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Funky Asian TUKed in Midtown Opens Tues.


Tuk Tuk Tap Room logo

By Emily Reynolds

TUKed across from The Pearl Brewery is the collaboration of San Antonio’s The Friendly Spot, 943 S. Alamo St., and popular chef David Gilbert, whose Asian-inspired cuisine will be served at the new Tuk Tuk Tap Room.

Tuk Tuk, at 1702 Broadway, wowed first-time diners this week at their soft opening and has been the latest talk of the town. It’s what happens when craft brew meets Gilbert’s heart n’ soul Asian food.

Gilbert, formally of Hotel Eilan’s Sustenio, traveled far and wide across Asian lands as part of his culinary training before planting himself in San Antonio. He has been honored with a James Beard award nomination and his return on the culinary scene has been much anticipated. (A “tuk tuk,” by the way, is a noisy, motorcycle-powered taxi used in busy Thai cities. It is shown on the restaurant’s logo, above.)

Tuk Tuk Lotus Root Chicken

Tuk Tuk Lotus Root Chicken Salad

Gilbert and The Friendly Spot owners, Steve and Jody Newman, are already knocking the slippers off midtown with their new collaborative concept.  Tuk Tuk is a not-so-hole-in-the-wall with bright colors, funky chic décor and a wall full o’ brews, screaming new Asian.

Flavors we tried recently at the opening included spiced peanuts, pork laarb and shrimp crackers, and the must-try Lotus Root Chicken Salad served with crisp rice crackers.

Whether or not you’re a social media nerd, the best way to reach  Tuk Tuk is via Facebook and Twitter (@TukTukTapRoom).

Tuk Tuk will officially open  Tuesday, Sept. 24 with opening hours from 5 p.m. – midnight, Tuesday – Saturday.

Tuk Tuk partners, David Gilbert, left, and Steve

Tuk Tuk partners, David Gilbert, left, and Steve Newman

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Beer of the Week: Third Shift Amber Lager


A new amber lager, Third Shift, has come to San Antonio as part of a test run that its producers are running in a select group of markets. In addition to the Alamo City, you can find it in Austin, Houston and Dallas as well as Dayton, San Francisco, Reno and Sacramento.

You won’t find this beer in bottles, but you will find it on tap at places including Friendly Spot, Leapin’ Lizard, Joey G’s, London Sub, Sideliners, Wurzbach Icehouse and Sugar Time, according to the beer’s publicists.

Third Shift, from Coors by way of a label called Band of Brewers, is worth seeking out if you like the nice play of bitter and sweet in a amber lager.

The beer pours out with the copper color you expect, and there’s a great visible fizz. The amount of head you find will depend, of course, on how its poured for you. Mine had a nice lace of foam around the edge.

The nose is not overwhelming, but it has a nice wheat quality with a touch of roasted malt. Both are evident when you take a sip, too, but you’ll also notice a sweetness reminiscent of caramel and whole wheat. I also detected something that reminded me of roasted peanuts. A metallic side taste lasts until the finish, which has a pleasant bitterness.

Third Shift is not terribly complicated, but it is enjoyable, something to relax with on a Friday after work.

You won’t find extended food offerings at some of the places listed above, but if you’re at the Friendly Spot, think of having a cup with a plate of tacos. The sweet in the beer will like the spicy food.

If the amber lager goes over, there’s talk of the Band of Brewers introducing more beers in the Third Shift series. So, go out and give it your own taste test.

 

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Griffin to Go: A Foodie Feast at First Friday


Habanero Roast Beef at the Station Cafe.

Cabin fever usually refers to people who have been cooped up in their homes for a long, hard winter and are antsy to get back in circulation. We in San Antonio have had cabin fever of the reverse order this year, with the scorching heat driving us near the air conditioner both day and night.

Now that the weather has gotten slightly cooler, however, people are anxious to get back to their former habits in the great outdoors.

That’s what they did en masse for October’s First Friday celebration. Thousands of people crowded into venues as far flung as the Arneson Theater on the river to the Friendly Spot in the heart of Southtown.

Little Rhein sits on a beautiful corner of the River Walk.

And everywhere people were, food was sure to be there, too. OK, there were also plenty of artists with their artwork, but not a one appeared to be starving.

My evening started on a great note: I found a parking space on the street in Southtown, a legal parking space — and, no, I won’t divulge the location in case I want to head there again. I will say it was only a couple of blocks from my first stop, the Station Cafe on South St. Mary’s. I had really enjoyed this place when it was the Filling Station next door, but I hadn’t been to its larger, more colorful digs next door.

The space is open, wide open, almost epically open, and it feels great, thanks to lively wall coverings, from paintings to cute cat photos.

All of the food at the Station is made from scratch, from the pizza dough to the pies. That means deciding on something can be a bit of a chore. I settled on a Habanero Roast Beef sandwich with provolone melted into the meat and sweet-hot dressing slathered on the house-made roll. The flavors were clean and delicious, with just the right amount of fat and crispy edges to give it a boost.

The not-so-small petite filet at Little Rhein.

Turns out the Station hasn’t finished its expansion. Coming this January is the Filling Station Brewing Co.

