Flavor File: Tamales, Burgers, Brunches and More

click to enlarge Brunch meets beer at Hoppy Monk. - Courtesy
Brunch meets beer at Hoppy Monk.

The season of tamales is upon us, and with it comes the sixth annual Tamales at Pearl! (303 Pearl Pkwy.) event on Saturday, December 5 from noon to 6 p.m. In case you've missed the past five tamal throw-downs, here's a few tip: bring cash. Tamales run anywhere from $1 to $5. Take a group of friends because you can't taste and actually finish every tamal you buy (or would rather not spend the evening laid out with a tamal food baby). Try 'em all — there will be more than 40 vendors available with corn husk- and banana-wrapped goodies in both savory and sweet varieties. So make the most of it. Oh, and get there early.

If burgers are more your thing, The Point Park & Eats (24188 Boerne Stage Road) will host another installment of Burger Brawl on Saturday, December 5 starting at noon. This year's competitors include Scratch Bistro, Gilbo's Grill, Caliente Grill, Slider Provider, Mr. Big Stuffs and Benjie's Munch Truck all vying for fan favorite and judges' favorite. The event will double as a holiday gift drive benefiting the Baptist Children's Home, so don't forget to take unwrapped gifts for children 10-17, toiletries, hygiene products and gently used clothing.

Sure, Thanksgiving was last week, but you should probably start thinking about what you're doing this Christmas. La Cantera Hill Country Resort (16641 La Cantera Pkwy., 210-6500) will host a Christmas Eve prix-fixe dinner from noon to close with grilled black mole shrimp, coffee & ancho-rubbed beef or seared artic char, and baked chocolate custard at $45 for adults and $20 for children aged 5-12; sister eatery SweetFire Kitchen will roll out a "Twas the Night Before Christmas" menu with holiday dishes, including filet mignon ($46), stone-roasted half chicken ($33), tagliatelle pasta ($28), roasted prime rib ($47) and roasted sea bass ($45). Las Ramblas at Hotel Contessa (306 W. Market St., 210-298-8040) will host a holiday brunch on Friday, December 25 with carved turkey, prime rib, breakfast items, salads and desserts. Brunch runs 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ($62 for adults, $22 children 6-13, free for children under 5).

Finally, Hoppy Monk (1010 N. Loop 1604 E., 210-545-3330) launched a Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the menu looks pretty rad. You'll find savory dishes like biscuits and gravy mac 'n' cheese, duck l'orange benedict, barbacoa migas frittata and grilled avocado and nopal tacos. Dishes on the sweet side of things include house yogurt and brulee grapefruit, smoked dulce de leche pancakes and house ice cream. Locavores will be happy to know the restaurant/bar is using local community partners, including Heartbrand Beef, Groomer's Seafood, The Bread Box, Kitchen Pride mushrooms and more.