Review: San Antonio’s Lucy Cooper’s Ice House North Side restaurant and bar succeeds despite its rid
Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Content produced by Paul Stephen
Updated 2:00 pm CST, Friday, December 28, 2018
Note: This is a Just a Taste review, which the Express-News does soon after a restaurant or bar opens to give our first impressions.
The sprawling compound at 16080 San Pedro Ave. between Brook Hollow Boulevard and Thousand Oaks Drive has worn a lot of hats in the past few years. It’s been an Outback Steakhouse, a Mexican restaurant and a New Mexico-inspired eatery.
The latest occupant, Lucy Cooper’s Ice House, has only been open for a couple weeks, but it already seems better integrated with the property than some of the former occupants. The place is clearly designed for folks to kick back with a few cold beers, shoot a game of pool or chill out at a picnic table on an expansive attached deck — the last of which was remarkably easy to do on my visit during an unseasonably warm late December afternoon.
Lucy Cooper’s bills itself as mainly a bar made in the classic Texas ice house model, and in many ways it is — until the menu shows up, that is.
On the menu: Yes, you can get a burger or pizza, a plate of nachos or wings at Lucy Cooper’s. But that oversimplifies what is one of the more unusual menus to debut in San Antonio in some time.
The offerings at Lucy Cooper’s read like a greatest hits list of social media food trends from the past few years. Bacon on a clothesline. A burger with Krispy Kreme doughnuts standing in for the bun. A variation on the Trash Can Nachos popularized by Guy Fieri. Mac and cheese cooked on a waffle iron. A quick Google search on more than half the menu takes all the wind out of any notion that Lucy Cooper’s is doing anything genuinely inventive, even if the dishes retain a degree of whimsey.
The Boodreaux’s Clothes Line Bacon ($10), for example, delivered five slabs of glistening pork dangling by clothespins from a wire configured like a miniature clothes line. It was delicious — because who doesn’t like salt, fat and sugar? — even if it was lifted from the charismatic chef David Burke, who’s credited with developing the dish in 2014.
The Krispy Kreme Brunch Burger ($14) was less successful, the doughnut buns tough, dry and sticky under an excess of meat and fried egg. The Waffled Mac and Cheese ($10) was also a miss, short on flavor and seasoning with a coarse texture that wasn’t helped by an awkward side of ranch dipping sauce.
I did enjoy the Cooper’s Tin Can Nachos ($12). It’s a completely unnecessary construction of tortilla chips, beef, beans, pickled jalapeños and other ingredients piled into a large tin can with both ends removed. When it arrived, my server lifted the can to reveal a dramatic tower of nachos that quickly tumbled into an everyday pile of nachos that also happened to be quite satisfying.
When it comes to cocktails, there isn’t much to say. The entire lineup is served in Mason jars, which necessitates an excessive quantity of ice to fill the pint-size pours. I tried the signature Cooper’s Cooler ($12) and Blood and Sand ($14). The former suggested a boozy Capri Sun, while the latter was a bland and watered down thing that did the classic cocktail of the same name little justice.
It’s not all gimmicky hijinks at Lucy Cooper’s. The restaurant serves a heartfelt tribute to the melange of seafood, corn and potatoes known as Frogmore Stew or Low Country Boil in South Carolina and Georgia. I ordered a half pound of Low Country Shrimp ($12) and found the simple and earnest presentation refreshing after the assault of Instagram-ready affairs.
The Tequila Lime & Jalapeño Cluckers ($11) was an honest basket of fried chicken wings doused in a sauce any San Antonian could appreciate. The Prime Rib Pizza ($14) surprised me with a very competent crust topped in savory shaved beef, cheese and caramelized onions. It’s one of the better nonpizzeria pizzas I’ve had in a while, and it’s a generous size for the price, to boot.
It’s easy to have a good time at Lucy Cooper’s. The environment is undeniably fun, and for the most part, the food is well prepared — even if it is basking in borrowed valor.
Location: 16080 San Pedro Ave., 210-462-1894, Facebook: lucycooperstexasicehouse
Hours: 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday through Sunday. Brunch served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Paul Stephen is a staff writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @pjbites | Instagram: @pjstephen
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