It’s not easy growing up in a cultural diaspora within a culturally mixed-up town, but somehow, I managed. Jewish, Cuban, Russian, Spanish, American. It’s all the same to me. ... I grew up on the North Side, hung out in King William for several years, and finally settled in Midtown. I know this city and its colorful people like I know a good bowl of matzo-ball soup: It’s hot, steamy, and full of flavor. So let’s go out for a tour of Jew town, SA-style. ... Whether you keep kosher or not, or even have an inkling of curiosity about the culture, give some of these places a try. There are seven stops on our route, because 7 is a very important number for us heebs (for too many reasons to list here, so just google it already, ya lazy bum!).
1. H-E-B Alon Market
8503 NW Military Hwy.
This H-E-B has the most incredible selection of kosher foods in San Antonio, plus a kosher bakery and meat market, to cowboy boot. “Kosher” food is all about the preparation. Am I giving you a lesson on what kosher means and how it’s done? No! The Current isn’t paying me enough, so just trust me. Give that special bag of chips, potato-pancake mix, or marble cake a try. You’ll be participating in 5,770 years of culture, and it will be delicious! P.S. “Alon” means oak in Hebrew, just in case you were wondering.
2. Green Vegetarian Cuisine
1017 N. Flores
Emblazoned in big letters at the top of the website: “Green is San Antonio’s only 100-percent Vegetarian and Kosher restaurant.” Chefs Mike Behrend and punk-rock goddess Cece will serve up your wheatmeat burger with a smile. Monday is pizza night, so heebs, if you’ve been curious about ham, just get some “wham” thrown on there. Some semblance of the experience, none of the guilt. I highly recommend the cookies-and-cream cupcake. It is oh so delish! (Just FYI, the restaurant is kosher, but not Jew-owned. Important distinction.)
3. Einstein Bros. Bagels
12730 IH-10 West
The bagels are coming! The bagels are coming! OK, I’ve got to admit that I was very sad that I had to wait until September 28 for this place to open, but now that it has, watch out SA: There will be a carbtastic coma in our future! Go up IH-10, exit De Zavala and take a left under the highway. Bagel heaven awaits on the left. ... There is already a location at the 1604 UTSA in the Bioscience and Engineering building, but who the heck wants to fight for parking? Not me ...
311 W. Commerce
When I think of sharp-dressed men, SA-style, I think of guayaberas. When I think of guayaberas, I think of Penner’s. And when I think of Penner’s ... you get the idea. Since 1916, Penner’s has been dressing San Antonio for a night on the town. Fellas, look for a pair of the famous ‘Stacy Penner’ shoes in tangerine, their most popular shade! They’ve got it all, so please, check ’em out.
5. Joe Blue’s
1420 S. Alamo
I searched and searched for Jewish-owned, operated, or just plain friendly (i.e. kosher) businesses in San Antonio. It was a challenge. So let’s take a detour off the map. ... One night after a show, some friends and I were hanging out on the patio, enjoying libations. One friend accidentally said we were at “Blow Jews” instead of Joe Blue’s, and the name has stuck. So, hopefully owner Joey Villarreal will keep a bottle of kosher wine (NOT Manischewitz, the real stuff) on hand in case any heebs want to toast “l’chaim.” Or you could always get a “gin and jews.” OK, I’ll stop ...
6. International Accordion Festival
October 9-11, 2009
La Villita, 418 Villita
The International Accordion Festival is a treat that happens once a year in La Villita, one square block of hot action in downtown Alamo city. I am sure there will be a Klezmer act or two on this year’s lineup. I’ve checked the schedule repeatedly, but one day it will magically appear. And Saturday and Sunday are free. That’s right folks: FREE!
All the single ladies: Have you ever entertained the idea of spending the rest of your days and nights with a Larry David/Woody Allen type of guy? Well, you should check out JDate, the premier Jewish singles online community. Not Jewish? Wanna try before you buy? Just lie! A friend did that, and it seemed to work out fine for her. You can convert later. Besides, we can always use more smart, friendly, funny members in the tribe.
Honorable mention: The best challah is found at Central Market. I’ve tried every single type from every specialty store in SA. Put some in your mouth! L’Shana Tova and mazel tov.