Food festivals don't get any better than the free, family-friendly and tamal-centric pachanga known as the Pearl's Tamales! Holiday Festival, which returns for its fifth installment this Saturday, December 6, noon to 6 p.m. There will be more than 20 tamal vendors to choose from, all hawking classic and creative iterations of our holiday favorite while Selena tribute band, Bidi Bidi Banda and Max Baca & Los Texamaniacs provide live jams. Pro-tips: Have a light breakfast, take plenty of singles and plan for a tamal break while you wander the grounds aimlessly hoping to find your next corn-husk-wrapped victim.
If you'd rather have your tamales without being surrounded by hordes of SA foodies, then stop by La Fogata (2427 Vance Jackson, (210) 340-1337) through December 31 for their traditional tamales found in the tropical parts of Mexico (Oaxaca, Chiapas, Veracruz and the Yucatán Peninsula). Not one to serve ordinary fare, La Fogata's tamales are square, wrapped in banana leaves and much larger than run-of-the-mill tamales. Try a pair, served as a platter with black beans and white rice for $16.95, or take a half dozen home for $25.
The holidays are a time to wow your guests, and if your guests happen to enjoy alternative diets, Vegeria Vegan Tex-Mex (8407 Broadway, Ste 1) is offering their help with classes like gluten-free vegan holiday baking ($25, December 7, 3 p.m.), a chocolate holiday ($25, December 7, 6 p.m.), a raw holiday class ($35, December 14, 5:30 p.m.) and a holiday cocktail and appetizer class ($20, December 20, 7 p.m.). Call (210) 826-4223 to reserve your spot.
The boys behind Concrete Jungle (1628 S Presa), the newest bar to hit Southtown, are proving me wrong...in a good way. Rudolfo Martinez (Tapa Tapa) and Roy Guerrero are opening the doors to their tiki hut (formerly El Sauzeno Lounge) this Friday, December 5 (not in early 2015 as I'd predicted). Expect mezcal, shrunken heads and all the rum-filled tiki you can handle (in a responsible way, obviously).
More coffee? Yes—the answer is always yes. Mild Coffee Roasters (15502 Huebner, (210) 492-9544) is spreading the java love to the Medical Center with a new location at 8434 Fredericksburg (at Wurzbach) this December. This means more in-house roasting, two types of pour-over coffee, a full-service espresso bar and a seasonal juice bar.
The ugly sweater party season is upon us. The first comes via The Flying Saucer (11255 Huebner, (210) 695-5080), which will host a Sam Adams ugly sweater mixer on Wednesday, December 3, 6-9 p.m. The second comes via the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, which will host Eat, Drink and Be Ugly, a shindig with themed vodka drinks using Cinco, elevated comfort food and more on Thursday, December 4, 7-10 p.m. at La Vista Terrace at the Hyatt Regency. Visit sanantoniococktailconference.com for tickets ($50).