Neighborhood Eats' Fantastic fan tour begins at Viola's Ventanas
A painting of Viola Barrios hangs in a San Antonio restaurant she never had the chance to see.
At a glance, there's strength and compassion to begin the frame of reference outlining her life.
"It's called Loaves and Fishes," Louis Barrios said. "It's where Jesus took the five loaves and two fish and fed 5,000 men, women and children. My mother started with a little and fed a lot of people."
The painting is filled with symbolism including a blue aura presenting the favor God on the late businesswoman's life. Her son, Louis, said the wife and mother of three never lost her joy even after her husband was killed by a drunk driver.
Viola's Ventanas was a natural progression in the Los Barrios restaurant dynasty. It was restaurant three in their local chain of four.
"She worked very, very, very, hard....first doing up to 10 jobs a day," Louis said.
He recalled when his mother had only two employees. Today they employ 350.
The restaurant is like a grand and luxurious Spanish lake house at 9660 Westover Hills Blvd. There are elegant touches reminiscent of The McNay Art Museum or La Mansion Del Rio. The place even has a 9,000-square-foot patio and a wall his mother could have never afforded growing up in Mexico.
A fountain outside trickles like a stream with four hearts that say love, faith, joy and a combination of all of those in honor of Viola Barrios.
Barrios' painting looks out of huge windows (Ventanas) and her customers. The customers, in turn, can see the fruit of her labor.
"My mother was 48-years-old when she started Los Barrios with $3,000," Louis said." She worked for 30 years until 11:30 or midnight."
Viola's Ventanas offers some of the same favorites from the Los Barrios recipe arsenal. To make her special place standout, Louis said the menu incorporated food their mother cooked for them as children.
Neighborhood Eats invited another hardworking woman to help us with our taste test. Beatrice Guerrero is the first fan to join us on the job.
Guerrero who we surprised with her new job description is the head custodian for the athletics department at the San Antonio Independent School District. Guerrero has been with the district for 23 years. Under SAISD's Great Employees Modelings our Standards awards, the mother and grandmother was recently named Employee of the year in the classified personnel category.
We were provided a huge sampler from Viola Ventanas starting with a Tex-Mex enchilada and a puffy taco. Guerrero said it was awesome!
Neighborhood Eats shared a classic assortment of five different kinds of enchiladas (Ranchera, Mexicana, Verde, Poblana, and Tex-Mex.) coupled with beans and guacamole salad. We agree they were delicious!
Bring on the Milanesa a con Papas: Chicken fried steak or breast of chicken butter fried with a coat of batter served with sliced potatoes, Spanish rice, and avocado salad. Wonderful!
Finally, Cabrito en Salsa: Monterrey style goat with salsa ranchera and traditional sides. An apprehensive Guerrero had never tried goat before. The Cabrito en Salsa is sensational!
Neighborhood Eats salutes the diligence of Viola Barrios and Beatrice Guerrero.
That's this week's edition of Neighborhood Eats. If you have a tip for Marvin please send him an email (Mhurst@kens5.com), (@mhurstkens5) or post it on his Facebook page. #KENS5EATS