Korean Food Can Be Spicy

Korean Delights

by Celia Hayes

So, many of the headlines this week concern themselves with Korea, a country which I have some slight connection to; that is where my father was serving a tour when I was born. And a good few decades later, I did a year-long tour there myself. About the very first thing that I realized was that Korea in the 1990s looked nothing like the TV series MASH … and only very little like what my father remembered. Dad and his platoon with their mobile radar set-up lived in several different tent encampments near the DMZ. I spent the year living at Yongsan Garrison, in the heart of a bustling and very cosmopolitan Seoul. The garrison was itself a fairly un-crowded green island in the middle of a very built-up city – rather as if there were a substantial military base set up in half of New York City’s Central Park.

I very much enjoyed the year in Seoul, by the way – and I very much liked the Koreans that I met and worked with; tough, jolly, and rather outgoing. Someone once described Koreans as the Irish of Asia, which I don’t think was too far off. Being that San Antonio is a military-oriented town, and a lot of military – especially Army – have been rotating in and out of Korea for the last sixty years, there is a nice little Korean presence here in San Antonio. I know of no less than three different Korean church congregations in my immediate neck of the woods. Then there is the little ‘TigerPop’ fast food place that my daughter and I sampled a year or so ago. And when I first came to San Antonio, someone told me that the first and best Korean restaurants were all scattered along Harry Wurzbach, Austin Highway and Rittiman Road, in proximity to Fort Sam Houston – because those first restaurants were all started by the Korean wives of retired Army NCOs. Don’t know if it is true or not; but it looks like some the most assuming places with excellent food are along those streets.

Be warned, though – Korean food can be very, very spicy, even to Texas tastes. (Not as spicy as Thai food, though.) The dish that most of us have heard of is kimchee; basically pickled Napa cabbage, but with a kick – or as one of my military friends used to call it, “sauerkraut” with an attitude.” Very closely related to Japanese sushi is the Korean kimbab; cooked rice, and other things, rolled in a sheet of seaweed nori. The difference is that in the Korean version, the contents are most often cooked. And sometimes, they are made with a sliver of Spam. No, really – Spam is enormously popular in Korea; something that I had heard, but never quite believed until I saw assortments of Spam for sale in fancy baskets in Korean specialty groceries. The other very popular Korean snack food among my friends was yakimandu – pan-friend dumplings, which were as much like Chinese pot-stickers as to have no difference at all. Many of these delights were sold from street stalls, to the horror of the military health authorities, but to the best of my knowledge, I never heard of anyone getting sick from eating them, mostly because they came right from the burner to your plate. And against the red peppers and other hot spices, disease-causing organisms never had a chance.

And now I’m hungry for yakimandu … guess a trip down to Koreana on Harry Wurzbach is in order…


Mac and Cheese

Comfort Food – Mac & Cheese

by Celia Hayes

When my younger brother and sister and I were in elementary school, my father was a grad-student in hot pursuit of a doctorate in zoology, and my mother was – in the tradition of the time – a full-time stay-at-home mom. This was in the late 1950s to early 60s, and it was the commonly accepted practice. As there were three of us (later to be four) it was really the only practical option – and one of the reasons that it worked was that Mom was a fair to middling cook, very much into the traditional D-I-Y household arts (including sewing children’s’ clothes and decorating our home with cast-off and inexpensive furniture. I would hasten to add that it was usually quality stuff; ages later, when Mom and Dad were figuring out the insurance claims after the fire that burned their retirement home in 2003, it turned out that the teak Danish Modern style dining room table and chairs were worth a bomb, although Mom had originally picked them up for next to nothing. I hated that set, by the way – the edge of the chair seat hit the back of your knees like a karate chop – and bore the loss of it cheerfully.

