Okay, last time, I was talking about our recent rip to San Antonio. We had just left the La Valita area and were own our way to the Esquire Tavern (https://www.esquiretavern-sa.com/).
The Esquire is a restaurant and lounge on the River Walk. In fact, it is right across the river from our hotel. We could see it from our window, which is why I was watching the sleeping man on its steps, and the policeman who moved him (somewhat gently) along.
It is rather an amazing place. It is part of the tourist economy...it couldn’t help being so, given that it is literally on the water’s edge in what is said to be the most visited tourist attraction in Texas...but it goes beyond that. It supposedly opened in 1933 “to celebrate the end of prohibition,” but the general feeling is that it existed long before that...in, however, less obvious forms.
Martha at the Esquire in 2021.
But, whatever the truth, it is a gorgeous old building, the interior of which is full of wooden furnishings, including a long, long bar, said at one time to be the longest in Texas. Oh, the place has a classic tin ceiling. Go inside, and you feel like you’ve gone back in time...to something a bit more elegant, perhaps, then we’ve known for almost a century.
I first stumbled across the Esquire by accident. I don’t recall how we found out about it. Maybe the kids told us. I don’t know. But, anyway, it was 2015. Martha and I had driven from Albuquerque, where we were living at the time, to South Padre Island, which is a vacation and beach community on the Gulf. My parents had had a vacation home there, and, when they died, we decided to scatter their ashes on the island they had loved. Obviously, we wouldn’t do it on the popular beaches, but, rather, to the North, which is wild and largely empty.
Our timing was good. It turned out that the kids, then newlyweds, were living in Brownsville at the time. They were able to meet us and we went together to the beach to say goodby to my Mom and Dad.
So much has changed since then.
Anyway, then we drove back. We stayed for a day or two in San Antonio. Partly, that was because the city was a logical resting point along the way. Partly, too, Martha has a personal connection to San Antonio. But, I’ll talk about that later.
Anyway, that afternoon, we drifted into the Esquire and fell in love with the place. It was cool and comforting after a long day in the heat. The decor and furnishings were charming. And the food was terrific.
And so, bluntly, was the booze. I’ve never been a big drinker, and bar culture is rather alien to me. I grew up in a tea-totaling society. Plus my parents weren’t much into drinking, either. They had the odd beer or wine, but not much more than that. So mixed drinks were and are a mystery to me.
But that day in the Esquire, I tried an Old Fashioned for the first time, and discovered I really, really liked it. It is now my vacation and special occasion drink -- not what I have at home or on a regular basis, but definitely my first choice when there’s something to celebrate.
Anyway, that night at the Esquire, we raised our glasses to my Mom and Dad, and decided we had a new favorite spot.
The Esquire exterior. This is the River Walk side. I took the photo from our window at the hotel.
Okay, so ever since then, whenever we visit San Antonio, a return trip to the Esquire has been de rigueur. And, that day, we found our way rapidly to the restaurant yet again.
We ordered drinks. I had my Old Fashioned and it was delicious. Then, we turned to the lunch menu.
Which is when things got a little confusing. The menu looked, well, different to me. I thought that the Esquire had an excellent fish-&-chips on offer. But it wasn’t there anymore. There was a “Fried Seafood Platter,” but that seemed heavy on the shrimp, and I’m more of a Cod kind of a guy. (“Nearer my Cod to thee...” Sorry.)
The rest of the menu seemed a bit, uh, complicated. There was, for instance, a “Chicken & Caviar,” dish, which looked a little out of my middle-class, petite bourgeois league. I then turned to the sandwiches. That was more my speed. The “Esquire Cheese Burger” appealed, but, somehow...for some reason...I wanted something different.
And then, I spotted it! Aha! “The Esquire Ruben!” A Reuben sandwich...just what I was in the mood for! I could almost taste that corned beef and sauerkraut! That wonderful combination of meatiness and tartness! Served hot on rye!
So, I ordered the Reuben...uh, why was it spelled “Ruben” on the menu? Well, no matter...and sat back to await my delicious Deli sandwich.
Say, you remember those omens I mentioned before?
Well, they’re baaaack.
And boy, are they peeved.
More to come.
Copyright©2022 Michael Jay Tucker
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