San Antonio The City of Waters

City of Waters

It only makes sense that San Antonio would be most famous for – after the Alamo – for the Riverwalk. The downtown landscaped banks of the San Antonio River are a tourist draw without peer. Less well-frequented, or newer developments – say, through King William and Southtown, or along the new Pearl Brewery-Museum Reach are a secret and treasured green-space as well as a breath of fresh air for residents.

The existence of the San Antonio River is more than just a happy coincidence and landscaping opportunity; when San Antonio began to expand and industrialize in the late 19th century, the river provided power for establishments like C.H. Guenther’s Pioneer flour mill – as well as power and a necessary ingredient for breweries like the Pearl and Lone Star. It was also noted by travelers and early residents like Mary Maverick that the very nicest houses in town had gardens which backed on the river – where residents could cool off in the afternoon with a dip in the cool water. The very fact that there was a constant and plentiful source of water existing in this otherwise rather dry region was the reason that San Antonio was founded here to begin with.

When Spanish exploring parties first reached the area in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, they found Indians camping around the San Pedro Springs, in the present-day Olmos Basin and on the grounds of Incarnate Word, near Broadway and Hildebrand. There was where many of the springs which fed into the San Antonio River originated. Taking full advantage of every drop of water emanating from the springs, the Spanish established a string of missions along the River. Being accustomed to the construction and maintenance of elaborate irrigation systems – in use for centuries in Spain since the time of the Romans – the missionary fathers constructed an elaborate series of ditches and aqueducts to conduct water to the fields where it was needed. The irrigation system – or acequia for the Espada Mission is still largely intact. Other missions – including the Alamo itself – had their own water systems to water their own farmlands. There is still a narrow water canal in the gardens behind the Alamo chapel today.

The historic springs were the outfall of the Edwards Aquifer; a kind of enormous geologic sponge – which the limestone plateau of the Hill Country soaked up. The hills gathered it up – and places like the San Pedro Springs, the Comal Springs in New Braunfels, and Jacobs’ Well near Wimberley are some the places where it leaked out. (The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) gets the vast majority of the water for all of its San Antonio water customers from wells in the Edwards Aquifer.)

One of the most spectacular springs which fed into the San Antonio River was later called the Blue Hole. It actually gushed out of the ground with great force. 19th century visitors to the area described the scenic wonders of the various springs in prose which verged on the purple, describing the clearness of the water, the beauty of the waterfalls and pools, the ferns, water-lilies and reeds, while wistfully speculating on the presents of water nymphs and naiads. This area became a place for recreation and Sunday afternoon gatherings: in the late 19th century there was a beer garden, a pavilion for dances, and of course – swimming pools. Alas, as the Edwards Aquifer was drilled into in many other places, the natural fountaining effect was diminished and many springs ceased to flow at all, save after heavy rains. To this day, though – the rivers and the springs and the areas around them are still cherished as parks.

Old Banners Become Ladies Handbags

We’ve Never Wondered About That . . .

by Celia Hayes

We did our usual ramble through the yearly San Antonio Herb Market this last weekend; It used to be much more down-home and funky when it used to be held under the oak trees in Aggie Park, but a couple of years ago it moved to tres upscale digs at the Pearl Brewery, which allowed us to hit the weekly Saturday farmer’s market as well. It’s been at least a year since we did the farmer’s market at the Pearl. To our delight there were many new venders, and some of our old favorites, including the Kitchen Pride folks from Gonzales who sell mushrooms. My daughter loves mushrooms, and indulged in a whole bag of baby portabellas, we sampled some gourmet mozzarella, while she lamented once again her capacity for making ricotta when she really, really meant to make mozzarella. (It’s a gift, I guess.)

Anyway, we hit the farmer’s market first, and walked back through the Full Goods building, and curiosity led us into one of the offices, where there were a great many tables set out, piled with colorful scraps of this and that, and a table of handbags, market bags, purses and aprons set out.

It turned out that this was where the volunteers working to revive the Women’s Pavilion in HemisFair Park had set up one of their projects, which was to make these bags and things out of used advertising banners. It seems that these enormous all-weather banners and things are one-time-use only; for sports events, conventions, street displays, to hang outside and indoors to advertise or ornament special events and all. The material they are made of is not only indestructible; the used banners can’t be buried in a land-fill, or incinerated because of all the stuff that would be released in burning, and it’s not like they can be painted over, like a billboard. So, what to do – what to do? Well, recycle them into something useful and ornamental, and what about bags and aprons?