We almost always ate family dinners around that table, when we had guests, and at holidays, since there was an insert which enlarged it substantially – but for everyday, we ate at the table in the kitchen, and when my parents moved to their retirement home, at the table in the sunroom. Then we had plain ordinary comfort food; things like meatloaf – which in my mother’s version only contained about 50 percent actual meat – and the classic stand-by of macaroni and cheese. Mom prided herself on making it from scratch, and although I have tinkered with her basic recipe over time, I still follow many of her precepts, such as undercooking the macaroni just slightly, and making the cheese béchamel sauce slightly runny, so that it all cooks together in one delicious symphony.

Drop into a generous pot of boiling water, one half-pound (8 oz) macaroni shells or elbows, or even cavatappi pasta, and cook until almost but not quite done. Drain and reserve in a covered dish which the mac and cheese will bake. Slice up a quarter to a half-pound length of kielbasa sausage and mix with the cooked pasta. Cover and set aside.

In the pot in which the pasta cooked, melt ¼ cup butter, and blend with ¼ cup flour. Add ½ teasp dry or whole-grain mustard, a dash of pepper and a dash of paprika. If feeling really adventurous, substitute a dash of cayenne pepper for the paprika. Add 2 cups milk and blend with the flour mixture. When slightly thickened, add 2-3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, or a mixture of cheddar, jack or mozzarella, and stir until cheeses are melted. Pour over the pasta/kielbasa mixture, and top with 1/4 cup additional grated cheese (of any kind – Parmesan works really well) mixed with ¼ cup dried bread crumbs and 1 tbsp. butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, until bubbly, and topping is browned. My father always liked his mac and cheese with a dash of tomato ketchup. When made with kielbasa, this makes a very satisfactory main dish

Buc-ees New Braunfels

It’s New, It’s Huge, It’s Buc-ee’s New Braunfels!

Since we are somewhat experienced as long-haul road-trippers, we are – thank you very much – aficionados of those beside-the-highway establishments set up to offer gas, food, conveniences, or even just a place to pull over to stretch one’s legs and let the dog romp for a bit. Some of these places – like the Pilot Travel Centers and Flying J truck plazas – offer (or did offer, the last time we checked) amazing coffee, with half-and-half on tap, not those nasty little mini-containers of liquid chalk. And when I was stationed at Hill AFB in Ogden, Utah, we always used to calculate our commute to Southern California on I-15 to include a breakfast or lunch stop for burgers at the Bun Boy, in either Barstow or Baker – heck, my grandparents used to go to Los Vegas back in the day, and my father remembers stopping at the Bun Boy even then. The burgers were fantastic, the breakfast plates were huge, and there was always a lot of interesting people at the counter, including truck drivers who could tell you down to the mile marker where all the speed traps were. (Alas, the Baker Bun Boy, next to the world’s tallest thermometer went out of business a while ago.)

Head, shoulders and a good bit of torso above many such roadside establishments in which to pause in the midst of the weary journey is Buc-ee’s. What is Buc-ee’s? You may well ask; the answer is that it’s a chain of nineteen stores in South Texas aimed at supporting the long-drive motorist. It has a beaver mascot, a string of amusing and sometimes slightly raunchy billboards along the highways advertising their presence … and the cleanest bathrooms around. They started in the early eighties, offering cheap bags of ice, reasonably priced and good-quality food, and the aforementioned bathrooms … all of these things being hugely appreciated by travelers who have encountered … well, let’s just say that overpriced ice, horrible, expensive food and truly nasty bathrooms are more the usual thing for long-haul travelers. Remind me to tell you about the service station bathroom on the highway near Gibraltar which we once encountered. My then nine-year-old daughter took one horrified look at it and said, “Mom, I don’t have to go that bad.”

