The Bitter End Bistro and Brewery 311 Colorado, 478-2337
Open Monday-Thursday, 11:30am-midnight; Friday, 11:30am-2am; Saturday & Sunday, 2pm-2am
Chef Emmett Fox undoubtedly presents the classiest, most upscale beer-drinking food downtown. For his summer menu, Fox is blanching, slicing, and roasting as wide a selection of fresh, local produce as he possibly can. You'll find a terrific Salad Niçoise ($8.50) with crisply blanched green beans, topped with a grilled Tuna Filet. There are also slices of Fresh Mozzarella and Roasted Eggplant ($6.50) highlighted with vine-ripened, oven-roasted balsamic tomatoes. Both dishes come with a stoutly tart sourdough bread from the wood-fired oven. I'm particularly pleased with the big improvement in the Charcuterie Taster ($5.50), which features flavorful duck liver paté, homemade sausage, and barbecued pork with one of their big, warm, chewy homemade pretzels and some stone-ground mustard. Great with or without beer.
The Waterloo Brewing Company 401 Guadalupe, 477-1836
Open daily 11am-2am; kitchen closes earlier on weeknights
History is still the focus of the big, sprawling Waterloo menu, but the food is somewhat better these days. There are some tasty nachos topped with barbecued chicken ($4.50) that complement the house beers very nicely. The Pub Sandwiches pack enormous servings of thinly sliced meats; the turkey and cheddar ($5.50; $3.10 for half) with an order of crisp onion rings (included as a sandwich side, or $2.95 a la carte) makes a great meal. Try the chicken-fried steak sandwich ($4.25); it's a healthy-sized, tender, fried patty on a good quality locally made bun. There is also a perfectly respectable hamburger ($5.25) with fries, and several Mexican food choices are available. Reasonable prices make this place a popular lunch spot with the downtown office crowd.
The Copper Tank Brewing Company 504 Trinity, 478-8444
Open Monday-Friday, 11am-2am; Sat-Sun, 3pm-2am
Chef Jay Nash has been in the Copper Tank kitchen for the past few months putting out a menu of appetizers, soups and salads, burgers and sandwiches, pizzas, entrées, and desserts. Many of the menu items are accompanied with Copper Tank Beer Bread that is made fresh daily in the fully equipped baking area in their kitchen. You'll find beer in several of the menu items: There are excellent Beer Batter Onion Rings ($3.25) served with an apple-horseradish dipping sauce that doesn't do them justice; Queso con Cerveza ($2.25), a tasty concoction of queso sauce, chiles, and White Tail Ale with corn tortilla chips for dipping; French Onion Beer Soup ($3.75), the classic soup richly flavored with their Big Dog Brown Ale; and Fish & Chips ($6.95), sweet catfish fillets in the delicate, tempura-like White Tail Ale batter served with wonderful, steak-cut, ranch-fried potatoes and a fine homemade tartar sauce on the side. All items can be ordered to go. - Virginia B. Wood
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