Favorite fare

April 1, 2006
SAN ANTONIO, often referred to as the northernmost city in Mexico, has long been the state's keeper of culinary tradition. Mexican and US Southwestern

SAN ANTONIO, often referred to as the northernmost city in Mexico, has long been the state's keeper of culinary tradition.

Mexican and US Southwestern fare, including barbecue, can be found in abundance throughout the city.

Originally a cast-off cut deemed appropriate only for ranch hands and vaqueros along the border (the lowly skirt steak faja actually means belt in Spanish), the fajita has barely reached the age of maturity in restaurant circles: cafes in the Rio Grande Valley began serving fajitas in the early 70s, and one source credits an Austin entrepreneur with introducing them at regional livestock shows and craft fairs at about the same time.

But it wasn't until decade's end that the dish really took off, and a good case can be made for San Antonio and restaurants on El Mercado's Produce Row as major instigators of the now-wildly popular platter.

Border-based culture has not been the only influence on San Antonio and South Texas foodways, however. The influx of German and Alsatian settlers that began in the mid-1800s also brought with them a taste for simple staples such as sauerkraut, potato salad and, of course, sausage. German brewmeisters, in fact, may have made the most enduring contribution to Texas culture of any ethnic group to date: the bringing of beer to a thirsty and thankful land.

The first brewery was established adjacent to the Alamo in 1855 by German immigrant barrel maker William Menger and his partner Charles Deegan, and it soon became so famous that orders came from all over Texas, and his men delivered the golden brew in wagon trains and even oxcarts. Other ethnic influences on San Antonio's plate are less obvious — until the city's numerous military bases are considered: for a city without a Chinatown there is a remarkable number of Oriental restaurants, such as Vietnamese, Thai, and, increasingly, Korean.

The variety is due in part to war brides, in part to tastes acquired by military personnel in service abroad, and even to Asians who first settled in South America, only to make the trek north from Chile or perhaps Peru.

2006 NTTC Annual Conference Exhibitors

Exhibitor Booth No. See ad page Accuride Corporation 52 ALK Technologies 2 Allegheny Coupling Co 21 Allison Transmission 8 ArvinMeritor 36 & 60 11 Beall Corporation 29 9 Benesch, Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP 41 Bendix 11-12 Betts Industries 1 Brenner Tank, LLC 49-50 18 C & B Transportation 35 Cadec 37 Civacon 32 Dixon Bayco 54 Express Brake Int'l 39 Fort Vale Inc 16 19 Garner Environmental Services Inc 48 Girard Equipment Inc 4 13 Haldex Brake Products Corp 17 5 Heil Trailer International 45-46 Cover 2 Hendrickson International 51 31 Highway Watch 61 Hilb Rogal & Hobbs Transportations 30 The Holland Group 31 J J Keller & Associates Inc 27 LBT Inc 6 Labelmaster 38 47 Lexington Insurance 15 Mack Trucks Inc 33-34 Maddocks Systems Inc 53 Magtec Products Inc 42 McLeod Software 9 Milwaukee Valve 18 National Tank Services 55 PeopleNet 7 15 PSC 5 Polar Tank Truck LLC 23-24 Cover 4 Qualcomm 22 Ridewell Suspensions 19 17 Safety Pumping Systems 44 55 Salco Products Inc 56-57 10 Scully Signal Company 3 SkyBitz Inc 47 Standfast USA 14 45 Stephens Pneumatics 40 TAS Environmental Services LP 43 TMT Software Company 20 TMW Systems 25-26 3 Tripmaster Corporation 28 Truck Lite 13 US Customs & Border Protection 58 XL Insurance 10