This being Texas, Buc-ee’s offers everything bigger, better and relatively cheaper … and more gas station lanes than I have ever seen in one place before. In short, it is to your usual truck plaza/traveler’s rest stop as Buckingham Palace is to a crumbling double-wide in a trailer park on the bad side of town … especially the latest Buc-ee’s, which opened this week in New Braunfels. The Luling Buc-ee’s, which we knew best, is now but a small annex to the splendor and glory of the New Braunfels outlet. I had never in my life seen a travel-plaza with servers cutting up BBQ brisket on a wooden stand … or a made-to-order deli … with a row of computer stations to place your order. Or as many soft-drink spigots as there were; seventy-five in a row, or so said one of the duty managers giving away samples of coleslaw and dips on chips. This new hall of splendors and merchandise is admirably placed just off IH-35 and the turnoffs to Canyon Lake and to Lake McQueeney – and quite honestly, it looks as if they could handle as many travelers at one time as are spectators at regular Spurs games.

But oddly enough – no 18-wheeler truck services. Just autos and RVs.

Exploring Buda

Exploring Buda, Texas-Just 45 Minutes North of San Antonio

by Celia Hayes

We didn’t spend all of last weekend watching the wienerdogs run; the Buda City park where that event took place was pleasingly located right next to old down-town Buda, so when we had enough of wandering around between pavilions, we walked along the three or four blocks that constitute Buda … and looked around. It’s one of those sweet, small towns which retain enough of their original late 19th century buildings to be quite charming, even if those buildings mostly run along one side of the street … because the railway runs alongside the other. Buda’s town founding fathers set aside a 150-foot wide reserve of land between Main Street and the International and Great Northern railway line. The International and Great Northern may have been the reason for being in the first place, and the trains still rumble through on a regular basis.

Originally, the town was named Du Pre, but on discovering that there was another town with the same name, everyone agreed to call it Buda. Some sources say the name came from a local mispronunciation of Spanish for ‘widow’, since the Carrington House hotel and restaurant was the major landmark in town and a number of respectable widows worked there as cooks. Then again, it might have been homage to refugees from the failed Hungarian revolt in the mid-1800s, who settled thereabout.

Time was when the trains would stop in Buda, passengers would detrain, hurry across Main Street and have a quick meal in the Carrington House dining room. The Carrington is still here – a splendid Texas-Victorian pile with a metal roof and wide porches and galleries on two floors, but it is not a hotel any more. It’s now office space and an antique store. There are several more antique stores along Main, a florist shop where a corner gas station used to be, a number of pleasant-looking restaurants and bistros and the Wildflour Cakery & Boutique, set up in a brand new-built-to-look old building. (Note: the Mexican Vanilla Cupcakes are to die for!)

Some of the older buildings seem to go on nearly forever – and everyone knows when the trains come through. I think I would get used to it, eventually, and I always loved to hear the sound of a distant train at night, but I think that you need to be about half a mile away for the nostalgic effect to work.

One of the shop owners told me of some buildings across the railroad tracks – also new-built-to-look-old, which were supposed to have stores and offices on the ground floor and residential lofts above … but alas, the prospective tenants found the noise of trains rumbling past at all hours, a few yards away, just a little too much. I was assured, however, that the newer housing developments in Buda are far enough from the rail line that the romantic effect is achieved, rather than the earsplitting one.

I was tempted to no end by one of the antique places, and shelf after shelf of National Geographic magazines from the 1930s and 1940s. When I was a kid, one of our neighbors had a whole collection of them, and I thought they were fascinating. Not the articles so much, but the advertisements, especially the wartime issues. Maybe I will go back and buy a few for old time’s sake. Or at least, for some of the Wildflour Cakery’s cupcakes.

Spring has Come Early to this Part of Texas

Spring and Tiger Pop

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by Celia Hayes

Having a couple of dogs and a garden works very well at getting one out from behind a desk and a computer … in that one of them – well, both of them – need to be watered frequently. The dogs must be walked, and the garden needs to be weeded and mulched. All these things must be performed often enough that anyone who has either or both is no danger of becoming fused to the task chair…

So – anyway, it’s clear that spring has come early to the San Antonio metropolitan area: we started early vegetables in pots and planters a month ago … and by the last week in February, the mountain laurel trees were in full bloom. Mountain laurels – those are the mid-sized shrubs and small trees with dark green leaves and clusters of purple flowers that smell like grape soda. In the fall, the flowers produce long seed-pods full of hard bright orange seeds about the size of peas. In the old days, I am told that people used to drill them through and string them on heavy thread to make bright Christmas garlands.

