While in San Antonio visiting my family over the holidays, my sister and brother-in-law took my husband and I to a restaurant they both had been raving about for months called La Gloria Ice House. Located on the historic grounds of the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, Texas, La Gloria offers authentic street foods of Mexico in a festive atmosphere. Chef Johnny Hernandez's love for authentic Mexican cooking began with his father's restaurant in the Westside neighborhood of San Antonio. Surrounded by a community of first generation Mexican-Americans, Hernandez was exposed to many of the foods and traditions from Mexico. Along with his culinary education from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and experience in prestigious restaurants in Las Vegas and California, Chef Hernandez gains inspiration from his travels throughout Mexico. In 1994, Hernandez opened True Flavors Catering, which became nationally recognized for its excellence creating buzz all throughout San Antonio. Chef Johnny Hernandez opened La Gloria in May of 2010, and has been thriving since.
Walking into La Gloria Ice House you immediately take in the colorful and festive atmosphere. Hungry after traveling all morning from the East Coast, each menu item looked more delicious than the last. My brother-in-law made the first move and ordered the Molcajetes, which according to their menu is the dish that the Mayan Indians traditionally made by using carved volcanic stone to keep the dish extremely hot, the origins of the mortar and pestle tool used today. First we sampled the Puerco en Chiles - pork simmered in chile and spices served to us piping hot and bubbling in a stone mortar. The next item that arrived was the Queso Molcajetes, which was an entire dish of melted, almost fried, cheese. Both dishes were served with fresh corn and flour tortillas. What a divine way to start the meal!
We quickly finished up both of the Molcajetes. The Puerco en Chiles was spicy and sweet all at once, while the Queso was literally like a buttery heaven. After our appetizers, our entrees hit the table, which included my sister's Pescado Baja Califas – fresh fish, battered then drizzled with crema de chile chipotle and my brother-in-law's Torta Ahogada de Carnitas – tender slow cooked pork served in an artisan hearty bread with a flavorful chipotle sauce. The Pescado Baja Cailfas or fish tacos were fresh and beautifully constructed making this classic Mexican street food shine. The Torta Ahogada de Carnitas sounds intimidating but the concept is simply a pork sandwich with complex flavors of intense chipotle and bright citrus.
For my entree, I went for the Mexican Pizza Tradicional – black beans, shredded queso Oaxaca, avocado, lettuce and tomatoes. What made this dish so irresistible was the simple concept combined with the right ingredients. This Mexican pizza was more amazing than any I have had before because it was made Oaxaca, which is a mild Mexican cheese but when it is melted it becomes buttery with a hint of sweetness. My husband's dish, the Dorados de Pollo Verde – crispy chicken tacos with tomatillo salsa garnished with queso fresco y crema, was stunning on the plate. The chicken wrapped in the flour tortillas rested on a bed of green tomatillo sauce and then topped with Oaxaca and a white crema sauce. On the plate, this entree was as visually appealing as it was tasty.
Often when visiting San Antonio, we end up going to restaurants offering Tex-Mex cuisine instead of authentic Mexican. Authentic Mexican is hard to find but when you do it is completely worth it. Other than the tacos, Mexican pizzas, Mexican sandwiches and Molcajetes, La Gloria offers many other classics such as their Quesadillas. A variety of quesadillas are on the menu, which represent the styles of different regions in Mexico like Chicharrón – a queso Oaxaca quesadilla filled with simmered pork rinds in green tomatillo sauce and Sincronizada – Flour tortillas filled with ham & queso manchego. The variety does not stop there. The menu continues with street foods like Panuchos- Gordita made with masa filled with black beans and various toppings, Tostadas- also known as “chalupas,” a crispy corn tortilla with various toppings or Sopes- thick corn tortillas with a rim to hold in all the good stuff.
With the friendly service, fun atmosphere, delicious flavors and pure authenticity, you are sure to have a memorable meal at La Gloria. If you find yourself in or near San Antonio, then I highly recommend you stop for lunch or dinner. I know we will definitely make La Gloria Ice House a regular dining spot during our visits to Texas.
La Gloria Ice House
100 East Grayson
San Antonio, TX 78215
210 267 9040