Everyone knows about the concept of “comfort food.” These are the dishes that create a blend of nostalgia and euphoria for a person in every bite. They are warm blankets on cold days on a plate. Everyone’s aware, right?
Well, Downstairs at the Esquire Tavern they have taken the concept of comfort food to the next level with their new Tuesday night specials: Champagne and fried chicken! But first, a little about the venue.
Opened in 1933 at the end of Prohibition, the Esquire Tavern is one of the oldest and most beloved dining and drinking institutions in all of San Antonio. With its intimate atmosphere, specialized food and drink menu, and laid-back – yet somehow boisterous – atmosphere, the Esquire hearkens back to the days of speakeasy, gangster molls, and good times.
I can remember coming to the Esquire Tavern “back in the day,” as they say. However, this version of the Esquire is vastly different from what I remember. When the Esquire re-opened in 2011, they vastly improved the menu and the look of the joint.
Now, as it was back in 1933, the Esquire is the place to be in San Antonio.
Right, let’s talk Champagne and fried chicken.
The owners opened up Downstairs at the Esquire in 2016 to give visitors an even more intimate setting to hangout with a small group of friends down near the historic San Antonio Riverwalk.
In September, Downstairs began a unique menu item, the aforementioned Champagne and fried chicken combo. Guests at Downstairs will get a complimentary order of delicious, piping-hot, delicious, seasoned-perfection, juicy, delicious – did I mention delicious – fried chicken with the purchase of any glass or bottle of Champagne.
This special deal runs only on Tuesdays from 5:00-11:30pm. The important thing to remember here is that you cannot get Executive Chef Brooke Smith’s fried chicken outside of the Tuesday special. As someone who has sampled some of this chicken, you’re going to want some.
Crispy, flavorful crust with succulent, juicy thigh and drumstick meat that pair amazingly with Champagne. There are eight Champagnes – you have to choose Champagne, not cava or prosecco – that you can choose from and they pair fantastically with the best fried chicken that money cannot buy.
The Champagnes you can select from to get the fried chicken – the delicious fried chicken – include:
- Aubry Premier Cru Brut
- Jean Vesselle Brut Rosé De Saignée
- Henri Billot Grand Cru Brut Reserve
- Robert Moncuit Grand Cru Blanc De Blancs
- Savart Premier Cru L’Accomplie
- Laherte Frères Les 7
- J. Lassalle Premier Cru Brut Special Club
The savory, salty, heat from the fried chicken – I will refrain from using the word “delicious” again – is the perfect complement to the cool Champagne. A glass costs $22 and will get you two pieces of fried chicken. Bottles start at $50 and get you four pieces of golden fried goodness.
If you are in the downtown area of San Antonio on a Tuesday, make it a point to stop by the Esquire.
Eric Moreno is a freelance writer based in San Antonio. He is an amateur chicken-fried steak and doughnut scholar and a devoted lifetime fan of UTSA Football (Go Runners) • Visit his writer’s portfolio site and follow him on Twitter