The leggy kerria japonica shrub by the side gate has been blooming frantically this week, and around our neighborhood, the iris and roses are in fine fettle. The rain has been good for the lawns – even the most neglected of them is now lush and green … with ragweed and dandelions. There are maybe four or five lawns in the neighborhood whose owners nailed their banner to the mast and kept green, all last year; now, they look even better than ever, and the best of them look like something on the front cover of Country Living.

On another note, what a wondrous thing is the internationalization of taste: things like sushi and tapas and quiche are now such common fare as the ordinary neighborhood HEB now stocks them. Things that one used to read about in accounts of exotic foreign travel can be sampled every day.

This weekend, we were hungry for a small bite of lunch – nothing too heavy, more of a snack, really – and my daughter spotted a place called “Tiger Pop”, out near the Emerald Forest Subdivision by the Starbucks at 1604 and Bulverde Road – the sign on the side of the building also said “Korean Roll” so I logically assumed that they must be doing something like Korean-style fast food, as there is a Korean version of a sushi roll called ‘kimbap’ – which has rice in a nori wrapping. You’re only middle-aged once, so we went in. The place is very new, squeaky-clean and set up like your average chain fast-food place, and the food is indeed very fast, but it’s nothing like the McDonalds (which is just across the parking lot.) The main difference seems to be that the Korean version features cooked meats and veg; my daughter said that her roll was very good. I had the Asian bowl, rice and greens topped with a piping-hot chicken cutlet.There are more authentic Korean restaurants in town, I am sure – but Tiger Pop just has that happy sense of adventure – enough that one of the items on the menu is a Korean beef taco.

Only in San Antonio, eh?

Texans Vacation in Park City Utah

What Park City, Utah Has to Offer to the Texas Vacationer

by Ben Fisher

There is nothing more that Texans love than stepping out of their hometown for a vacation that is filled with the highest levels of luxury and comfort, and that is exactly what a vacation to Park City, Utah offers. Park City, Utah is a mountain community that features three world class resorts that is an oasis of beauty and a hub of outdoor activities. Park City offers the Texan a truly memorable vacation, whether it during the summer months or winter, and for the ski enthusiast, there is not a greater place on earth to vacation than Park City. Whether from Austin to El Paso, Houston to San Antonio, Paris to Dallas, Pampa to Midland and all parts in between, Texans love vacationing in Park City, Utah.

Deer Valley Resort is one of Park City’s resorts and is a premier alpine ski resort that has been ranked #1 in North America. The resort is a prestigious ski resort that features perfectly groomed slopes and outstanding services with many of them award winning such as their professional ski school and their exceptional dining. The resort also offers outstanding award winning services such as a ski valet and one of the most luxurious and comfortable lodges in North America. Park City is a mountain community, and aside from the three world class resorts, there are many rental properties throughout the resort community that feature ski -in and ski-out properties and much more. While

Park City is the premier destination for ski vacations, some resorts such as Deer Valley prohibit snowboarding. Winter months in the area are filled with fine dining, warm fires, exceptional skiing, snowmobiling, shopping and hiking. The area also offers exquisite nightlife with many restaurants, clubs, and entertainment venues that give the Texan plenty of options for evening activities.

Park City is home to over 100 restaurants that provide every type setting and atmosphere. The pubs and clubs and wine bars line historic Main Street and provide the after-hours nightlife that many Texans enjoy. Live theatre is another of the highlights of Park City and those visiting the area will enjoy the historic Egyptian Theatre on Main Street.

During the summer months, Texans will enjoy exceptional outdoor activities that include swimming, biking, hiking, shopping, cuisine, nightlife, big name band concerts, arts festivals, and the Alpine Slide Park. In fact, the Alpine Slide at Park City Mountain Resort features a 3,000 foot of track slide, which qualifies it as one of the world’s longest slides, and one that the park has become quite famous for.

