Flavor File: A Walk Through Mexico, Nao's New Chef and More

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click to enlarge Chef Zach Garza is heading home to Nao. - Courtesy
Chef Zach Garza is heading home to Nao.

The San Antonio Cocktail Conference is getting the party started early with A Walk Though Mexico: A Cocktail & Culinary Journey behind The Monterey (1119 S. St. Mary's St.) on Saturday, September 26 at 6:30 p.m. The event will include tastes of tequila and mezcales out of Jalisco, Michoacán and Oaxaca. Expect to find bites and drinks from The Monterey, Toro Taco Bar, El Mirador, Hot Joy, Los Barrios and Mixtli. Tickets, $68, are available at saccevents.org.

Change is in store for the Culinary Institute of America-San Antonio restaurant. Nao (312 Pearl Pkwy.), now led by CIA alumnus Zach Garza, will relaunch as Nao Latin Gastro Bar in mid-October. The menu will feature a few dozen small plates and shareable dishes for both lunch and dinner. Garza is basically making his triumphant return home after working up an impressive resume within SA — he's worked at The Monterey, The Frutería and most recently Primero Cantina at the La Cantera Hill Country Resort — after he helped open Nao five years ago.

You can enjoy your fave bottle of vino at home from Nectar Wine Bar & Ale House (214 Broadway, 210-375-4082), which has started offering bottles to go along with picnic baskets filled with meats and cheeses. The bottles range from $12-$30, and prices for picnic baskets depend on varieties selected.

Fans of paint and sip classes can beef up their drawing skills at Blue Star Contemporary's Drink And Draw with local artist Sarah Fox on October 1 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The free drawing class will explore shape and color as students construct a still life using balloons, streamers, confetti and more. Reserve your spot by going to bluestarart.org.

Oktoberfest celebrations are already popping up around town. The Hangar Bar & Grill (8203 Broadway, 210-824-2700) will kick off the festivities on Saturday, September 26 from 11:30 a.m. through 2 a.m. with grilled bratwurst, German brews and more. Gustav's Garden (10333 Huebner Road, 210-496-0828) will hold their celebration October 1-3 with oompah jams throughout; Alamo Beer (202 Lamar St., 210-872-5589) is packing in the German-inspired jams and foods in their biergarten, October 9-11; Beethoven Maennerchor (422 Pereida St., 210-222-1521) is holding two weekends' worth of accordion and brats on October 2-3 and 9-10. Restaurant and bar owners, send us your Oktoberfest plans to the email below.

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