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Texas restaurant weeks invite you to get out of the kitchen

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It is hot – not grab a fan hot, but egg frying on the sidewalk hot.  It’s definitely too hot to cook and here in Texas we have another month or more of 100 degree days stretching ahead of us.

Fortunately, the local restaurants have come to the rescue in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio by hosting their restaurant weeks in August.  During the week(s), participating restaurants offer a two to three course prix fixe menu and donate part of the proceeds to a worthy non-profit.  It is a fantastic way to explore restaurants that are normally out of your budget or have been on your “to try” list for a while.

The stars have aligned so that I’ll be in Dallas and Houston to participate in their respective restaurant weeks.  Now, I just have to find an excuse to get down to San Antonio, as I’d hate to miss a special menu at Restaurant Gwendolyn, where I ate one of my best meals last year.  I still think about the strawberry sorbet; it was like biting into a fresh, ripe berry straight from the field.

I’ve enjoyed lovely meals at Haven in Houston and had so much fun dining at Grace, Lonesome Dove and Private Social in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  Each chef has their own innovative way to incorporate local, seasonal ingredients and their Restaurant Week menus are inviting.

Haven - crawfish gnocchi

Crawfish gnocchi from haven

I’m going to focus my meals on visiting restaurants on my ever growing “to try” list.  I’ve been itching to go to Feast and Branch Water Tavern in Houston and I’m hoping to make it to CampO Modern Country Bistro and Rathbun’s in Dallas.

Following is a quick round up of details for each city’s restaurant week festivities, which non-profit they benefit and the restaurants that I know of that source locally.  If you have your heart set on a particular menu, definitely make reservations well in advance.  The hot spots book up fast.

Where will you be feasting during Restaurant Week?

 

Houston Restaurant Weeks,  August 1st through 31st with proceeds benefitting the Houston Food Bank.  Lunch and brunch are  2 courses for $20, dinner is 3 courses for $35.

Backstreet Café

Benjy’s (Village & Upper Washington)

Branch Water Tavern

Feast

Haven

Rainbow Lodge

Sorrel Urban Bistro

 

Dallas-Fort Worth KRLD Restaurant Week kicks off on August 13th.  The main event runs through August 19th, but some restaurants have chosen to extend to a 2nd (through August 26th) and even 3rd (through September 2nd) week.  Seven dollars from each meal will be donated to either the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas or Lena Pope Home in Fort Worth.

CampO Modern Country Bistro – through September 2nd

Grace – through September 2nd

Lonesome Dove – through August 19th

Private Social – through August 19th

Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen – through August 19th

 

San Antonio’s restaurant week is sponsored through Culinaria, a non-profit that showcases wine and culinary events throughout the year to benefit culinary arts students and food related aid organizations. Restaurant week is 8/18-8/25 and features three course prix fixe menus for $15 at lunch and $35 at dinner.

Bin 555

Luke

Restaurant Gwendolyn

Tre Trattoria (Downtown & Alamo Heights)

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Picking a CSA & Road Trip to San Antonio

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I am delighted to have two articles in the Fall edition of Edible Austin.   The first recounts a fantastic weekend in San Antonio exploring the real food scene on the River Walk.  I was amazed how each place had such unique character – I felt like I was walking into a completely different city with each new venue. And, more importantly, the food was fantastic. If you haven’t been to San Antonio lately, I highly recommend it for a weekend away.

The Embracing Local article explains how to pick a Community Supported Agriculture or local produce delivery service.  Many farms are still taking members for the fall season and this article can help you narrow your choice to the service that will work best for you.

You can view the entire issue online or pick up a copy at a local farmers market, restaurant or store.

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Farmers markets are popping up all over San Antonio

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Whenever I visit San Antonio on a Saturday, stopping by the Pearl Farmers Market is a must.  The market has grown into a vibrant hub since it opened two years ago, and you can easily devote a morning to exploring the market stalls, restaurants and shops at the renovated Pearl Brewery.

During my last visit to Pearl, I was surprised to find a card listing all of the other farmers markets in San Antonio.  I knew there were a few farm stands, but this card listed over half a dozen markets that covered almost every day of the week.  Wow!

The success of the Pearl Market has San Antonians seeking out more fresh, local produce and the farmers and market organizers have stepped in to meet the demand.  Since we had some time in our schedule, we toured the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market  on Sunday (8 am to noon in the parking lot of the Whole Foods at the Quarry).

Photos by Jenna Noel

This neighborhood market hosts about two dozen vendors with produce, meats and prepared foods.  I bought some wild boar pan sausage from South Texas Heritage Pork and was delighted to see familiar faces from Engel Farms, Markley Family Farm Springfield Farm, Scott Arbor and The Gardener’s Feast as well as several vendors from the Pearl market on Saturday.

It was inspiring to see how one strong market spurs others in the same area and I’m looking forward to visiting some of the other markets soon.  Do you frequent any of these markets?  If so, which is your favorite?   Are there other markets that I’m missing?  I’d love your help exploring San Antonio’s markets.

Other San Antonio area markets:

Main Plaza Farmers Market on Main Plaza in downtown San Antonio, this market is run by the San Antonio Food Bank, Tuesdays 10 am to 2 pm.

San Antonio Farmers Market Association operates six area markets including:

Olmos Basin, 
100 Jackson Keller (between San Pedro and McCullough), San Antonio. Open year-round. Tuesday and Saturday 7:30am – 1pm.


Leon Valley Community Center, 6427 Evers Rd, Leon Valley, TX. Open year-round. Wednesday 7:30am – 1pm. 


St. Jude Catholic Church, 130 S. San Augustine St., San Antonio. Open May – Dec. Wednesday 8am – 1pm.

San Antonio Botanical Gardens, 555 Funston Place, San Antonio. Open May- Dec. Thursday 8am – 1pm.

St. Matthews Catholic Church, 11121 Wurzbach Rd., San Antonio, TX. Open year-round. Friday 8am – 1pm.

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