The ZipRider is another highlight of Alpine Slide and is a ride that takes you over the tops of trees 100 feet in the air at speeds up to 45 miles per hour. Park City, Utah, is something for everyone, and Texans will find pure luxury and enjoyment whether it staying at one of their world class resorts, the Deer Valley Resort, the Park City Mountain Resort, or The Canyons Resort, or a private rental within the mountain community. A vacation to Park City, Utah sets that standard in what a vacation should be and will offer the Texan the fine luxuries that we so much enjoy.

Call Ben Fisher for Park City Real Estate or Deer Valley Real Estate at 435-962-0192.


San Antonio Local Color

Local Color

by Julia Hayden

In a job that I had, several jobs ago, my immediate boss was a transplant from North Carolina, and one of the things that he often noted was how deep was the Hispanic influence on just about everything in this part of Texas. It is, after all, the Borderlands, where two different cultures mix and meld so thoroughly and have done so for so long that those of us accustomed to it. Of course we should dine on breakfast tacos, and the supermarket carry every imaginable variety of salsa, and listen to conjunto music, and have in our vocabulary a smattering or more of Spanish. It’s just the way that things are . . . and sometimes it takes a recent transplant, like my old boss, to notice it in a significant way.

For me – since I grew up in another Borderland (southern California) – I was already pretty comfortable with the California version of such elements: Spanish and old missions, cilantro and cumin, and home-made tamales, steamed in Mom’s tall stock-pot, Olvera Street on a grade-school field trip. The one thing I did notice almost at once, though – was how exuberantly colorful buildings tended to be, especially those with a South-of-the-Border influence. Almost the first local ruckus-du-jour that I remember reading about in the Express News was the long and drawn out affair of Sandra Cisnero’s Purple House. For those with short memories, this was and is a cute little Victorian cottage on the edge of the King William Historical District, and she chose to paint it an eye-popping periwinkle purple, which put a selection of neighbors up in arms as being just a titch too vivid for a historical district. I think the color eventually faded to something a little more genteel – or everyone got over it . . . anyway, it was the ruckus-du-jour for a while.

I got more of a personal introduction to this when my elderly (and admittedly half-blind) neighbor had her nephew repaint the outside of her house, and I didn’t realize it until the day after we went onto (or off of) Daylight Savings Time, and for the first time in months I was arriving home in daylight. Came around the corner and had to cover my eyes, the shock of it was that intense; a tiny little garden cottage, painted the exact color of Pepto Bismol. It did make it easy to give directions, though – I would tell everyone to look for the house painted the color of Pepto Bismol – I’d be in the house just next door.

There was at about the same time – if memory serves, another color-oriented ruckus about the color of the new Central Library in San Antonio; a collection of artistically shaped and arranged slabs of concrete painted a brilliant shade of paprika red. Like my next-door neighbors’ house, it certainly made it easy for strangers to find it, and know indeed and without a doubt that it was the Central Library. There certainly wasn’t another one like it anywhere within a hundred miles.

After a while, though, one gets used to the brighter palette of colors. Eventually almost every other place looks bland, blah, beige and boring.

Tacos Till 4 AM at Ericks

Urban Street Food – Erick’s Tacos

While I’m not nearly as willing as Anthony Bourdain is to risk my health eating exotic foods in . . . ummm . . . exotic and off the beaten track venues, and I certainly draw the line at consuming tid-bits that I would have to muscle past my gag-reflex . . . I’ve always been pretty adventurous about street food, and taking a chance on a restaurant venue that may not look all that promising and first or second glance. I will always remember the little Chinese restaurant in my hometown – a tiny wooden shack, with peeling paint and a sagging roof, which appeared as if a good sneeze would bring it down all together.

