| Two Peppers |
1917 N. New Braunfels
Two Peppers is a hidden little jewel of a restaurant nestled one block south of the Fort Sam Houston entrance in the generally overlooked Government Hill district. The neighborhood is considered “emerging,” which is an odd way of describing it because one can sense that its heyday is well behind it. Old buildings, from shacks to mansions, fill up the small neighborhood and create an interesting tension. It might seem odd to mention this when reviewing a restaurant but the act of getting to and discovering Two Peppers is part of the joy of the end experience.
Tito, the owner/manager/occasional chef, warmly greeted us and gave us a seat by the window. As I waited for the menu to arrive, I let my eyes wander around the place. The old brick and stucco walls gave the room a reassuring weight; the décor was personal and familial.
Hanging from the ceiling was a metal Manu Ginobili sculpture that went along with several Ginobili photos placed at different points around the restaurant. There were other celebrity photos — Charles Bronson, Dustin Hoffman, Rudolf Valentino, and, most importantly, Frank Sinatra (does that not scream authenticity?). Their presence made the restaurant seem even more wonderfully out of place, but I’ll get back to Ol’ Blue Eyes in a second…
The waiter brought an order of lightly toasted bread with parmesan and olive oil to start things off, and then stuck around to discuss the menu, which is not one but many things. The specialty is clearly Italian food, featuring pizza, pasta, veal, shrimp, chicken, and best of all, natural hormone-free beef. Some of the beef dishes are made in an Argentinean style which begins to explain the Ginobili connection, and as I later learned, the tango dancing that is known to combust on Friday nights.
The menu’s back page offered a modest sampling of Mexican food but it wasn’t the standard Tex-Mex. I tried a chicken mole, which had hints of orange and cinnamon. It was mild in a good way and, like everything else about the place, unusual and pleasantly unexpected. My friends ordered pizza, which was very well received, and a pasta ziti with meat sauce, which wasn’t as well received. They had a little bit of drama going on between them so I’m going to hold the verdict on the pasta.
At the register I got a chance to chat with Tito and he explained the photos and back story. He moved to San Antonio in the ’70s from New York City and Pennsylvania, where he ran a hotel restaurant where he met all of the celebrities. There are plenty of other mysteries about the place that elude me. I’m excited to go back, but if you don’t trust me, go read what Frank Sinatra had to say.
— mark jones