- Ana Aguirre
It seems ridiculous that San Antonio had to wait so long for The Luxury, renowned chef Andrew Weissman’s (Sandbar, Il Sogno) latest effort to cater to the masses. The funky shipping container concept took about two years longer than expected to open on an asphalt patch between the San Antonio River and 1221 Broadway lofts.
When the property finally debuted in March, the long delay dissipated into a distant memory. The open-air spot, utilizing two separate containers for kitchen and bar, and an all-outdoor serving area, recalls Southtown’s beloved La Tuna Bar and Grill, only with swankier options for both dining and drinking.
At surprisingly low — but not dirt-cheap — price points, the changing menu focuses on salads and sandwiches, with a few sides and desserts. Before my first visit, I’d been warned about small portion sizes, so I chose the bound-to-be-hearty Pulled Pig sandwich. Turns out I shouldn’t have worried. Most sandwiches ordered by our group came overstuffed, the exception being a divinely rich Taleggio grilled cheese. My Pulled Pig satisfied, but a French fry-stuffed lamb souvlaki, and garlicky griddled steak were much tastier displays of kitchen ingenuity.
On my return I ordered the crispy fish banh mi. It deservedly claims the top spot on the Luxury’s chalkboard menu. The breaded and fried white fish is absolutely crispy, not soggy, and the piles of herbs, including the traditional cilantro and Thai basil, made for a well-balanced spin on this Vietnamese classic. I would ditch the fried egg: its runny yolk required a knife and fork to handle the sandwich, negating the whole point of the culinary invention. Otherwise, I’m excited to return for the new tofu option. On the salad side, the sweet-tart kale version, spiked with cranberries and Parmesan, scored, but a watery Pura Vida salad, with corn, tomato, hearts of palm, and out-of-place walnuts, missed. My group was also underwhelmed with the Milanesa and the Tico (a Caribbean riff on the beloved torta), perhaps because so many exquisite varieties of both abound in this city, for a helluva lot less than $9 or $8 a pop. The salted caramel chocolate pudding, however, is even better than it sounds and worth every penny.
Whether you’re day drinking and playing bocce ball on the property’s courts or washing down your dinner, the Luxury’s wine and beer bar is almost pitch perfect. There are some pricey imported ales on tap, but most beers stay in the $4-6 range, with Mickey’s (yes, that Mickey’s) at a mere $2.50. Wines are more problematic. Once rumored to have been “on tap,” that idea was quickly nixed, and now only full or half-bottles are available, with no by-the-glass options.
While no one should go to the laid-back, order-up Luxury expecting the superb service and attention to detail lavished on patrons of Weissman’s more upscale joints, this spot fills a void both physically and conceptually, marrying San Antonio’s ice house tradition to our culinary zeitgeist.
103 E Jones