Monday, March 24, 2008

Picante Grill

(210) 822-3797
3810 Broadway

Due to travel and hectic work schedules, my honey and I ate Easter lunch with my parents at a restaurant this year (instead of the usual honeybaked ham at home). To avoid crowds, we opted for our tried and true Picante Grill. The Poso Family has done a remarkable job with this little gem on Broadway. Over the years, they have expanded space and staff, while maintaining reasonable prices and a lovely sense of family hospitality and intimacy.

Creative mexican food in San Antonio is rare - more often than not, mexican food here translates to standard "Tex-Mex." To keep the menu lively and innovative, Sra. Poso regularly travels to her home state in interior Mexico every year, bringing back new recipes from the likes of Yucatán, Puebla, Veracrúz, and Oaxaca. Never to be missed is Sra. Poso’s renowned chile en nogada, or a baked chile stuffed with roasted fruit infused pork and a walnut sauce bejeweled with pomegranate seeds. It is a must-have when it’s available. Yesterday’s winners were the cabrito (stewed baby goat) and tacos de pescado (fish tacos). The cabrito had been stewed in its light tomato sauce so perfectly that I barely had to chew it - it was heaven wedged in Picante's thick corn tortillas with chopped cilantro. The fish tacos were large (fish tacos in town tend to be small and more loaded with cabbage or coleslaw then fish) and baked, not fried, in a red chili sauce (pasillas perhaps?) - a superior choice for bringing out the fresh, clean flavor of the white fish.

My honey had the pork in achiote sauce. Because Picante Grill has a cochinita pibíl (slow roasted pork) that is a family favorite, I had high hopes and quickly reached over to stab at the pork when it arrived. I was immediately disappointed - the sauce was overwhelmed with the licorice flavor of anise. The paella was also a let down. The seafood was delicious - very juicy, not rubbery and undercooked, but I couldn't taste any saffron in the rice.

As always, our waiter was friendly and attentive. I also noticed that someone had taken some time with the presentation of our dishes. They looked beautiful, all carefully arranged and garnished. I guess it's that's loving attention to detail that keeps us going back to Picante Grill.

Until next time, Buen Provecho!

FINAL WORD: Creative dishes transported by attentive service, family atmosphere

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