So, the ladies of the Women’s Pavilion had worked up a number of patterns – easy to use, especially if one is of an age to have taken home economics – and solicit volunteers to come and cut out the pieces for the various items from a bale of banners made available, which would be sewn together by experts . . . and sell the resulting items to fund the restoration of the Women’s Pavilion. Some of the finished items were amazing, and ingenious – and of course the original banners had been extremely eye-catching and colorful as well. One couldn’t not make something dull, given the original material, and they certainly would be durable enough.

The San Antonio building originally was paid for almost entirely by donations and subscriptions, and designed to fit the site: lots of light and air, multi-level and flat-roofed, in a classic 1960’s modern style. Unfortunately, it fell into disrepair after the HemisFair was over. The eventual hope is that the restored building being so convenient to the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center and an integral part of HemisFair Park in downtown San Antonio, Texas, that it would work as an event venue: a place for classes, an exhibition space, and for civic and private events. It will take a great many bags and aprons to get there, I am sure – but the supply of raw material is nearly inexhaustible, and so is the determination of the women to make it so.

And we had never really thought about what happens to those old banners. Now we know.

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2011 Annual Herb Festival At Pearl Brewery

20 Herbs to Remember

Written by Randy Watson

The 20th Anniversary of the San Antonio Herb Market presents the “20 Herbs to Remember” … at the Pearl Brewery Complex, 312 Pearl Parkway, San Antonio, TX. Saturday, October 15, 2011 from 9:00am to 4:00pm.

The 2011 San Antonio Herb Market. The free SAWS-sponsored event features cooking demos, lectures, and activities for the kids! Purchase fresh herbs and other plants, handmade soaps, olive oils, books and other products to delight your herbal senses. Visit with experts on organic gardening, and choose from an array of handmade gardening items to purchase for your patio, deck or yard.

The Herb Market is free and open to the public. Mark your calendars for this very special event!

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Italian Feast at Columbus Hall

Italian Feast at Christopher Columbus Italian Society Hall in San Antonio

This years festival and Italian dinner is over, but if you missed it, the Ladies Auxillary holds quarterly Italian dinners …

So, who would have guessed that there is a thriving little Italian community tucked away in San Antonio … well, if you have passed by at speed on the IH-35 North, just where the highway passes Navarro and Santa Rosa, you would have caught a glimpse of a tiny, ornate brick church – the Church of San Francisco de Paoli, with the Columbus Hall right next to it and the beginnings of an ornate public square and gardens out in front. The church and the hall were built by a social and self-help society formed of Italian immigrants at the turn of the century last – the Christopher Columbus Italian Society (CCIS). Eventually, they hope to construct a whole little slice of classical Italian village, on the hillside behind the church and the hall, which most assuredly will confuse the heck out of freeway drivers, wondering how the heck they got so very, very turned around.

Every quarter, the Ladies Auxiliary of the CCIS holds a spaghetti and meat-ball dinner, and because this is Columbus Day weekend, the feast coincides – and even with the rain, the line for seats went all the way out into the foyer, out the door, and down the steps to the sidewalk. There were supposed to be a number of vendors, a bocce tournament, some bouncy-castles, face-painting and all sorts of family fun in the square . . . but alas, with the first serious rain in months, that was just not going to happen. I am certain that hardly anyone missed those activities, as they were coming for the food anyway: just simple red tomato sauce, over spaghetti, and a pair of meatballs, but oh, those meatballs! Light and flavorful, the meat ground very fine . . . and afterwards, if there were any room left – a choice of desserts: cake, and cannoli, pizelle cookies, cupcakes and cheesecake. We shared a table in the hall – which is very nicely set up as an event venue and apparently does a roaring business as a site for wedding receptions – with a rotating number of other diners, many of whom said they made it a point to attend on a regular basis . . . and they weren’t Italian, either.

