wrote San Antonio Magazine when explaining why Two Step Restaurant made their Critic’s Choice list of “Top 10 New Restaurants for 2012.” And the writer further elaborated by saying that “The stone structure of the 1889 homestead that now houses Two Step imbues the restaurant with gritty Western spirit; the menu’s modern twists give it an updated vibe. Chef Steve Warner and his wife Adrienne Muñoz, both native Texans, use some family recipes, lots of tried-and-true smoke and years of professional cooking experience to effectively present a different but familiar Lone Star dining experience…”
“Six years ago developer Steve Braha bought a piece of property…He intended to create a retail and service mall. What's unusual is that the site included the remnants of a stone house and barn from the 1860’s. And what's more unusual is he committed to retain these buildings and make them into the centerpiece of the mall--a South Texas style bar and restaurant” (Richard Teitz at sacurrent.com).
“Two Step Restaurant and Cantina is constructed from a homestead originally built in the 1850’s by early American pioneers and German immigrants, Philipp and Carolina (Braun) Ruempel. Philipp and Carolina were among the earliest settlers of Helotes, Texas. After marrying in 1869, they raised ten children in the Ruempel homestead and remained there for the rest of their lives. The restaurant is constructed from what originally functioned as a house and barn…” (twosteprestaurant.com).
“Where others might have seen limestone rubble, Braha saw an opportunity to repurpose an historical property. His patience paid off, and he carefully retained and repaired exterior walls, while using interior walls to create a new bar area.
“The large, main dining room that was the barn is linked to the house by a new metal structure that provides the reception area and a big, open grilling space. A series of glass garage doors allows the dining room to open out on a patio…
“…No pretension here. The flooring is poured and stained concrete, the high-ceiling ductwork is exposed,
the tables are polished wood without cloths.
The walls present a wonderful series of Texas subjects by San Antonio photographer Rick Hunter — cattle, people, landscapes…” (Richard Teitz at sacurrent.com).
“…The construction of Two Step Restaurant and Cantina is in accordance with the guidelines of the San Antonio Conservation Society and has been completed with the utmost respect for the original structure. Exterior walls have been preserved as well as original roofing where possible. All materials required to be taken down were repurposed in other areas of the restaurant” (twosteprestaurant.com).
San Antonio Magazine was not the only one to recognize Two Step. It was named one of the “Top 5 New Restaurants of 2012” in the San Antonio Express News Reader's Poll; is considered one of the “Top 200 Restaurant Bars in America 2013” on Urbanspoon; was voted “Best Margarita in San Antonio” and the “Best Restaurant Margarita”; and was voted “Best Burger in the City” in the San Antonio Magazine Annual Best in the City Poll.
This visit (on Easter Sunday, explaining the presence of a guy in a rabbit suit) was not our first to Two Step. (But all evidence of the first disappeared along with our camera.) At the first meal, Chuck ordered the chicken fried steak and I the Bowers “Top Fed” Texas Farm-Raised Fried Catfish. And while we both enjoyed those meals, we thought we would try something different.
While reading the menu, I felt in the need of some “Quality Urgent Care” and threw caution to the wind and started with a Bloody Mary. I had my choice of a “concoct my own” or the “house standard.” I chose the latter and was glad that I did. Finally, a bartender that knows that there is more to a good Bloody Mary than a lot of hot sauce. This one was medium spicy and was made with plenty of Worcestershire—a taste that I really like.
I was planning to make a meal of a couple of appetizers and was mentally debating between the Gulf Shrimp “Firecrackers” with red pepper jelly, the Hot-N-Crunchy Chicken on a Stick, the Pulled Pork Sliders with jalapeno cole slaw, or the Texas Rolls (filled with onions, bell peppers, smoked sausage, chicken, and brisket) served with red pepper jelly and roasted poblano-avocado sauce. And then I saw a plate passing by on its way to another table.
“What is that?” I asked our server, Guy. (More on Guy later.) “It’s our Chipotle Ranch Chicken Sandwich with avocado, bacon, and fried egg,” was his response. I so had to have that.
The sandwich arrived with a steak knife protruding like Excalibur from the stone. And I quickly understood why. There is no way one could pick up the whole sandwich and eat. So I began by cutting it in half. Still way too messy. So I tackled it with knife and fork. Much easier.
This was delicious. Seasoned juicy grilled chicken, creamy avocado, spicy chipotle ranch, smoky bacon, and a runny fried egg. What’s not to like?
With my sandwich came a side of jalapeno slaw—shredded green and red cabbage with carrot and julienned jalapeno peppers for added oomph.
Chuck was about to order half of a smoked chicken until I pointed out the Plato de Caballero with a choice of two meats (brisket, sausage or pulled pork) and two sides (potato salad, beans, mashed potatoes or jalapeno coleslaw). Much more interesting than chicken. And he agreed and ordered the sausage and pulled pork with—no surprise here—potato salad and mashed potatoes!
The sausage was a savory and juicy beef and pork mix that was seasoned with just enough pepper. And the pulled pork—a smoked meat not often found in Texas—was full of “barky” pieces. (In Kansas City and Texas you will find on many barbecue restaurant menus something called “burnt ends”. This is basically a dish of barky bits from the brisket. If only some restaurant could find a way to do the same thing with pulled pork. I would be one happy eater.) And both were lightly covered with a sauce that wasn’t too sweet, too acidic, or too thick and syrupy.
I had only a very small taste of his potato salad. Not enough to determine what it contained but enough to know that it was delicious. And the skin on mashed potatoes were good. If mashed potatoes are your thing.
Now you might think that after all of this food we wouldn’t have room for dessert. You would be so wrong. Our server Guy recommended either the Pecan Pie a la Mode or the Cinnamon and Raisin Bread Pudding and, to my surprise, Chuck agreed to share the pecan pie. It’s not that he doesn’t like pecan pie, he just happens to be ambivalent about it.
But not this one. First, it didn’t have that overwhelming sweetness that so many do. Second, you could taste a good quantity of butter in the filling. Third, there was a deep toasted nut taste running all the way through. And, while most pecan pies are at most an inch thick, this was double that for double the deliciousness.
And our already 5.0 Addie experience was only enhanced by our server—Guy. He, along with Bren at Ancora (New Orleans) and Andres at Five Star Burgers (Albuquerque), is one of the best servers we have encountered. Each of his tables received the same level of friendly attentiveness without his being over the top or intrusive. This is a fine line that only the best of servers manage, and he did it extremely well.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.