Food & Drink Afternoon delights

At La Tuna Grill, the food is the art

Nestled next to the King William district and Blue Star Arts complex, La Tuna isn't just for old movies on Thursday nights and beers on the weekends anymore. Ten months ago, it added lunch to its resume.

Though many of the patrons seemed to be discussing directions to ArtPace or a new exhibit on the day of our visit, you don't need to be able to distinguish Monet from Warhol to fit in at La Tuna Grill, where the walls are an inviting yellow and painted cactuses, hanging photographs, and wooded booths serve as the décor. The food is similarly homey and a little on the wild side.

La Tuna's signature nopalito salad, served here with blackened fish tacos, uses pickled cactus fruit as its base. (Photo by Melissa Santos)

In tune with the restaurant's name, La Tuna offers a savory nopalito salad, a combination of cactus strips, green beans, tomatoes, and sprinkled queso fresco, as a welcome out-of-the ordinary side-dish for the restaurant's six sandwiches and other dishes, but it's best eaten in small quantities, much like pickles at a barbeque.

La Tuna offers several fruit-of-the-sea dishes, as well, though only one meal includes tuna: the la tuna melt, tuna salad served on toasted croissant with provolone, shredded lettuce, and tomato.

We sampled the blackened fish tacos and a cup of the Veracruz soup, which was the day's soup special. The tacos, served on corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, onions, and cilantro topped with green chile cream sauce, were cooked to perfection - nearly falling apart but with juices still permeating the fish - and swathed with enough spices to give the dish some kick but not send us running for tissues. The soup was equally good, filled with too many kinds of fish and vegetables to count and served alongside tortilla chips.

La Tuna grill
100 Probandt
(corner of Cevallos)
11am - 2:30pm,
Monday - Friday
Price range $5-11
Major credit cards
Wheelchair accessible
The Texas rib eye steak, served blackened or grilled, in our case, was light on flavor and tough for our liking. While we recommend putting your $10.95 to better use at one of San Antonio's finer steak houses if you're looking for Texas' signature steak, the rosemary-roasted potatoes and onion rings served with the entrée were wonderfully seasoned; the potatoes seared crisp on the edges and the onion rings properly country-fried with ample pepper. Another Texas' favorite, the country, chicken-fried steak, is also offered at the grill with the same rosemary-roasted potatoes as a side.

Although the "outrageous fudge brownie" came highly recommended, we topped off our meal with La Tuna's take on bread pudding: white chocolate and cherries in a brandy cream sauce, which managed to be both chewy and fluffy.

But don't be intimidated by the twist on Tex-Mex and Southern food; let the old beer bottle caps on the ground outside serve as a welcome mat reminding you that you are still in SA, just a little farther from mainstream and a little closer to the arts community.

By Heather Holmes


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