My second official Fiesta event of 2009 (part A) was the San Antonio Conservation Society's King's Party. It was held on Tuesday evening on the grounds of NIOSA.
According to the Conservation Society's website, "NIOSA® (pronounced "knee-oh-sa") is a four-night event that celebrates San Antonio's diverse cultural heritiage with 15 ethnic areas that serve fabulous foods in over 250 food booths and provides entertainment to over 85,000 revelers." The King's Party was actually held in an area that was sectioned off from the rest of NIOSA, but it was still right in the middle of things. I suppose it was a party within a party.
(So what's the connection between the two? Funds earned at NIOSA help operate the Conservation Society.)
The most exciting part of this party was seeing what the Old Guard of San Antonio had on. Most of the attendees were professionals - many seemed to be either architects, city employees, or developers. Professions aside, costumes were front and center for this occasion (and they were fantastically cool).
For someone that doesn't care for crowds (I mentioned that already), I sure braved 'em. My friend "D" and I made the rounds, said our hellos and goodbyes and left NIOSA in search of a quieter and calmer atmosphere. We walked a few blocks to Le Frite, a small Belgian bistro just south of downtown. This is where part B of my evening begins.
Owned and operated by one of San Antonio's leading chefs, Damien Vatel*, Le Frite is pleasing in a most understated yet tasteful manner. Chairs and tables one might find in a Parisian cafe create a romantic and warm environment in two intimate rooms. There is a small bar, used mainly for extra seating, and a large chalkboard menu above the kitchen. And while I'm certainly no food critic, I feel like I've been to enough places around the world to know what's good and what's not.
Le Frite is good. And consistently so. I ordered my favorite dish: the mussels/pommes frites. D ordered the steak/pommes frites, another delectable selection. We had dinner inside, but enjoyed coffee outside. The sun had set and it was much cooler by then.
For all those coming to San Antonio to visit (or for all those who want to venture out of their 'hood), remember Le Frite.
*Damien Vatel is also owner of Bistro Vatel, Ciao Lavanderia and Ciel.