Pizza and a cold hand-crafted brew? I can hardly wait.

Then it was off to La Villita where a host of festivities were under way. Artists filled the sidewalks, while food booths lined up outside the Arneson, where the 11th annual International Accordion Festival was beginning. The three-day event kicked off with bluesqueezebox, an Austin group that performed a type of accordion blues mixed with a healthy dose of Kurt Weill, some Henry Mancini from the “Peter Gunn” years and even a little hillbilly music.

The Austin band bluesqueezebox performs at the Accordion Festival.

I decided to have another bite at the nearby Little Rhein Steakhouse and listen to the music on the restaurant’s gorgeous patio. The petite filet was more than big enough, especially with a side of mixed mushrooms and a glass of Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé, one of the best rosés I’ve had this year and perfect on a warm fall evening.

From there, it was on to the Equinox gallery in La Villita where Jillian Palone, the wife of a co-worker, was showing her jewelry with two other artists. Her bracelets were drawing plenty of deserved attention for their dramatic textures and colors and are worth checking out if you are in the area.

But you can’t eat a bracelet, so I headed back to Southtown. Along the way I passed a number of old favorites, such as Azuca, La Focaccia and La Frite, all of which appeared to be packed. A woman coming out of Azuca sadly told her friends that the restaurant had been booked for the entire evening with reservations and they would have to go elsewhere.

Crowds line up for a beer at the Friendly Spot.

Elsewhere for me was the Friendly Spot on South Alamo St,, the massive beer garden with some great snacks to munch on. I ordered pork tenderloin tacos and was pleasantly surprised to find welcome strands of pickled onion on top. But beer is the name of the game here, and an IPA was the perfect way to wash down the spicy tacos while navigating the enormous crowds.

I wasn’t ready to call it a night, so I made one last stop down the street at Feast, Southtown’s newest dining spot. The Art Deco building, which has been dressed to the nines, had an empty table outside where I had a nice, relaxing sit under some sparkling fiber optic lights hung from the tree overhead. A skillet soon appeared with Jack Cheese Mac, noodles bathed in cheese and saffron cream with garlic crumbs on top. It was a gooey bit of excess that worked all too well. I couldn’t stop eating it. I also tried the grilled sweetbreads, which were served with a tomato salad and cumin molasses. It was good, but it couldn’t hold a candle to the mac.

Feast is the latest addition to Southtown's restaurant roster.

That was it for me. I dragged my tired carcass past a bustling Rosario’s and back to my car. I’m sure most of the restaurateurs in the area welcomed the break in the weather and the crowds. I don’t get to First Friday often enough, but this evening left a great aftertaste that makes me hungry for more.

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Get Some Street Food at the Revolution Room on Wednesday


The Beef Bahiri Kebab from Rickshaw Stop.

If you didn’t get enough street food at the Boardwalk on Bulverde over the weekend, then you may want to check out On Broadway StrEAT Food Wednesdays at the Revolution Room, 8123 Broadway.

From 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesdays, a collection of trucks will be offering their tasty treats outside the bar. The Rickshaw Stop with its Pakistani fare will be joined by Tapa Tapa, Saweet Cupcakes and more. Burgers, wings, barbecue and more will be offered.

For more information, call the Revolution Room at (210) 320-4567.

Friendly Spot seeks submission for film festival

The Friendly Spot, 943 S. Alamo St., is now accepting admissions for its short film festival.

According to the rules, “The theme of your film needs to be Friends, Family or Community. Each film must be eight minutes or less, the Friendly Spot must be at least one of your locations, and one of these three lines must be used in the film:

  1.  “Let’s be friends”
  2. “Be friendly”
  3. “Respect the hood”

“Narrative, documentary, animation, and experimental are all welcome. All films need to be family friendly. The film’s director is responsible for all rights clearances.”

Submissions must be received by Sept. 1.

More than $700 in prizes will be awarded. The films will be screened Sept. 16-17 with winners announced on Sept. 17.

For more information, click here.

 

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Restaurant Notes: Fattboy Burgers & Dogs Opens


A Fattboy burger and fries

Fattboy Burgers & Dogs has opened at 2345 Vance Jackson Road.

As you can tell by the name, burgers and hot dogs are the game here. In fact, they’re the only items on the menu outside the fries and drinks.

But you can get a Slimburger (a quarter pound of beef) or a Fattburger (1/2 pound) with cheese, with bacon or which bacon and cheese.

All burgers come with your choice of mayo, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, relish, raw onions, grilled jalapeños, grilled bell peppers, A1 or barbecue sauce.

The hot dogs are made by Hebrew National.

Frank Torrez is the Fattboy of the name and he started out with Tio Frankie’s Mexican Restaurant before opening the burger joint, where his slogan is “Shut up and eat.”

Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Visit www.fattboyburgers.com or call 210-377-3288 (FATT).

In other restaurant news, The Friendly Spot at 943 S. Alamo St. is now open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight. The open-air Southtown joint, which serves up interior Mexican food, is now boasting a beer list with 150 different craft bottlings.

Movie nights are every Wednesday.

Call 210-224-2337 (BEER) or visit thefriendlyspot.com for information.

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