Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery
136 E Grayson St #120
San Antonio, Texas
Visited on October 30, 2016
The Pearl Brewery was established in downtown San Antonio in 1883. Though it’s changed names a few times over the past 134 years and took a stint making sparkling water and dry cleaning clothing during Prohibition, it made it through that colossal mistake and continued making beer into the 21st Century.
In 1969, the brewery was acquired by Southdown, a giant conglomerate that started out in the sugar industry, before being sold to General Brewing of San Francisco in 1977, which eventually became Pabst Brewing Company. As a last ditch effort to save that company, Pabst decided to close all of their breweries and outsource production.
So it was that after 118 years of brewing along the San Antonio River, the Pearl Brewery finally closed its doors in 2001. But it was not the end.
Like any rapidly growing metro area, developers quickly saw the well-kept building for what it was…a gold mine. The next decade saw the brewing campus transformed into a bustling hub of activity featuring 324 apartments, 15 restaurants and cafes, 13 retailers, 18 businesses and – as I can attest to – a bustling farmers market on the weekends.
In 2015, brewing finally returned to the campus with the opening of Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery. And in 2016, I ate and drank there.
I was taken off guard by just how busy this entire campus is. Giant parking lots overflow as cars circle the maze to find a spot. People are everywhere. Everywhere is everywhere – it’s extremely easy to get lost. It took me a solid 15 minutes to even find the damn place. But it was a brilliant meander through a beautiful campus.
As one might expect of an upscale restaurant during a farmer’s market, the place was packed. I was pretty damn hungry after a 10 mile run that morning, so this did not bode well. Luckily, as is usually the case with solo dining, it was not a problem to slide into the bar immediately.
The menu had a plethora of delicious sounding bites, and I was more than ready to tackle several of them. I eventually settled on a crispy fried chicken sandwich complete with bacon and all the fixins. There might have been a side of jalapeno white cheddar grits as well…
The food was a tad dry, but otherwise outstanding. The sandwich was definitely a knife-and-fork affair, as I couldn’t possibly get my mouth around the entire thing. The grits were smooth and creamy, and overall the food was grade A quality.
There beer was…pretty good. They had plenty of varieties, which I appreciate, with nearly a dozen beers on tap. After ordering a sampler and clearly taking my time to try to figure out which to get, the server/bartender/cashier gracefully offered a few extra samples on the side for free – excellent service.
I still ended up ordering two full flights, working my way through lagers, ambers, IPAs and the like. To this day, nothing really stands out as being excellent or all that interesting, but I also don’t remember anything sucking outright.
I’d go back in a heartbeat.