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City Guide 2013

The Cook's Tale

Photo: Josh Huskin, License: N/A

Josh Huskin


Stefan Bowers, Feast

Stefan Bowers, the driving food force behind Southtown's Feast, grew up in Berkeley and spent time in the Navy as a rescue swimmer, and then served an apprenticeship at an Italian restaurant in San Diego. The experience inspired him to attend Houston's Culinary Institute LeNotre, after which he landed a job at Jason Dady's late Lodge of Castle Hills. He later became executive chef at 20Nine Restaurant and Wine Bar. "I wanted to create a menu accessible to two worlds — those who want to be fortified and not over think things, and those who want to be challenged," says Bowers about Feast. As befits someone who used to leap out of helicopters, he doesn't want to become "too precious." "Our dishes," he says, "need to have pronounced flavor ... and we don't need to be too in love with ourselves." Mission accomplished.

1024 S. Alamo, (210) 354-1024, feastsa.com

Shawn Fletcher, Bella on the River

Shawn Fletcher, a local boy, has bounced around a lot — first to Austin's Texas Culinary Academy (now Le Cordon Bleu). After graduation, he applied to Jonathan Parker, then chef at Watermark (now Ostra), where he worked for free a few months. When Parker moved on, Fletcher joined him at another ill-fated restaurant and moved, when it cratered, to Bohanans, where "the menu didn't change much — I wasn't learning anything."
Both ended up at the short-lived Merchants on Broadway, then at Ounce Steakhouse. Fletcher eventually learned of David Snyder's plans to open Bella on the River, where he's been for over a year. "Now," he says, "the recipes are almost all mine." Watch the specials chalkboard.

106 E. River Walk, (210) 404-2355, bellaontheriver.com

Martin Stembera, Biga on the Banks

In contrast, the story of Martin Stembera, Chef de Cuisine at Biga on the Banks, is a simple one: he was born in the Czech Republic, moved to the U.S. at age 12, worked as a busser at Alamo Café in high school, then labored at the Magic Time Machine for five years. Save for a hiatus while Biga moved from its old location to the river, Stembera has been there more than 17 years. "Bruce [Auden] and Mark [Bliss] have been my biggest influences — Mark for hands-on, Bruce for the conceptual part," he says. Like any good son, he also says "for me, though, it's mom's [middle European] cooking that hits the spot.