We went past it for years, assuming that it was the kind of place where you’d get ptomaine poisoning from the water glasses, until finally we had just heard too many glowing recommendations from friends, who insisted, positively and over and over that it was the best Chinese food in town, ever! We ventured in, at last – the place was shabby on the inside, but scrupulously clean, and the food was divine – crunchy, spicy, savory, crisp, aromatic, perfectly flavored – everything that good Chinese food is supposed to be. It was even good as leftovers, warmed up the next day.

So – lesson learned: pay no attention to what the outside looks like. And we learned the lesson again, after having driven by Erick’s Tacos on Nacogdoches for I don’t know how many years. It’s next to Cordova Auto, which is mostly painted vivid yellow – but Erick’s is painted a shade of vivid orange that you can see vibrating against the inside of your eyelids for some time after you close your eyes. The dining room of the original Erick’s is a group of folding tables and chairs in an open bay that was part of the garage, although there is how a nice little patio area adorned with potted palm trees. The cooking is done in a taco truck parked on one side – and the drinks and fruit cups and ice cream bars are served from a tiny enclosed area on the other. The menu is basically Mexican street food, sort of like La Gloria Ice House, but without a shred of pretensions to atmosphere. Heck, the atmosphere consists of looking at the traffic on Nacogdoches, but oh, the food . . .

I tried out the special, which was pork carnitas, and my daughter had chorizo con bifstec, which came with lashings of fresh cilantro, and crumbled cheese and sautéed onions. The menu is painted on the side of the truck, essentially. Both of our orders were served up on tiny corn tortillas, doubled – so as to have something to scoop up the goodness that fell out, as we ate. There weren’t many other diners on the evening we ate there, but we were early. It’s open until four in the morning, apparently. They have also just opened an indoors extension of Erick’s, in a little house next door which used to be something else. Perhaps they have something like a proper menu inside, but if they do, it’s probably just as good.

But beware of the green condiment sauce, and add it judiciously. That’s the stuff that is a pale creamy green, which at first glance might look like guacamole. It’s not – it’s nuclear fission by the spoonful.


Books, Burgers, and Bun’n’Barrel

Created Sunday, 19 September 2010 13:19

Books, Burgers, and Bun’n’Barrel

For a household wherein the last time we packed out from an overseas assignment and the movers had a pool going on how many cartons of books they would finish up with – the count eventually topped out at 65 – we have an unseemly greed for more. We do not disdain any opportunity to explore second-hand bookstores, rummage sales, Half Price Books, the massive yearly PTA book sale at the Blossom Athletic Center, and the regular sales at our local San Antonio Library branch. The management there very kindly puts out a banner at the well-trafficked corner of Judson and Nacogdoches, and I have scored some lovely book bargains there in the past, notably when it came to Texiana.

Yes, my need for reference books on aspects of Texas history is practically bottomless, mostly because I never know when I might have to look up some relevant factoid, because I need it now this very minute for the current chapter of the current book I am scribbling and to drive two blocks to the Semmes branch, or to order it from the central stacks is just too inconvenient because I need it NOW. On the whole, it’s just faster and easier to reach up and get the reference I need from a book on the shelf within arm’s reach – so, yes. More books.

We got in line about 9:30 last Saturday morning – and if that sounds as if it were too early – there were already a goodly assortment of people gathered in front of the library, a few of whom had sent their significant others around the corner for breakfast tacos. There weren’t any professional book purchasers this time; the experts who have very specific requirements, and usually plastic crates on luggage carriers, and make a tidy living skimming off the cream of the books and re-selling them on the internet. The doors opened at 10:00 sharp, everyone crammed into the little room to the left of the main doors where the books were laid out – eh, a thin collection, this time, only a few volumes of Texiana, and nothing much to speak of in the way of cookbooks. My daughter found more to her interest – Wine for Dummies, a book of jokes and one of directions to knit afghans, among some others.

