A few months back I went to the annual San Antonio Tamale festival and found a booth for Max’s Wine Dive that had a pretty unique tasting spiced beef with a green chili sauce instead of the mounds of tamales that surrounded me, so I decided to give the actual restaurant a try. Max’s is located behind the Quarry Market just off of 281. When you walk in you don’t really get the “this is a restaurant” feel to it. It looks more like a wine or martini bar. It also looks like it is trying to be a little more upscale than it actually is. The decor and overall feel of the place is slightly pretentious which was a bit of a letdown after reading the menu and seeing things like fried chicken, burgers and fries and Shrimp and grits. I was expecting more of a home comfort food type of feel to the restaurant. Putting that aside I sat down and ordered the fried chicken and mashed potatoes and decided to try some of their French fries while I was waiting. Now you would think that it would be hard to mess up French fries but they somehow managed to get it wrong on several levels. First the person adding the special seasoning was pretty heavy handed and second it seemed like they dropped them in the oil to cook, took them out and let them sit for a few minutes and then dropped them back in the oil to cook again creating a completely oil saturated mess that sat very heavy on my usually very cast iron stomach.
Now comes the main course that I have been waiting for and from the looks of it, it is going to be great. The waitress sits down a plate of beautifully fried chicken with a side of mashed potatoes and a side of collard greens. Who could ask for anything more? The first thing I tried was the mashed potatoes and to my surprise they were very thick and I am pretty sure that they came from a box. So I moved to the collard greens and again was shocked to taste that familiar tinny taste that comes from most canned goods. Now I am starting to get worried because so far two of the three components on the plate have been major let downs. Well I put the two sides behind me and started digging in to the chicken. First off I notice that it is very crunchy which is a good thing and the meat is very tender and juicy which is another good thing. But… the flavor is off. I take another couple of bites and finally place it. It has that cafeteria/ buffet taste to it. Not the advertised famous buttermilk jalapeno breading flavor that I was hoping for. For a fifteen dollar a plate meal I was hoping for much more than 2 pieces of cafeteria chicken and canned or boxed sides.
Overall Max’s Wine Dive was a huge let down and even though I have heard that they have great burgers I doubt I will ever be making a return trip to test them out. With average food and high prices (for what you get) along with the somewhat snooty vibe of the restaurant I will put this on the no return list for SA Dining.
At 8142 Broadway street in San Antonio sits a small but friendly little empanada restaurant called Beto’s Empanadas that has been around since 1997. Don’t let the small interior fool you though, this little place packs a lot of flavor and has a pretty large outdoor patio in the back for party’s and live music on the weekends. Beto’s has been recommended by several friends and was featured on Food Networks Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and has a reputation for having the best empanadas in town. So naturally I had to try it. I will tell you right off though, if you are looking for a fine dining restaurant this is not it. Beto’s is a laid back homey type of place that is all about the food and not so much about the décor. When you look at the menu you see right away that they do a lot more than just empanadas. You can get burgers, tacos, quesadillas, salads and soups too. I would recommend going with one of Beto’s combo plates. This way you can choose 1, 2 or 3 of any combination of empanadas, tacos and quesadillas and rice, beans and a drink. This will allow you to try several things at once.
Now let’s get to the real reason we are here, the food. I chose the Combo #3 and had 1 grilled fish taco, 1 carne asada quesadilla and 1 beef and Red chile empanada for my main dishes. I wanted to try a little bit of everything to get a nice round opinion of the place. Now I have to tell you that I was pretty surprised when they brought out the plate and I saw the portions. It is a nice amount of food and it is all made fresh to order. The beef and chile empanada was incredible and had just the right amount of seasoning and the empanada crust almost melts in your mouth. The quesadilla was just a standard quesadilla and was probably the lowest point of the meal. While I have had better fish tacos this one was not bad at all. It wasn’t quite as flavorful as I like but still stood out on the plate. The cilantro cole-slaw that they top the fish taco with was very tasty and unique and is what made it really stand out. So at this point I thought that it was a pretty good experience overall and might be worth coming back to. Then I decided to order desert. First let me tell you that when you order one of their desert empanadas do it about half way through the meal as they are made to order and take some time to cook. That was you won’t be waiting around like I was. I ordered a Banana with Leche Quemada (Mexican milk fudge)and pecans. One bite of this made me forget the rest of the meal and decide that this is the real reason people come to Beto’s. The banana wasn’t over powering like a lot of banana based deserts and the entire thing melted in your mouth. The flavor of the Leche Quemada was nothing less than heavenly. This is one of those dishes that you are afraid to try again because you know there is no way it could ever be that good again.
So is Beto’s somewhere I would be willing to go to again? You better believe it. The dessert empanadas alone are worth it. Like I said before, it is not a fancy place but the food is out of this world. If you are looking for something to do some Saturday afternoon and want to treat yourself to something sweet it is well worth the trip. You won’t be disappointed.
Thanks for reading,
SA Dining has been set up so that you can enjoy the experiences and tastes of the many different restaurants in and around the San Antonio, TX area. I will share my experiences with you as I visit new places and let you know what I think overall and if it is somewhere to revisit. I am not a self-proclaimed “foodie”, just someone who enjoys good food, fun, and a unique dining experience that wants to share it with others. Expect to see a very large variety of food and restaurant types as I go through the city. I plan on taking you to everything from fine dining to the local dives and everything in between. If you like good food and an honest opinion then come back and check out my latest food adventure.
So sit back, buckle up and enjoy the ride as I take you around the city.