Perry’s, Molina’s, King Lou’s Soul Food, Angel’s Mexican Haven and Maverick Texas Brasserie

Adella Miesner

Note: The Express-News is suspending traditional restaurant reviews until restaurant dining rooms fully reopen. Table of Contents 5 San Antonio restaurants for great bone-in pork chops: Perry’s, Molina’s, King Lou’s Soul Food, Angel’s Mexican Haven and Maverick Texas Brasserie5 San Antonio restaurants for great bone-in pork chops: Perry’s, Molina’s, King […]

Note: The Express-News is suspending traditional restaurant reviews until restaurant dining rooms fully reopen.

Help me unpack the enigma of the bone-in pork chop taco. Is it really a taco if you can’t just fold it up and go to town? Or is it just a tortilla and a pork chop, sharing the same space but living separate lives?

Alma Martinez has no time for your riddles. She’s been making bone-in pork chop tacos for 17 years at her East Side cafe Angel’s Mexican Haven. And she has six words for you: “The bone is the best part.”

She’s right. It doesn’t matter where a pork chop lands, the bone is where it’s at.

A bone-in pork chop is comfortable sitting in a tortilla or smothered in gravy or grilled over an oak fire. It doesn’t care how much money you make, whether you’re in work boots or heels or even if you’re eating lunch at a gas station. The bone-in pork chop is here for all of it.

These five San Antonio restaurants understand that a good pork chop starts with the bone and goes from there. And you should go with it.

Angel’s Mexican Haven

Business is booming at Angel’s Mexican Haven. Every table not marked with a big red X was full for a recent weekday breakfast, the same day the governor announced restaurants could expand from 50 percent capacity to 75 percent.

It’s a modest cafe, but the bone-in pork chops are majestic, as big as your hand, breaded and fried to a crunchy bronze, holding their juice under a crispy armor.

While I appreciate the simplicity of a taco using that chop on a fresh flour tortilla ($5.25), the best way to experience it is alongside huevos rancheros served sunnyside-up on a breakfast plate that includes fried potatoes, refried beans and tortillas ($8.75).

2302 E. Commerce St., 210-224-4500, Facebook: Angels Mexican Haven. Dine-in, curbside and third-party delivery available.

King Lou’s Soul Food & BBQ

Two months ago, after retiring from the Army, David Lewis moved his King Lou’s Soul Food & BBQ from Killeen to San Antonio, operating out of the First Stop Food Store on the East Side. Working with business partner Robert Stewart from a little corner of the convenience store where they’ve set up a stove, a grill and a steam case full of side dishes, Lewis pulls big flavor from a pair of bone-in pork chops smothered in tangy onion gravy.

For $13.25, the plate comes with two sides, and I liked the Cajun-style dirty rice and sweet, syrupy candied yams so much that I also ordered a brisket plate to try the collard greens and mac and cheese, too — and they were even better.

Inside First Stop Food Store, 2553 E. Houston St., 210-965-9564, Facebook: King Lou’s Soul Food and BBQ. Curbside and third-party delivery available.

Maverick Texas Brasserie

Although Maverick Texas Brasserie went dark for the summer because of the pandemic, it came roaring back to Southtown last month with the same swanky blend of downtown style and robust chophouse cooking that landed it on the list of the city’s best restaurants in the Express-News “Top 100 Dining & Drinks” guide last year.

Maverick’s live-fire grill transformed a double Duroc pork chop ($25) into a gilded work of art, with a caramelized sear of salt and pepper and a lush, ivory interior. Sides come separately, and you’ll want sauteed forest mushrooms ($9) and green beans with cherry tomatoes and blistered shishito peppers ($9).

710 S. St. Mary’s St., 210-973-6050, Dine-in, curbside and third-party delivery available.

Molina’s San Antonio Country Store

The beauty of having a butcher shop and a cafe inside a downtown gas station is that when you order a pork chop plate, they take the thin pink chops straight from the display case to the grill. Six minutes later, those chops are seared, seasoned and sitting next to dirty rice and buttered corn with hot flour tortillas for $6.79.

The other beautiful thing? You’ve got shelves full of Takis, cookies and Mexican Coke to make your lunch complete.

700 N. Alamo St., 210-343-5147, Dine-in and takeout available.

Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille

The first time I had a pork chop at Perry’s, they brought out a pork roast four bones high, and a guy with the biggest wristwatch I’ve ever seen carved it tableside. Perry’s is a steakhouse, but they’ve turned that pork chop into a cult. I’m a member.

At dinner, it’s $44. And in this dining room that looks like a banquet hall from the Titanic, it’s worth it. But on Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and on Wednesdays, too, for takeout), they serve a lunch-size pork chop that’s still more than you can finish for $16. Brined, smoked, glazed and grilled, it’s a symphony of savory, sweet and swanky.

15900 La Cantera Parkway, Suite 22200, 210-558-6161, Dine-in, curbside and third-party delivery available.

Mike Sutter is a food and drink reporter and restaurant critic in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. To read more from Mike, become a subscriber. [email protected] | Twitter: @fedmanwalking | Instagram: @fedmanwalking

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