different than the old one, except the place is really nice and there are 50 or so beers available,” he says. “We also have Blue Moon, Dos XX, Shiner, Lone Star and Bud Light on tap.”

Wine drinkers can either try the splits offered or bring their own.

Work is still progressing on the patio, though, in this heat, who really wants to be sitting outside?  When it’s ready, expect live music on the weekends.

Once the grills are broken in and the routine with the burgers is down, Riddle plans to add pizza to the menu.

Hours for the new restaurant are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday.

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A Burger’s Not Enough? Try a Deep-Fried Twinkie Afterward

A deep-fried Twinkie with a deep-fried Oreo on the side.

At Big Bob’s Burgers, 2215 Harry Wurzbach, the stars have always been the flame-broiled burgers and the fries. But there’s a new item on the menu that is gaining in popularity: deep-fried Twinkies.

Owner Robert Riddle and his staff dunk the cream-filled confection in funnel cake batter, then fry it until golden brown. The final version is served on a stick, fot from the fryer, with a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

But why stop there? A deep-fried Oreo, also topped with powdered sugar, appears on the side along with a chocolate syrup dipping sauce.

The dessert sells for $1.95, and it seems to speak to something deep inside people, because it has proven to be a big hit.

Big Bob’s sells more than 200 a week, Riddle says, adding that one customer came in last weekend and picked up 10 orders to go.

For more information, click here.

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Restaurant Notes & Quotes: Victoria Beer Comes to La Gloria; Phil’s Opens

Victoria is now available at La Gloria.

La Gloria welcomes Victoria

For the past 145 years, Victoria has been brewed and sold in Mexico. The Vienna-style beer has come to take on a certain mystique because it was available only south of the border.

Now that is changing. This month, Victoria became available in Texas and is now for sale at La Gloria Ice House, 100 E. Grayson St.

Chef and owner Johnny Hernandez launched sales of the beer at his restaurant with a party pairing it with quesadillas, cochinita pibil, street tacos and more, all to show his efforts to present Mexico City-style food and drink at La Gloria. And how good the beer is when paired with the savory bites.

“It’s a great all-around food beer,” he says.

Hernandez is also using Victoria to make his cheladas and micheladas.

A michelada made with Victoria.

The two beer-based cocktails are not what you’d expect from what’s served in many places around town. Neither is a Bloody Mary made with beer instead of vodka, for example.

You don’t find that much in Mexico, Hernandez says.But you also don’t find a great deal of consistency from place to place, so Hernandez developed his recipes using what he liked best from his travels.

He makes his chelada with plenty of fresh lime juice and salt on the rim. The michelada is made with Maggi Seasoning, Worchestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and soy sauce, all mixed with beer and also served with a salted rim.

Second location for Big Bob’s

Robert Riddle is planning on a second location of Big Bob’s Burgers.

He and partner Larry Walker, former publisher of the San Antonio Express-News, hope to open the restaurant on Hildebrand Avenue between San Pedro and Blanco Road in the spring.

The site is currently occupied by Cookie’s Discount Fashions.

The new restaurant will seat about 100 and will feature pizza in addition to burgers, Riddle says.

There will also be a party room for private parties, he says. Beer will be available and diners can bring their own wine to drink without a corkage fee.

Phil’s Texas Diner opens

Phil’s Texas Diner has opened inside the new Evil Olive Elixir Lounge at 2950 Thousand Oaks Drive.

The menu offers barbecue, burgers, pizza, barbecue nachos and desserts in a setting surrounded by a full-service, non-smoking bar. You can also get a 16-ounce bottle of Phil’s Drunk BBQ Sauce to go.

Hours are 4 p.m.-2 a.m. daily. Call 210-495-0957.

If you have restaurant news, e-mail

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Burning to Cook for You

BigBobsBurgersIt was Harry S. Truman who coined the phrase, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” And he was right, especially this summer in San Antonio.

With temperatures topping 100 degrees for more than 55 days so far this year and August breezes offering blessed little relief, local chefs are turning to many solutions in order to keep their staffs as cool as possible in the heat. Some of their tips would work in your home just as well.

At Oloroso, 1024 S. Alamo St., temperatures over the stove can get much hotter than it is outdoors. And the heat has shown little affect on people’s tastes, chef and co-owner Josh Cross says.

There are still plenty of orders for braised short ribs and hot soup despite the temperature, though some have admittedly switched to the Andalusian gazpacho when the vegetables are at their freshest.

That means a large cooler in the kitchen is filled with Gatorade, and staff members go through several glasses over the course of each evening.

If you were to peak behind the kitchen door, you’d also likely see someone duck into the refrigerator for a brief respite. “There are no shortage of people willing to get in the walk-in,” Cross says with a laugh. He’s often walked in himself only to discover several others also at work.

olorosoThe summer heat has also affected the staff’s hair styles, as all of the men have cut theirs as short as possible.”We couldn’t take it,” Cross says.

One reason Big Bob’s Burgers, 2215 Harry Wurzbach Road, is popular is because its burgers are grilled over an open flame, which can make the open kitchen hotter than anything Mother Nature has cooked up for us.

“It is about 120-140 degrees over the grill, and, yes, it is really hot,” says owner Robert “Big Bob” Riddle.

But it’s not as bad as it seems. Or so he says. “To tell you the truth, you get used to it and don’t really notice it that much,” he says. “The trick is to not drink any soda, just water, or in my case, 6-8 sugar-free Red Bulls with lots of ice.  Sugar makes you sick in the heat.”

Grilling burgers and frying onion rings, tater tots or french fries in an open kitchen also doesn’t bother Riddle or his staff. “I don’t know what people think about being able to see us,” he says.  “We are so busy that we just keep cooking.  They do seem to like the huge flames when we flip the burgers.

“Cooking in front of guests has its good points and bad points.  It is cool to see lots of our regulars, but it is awkward if you drop something or mess something up.”

At his two Papouli’s Greek Grill restaurants, owner Nick Anthony tries to keep his kitchen staff cool with air conditioning, but he knows that isn’t always effective. Fans keep air circulating through the kitchen, and the dress code is as relaxed as the Department of Health will allow.

Anthony gives his employees bottled water to keep them hydrated. He also distributes cold neck wraps that they can wear to keep them as refreshed as possible. At home, a cold, damp towel might work as well.

And if all else fails, Anthony has a fool-proof way to keep his staff cool: “Everybody gets to have margaritas! OK, not really.”

Jason Dady’s foray into barbecue, Two Bros. BBQ Market at 12656 West Ave., is a lot more casual than his other restaurants, including the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, Bin 555 and Tre Trattoria. So, the rules are not as strict, especially since temperatures in and around the smoke pit cause the thermometer to rise drastically.

“We’ve swapped the button-down chef’s coat for short sleeve sweaters,” Dady says, adding that whether it’s 100 degrees or 50 degrees outside, the pit can feel like 200 degrees.

There is an escape for some kitchen workers. It’s a step out the back door for a moment. As Josh Cross says, the heat of the evening “is almost refreshing” compared with the heat in the kitchen.

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