One of the non-dessert items for sale was a cookbook generated by the Ladies Auxiliary – and which everyone assured us contained the meatball recipe; scaled down about a hundred times I am sure. Actually the cookbook has no less than four recipes for meatballs. Because of the bread content I am fairly certain this one comes closest to the scrumptious main course:

Mix together:

3 lbs ground meat (the ladies at the dessert table assured us that about half beef or veal and half pork will give a good result)
1 loaf Italian bread, soaked in water and then squeezed
½ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped parsley
4 eggs
4 cloves garlic, minced or mashed
1 TBsp salt
1tsp black pepper

Roll into small balls (the featured meatballs were about the size of a small egg) and fry in oil or shortening.

Bon appetite!

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2011 Christopher Columbus Day Celebration and Festival

Christopher Columbus Day Celebration and Festival 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011, San Antonio, Texas

FREE ADMISSION, FREE PARKING

Written by Randy Watson

Who: The Christopher Columbus Italian Society of San Antonio, Texas
What: Christopher Columbus Day Celebration
When: Sunday, October 9, 2011 – 11am – 5 pm

Where: Columbus Hall at San Antonio’s “Little Italy”

201 Piazza Italia
San Antonio, TX 78207
Phone: 210-223-8284

Ciao a tutti! Parla come mangi … “Hello everyone! Speak how you eat.”

Italian food is simple, natural, and just plain good. Come see what real Italian food is all about. Speaking Italian and eating Italian is the thing to do at the annual Christopher Columbus Day celebration; Sunday, October 9th, 2011 from 11:00am to 5:00pm at 201 Piazza Italia, San Antonio, TX 78207. Columbus Day was first celebrated on October 12, 1792 to honor the voyage of the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the America’s in 1492 via a fleet of Spanish ships; the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. You are invited to join your Italian-American family to celebrate their Italian heritage.

Stop in at San Antonio’s “Little Italy” for an afternoon of fun and an authentic Italian spaghetti and meatball dinner. Homemade, just like Mama used to make, including Italian desserts: cannoli, pizzelle e spumoni gelato, too! Carry out’s are available. (Bring your own carry out containers.) Spaghetti Dinner price: Adults $7.50 and Children $4.00. (Desserts and beverages extra.)

Grazie a tutti… Ci vediamo il 09 di ottobre 2011! Thanks to all… See you all on October 9, 2011!

Enjoy a Taste of Italy! Italian food is as much an everyday food as it is a food for celebrations, and for Italians, breaking bread at the dinner table is part of the family life ritual that transcends generations. (Might as well forget about the 2011 Taste of San Antonio at the Pearl Brewery.)

The Festival is shaping up to be a HUGE EVENT with non-stop entertainment, music, Italian dancers, a car show, arts and crafts vendors, kids games, (including a moonwalk and facepainting), piazza e un torneo di bocce … of course Italian food and more! Mark your calendars! Easy access downtown with plenty of parking. (Near the downtown hospital district where IH-35 meets IH-10; take Martin St to Columbus St. Look for Columbus Park.)

The Christopher Columbus Italian Society is located in downtown San Antonio, along with Columbus Park and the San Francesco Di Paola Catholic Church. The goal of the Christopher Columbus Italian Society is to strive to maintain the Italian heritage, family values, culture and traditions.

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Museum Reach of the San Antonio Riverwalk

Our Riverwalk

by Julia Hayden

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the downtown Riverwalk is the heart of San Antonio – after the Alamo, it’s the other completely unique tourist attraction. Water, trees and skinny riverbank gardens in the heart of a high-rise city – not many other places like it, and all hail Robert Hugman, the architect-genius who conceived the idea of a riverbank promenade, lined with shops and adorned with bridges and gardens.

Water and plenty of it drove the establishment of a settlement and missions here in the first place: an oasis in what was otherwise near enough to a desert. Early San Antonio looked to the water, measured out careful amounts through the acequias, the irrigation ditches. By the mid-19th century, travelers and visitors noted that many of the best houses had gardens that stretched down to the riverbanks, and there were little bathhouses and pavilions, so that residents could go swimming in the hot afternoons. Mills and breweries also sprouted up along the river, having a need for fresh water, or water-power . . . and now we are turning to the river again.

My daughter and I had business at the Pearl Brewery last week and we thought – oh, let’s bring the dog, and explore the new part of the Riverwalk, which we had seen from previous excursions to the Farmer’s Market and to La Gloria. So off we went, intending really to only go a few blocks – my daughter was only wearing light sandals, hardly the right footwear for a prolonged city trek. But once we got down to the level of the new walkway and gardens, there was just too much temptation to go a little farther, just around this bend, to see this bit of river, this view, the school of flying fish suspended underneath the IH-35 – hey, they light up those fish at night, how cool is that?

