Eating Gluten-Free At San Antonio’s The Fruteria (Chef Johnny Fernandez)

Few things are as lovely as a bowl of fresh mixed fruit, with the textures, shapes, and colors of various fruits forming a fruteriamosaic in a bowl or on a plate. I recently enjoyed such a beautiful, delicious bowl of fruit, made even more flavorful by a sprinkling of chili powder and lime, at The Fruteria, a restaurant in San Antonio’s revitalized South Flores area. I read an article about the restaurant in the May edition of San Antonio Magazine. Chef Hernandez modeled The Fruteria after the traditional fruterias in Mexico. Always in search of some interesting restaurant to take my mom, who lives in San Antonio, for our monthly lunch dates. My mom is a special person. In addition to being very special, my mom is very busy. Between her schedule and mine, finding time to spend together is difficult. To remedy this situation, I decided to give my mom and twelve lunches for Christmas, to be spread out over the course of the year: one lunch a month. This year is the second year I’ve given her this gift, and the commitment to lunching monthly (my treat!) works. We’ve not missed a month yet.

fruteria3The Fruteria has separate lunch and dinner menus. This past spring, my Celiac daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Michael, spent a weekend in San Antonio. While there, they ate dinner at The Fruteria. Elizabeth reported to me that the restaurant is fairly gluten-friendly; she found a number of gluten-free options on the dinner menu. Among her favorite offerings that just happened to be gluten-free  were the huitlacoche con rajas y salsa de elote (corn truffles with roasted poblanos, sweet corn cream, queso fresco, crema) and the queso panela con pepitas y miel (fresh cheese crusted in pumpkin seeds, honey, tamarind sauce). Elizabeth and Michael raved about the quality of the food and the service at The Fruteria, so I chose the restaurant for my May lunch with Mom.

We arrived at the restaurant at about 11:45 am, and the place was nearly full. The patio was empty, however, so we decided to sit outside. The view is nothing spectacular, just a city street in a previously neglected part of the city, but neither is it completely unpleasant. This older part of San Antonio, with houses that appear to date to the early part of the 20th century, and the occasional palm tree growing tall in yards or along the curb, actually reminds me of some parts of the city of Savannah, GA (where my mom grew up). We were waited on immediately upon being seated. We chose to begin our meal with glasses of watermelon agua fresca. The drinks were refreshing. The tostadas are gluten-free; I ordered the chicken tinga tostada (chicken with salsa chipotle, avocado cream, lettuce, shredded vegetables, queso fresco). The ingredients were fresh and attractively arranged upon the corn shell. It was also very flavorful.

fruteria4In addition to the tostada, I ordered a fruit cup with chili and lime. A hint about ordering the fruit cup: it’s actually a rather large bowl of (mixed) fruit! Between the tostada and the fruit cup,

fruteria5I was quite full by the time we walked out of the restaurant. It was a pleasing, satisfying type of full, however; not that heavy kind of chips and salsa – chicken enchilada – rice and beans- sleepy kind of full. As an aside, I must mention that the four people seated at a table near the one at which my mom and I sat ordered salads. Those salads were generous in size, as well. Soon I hope to return to The Fruteria for dinner, to try the corn truffles and a salad!

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