Located on the north side of San Antonio, the Beverage Bar & Café combines the best that coffee bars, juice bars, and wine bars offer, including a variety of drinks and freshly made food. Comfortable seating and entertainment — in the form of two TVs, a Wii gaming center, several board games, and free wi-fi — up the ante.
San Antonio locals Craig and Michelle Richard were motivated to open the restaurant (near the intersection of Thousand Oaks and Jones Maltsberger at the site of the old Pizza Italia) in response to the lack of fresh food options in the area. They strive to use vendors rooted in San Antonio, and their coffee is even roasted locally.
The Beverage Bar opens at 6:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday (7 a.m on Sundays), but prep begins long before that. Staff arrive and prepare the day’s selections, which range from lasagna to chicken salad. Offerings can be viewed in the glass display case, varying according to popular demand and whether or not an item has sold out; as the menu explains, limited quantities are made each day out of concern for overall quality. Items served hot are reheated as they are ordered.
Food and drink choices are listed on three LCD screens that rotate quickly, making the screens more of a distraction than a reference (they do have printed menus available for food allowing more leisurely consideration, however).
Thinking this would be a good spot for casual family dining, we stopped by one evening. The Wii area and games were a hit with the youngsters in our group. There is good visibility from most anywhere in the restaurant, so parents can grab a bite and relax in view of the game areas. The staff was also helpful in assisting with the Wii setup.
With all the choices before me, I decided on the curry chicken salad. Nice big meaty pieces of chicken nearly floated in a well-flavored mixture that was just a little too heavy on the mayonnaise to stand alone. Typically bread is not served with this — it’s just a heaping scoop of chicken salad on a lettuce leaf, but a server kindly offered me a choice of bread, freshly warmed and sliced, when I requested backup.
The agua fresca flavor for that day was watermelon — excelente. It was sweet, crisp, and refreshing. Pecan pie caught my eye for dessert. The filling was reminiscent of caramel and it was covered with crisped pecans.
The only downfall of the evening was that the kitchen ran out of macaroni and cheese; moreover, we weren’t informed until about 10 minutes after we ordered. The substituted grilled cheese sandwich came out in a reasonable amount of time.
Another diner left hungry that night after she had given the kitchen a second chance to heat up a serving of lasagna but found it still cold in the middle on take two.
Beverage Bar & Café also offers several wine and beer selections, including Texas wines, and domestic and imported beer. Spinach artichoke dip with tortilla chips is among the foods listed under the wine pairings. Another nice perk is that orders can be taken online, minutes or days ahead of time.
With so much to choose from, I paid the café another visit to home in on the coffee-bar aspect. Beverage Bar offers all the traditional coffee drinks you’d expect, plus horchata, a traditional rice drink, and miscela, a frozen, blended coffee beverage. Tempted by various syrup flavors, I settled on an Irish Creme latte with an extra shot of espresso, and for eats, the “sinny” buns — think of a cinnamon toast twist on the traditional English muffin. Crumbly brown sugar is dusted over the top, toasted almonds dot the sugar, and the muffin is accompanied by a side of cream cheese. The brown sugar doesn’t stay on very well, unless the cream cheese is used as an adhesive, but the bun was warm and sweet — always a welcome combination in the morning.
I also wanted a little substance with my spice, so I ordered the “kickin’” corn strata, an egg bake with pepper jack cheese and jalapeno peppers. The first bite revealed an undercooked mushy bread soaked with egg batter. The server apologetically took it back to reheat it, but returned later to report that it still wasn’t right and, in fact, the entire pan of corn strata was in the same condition. She replaced it with breakfast tacos — bacon, egg and cheese. If you’re looking for authentic breakfast tacos, this isn’t the place. But since you can’t get a cappuccino at most taco shops, it could work, depending your priorities. •
The Beverage Bar & Café
2950 Thousand Oaks, Ste 10
THE SKINNY: Breakfast, lunch, dinner and a variety of beverages in a friendly setting.
BEST BETS: Grab a coffee and baked item on the go, or stay for the pulled pork sandwich and a slice of pie.
HOURS: 6:30am – 9pm Mon-Thurs, 6:30am – 11pm Fri & Sat, 7am - 7pm Sun
PRICES: $1.50 - $6.50