I gotta say doing Cheap Eats San Antonio was almost a selfish move. Being a resident of Austin, which is only a couple hours away by car(if the traffic Gods smile down favorably of course), I consider San Antonio to be my first choice for a weekend getaway not by plane. Being closer to the border means the Mexican food gets a little more authentic and all in all, San Antonio is cheaper than Austin. But that doesn’t mean your $35 will stretch through the day all by itself; you’re gonna wanna do some homework. Or you could just read on for one more taste of Cheap Eats San Antonio!
the spot: Magnolia Pancake Haus 10333 Huebner St. San Antonio TX 78240
the eats: Banana’s Foster Pancakes
the bucks: $8.75
the full nelson: a retro dessert comes back in breakfast form
Growing up, I was an avid watcher of the PBS show Reading Rainbow, hosted by Levar Burton(fellow USC alum!!). One episode that stuck with me over the years included a cooking segment where they made Banana’s Foster: a dessert with New Orleans roots that features bananas, vanilla ice cream and a sauce of butter, sugar and liquor. Just watching a chef work a pan and igniting a sauce to create a flambé is just mesmerizing, even more so in the morning while waiting for one’s breakfast. At Magnolia Pancake Haus, that chef is named Robert Fleming, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and the maestro behind the innovative menu at Magnolia Pancake Haus. I suppose getting pancakes that look this good with a pan sauce more befitting the final course of a meal at a white table cloth restaurant makes the $9 price tag seem like a steal. But I was hooked on this dish the moment my 6 year old self watched an episode of Reading Rainbow way back when.
the spot: Zito’s Deli 8800 Broadway st. #108 San Antonio TX 78217
the eats: The Serious Sandwich
the bucks: $8.49
the full nelson: when you crave the heaviest panini the world has seen
If you know your Batman movies, you will remember when The Joker famously asked Batman why he was “so serious?” Beyond losing his parents in an alley robbery, I would assume he was saving up some of his Wayne fortune for the Serious Sandwich at Zito’s deli. A full version of the Serious Sandwich will cost you some serious money, to the tune of about $17. Fortunately for Cheap Eats San Antonio, there is a half option for half the price. But don’t think the half won’t get the job done. With two types of ham, salami, provolone, cheddar, olive spread, lettuce, tomato, mustard and Italian dressing pressed between two pieces of pizza bread, the half Serious Sandwich was the heaviest panini I have come across to date. I honestly believe that if the Joker had been to Zito’s, he most likely would not have even bothered to ask the question.
the spot: Dignowity Kolaches 1629 E. Houston st. San Antonio TX 78202
the eats: Barbacoa Kolache
the bucks: $3.25
the full nelson: two for one Cheap Eats San Antonio Snack Attack
No doubt kolaches, the pastry brought to Texas via Czech immigrants, are a staple eat throughout Texas. Barbacoa, a Mexican method of slow cooking meat by trapping moisture, is also a staple eat in Texas, especially as one gets closer to the border. Combine the two and you have a slam dunk of a Cheap Eats San Antonio snack. At Dignowity Kolaches, Chef Lupita Rivero and co-owner Silvia Alcaraz had the foresight to combine these two great Texas food traditions into a single item on the menu. The recipe for this Kolache is straight of a Cezch cookbook and the braised beef cheek was as legit as barbacoa gets. The salsa makes it but use with caution: this stuff has a kick.
the spot: Two Bros BBQ Market 12656 West ave San Antonio TX 78216
the eats: 5 bones and a side
the bucks: $14.25
the full nelson: if you crave baby back ribs anywhere in the state of Texas . . . look no further
Two Bros BBQ Market is a stand out in the Texas barbecue scene for two reasons: they do baby back ribs and the pits are run by a female pit master. With a barbecue scene dominated by white males(interesting considering the history and importance of barbecue in African American culture), Laura Loomis is a stand out and not just because of her gender. With accolades including being listed in Eater’s 2017 Young Guns, Laura can hang with the fellas because this woman can smoke with the best of ’em. The other standout here is the fact that Two Bros does Baby Back ribs; spareribs are the usual call in Central Texas BBQ. Despite breaking what might be considered standard rib cut protocol, these ribs were sweet, smokey and meaty; in other words: lookout Memphis. Of course barbecue ain’t cheap, so I was lucky to get 5 bones and a side without breaking the budget. But at least my side included meat: the beans here are spiked with bacon. So in a way it got a 1.5 meat plate . . . not a bad way to close out Cheap Eats San Antonio.
And that is all she wrote for Cheap Eats San Antonio! With a mix of what you expect like good Texas barbecue and Mexican influenced cuisine plus some luscious pancakes, I gotta say Cheap Eats San Antonio was everything I wanted and a little bit more. If only I could have found the basement in the Alamo . . .
Until next time my friends . . . Stay Thrifty. And hungry.