We walked past little bits of reconstructed marshland, banks covered in jasmine, the locks that lift the river-taxis up to the slightly higher river level, patchwork gardens of native plants, the tilework bench at the river-landing by the old convent school that is now a school of art and crafts, a fountain behind a classical-style arcade . . . the oldest VFW post in Texas – housed in an old white mansion which looks like it escaped from the set of Gone With the Wind, and bits of art, everywhere. There also seemed to be a lot of birds – not only the usual pigeons and ducks. Under one of the concrete bridges, swallows had built dozens of nests. There was a water-bird of some kind, standing so perfectly still, on a rock in the water-garden opposite the Museum of Art that at first we thought it was a sculpture itself. But it wasn’t – and the hawk that roosted on top of a telephone pole near the AT&T building, leisurely dining on fresh-caught pigeon (we knew it was a pigeon because the feathers were falling down all around us) – that definitely wasn’t a sculpture.

We walked all the way down to the Commerce Street bridge and back: it was marvelous, and well worth the cost. The downtown Riverwalk may belong to the tourists – but the new reach; that belongs to us locals.

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A Month of Famer’s Markets Around San Antonio

A Month of Markets Around San Antonio

By Julia Hayden

Farmers’ markets, that is – and not just in metropolitan San Antonio, although the every-Saturday at the Pearl Brewery reigns supreme for location and places to eat, and sheer variety of offerings. Not to mention the live music and the family friendliness of it all. One could actually work up a schedule of hitting the local markets and doing a bit of sight-seeing in certain towns within driving distance of San Antonio: they’d be something to do, every Saturday – and better for you than vegging out in front of the television.

First Saturday of the month: Wimberley Market Days, which is just about the granddaddy of them all, being the oldest outdoor market in the state, and the second-largest, with more than 470 booths. Many of them are permanent – about the size of very large garden sheds, and decorated in a number of interesting and charmingly rustic ways, scattered along a network of paths in a grove of shady trees. Once in Wimberley, just follow all the traffic. It’s a small town, you can’t miss it. Myself, I am still waiting to see the guys who had the old portable gristmill, and who would grind fresh wheat flour and cornmeal, while you waited. The flour and the cornmeal were splendid – alas, no one at Market Days had seen them for months, the last time I was there.

Second Saturday of the month: Boerne – just up IH-10 west. I know what it looks like, but it’s pronounced Bernie. The market is set up in the town square, just off Main Street – you can’t miss the bandstand. There was a food-vendor there last time, who had absolutely splendid gorditas, and another one who built funnel-cakes, each one sufficient to feed a large family or several hungry teenaged boys. The town square is lined with huge, shady pecan trees – it’s not a permanent venue, like Wimberley. The pavilions go down, when the market is over.

Third Saturday of the month: it’s Gruene, they say, on the far side of the hill! The sleepy and historical little village of Gruene, just north of New Braunfels has their specialty market on the third weekend, on the grounds in front of the Adoble Verde restaurant. The particular appeal of Gruene’s market is that the goods displayed there are all created by the vendors and artists themselves. None of this made in China stuff – it’s all real.

Forth Saturday of the month: Uvalde, held on the plaza, across from the county courthouse, offering much the same assortment of music, vendors, edibles and the charm of the outdoors . . .

And I didn’t even mention the Christmas markets . . . later. And if all this does not appeal, or is too far to drive, or just too darned pricy – well, there’s always Busey’s Flea Market, just up IH-35 North. Every weekend, and just look for the concrete armadillo.

 

 

 

 

 

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19th Annual San Antonio Herb Market

Created Thursday, 07 October 2010 22:45

Herbal Remedy

By Julia Hayden
19th Annual San Antonio Herb Market
Saturday, October 16, 2010
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Pearl Brewery Complex
“Herb of the Year” = Dill

Ah, at long last – respite from the customary brutal heat of summer in south Texas, when that glorious day dawns. The low temperature at night drops into the fifties, the high of the day is maybe for about twenty minutes in late afternoon when the thermometer crawls up to the mid-eighties, and all over the city one can hear the sound of windows being raised, cranked open and flung wide to admit the delicious fresh and unfiltered air . . . yes, the woman rushing from window to window last week and screaming ‘fresh air, fresh air, good god almighty, fresh air at last!’ – that was me. Pay no attention, I do this every year, round about this time.

