Iconic Comfort Food

by Meredith Kay | November 4, 2020 | '09 Eats

The Alamo. The Missions. The Riverwalk.

These are San Antonio’s most beloved icons. We live in a city steeped in history and culture, and there are many places that define our roots and make us proud to live here. The world is moving pretty fast these days, even as we’ve been forced to slow down and rethink the way we do things during this pandemic. However, several local businesses have withstood the world’s changes to become iconic, and Josephine Street restaurant has definitely earned its place on that list as a heritage restaurant.

Josephine Street opened its doors in 1979 in a unique building that had been vacant for many years as the giant oak tree growing through the middle of the building continued to reach for the heavens. Originally built in 1909, the building was home to Finck’s Meat Market for decades. When Pat Molak and Mary Jane Malley decided to open their Josephine Street eatery, they wanted to preserve the history and the integrity of the tree. However, the tree eventually succumbed to nature, and although it’s no longer alive, the owners have reinforced it and kept it as the centerpiece of the restaurant.

Inside, the restaurant is cozy and intimate. The wood floors have seen better days, and they aren’t as level as they once were, but the rustic charm is warm and inviting, just like the friendly staff that will greet you as if you were family. The enticing aroma of homemade cooking will immediately strike you, and the menus on the wall announce the specials of the day and their Josephine Street favorites.

Jake Molak, the Manager of Quality, describes Josephine Street as a “blue-collar steakhouse,” serving affordable home-cooked meals that keep you coming back for more. Their Black Angus Prime New York Strip, one of their most popular dishes, is simply cooked to order on a flat top grill and topped with their signature lemon butter.

Jake states, “We keep it simple and let the beef speak for itself. Our goal is consistency. It’s what keeps customers coming back.”

Another favorite is their Chicken Fried Steak. It’s as big as your face and smothered in a delicious cream gravy that would make your grandma proud. Many restaurants overlook the breading, and it comes out if the gravy isn’t seasoned just right, but at Josephine Street, no culinary detail is overlooked. Even the thick-cut onion rings are seasoned to perfection. Other menu standouts include their Cheeseburgers, the Country Club, and their delicious Blackened Gulf Coast Redfish. All of the entrées come with your choice of side, one of which is their outstanding homemade pinto beans.

The menu features something for everyone but focuses on those tried and true favorites that appeal to our blended Texican culture here in South Texas. From the 16 oz. Texas T-Bone to the Pollo Verde, you’re sure to find something to please even the pickiest eaters. Start with a San Antonio Fiesta favorite, the Beef Anticuchos, or the Sausage & Queso Platter, and don’t you dare miss out on dessert and the Josephine Street Jack Daniels Pecan Pie.

There’s a reason that Josephine Street has been a San Antonio favorite for over 40 years, and their goal is to be around for another 40 years. The menu stays true to its roots, serving great home-style comfort food at affordable prices in a comfortable and eclectic atmosphere. Just like that old oak tree will forever be a part of that old building, Josephine Street restaurant will continue to be an integral member of the San Antonio heritage restaurant family for many generations to come.

By Meredith Kay

Photography by Al Rendon

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Half Texan on her mama’s side, Meredith grew up in Southern California and graduated from Pepperdine University, with a degree in Advertising. This allowed her to use words creatively, and to find her voice as a writer. She is a food enthusiast, and will eat anything but broccoli. Meredith has an incurable case of wanderlust, and she loves to cook, travel and eat. She spends her days raising two kids, and rescuing as many dogs as possible. She wanders the streets of San Antonio, and the rest of the world when she can, searching for great restaurants, tasty cocktails and interesting people. She is also still waiting for Shiner Bock to make her their official spokesperson.

Read more from Meredith Kay
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Al Rendon is a cultural documentary photographer with a studio in historic Southtown San Antonio. A native San Antonian, Al captures the people and culture that surround him in this graceful, expressive city. His understanding of his hometown merges with more than 30 years of professional photographic experience to fully document any event or cultural expression he is covering.

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