203 S St. Mary's, (210) 225-0722, biga.com

City Guide 2013
  • Groveling For a Grocer Downtown San Antonio has an ever-expanding roster of eat spots – from food trucks to high dining – to choose from, but good luck finding somewhere to stock up... | 2/28/2013
  • Wonder Twins Julián Castro quickly rocketed past the heights of political celebrity Henry Cisneros, San Antonio's once best-known mayor, reached in the 1980s. | 2/28/2013
  • VIA Buses A public transit system that is extensive and useful, and extensively used, has long been one of the hallmarks of a thriving metropolis. For over 30 years... | 2/28/2013
  • Cycling San Anto You'll finish sweatier, dirtier and smell like the receiving end of a VIA bus tailpipe. But biking is, and will remain, the best way to move in and around... | 2/28/2013
  • Walk the City Creeks Sure, you know the River Walk, and may have explored the Mission Reach that strikes south from the Blue Star Complex towards the green land surrounding... | 2/28/2013
  • Santikos Bijou Once dubbed "Ramboville" by movie distributors who assume that its taste in movies is not subtle, San Antonio boasts many state-of-the-art facilities for viewing... | 2/28/2013
  • Museums A city without museums is hardly a town, and though San Antonio prides itself on retaining a small-town feel, our museums are known internationally — as... | 2/28/2013
  • Live Music With national and regional talent taking increasing notice, and local heroes making the big time, it will soon be impossible for even the staunchest... | 2/28/2013
  • Walley Films rolls camera, takes action, and visits Tía Chuck Meet Mark and Angela Walley, the dynamic dyad of arts advocates and documentarians professionally known as Walley Films. After studying film at Northwest Vista... | 2/28/2013
  • On Stage Community theater in SA has roots a century long. Here is our short list of favorite venues, specializing in repertory theater, new works, and... | 2/28/2013
  • Rackspace San Antonio was recently ranked #3 on Forbes' list of New Tech Hot Spots. One of the main companies leading the advance is Rackspace Hosting... | 2/28/2013
  • Green Dreams When we first met Brandon McKelvey two years ago, his food truck was still in construction. "I'm going to put solar panels on this puppy someday... | 2/28/2013
  • Rackspace San Antonio was recently ranked #3 on Forbes' list of New Tech Hot Spots. One of the main companies leading the advance is Rackspace Hosting... | 2/28/2013
  • Early Art School If you want to be an artist, don't wait till college to make your move. Young eyes (and minds) have the best shot at attaining this life/work goal. | 2/28/2013
  • DIY There comes a time, for some people, when working for a company just doesn't make sense anymore — unless it's their own. But the typical business strategy of... | 2/28/2013
  • Flea Markets Here in San Antonio we have fine flea markets, influenced heavily by the vast indoor/outdoor mercados of Mexico. Looking to get a sonogram and a haircut... | 2/28/2013
  • Thrift Shops Whether it be your deep-seeded need for a unique piece for your home or your newfound love for Macklemore that brings you there, thrift shops are the... | 2/28/2013
  • The Cook's Tale Stefan Bowers, Feast Stefan Bowers, the driving food force behind Southtown's Feast, grew up in Berkeley and spent time in the Navy as a rescue swimmer, and then served... | 2/28/2013
  • Southtown Bliss Serving up American cuisine, Mark Bliss' menu rotates, based on availability of seasonal ingredients. Menu staples include the Australian... | 2/28/2013
  • Pearl Anchored by the campus of the Culinary Institute of America, the Pearl is poised to become the city's most concentrated dining destination; quality taken into... | 2/28/2013
  • Eat Local Farmers markets offer an abundance of delights such as charcuterie, fermented foods, salsa plump tomatoes, and select seasonal fruit, and it is a good place... | 2/28/2013
  • Taco Town Tacos for breakfast, tacos for lunch, tacos all the time! SA is awash with taco joints — many are quite good, and most of us have faves. Here are four that continue to amaze with homey goodness. Henry's Puffy Tacos Henry's Puffy Tacos has been a family aff | 2/28/2013
  • Pit Stops Texas is a national contender for BBQ king, with the pits in the Hill Country strong advocates of tradition. But in SA, the trend is towards chef's... | 2/28/2013
  • Vegetarian A list of vegetarian and "veggie-friendly" establishments that will help tender eaters survive in Meat City. | 2/28/2013
  • Michelada Madness The michelada, or 'mixed chela' (chela meaning beer in Spanish), is a type of cerveza preparada that includes varied combinations of lime, beer, tomato juice... | 2/28/2013
  • Cocktails Cocktail culture hit SA with an obsession the last year, with crews of young mixologists (yes it really is a word — from the early 1900s) in eager... | 2/28/2013
  • Microbreweries BRANCHLINE BREWING CO. Branchline Brewing Co. officially opened and started selling beers on the market in early February. A snazzy tasting room is... | 2/28/2013
  • Brewpub Guide Even if you're not a beer aficionado, there's something about drinking a well-crafted brew and a meal only steps away from both were made. In the last... | 2/28/2013
  • Sports Bars Whether you're looking for a place to watch the game or just a place to meet with friends, San Antonio has much to offer in the way of sports bars. The key... | 2/28/2013
  • Dance Clubs When the sun goes down and you're achin' to strap on your dancin' shoes, there's only one thing that can be done: find a spot out on the nearest dance floor... | 2/28/2013
  • Ice Houses The Texas ice house is a steadily disappearing landmark. Once dotting the street corners of San Antonio, much like Starbucks does today, they provided... | 2/28/2013
  • Wine Texas is beer country, but even before the cocktail scene exploded, wine bars were offering an alternative, providing us with a less-rowdy atmosphere to participate in the cult of Bacchus. Here are our steady favorites. | 2/28/2013
  • Fab Finds Desperately seeking a Kabbalah from 1874? Can't sleep without an 'N Sync pillow? For treasure, oddities, and other things you never knew you needed,... | 2/28/2013
  • Dos Carolinas The origin of the guayabera is debatable, but its name likely refers to the Cuban farmers along the Yayabo River who used the shirt's lower pockets to store... | 2/28/2013
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