The other thing that I do round about this time every year, is anxiously look around for the date of the yearly San Antonio Herb Market; This years’ market is set for Saturday, October 16th at the Pearl Brewery. The Herb Market is now in it’s nineteenth year. Gads . . . it’s been going on that long? I moved to San Antonio in the spring 1994, courtesy of the US Air Force, and am pretty sure I discovered the annual Herb Market event that year. I’ve made an effort every year since, to get there, by hook or by crook, even if I only had a budget of $20 or so.

Every penny spent at the Herb Market would be worth it. The yearly Herb Market was at Aggie Park, then – a funky oak-tree grown patch of pocket-park at the corner of 410 and West Avenue. For a glorious Saturday, Aggie Park would be full of vendors and potted plants, and the little pavilion with vendors of herbal products like soaps and teas. Last year, they moved to larger and more up-scale digs at the Pearl Brewery, in conjunction with the Saturday Farmer’s market – I missed the shade of the trees, though. Ah, well – march of progress and all.

The garden that I have, in front of and round the back of my house is chock-full of plants originally purchased at the Herb Market in 2 or 4-inch pots: who knew that South Texas would be such a bountiful place for growing useful kitchen herbs? Rosemary grows the most rampantly, and without any special care at all, but sage – all varieties – thrives as well. Oregano, and Echinacea, parsley and mint; given half a chance mint would grow like kudzu and take over half the neighborhood. I have a thriving olive tree that I first bought at the Herb Market, an acacia, some Kaffir limes, a nutmeg bush, and a young bay tree that now is closing on sixteen feet tall.

There is no need for me – or anyone else in my neighborhood to buy dried bay leaves at the HEB, just snip off a fresh one when required. Lavender grows beautifully also; with the caveat that enough sand must be dug into the bed where it is planted in order to break up the solid clay. But the other essential herbs in my garden – basil, thyme and scented geraniums, all must be renewed yearly, and sheltered during the coldest days of winter. The Herb Market is be very best place to do that renewing – don’t miss it.

 

 

 

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Books and Munchies at the Old Pearl Brewery

Created Friday, 18 June 2010 13:26

Books and Munchies at the Old Pearl Brewery

By hook and by crook and a great deal of determination, the once semi-industrial area around the old Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, TX is gentrifying; renovate the buildings, slap in some top-grade landscaping and bring in the right mix of retail stores, eateries and offices, schedule something like a regular farmers’ market on Saturdays, and the yuppie herds descend in droves. I do not mean to sound snide, by the way – I just appreciate the effort, believing as I do that a neighborhood ought to be yuppified enough to be safe, but still scruffy enough to be interesting.

The neighborhood around Josephine and Grayson, just off 281 pretty well hits the mark, with the added benefit of being on the northern edge of the Riverwalk extension. Oh, how we love the Riverwalk – just can’t get enough of it, here in San Antonio; eventually, I believe that riverwalk extensions and parks will go all the way through the city, from San Pedro Springs, all the way out to 1604 . . .

I was drawn to the Pearl last weekend by a book-signing at the Twig, for a book that I had worked on for Watercress Press, the tiny subsidy publishing bidness, at which I am junior partner. When the author’s pocketbook permits, we can do some very nice, high-end books indeed: History, Texiana, memoirs, some poetry – that kind of thing. Our latest publication, A 21 Story Salute combines two of our favorites; history and memoir. Barbara Bir, the author/editor went around to twenty-one World War II-era veterans and a couple of spouses, and interviewed them about their experiences during the conflict, and about their lives afterwards.

All were pretty interesting, in themselves, but a good few of them were downright fascinating; it depended, I think, on how good a story-teller they were. A handful of them were at the Twig for the signing: Eddie Patrick was a kid genius, when it came to radios and electronics: he wound up as a senior NCO at the age of 19, serving at a Flying Tigers airbase in China, well behind the Japanese lines. Bob Joyce kept a diary, all through his tour of duty as a B-17 radio operator, flying a series of dangerous missions from Italy. On those missions, he carried a pair of regular Army boots, his father’s rosary, a good-luck bracelet from his home-town girlfriend, and a $2.00 bill, so he would never be broke. And Granville Coggs went from being a Tuskegee airman at the very end of the war, to being a medical doctor, inventor, musician and senior athlete.

