Best Brunch

Best Brunch

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Lt. Governor Race: the \'Luchadora\' vs. the Tea Party radio host

Lt. Governor Race: the 'Luchadora' vs. the Tea Party radio host

News: A few Saturdays ago, I spent several hours hanging around a Texas Realtors Association conference in San Antonio, trying to catch state Sen. Dan Patrick... By Alexa Garcia-Ditta 9/17/2014
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy Disappear into ‘Eleanor Rigby’

Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy Disappear into ‘Eleanor Rigby’

Screens: “If you’re going to start, you might as well start big,” an ambitious person once said. Ned Benson must have been paying attention, because for his first... By Cameron Meier 9/17/2014
Daniela Riojas’ Photographic Studies in Self-discovery

Daniela Riojas’ Photographic Studies in Self-discovery

Arts & Culture: Daniela Riojas explores ideas of the figure in art, Latin American rituals, letting go of the past, and Jungian archetypes in... By Tom Turner 9/17/2014

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Food & Drink

Off the cow for now: Green Vegetarian Cuisine's restorative power

Photo: Steven Gilmore, License: N/A

Steven Gilmore

Real Deal Enchiladas, Protein Salad, Portabella Burger, and a smoothie rainbow from Green.

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As a devoted omnivore and newcomer to San Antonio, I passed on familiar garden greens for many a month in favor of exploring the many meat-vending outlets here in Tacolandia, munching my way through neighborhood offerings of barbacoa, carne asada, and menudo until my own tripes rebelled. Vegetable cravings set in, so I set out for Green Vegetarian Cuisine, SA's first in recent memory vegetarian restaurant (and certified kosher, to boot), for what I assumed would be one restorative meal. After passing through the kitchen garden that introduces diners to Green's original North Flores location, the door opens to a long high-ceiling set of rooms that, echoing strains of Hank Williams and other classic country crooners, intimates Tex-Mex or cowboy grub may be waiting. Nix on the cow, but there's plenty of Tex-Mex (minus the usual animal protein), part of the heritage of the Behrend family, SA restaurateurs who founded Green in 2006 after purveying chicken fried steaks at Lulu's Bakery and Cafe and similar choices at the Jailhouse Cafe before that. But hoping for a quick stomach scourge before resuming my carnival, I opted for the Protein Salad, a severe-sounding bowl of kale and spinach, dollops of raw pecan hummus and quinoa tabouli, chickpeas, veggies, and roasted tofu. Pass on the homemade dressings available, and refrain from tossing this salad. Play it as it lays, and enjoy a set of micro-courses that are surprisingly satisfying in their contrasting textures, and though subtle to the palate, quite balanced in taste. Proof of success — I started planning my next visit immediately.

Round two, the Portabella Burger. In other establishments, this is often a whole cap on a bun, an imposing bite, but Green serves sautéed strips of large 'shroom with BBQ sauce instead. A much better option, and downed easily, though the hot chopped onions that topped it off were a bit plentiful. Still, a hesitant nod yes to this one, too. But only because I tried it to-go; the too-dry bun steamed over the hot stuffings, pulling the ensemble — which is texturally discordant at the table — nicely together.

Finally deciding to try the Tex-Mex, I decided to defer to what fellow diners were choosing most that day, and go with the same. The daily specials always attract attention, and for good reason. These aren't discounted meals, but special attempts from the kitchen. The mole enchiladas could have arrived from a New Southwest kitchen in, say, Scottsdale or Santa Fe. Made with 20 different ingredients, including chipotles and pecans, the dark mole was exceptional, a virtuoso Texan version of the Oaxacan sauce that appears in hundreds of subtle variations. And I didn't miss manteca in the refried beans — a blend of black and pintos that nicely balanced the scented rice on the side of the two zucchini and carrot stuffed enchiladas. Meals are filling at Green, but come back to try their smoothies. One of the most popular, I was told, is the Blue Healer, made of an improbable blend of blueberries, bananas, soy milk — and spinach. I expected a sour taste, but only a hint of chlorophyll came behind the dominant berries. Green also has a location at Alon. Though with the same menu, they offer baked goods, too. Maybe next time.

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