Why I’m All About Small Bites: Big Flavor Payoffs

click to enlarge Southerleigh's pretzel. - Dan Payton
Dan Payton
Southerleigh's pretzel.
These days, as I hop from restaurant to bar takeover to pop-up and restaurant again, I’ve grown weary of large meals. The allure of a hearty plate will always have its place, but when you’re about to set off on a multi-stop tour de cuisine, I find that smaller bites and tapas-style snacking is where it’s at (I can only make stretchy pants look business casual for so long).

Thankfully, restaurants and bars across town are honing in on this pattern of snacking with everything from “nibbles” to “teasers” making their way onto several menus across town — without having to blow my wallet open, or my calorie count (not that I keep track of those).

If you’re in the mood for snacking across town, here are a few of my favorite bites right now.

The Old Main Assoc. (2512 N. Main Ave., 210-562-3440) might be known for its gimmicky concha burger, but the real star of the show for me is in the carnival-fried mollejas or sweetbreads, which are paired with a thick lemon aioli. These poppable bites are tender, evenly fried and well seasoned, which will help you convince your offal-averse pals to try them. Though you shouldn't pass on their poutine-style chicharron fries with chorizo gravy.

If hunger strikes while at Sternewirth (inside Hotel Emma, 136 E. Grayson St., 210- 223-7375), order the Caesar fries made at Supper and served in small, stainless steel pots. Heavy on the parmesan, these perfect fries come bearing teensy bites of anchovy that honestly I could have more of — bring on the anchovies.

click to enlarge Old Main's chicharrón fries. - David Rangel
David Rangel
Old Main's chicharrón fries.
Though not technically a snack, but more of a side, Halston Connella’s weekly Rebel Pizza Monday night takeovers at Park Social (224 E. Olmos Drive, 210-822-0100) also feature fried cheese curds. Small, addictive, salty and deliciously squeaky, the curds are available as sides for the burger specials.

If you’re hoping to go a more healthful route, you could always head to Alchemy Kombucha and Culture (1123 N. Flores St., 210-320-1168) for a cocktail and the Admiral Brassica. Vegan as it may be, you won’t miss meat with this smoked and tempura-fried cauliflower half that's doused in General Tso’s sauce, peanuts and herbs. Who knew cauliflower could be so addicting?

You could head back to the Pearl and park yourself at Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery (136 E. Grayson St., Suite 120, 210-455-5701) for chicken cracklins and pretzels, or stop by the new Nao Latin Gastro Bar (312 Pearl Pkwy., 210-554-6484) for any of the ceviches featured by chef Zachary Garza. Specials have included scallop, Serrano peppers and orange, along with lobster and shrimp with pickled onions served with wispy totopos.

And if you’re not in the mood for oysters, but still want to enjoy the patio at Shuck Shack (520 E. Grayson St., 210-236-7422), order the white cheddar jalapeño hush-pups, light and crunchy and delicately cheesy—you’ll want to slather these with the accompanying aioli. 


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