Afterwards, we wandered out the back, towards the parking lot where the weekly farmers’ market is held on Saturdays, and discovered that . . . well, stuff had changed since we were there last. La Gloria has opened at the far corner of the parking lot, overlooking the Riverwalk extension, and oh, my – what a treat. La Gloria advertises authentic Mexican street food. I wasn’t hungry but my daughter was, and she indulged herself with a pork and cheese quesadilla – which she said was absolutely splendid, and just the right size to satisfy without filling up. There were a fair sprinkling of other patrons on a mid-Sunday afternoon – and the food they had all looked and smelled good. There’s a terrace, with a water-misting system in place, and tables and chairs set out in a garden area, landscaped with boulders, trees and an array of quirky metal statues. Honestly, we could not think of a better place to take guests from out of town, to sample authentic Mexican food, on the Riverwalk – and where the parking would be quite a bit easier than going all the way downtown.

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The Twig Bookstore – At Pearl Brewery

Created Monday, 25 January 2010 14:31

The Twig – Planted in a New Place

If you call San Antonio home and love books, and cherish independent bookstores, want children to love books – then of course, you know the Twig Bookstore and it’s twiglet offshoot, the Red Balloon. They were on of Broadway, north of the HEB Central Market, but now they are in new and roomier quarters in the Full Goods Building at the Pearl Brewery. I always loved the Twig – especially since I had done signings for my books there – but the premises they were in on Broadway always seemed a bit cramped, three eccentrically shaped rooms with the shelves of books crammed in wherever they fitted. At the Pearl, they have one large, airy room – and it didn’t seem to be the least cramped, even though it was full of children and parents, and books, upon books upon books. The odds of being re-ended as you back out of one of the parking places in front are probably reduced, although perhaps Saturday traffic at the Farmers’ Market may still afford the same fender-crunching thrills previously experienced when trying to back out into traffic on Broadway.

Yes, the Twig is now adjacent to the weekly Farmers’ Market at the Pearl, which we visited a while back. We paid a return visit, purchasing some relatively inexpensive food items – a loaf of dense and luscious bread, some olive tapenade, which made me seriously re-think my decades-long dislike of olives, and a pound of incredibly fresh mushrooms. Yes, some very fine artisan foodstuffs on offer; but not what I became accustomed to in the regular farmers’ market/street market in Greece and in Spain. There, the freshness was glorious, the fruits and vegetables, eggs and specialty foods were straight from the farm, and piled up in plenty – but they were also appreciably cheaper than a supermarket – a large part of the appeal to the ordinary shopper. Buy straight from the producer, shave off a few pennies by cutting a distributor and retailer out of the loop – alas, the goods at the Pearl Farmers’ Market are wonderful, top-quality, but not all that much of a bargain. It’s a sort of HEB Central Market in the open air and with live music and lots of dogs on leashes.

For our bite of lunch we took refuge from yuppies and puppies in an eccentric and divvy place on the other side of 281 – Sam’s Burger Joint, at the corner of Grayson and Broadway, or as I realized, at the metaphorical corner of Trendily Expensive and Gloriously Low-Rent. The faint smell from the grill at lunchtime wafted to us from a block away. Although there is plenty of outdoor seating, it was a bit chilly, so we chose to sit inside and appreciate the rustic décor, which seems to have been assembled from yard-sales, thrift-shops and the oil-change place on the corner of Nacogdoches and Judson, which also features a lot of old license plates. Sam’s Burgers has live music in the evenings, a line out the door at weekday lunchtimes, swing-dance lessons in the adjoining dance hall out in back, and burgers the size of a restaurant-sized bread and butter plate. Mine arrived so fresh from the grill the meat was still sizzling. My daughter had a chili-dog; no ordinary chili-dog this, but a brat with a scoop of home-made chili poured over it, and the chili wasn’t made with that tasteless, cheap skillet-mix meat that usually features in fast-food chili-dogs, either. It was glorious – and neither of us had any appetite whatsoever for dinner that night.

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