by Aliyah Armstrong | staff writer
Address: 54th Street Grill & Bar: 22902 US Highway 281 North, Stone Oak. San Antonio, Texas, 78258. 210-499-5454; www.54thstreetgrill.com
Price range: Soups and salads, $4.29-$10.99; burgers and sandwiches, $6.99-$11.69; main dishes $8.99-$17.49
Rating: (no stars) I cannot recommend this restaurant at this time.
⋆⋆ Very good.
My Rating: ⋆ Good
If the oddity of an assortment of cars and planes hanging from the ceiling doesn’t draw you in, maybe the allure of jalapeño bacon will.
When 54th Street Grill and Bar opened its first location in San Antonio, it quickly became a crowd favorite. Now that one has recently opened in the Johnson area, students and their families are filling the tables as an alternative to the typical chains.
54th Street is a small chain originally based in Kansas City, MO. It boasts a relaxed, casual setting with American Casual fare and eclectic decor.
The random vehicles and modes of transportation hanging from the ceiling and the framed portraits of famous actors, musicians, and athletes cluttering the walls are definitely striking when you first walk in. There’s not a blank space on any wall. I have to admit, it’s a little weird but the decor definitely fits the atmosphere the restaurant is going for.
The service at 54th Street is casual like the restaurant suggests. Our server was polite and prompt, he didn’t stop to have a long conversation with us even though the restaurant wasn’t that busy at 6:00 on a Tuesday night.
Once you get over the strange decor, finding something to order is a challenge in itself because of the sizable menu that included everything from salads to Mexican food to pastas.
If anything, start with the “famous” Gringo Dip. It comes with a red salsa and tortilla chips for dipping and it reminds me a lot of the homemade queso made out of RoTel Tomatoes and Velveeta someone brings to a potluck. That being said, 54th Street does elevate what could have been a basic queso. The Gringo Dip is slightly spicy and very creamy and the more you eat it, the better it gets which makes it quite addicting. The flavor of fresh cilantro is very present in the dip due to the pico de gallo.
You also can’t go wrong with the Blackened Cajun Burger for dinner. I ordered the 8 oz burger (it comes in 8 oz and 6 oz) cooked to medium and it was cooked perfectly. The presentation was eye-catching with all the curly onion strings sitting on top and the bun open to showcase the beautiful burger. The combination of the nicely charred burger and the melty, gooey, and surprisingly not spicy pepper jack cheese on a toasted sesame seed bun made for a messy but delicious burger. Even given all of those things, the highlight of this burger was definitely the bacon. It was not enough for it to just have bacon on it, the jalapeño bacon takes it to a whole other level. The crispy bacon has the flavor of jalapeño and adds a nice smoky element to the burger. The heat from the jalapeño appears to be nonexistent but is in fact delayed, saving the burger from being overwhelmingly spicy. The burger comes with the standard fries, crispy and seasoned but very potato-y and nothing really that special to self-proclaimed french fry aficionado but as some would say, it’s the burger that really matters. The only downfall of this burger is that you can’t taste the beautiful crispy onion strings, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.
I have to say after trying the aforementioned dishes, the Pacific Fish Tacos were disappointing. The green bell pepper overtook the entire taco including the tilapia which was too delicate for this taco, even fried. The breading wasn’t crispy and I’m pretty sure no part of the fish was seasoned which they attempted to cover up with an excessive amount of lime juice. The red pepper sauce tasted a lot like the Rattlesnake Pasta sauce which I found interesting. Really, the tacos were nothing special and simply just fell flat. They really were from a Gringo’s Mexican kitchen.
Overall, the oddity of the decor, the good service, and the great food provide for a pleasant dining experience so 54th Street is definitely worth the try.