Food festivals. If you're a foodie who enjoys 'gramming your plates until they're cold, food festivals are probably your jam (pun totally intended). Even if you're not inclined to follow every latest restaurant opening, newest garnishing trend or if you don't care for tiny plates, food festivals are unavoidable at this point.
Because there's a food festival for just about anything these days — Luling's Watermelon Thump (June 23-26), Texas Folklife Festival (held June *10-12 and basically a giant excuse to eat everything under the Texan sun) and Barbacoa & Big Red (this weekend) — said food lovers are harder to impress. How do event organizers keep things fresh, fun and fabulously Instagram-worthy?
Those were some of the questions at hand as Culinaria's organizers sat down to reinvent 2016's festival. The biggest change this year is the festival's main location, now at La Cantera Resort & Spa (16641 La Cantera Pkwy.).
"In our strategic plan all along, we wanted to move the festival to one location," said Culinaria president & CEO Suzanne Taranto Etheredge. "We were waiting for development in some of our venues, but it was always going to be this year. I think the river that ran through last year really helped propel us forward in wanting one location where everything could be, including production."
Sitting on 550 acres that glimpse a peek of the Hill Country, the resort is fresh off its first anniversary after being completely upgraded. Now sleeker, modern and with almost too many high-def flat screens in their poolside cabanas (like that's ever a thing), La Cantera Resort & Spa will help showcase San Antonio's booming culinary scene. Funds from the festival will go toward the Culinaria Farm, the nonprofit's project that was announced earlier this year.
At the corner of Huebner and Research Road, next to Magnolia Pancake Haus' second location, sits the Culinaria's Farm, which will host chefs, food professionals, farmers, volunteers sponsors in educating San Antonians on growing practices and food production systems using healthy food. The Farm will partner with two universities to help promote said mission.
"The Massachusetts Institute of Technology City Farm is a first of its kind controlled environment agriculture system, a 'food computer,' that can duplicate any climate for growing food. This process maximizes the nutrition and flavor of the produce and minimizes the water, energy and space used. University of Houston's Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management will be installing an indoor aquaponics system," per Culinaria's website.
You're expanding your waistline, if briefly, as Culinaria moves toward opening The Farm this fall.
Aside from the location, the festival is shaking things up with the re-introduction of an old favorite and a complete revamp of its Saturday programming. Here's a quick breakdown of what to expect during this year's Culinaria Festival Week.
Back to Bubbles • $75 in advance, $100 at the door • Adult Pool • 7-10pm, Friday
Once a stand-alone event, this bubble-centric party was ushered into the fold as part of the Grand Tasting. But the people missed that joyous pop of corks. To that effect, Culinaria presents Back to Bubbles with high-end bubblies and bites from local chefs at the resort’s adult infinity pool, which will feature a chandelier-decked patio. Muy fancy.
Tacos and Talk (and Tasting) $50 in advance, $75 at the door • $10 for minors, free for children 5 and under
Plaza San Saba • 11am-4pm, Saturday
Let’s not forget this event is based in the taco capital of the state (calling it). Gone is Best of Mexico, and in its place is a daylong celebration of all things food and booze with a taco slant, of course. Visit for tempranillo tastings, whiskey seminars, boozy coffee cocktails, a fine wine seminar and quick mixology course while snacking on tacos in Taco Town, where local and visiting chefs whip up their favorite tortilla-clad goodness. Oh, did we mention queso fountains and salsa bars?
The Grand Tasting (Re-imagined) $100 in advance, $125 at the door • San Antonio Ballroom • 7-10pm, Saturday
Serious and newbie food lovers can all get a taste for what San Anto has to offer with this event that combines the best in wine and the city’s food. Taranta Etheredge encourages attendees to really get the most out of their experience by chatting up the chefs. “I think you should talk to your chef. You should talk to them about that dish, and feel like you can appreciate the experience,” she said. “Ask them questions, find out what’s in the dish that you like, explore your own palate. Find out what you like and don’t like.” And don’t forget to pace yourself.
Burgers, BBQ & Beer • $50 in advance, $75 at the door • $10 for minors, free for children 5 and under 1-4pm, Sunday
The barbecue is back on the bill this year. Perhaps the most gluttonous of the week’s events, BB&B is the perfect event to bring several friends. Sharing is caring and those not-so-tiny sliders add up quick. No one can eat that many burgers in a three-hour period. Or rather, maybe they shouldn’t.**The article has been changed to reflect the correct dates for the Texas Folklife Festival