The Flavor of the Neighborhood - Blue Star

by Dan Radcliff

Where the “cool” started. The idea of turning an old warehouse into art galleries, condos, restaurants and retail stores was unheard of in 1986, when the Blue Star Art Space first opened. Now, a development isn’t considered cool and trendy without mixed-use. The Blue Star remains a food and entertainment destination, with art galleries, handmade retail stores, and restaurants. In keeping with my motto, “Eat where you live,” you can walk down S. Alamo Street to Blue Star and have a nice night out at these places.

South Alamode Panini and Gelato Company. I live with a tough gelato critic, who once ate 1-euro scoops of nocciola gelato every day after Italian lessons in Florence. She says the nocciola gelato – that’s hazelnut ice cream for those of us who haven’t had Italian lessons – at South Alamode is just as good, but it costs more than 1euro. South Alamode small batch recipes sell out quickly, so don’t get too attached to one flavor – like nocciola and someone I know. They have panini on offer, too. The Havanese panini—it’s as if an Italian immigrant to Miami made a Cub an-press for their family back home: prosciutto and porchetta instead of the ham and salami, fontina cheese instead of the swiss. For a vegetarian, the Luigi is pretty darn good: grilled portabella mushroom, roasted red pepper, smoked goat cheese, with arugula dancing all around. Heck, even meat eaters would like this flavor-packed little number.

Wednesday-Sunday, noon-10pm, closed Monday and Tuesday. southalamode.com

Halcyon Southtown. Halcyon is a mythical, idyllic and peaceful time in the past. Halcyon coffee is mythical, and morning coffee on the deck overlooking the San Antonio River, watching the neighborhood wake up, is about as idyllic and peaceful as you can get. Halcyon has more than just coffee, Chicken and Waffles with a side of bacon will put you in idyllic, peaceful food coma. You could spend all day here, which many do on their computers.

Monday-Saturday, 7am-2am; Sunday, 8am-2am. halcyoncoffeebar.com

Stella Public House. Wood fired pizzas, salads, desserts and locally crafted beer is what you get at Stella. The Burrata Board with creamy hand-made mozzarella, marcono almonds, balsamic fig compote, and honeycomb comes with flatbread fresh from the wood fired oven – a pretty darn good appetizer. They have some creative pizza recipes, such as the Bee Sting, made of soppressata (aka dried salami), serrano chili, and honey.   

Monday-Wednesday, 11am-10pm, Thursday, 11am-11pm, Friday-Sunday, 10am-midnight. stellapublichouse.com

Sukeban. This sushi and champagne bar invites you to the world of manga, anime and samurai. Pairing sushi, nigiri, sashimi and tempura with champagne works for me, but if you’re a real traditionalist, they have sake. If you think sashimi is a foreign word for “bait,” try the chicken or rib-eye teriyaki: good flavor, filling, includes rice and salad. Bubbly champagne is totally refreshing on a hot day. The scallop nigiri, delicate slices of tender scallop, each topped with a single, thinly sliced sliver of lime, was equally refreshing.

Tuesday-Sunday,3pm-10pm; closed Monday. sukebansa.com

Blue Star Brewing Co. You can’t beat a burger and a beer from Blue Star. The Bacon Cheddar Burger, a side of fries, and a pale ale keeps me full and happy. The outdoor deck keeps the dog Qasper happy, although the waiter had to improvise on a dog bowl for water. There are other interesting-looking things on the menu, but really, does anyone get anything other than a burger and a beer?

Sunday-Monday, 11am-9pm, Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-11pm, Friday-Saturday, 11am-1:45am. bluestarbrewing.com

On Thursday, August 2, Mockingbird Handprints is hosting an art opening with a local artist, Shea Youngblood, who has several plein air paintings of the neighborhood. Walk on down, grab a bite to eat, go to a gallery, and you’ll see that the Blue Star has still “got the cool.”