Loco for Local

Photo by Wendi Dunlap, Flickr username litlnemo

My name is Donna Tuttle, and I have a confession to make.

I was once a mall rat, circa 1983.

Location of crime: Lincoln Mall in Woonsocket, R.I., where V-neck velour-sweatered adolescent boys could check their hair in the nearly blinding  reflection of the Maybelline Roll-On Kissing Potion-slathered lips of teenaged girls.

Nowadays, I’d rather poke my eyes out with large knitting needles than go to the mall, or even the grocery store. With every passing year, I find a growing appreciation for the small shops and vendors, who offer quality local products and genuine, personal service.

This year, I’ve found some new San Antonio favorites to share along with some old standbys. This isn’t a commercial endorsement, but a list of some of the Alamo City faces and places that make me smile instead of reach for my supersize bottle of Ibuprofen.

* Get Nailed on Broadway: I’ve been going here for more than 10 years, but I couldn’t start a list like this without a special nod to my hairdresser, Johna. She’s a sole proprietor of her own hair business out of a little nail salon, located in a funky yellow house on Broadway. She is an awesome highlight artist, reasonably priced, makes my appointments months in advance, never makes me wait and, more importantly, isn’t a big yakker.

* Brown Coffee Co. on W. Kings Highway: Owner Aaron Blanco is kind of like Bill Nye the Science Guy for coffee lovers. He buys his beans seasonally from around the world and roasts them in his little facility tucked away in the Deco District of San Antonio. He teaches customers about the art of coffee, whips up poetic espressos, and has taken my taste buds to new heights. I order two pounds of the Kenya online, he emails me when it’s ready and I drop by to pick up the coffee, sealed in sleek silver bags.

Kings Court Frankfurter Express: You don’t have to worry about crazy, multilevel menus. Kings Court only offers one food genre — hotdogs. So on a nice day,  I can walk to this little neighborhood gem and pick up a Chicago-style hotdog, with neon-green relish, a pickle and tomatoes.  I take along my newspapers and magazines and eat at the outside counter built into the front porch and watch the neighbors walk by.

Bric Brac N Brass: Wedding? Shower? Retirement? I almost always head to this tiny shop located near the Quarry Market. The selection is manageable, not overwhelming, the items are beautiful and the gift wrapping is gorgeous. No waiting in line. No parking lot gymnastics.

Bolner’s Meat Market: My friend Tanji Patton turned me on to this nearly 100-year-old family meat market in San Antonio. The best filet mignons and diablos ever. And the butchers there really help when you’re stumped. They will season and vacuum-pack your purchases. Hint: Buy a little cup of homemade banana pudding while you shop.

The Filling Station: You can smell this sandwich shop before you see it in Southtown because the owners bake their own sandwich rolls, which are warm and fluffy, and awesome pies. The shop is located, in — you guessed it — an old gas station, giving the place lots of character.

Let’s go local. Tell me some of your favorite spaces and places…..


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~ by Donna J. Tuttle on December 30, 2009.

5 Responses to “Loco for Local”

  1. Donna, I LOVE Brown Coffee Co. too. Aaron makes coffee fun (and great!) again and his recently roasted Winter Blend is now my very favorite drink (even over chardonnay, and that’s sayin’ somethin’.). In fact, I’m brewing a pot right now!

    I also love Local Coffee, a new, locally-owned coffee house with free WiFi in Stone Oak (on Sonterra Blvd). Their coffee is delish but, unfortunately, it’s not roasted in San Antonio (comes from a roaster in Houston). Now, if Local Coffee served Brown Coffee Co. beans? THAT would be Loco for Local Heaven.

    I love supporting local businesses too and that’s why I recommend http://madeinsatx.com. They list local businesses for free and they get the word out about them on their blog and with their Twitter account.

    I started a Twitter list of all the businesses, non-profits and organizations I find that are on Twitter. You can visit it at: http://twitter.com/colleenpence/lists/san-antonio-businesses

    What a great post. I can’t wait to read more comments here about other readers’ favorite local places!

  2. I am so grateful for this post. I have not been to any of those places so I have a great list new shops and stores to go to in 2010!

    Happy New Year Donna!

  3. Thanks for the tip about the local cofee roaster!

    If you ever want a local pastery to go with that coffee, try Bistro Bakery on McCullough – at the traffic circle.

  4. Donna, love the way you identified some of the jewels of Southtown. La Frite has some if not the best food in town. They are on S. Alamo. They are a Belgian cafe – pretty close to French. Best fries in town.

  5. Sugarbakers, owned by Bill & Barbara Harris, makes the world’s most delicious deserts ever. They’re native San Antonio restaurateurs, and give their place that personal touch. You can’t beat a box of Barbara’s cookies! Off Basse Road behind the Quarry (across from the theater). Open until 8PM weekdays and Sat., close earlier on Sunday, but I can’t remember when…

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