Don’t let the German accents of New Braunfels fool you: You can find fantastic Italian fare, and flair, with a side of the Texas Hill Country burg’s legendary laid-back hospitality at 188 South.
With fresh farm-to-table offerings and housemade flavor, 188 South offers fantastic flavor nestled in a unique building that once served as a newspaper office. The exposed red brick, ceiling-mounted posters and wall murals, paired with a great soundtrack of Italian standards and classic tunes from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, makes for a cozy spot. And the deck patio, shaded by the branches of a huge oak, is absolutely made for fun evenings with friends, food and drinks. Newsflash: Happy hour begins at 3 pm and includes both food and drink specials, giving you a great excuse to hit the patio early.
And you’ll want to enjoy the drinks. The cocktail menu is inventive, not surprising when you see the centerpiece behind the bar: A cascade of ice raining down from an upside-down ice machine. The ice – just for looks, not for drinks – creates a cool mountain that’s fun to watch as you sip on The Godfather, Devil’s River Texas Bourbon, lemon juice, agave and amaretto liquor; a Solms 75 (lemoncello, Treaty Oak Waterloo Gin and prosecco) or let your cares drift away on a Comal Float, with Deep Eddy Lime, Topo Chico, lemon and lime soda and grenadine, for a colorful swirl that will make you want to dive in. The wine list – and the staff’s knowledge of it – is equally impressive, featuring wines purposely selected because they’re not available everywhere.
Happy Hour Specials
What to pair with such great drinks? Luckily the options are plentiful. There’s a special happy hour menu, all priced at $8.81 (188 backward!), with some items you’ll only find at happy hour. Pizza #13 includes Italian sausage, dates and goat cheese, a terrific mix of flavor.
Don’t miss the pizza: the restaurant started as a pizzeria and its pizza game is still strong. On the dinner menu, the Margherita features basil grown in-house and the housemade sausage has some of the herbs as well. The Garden pizza combines artichoke, Brussels sprouts and a housemade onion jam for great veggie flavor. And, all of the pizzas can be made gluten-free.
The full menu changes seasonally, so there’s always something new to enjoy. We’re still dreaming of the amazing stuffed mushroom appetizer we enjoyed this summer, with crab, polenta, ricotta and basil, and look forward to its return, but until then, the calamari and tuna tartar will tide us over.
All of the pastas are made in-house as well, giving everything fresh flavor, and include options to customize by adding chicken, shrimp, sausage or scallops. A sure hit – the Chef’s Risotto with shrimp and scallops, Prosciutto and Pea Fettuccini, or Grilled Chicken and Pesto Gnocchi.
Many of the vegetables featured are thanks to the weekly New Braunfels Farmers Market that unfolds between 188 South and its sister restaurant, Krause’s Biergarten and Café, next door. But part of the glow you’ll enjoy at 188 South comes from the fresh herbs filling the windows, growing under lights that from the outside, attract you like a moth to a flame. The microgreens that decorated our appetizers –and that we chowed down on while we were almost licking our plates – were also raised in-house.
Dessert To Linger For
Lingering after dinner is also worthwhile: Espresso paired with the Chocolate Parfait is a must. Chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and whipped crème, topped with a cookie crumble? Order two because you won’t want to share.
188 South is open Tuesday–Sunday, 3pm–9pm and reservations are highly recommended to ensure you don’t have to wait to enjoy. But if you find yourself at the bar, you’ll enjoy the show: the bartenders are fabulous and you can always watch the ice mountain grow.
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Cover photo courtesy Austin McGrew
An award-winning writer and communications expert who runs Tale to Tell Communications, Dawn Robinette loves to tell stories about her adopted hometown of San Antonio. You can read more of her work at Alamo City Moms, San Antonio Woman and Rio Magazine.