Down On Grayson

When I think of this place I think of the I Love Lucy-esque confusion in a conversation about eating there.

“GRAYZE?”

“DOWN ON GRAYSON”

“GRAYZE?”

It went on like this for a while. The presiding question of this post is Is Down On Grayson Good? I submit to you that this is a matter of criteria. Let us not dance around this question. It is simply okay. People like DoG for the atmosphere, the proximity to the Pearl Complex, the newness of the spot. It certainly is not the food, which is hit-or-miss as they still try to figure out what they do best.

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Thiagos

Far be it from me to ape the lady who reviewed Olive Garden.

No. That is not what is happening here, folks. Generally speaking, SA Review wants to steer you toward your local fare. Still, we all find ourselves doing the comfortable thing from time to time.

For me, that is Tiago’s. I do not necessarily love their dishes. I honestly cannot tell you what I ate the last few times I have been there*.

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Las Rancheritas Cafe

Among my unofficial and unscientific methods for identifying new and cool places to eat are the following:

  1. Signs that do not look like they were made up by the owner’s cousin who can draw real good.

I was on a search for a burger on the West side, an adventure akin to Ed Harris’ Man In Black on Westworld. Sure you may sneer, but I know there is a deeper game here.

On my way to a burger place that Google suggested, I saw Las Rancheritas Cafe. It stands out in a sea of hand-painted signs and menus (often painted on the exterior) in that it looks like they ponied up for signage. Way to differentiate, y’all.

Let me note here that I have nothing against hand-painted signs, but in my arbitrary and volitile Lunch Choosin’ state my criteria this day was as described

Let me tell you some things I liked about this place upon entering:

  1. Quality Halloween decor. They buy it from the same places we do (read: the temporary halloween stores) and they thought about it. There was a wolf mask on the hanging deer head. That’s thinking, you guys.
  2. Menus are printed, but they have hand-written edits. That says two things to me: (1) They make updates to those things but (2) aren’t wasting time and money reprinting these things. They are passing the savings on to you, the hungry customer. I like it.
  3. Someone was selling crafts. This place supports the local hustle you guys. I always like a spot that gives back to the community — by providing a martketplace.
  4. Comfy booth seats. Goodness, I cannnot stand an uncomfortable booth. Like, why even if you aren’t, ya know? I know, right.

My mission on this trip was burger but as I said, I was caught by the siren song of a sign. That is a mixed metaphor for you folks keeping score at home. This site has no editor and this is what happens.

Lo, and behold! A burger is on the menu. Two, in fact. Actually three, if you count the 4-burger family special. Let me tell you what — you need to come here for that instead of going to Whataburger.

I said it. Yes. Do your duty and support local burgers that are just as good as the fare at your local orange striped franchise.

I ordered a Big Tex Double Meat Burger with avocado, bacon, onions, mustard, and no mayo. That’s because I have great taste. The burger was solid. As this isn’t a burger place it was pretty okay. But that’s not a bad thing.

My friend had a Torta, as he is not a crazy person.

What is that? CDs for sale. No it is not my personal taste but neither is Mumford and/or Sons and I still went to ACL Fest 2016 Weekend 2. It is about the experience. Please note the wolf mask. Again, quality.

The staff is friendly, speak two languages, and talk to you like you are a person, even if you are awful. That is pretty damned good. I cannot say that for every place I have been to in this town so points for that.

3-out-of-4-snarky-tweets. Because I’m a millennial.

  • Where: 902 S. San Augustine San Antonio, TX 78237
  • When: 7am to 6pm
  • What: I had lunch, y’all. I was hungry

White Elephant Coffee Company

White Elephant's Roaster

White Elephant (WE) is small roaster and café in San Antonio’s Southtown at 1415 South Presa. Opened one year ago, WE was celebrating its anniversary over the July 4th weekend. Over the course of their first year, WE has solidified its position in the city’s coffee scene. 

WE roasts on a Probat – long the standard-bearer for craft roasters. In addition to special blends and single origin roast, WE can be found around SA as private label coffee for places like 5 Points Local, and Press Coffee. 

A Slayer espresso machine graces the coffee bar and a variety of coffees are available daily for slow pours.

The shop has a somewhat DIY vibe to it. Large spools double as tables, and a small bar abuts the the roasting area provides customers some insight into the roasting process.

Sitting on a shelf behind the cash register are two large stands that hold maybe the most exciting piece of equipment in the shop – a cold drip coffee maker. Considering summers in San Antonio are damn near unbearable, cold brew or iced coffee are clutch substitutes when you are craving caffeine but cannot possibly imagine imbibing a beverage brewed at 200 degrees in 100-degree weather. Enter cold brew. Or iced coffee. They are not the same thing. Let me explain: 

Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is simply that. At it worst it is brewed hot and thrown on ice. At best, it is brewed hot onto bed of awaiting ice cubes. Some swear by this method. Some try to exoticize it and call it “Japanese style iced coffee.”  They are full of crap. It is lazy. And quick. And sometimes it is all you can do and it just fine but if you want something worth your while, have a cold brew. 

Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew coffee is typically made when coffee grinds are submerged in room temperature (yeah, not exactly cold) water for a prolonged period of time. The exact coffee grind to water ratio varies purveyor to purveyor, but the general method is the same. What is left is a thick coffee concentrate that may be diluted with water (usually a 1:1 ratio) or served “neat” (straight concentrate). An added benefit of cold brew – the process removes much of the acidity naturally present in coffee creating a nice, smooth drink. Also – and this may or may not be verified by science and may well likely be a lie told to me in some café – cold brew has a higher caffeine content than a typical cup of coffee. 

There are numerous home brew kits for making cold brew on your own. Toddy may be the most popular. A company out of Austin selling woven bags inside mason jars has found its way into Whole Foods, and my heart. Nothing special there, but a simple and effective way to make cold brew 

White Elephant does something slightly differently. Their cold drip coffee maker looks something like an hour glass. Water is held in the top chamber and escapes slowly downward, drip by drip, into a chamber housing the coffee grounds. Gravity slowly pulls this liquid into a third chamber that collects the cold brew. This process can take upwards of 24 hours and produces a quality cup of coffee. Visit and find out for yourself.

Rampaging Again

Scorpions are the new Iguanas. Sure it wasn’t quite the same situation, but I’m beginning to understand the disappointment of local hockey fans who were broken up about the Iguanas leaving and the Rampage replacing them.

At the time, I didn’t understand why hockey fans wouldn’t enjoy a better brand of the game here, backed by the local basketball ownership. Now I do. I understand the feeling but I still can’t intellectualize it other than to say the new team, logo, signings, marketing, and support feel forced and inorganic. 

I hate to be the hipster here, but I liked SA soccer when it was the underdog. I liked it when it wasn’t owned by SS&E, mostly because the capitalist in me likes to have some competition.