The foodie bacchanal known as Culinaria's Festival Week (May 13-May 17) is around the corner and I know two things for certain: You need a game plan and you've got to be ready for the unexpected.
For starters, all the favorites are back albeit with some interesting tweaks. Paired wine dinners will be held Wednesday, May 13 at Bliss (926 S. Presa St., 210-225-2547), Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden (312 Pearl Pkwy., Building 3, 210-354-4644) and the newly-opened Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery (136 E. Grayson St., Suite 120, 210-455-5701) and Thursday, May 14 at Arcade Midtown Kitchen (303 Pearl Pkwy., 210-369-9664), Stella Public House (1414 S. Alamo St., 210-277-7047) and newcomer J Prime Steakhouse (1401 N. Loop 1604 W., 210-764-1604).
Thursday's laidback mobile feast returns to the Alon Market on Military Drive from 6 to 9 p.m. ($10 for adults, $5 for minors, free for children under 5) with B Daddy's BBQ, Cheesy Janes, Crepe Nation, Duk Truck, Sabor Colombiano, Say She Ate, Sir-Wacha, Slider Provider, Tailgate Bistro, Wheelie Gourmet, Where Y'at and Cupcake Vineyards' mobile trailer with swag and wine samples. Take a pal, sample wines and treats and purchase goodies from some of the city's most established food trucks.
Friday's Best of Mexico is back for another year at The Shops at La Cantera (15900 La Cantera Pkwy., $50 per person). Before sampling antojitos from more than 12 restaurants including El Mirador, El Machito and La Tequilera del Patron from 7-10 p.m., festival-goers can opt to indulge in a Tequila Happy Hour at The Residents at La Cantera's rooftop ($35 per person, 5:30-6:30 p.m., 6215 Via La Cantera) with tequila tastings, info on the spirit and more. Think of it as pre-gaming.
The biggest change to Saturday's lineup — which includes the swanky early-access Bubble Room Grand Tasting (6-10 p.m., $150, also includes access to Jason Dady's Shuck Shack after-party) and the Grand Tasting (7-10 p.m., $100) — is the addition of The Tasting Rooms at the Grotto adjacent to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom 007, from 1-4 p.m. For $50, attendees can check out demos and chef conversations with Michael Sohocki (Kimura, Restaurant Gwendolyn) and chef Andon Whitehorn (Nani, Oklahoma City), take hands-on cocktail and wine seminars or visit the cinema district, where food and booze flicks will be playing throughout the event.
To end the weekend, Sunday's lineup includes the slider-happy Burgers & Beer event (pour a cold one out for "BBQ," which didn't make the cut this year) at The Pearl ($45 adults, $25 students, $10 for minors and free for kids under 5, 1-4 p.m., 200 E. Grayson St.). Wear loose shirts and sundresses for this one. If you've got an appetite left after all of this, or if you'd rather just stick to seated dinners, Casa Hernan (411 E. Cevallos St.) will host a dinner between chef Johnny Hernandez and Jeret Peña. Expect "tequila, tequila, tequila" during this casual event ($125, 6-9 p.m.). Visit culinariasa.org for details and tickets.