We took our harvesting home, and went to check out an estate sale in Alamo Heights, but nothing really took our attention at it, so finished up for lunch at one of the Austin Highway’s landmark eateries – the Bun ‘n’ Barrel. A friend who has lived a long time in San Antonio remembers when the Bun ‘n’ Barrel had car-hops on roller-skates; it was then a classic 1950s’ burger joint and teen hang-out. The car-hops are long gone, but the burgers and BBQ are not. The BBQ pit is out back, and they have expanded into catering, and will also do custom cooking . . . just bring in your beast – venison, a wild boar or whatever, thawed if previously frozen, please, and allow twenty-four hours for maximum succulence.

We didn’t want to wait that long – just a burger and a brisket sandwich, please – and my daughter indulged herself with an order of mozzarella sticks, which were delish. The burgers and brisket – good, not as good as Sams’ on Broadway, or Easy Pickins in Harper, but still quite good, much better than your average fast food franchise place. Over the next few months, we plan to eat our way along the Austin Highway, so stay tuned.

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An Old Fashioned San Antonio Diner

Created Monday, 19 October 2009 13:55

An Old Fashioned San Antonio Diner at the Alamo

I wouldn’t claim that San Antonio’s G/M Steakhouse is the oldest continuously operating diner and purveyor of fast food, in all it’s infinite varieties and greasy-grilled glory, but at fifty years and apparently going strong, it’s definitely in the running. This, my children, is what fast food used to be, before the days of Micky D’s, BK and Wendy’s drive-up window open to all hours. This fountain of classic fast-food delights – hamburgers, fries, grilled sandwiches, breakfast tacos and chicken-fried steaks (plus all sorts of other steaks) is just across Alamo Plaza from another classic San Antonio institution of slightly longer duration, the Menger Hotel. My daughter and I had lunch the Menger Hotel last weekend, after looking over the Alamo historical re-enactors in the gardens behind the Alamo.

Although the G/M isn’t a classic diner; one of those early 20th century pre-fab restaurants on wheels, the kitchen set-up is reminiscent of one. There is a single narrow lane of cooking area, right by the entrance, a wide grill and deep-fryer, the case of cut slices of pie and cakes on display, and a menu on the wall above – a menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items.The breakfast and lunch specials are on the inexpensive side; this may very well be the cheapest sit-down place to eat on Alamo Plaza, even cheaper than the Subway, a couple of doors down.And the Subway probably doesn’t have as interesting a place to sit and eat.

It’s an interesting jumble of a classic tall 19th century space with a pressed-tin ceiling, plain mid-20th century diner tables and chairs, and shelves and cases along the walls filled with military memorabilia, photographs and relics. The current owner has a large collection, only part of which is on display. They updated the menu prices at the beginning of the year; most breakfast items are under $5.00, most lunch selections are well under $10.00 – and the décor can’t be beat at any price.

The G/M is at 211 Alamo Plaza, and is open from 7 AM, every day but Tuesday.

Just as a lagniappe:

A recipe for chicken-fried steak – this is a 1985 prize-winner from the Chicken Fried Steak World Championships in Big Spring, which is spiced by marinating in the juice from a can of sliced canned jalapeno chili peppers:

  • Cut 1lb round steak into four portions and pound until thin. Marinate resulting cutlets in the juice from a 4-oz can of sliced jalapenos, for at least half an hour.
  • Combine in a flat pan: 2 cups flour, ½ tsp garlic salt, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 ½ Tbsp paprika, and a dash ginger
  • Combine in another flat pan: 2 beaten eggs, and 2 cups milk.

In a large flat skillet or electric fry pan, fry 5 strips bacon, and when done, remove bacon, reserving rendered bacon fat. Add cooking oil as needed to fry the steaks. Dip marinated steaks, first in the milk-egg mixture, then coat with flour mixture. Fry steaks at 350 degrees, until done, at 350 degrees. Garnish with crumbled bacon and serve with milk gravy.

Other classic Texas recipes are found here – Garry’s Home Cookin’ Eat first, ask questions later!