Drinking Houston Bar Review: Springbok South African Kitchen

Springbok South African Kitchen hosted the Houston Food Blogger Collective, so I had to tag along to try a few of their proprietary cocktails, as well as my old standbys to see how well Springbok crafts their cocktails.

It’s in downtown Houston, so I don’t have a reason to go there as much as I would like, but it’s worth the trip. Go eat dinner and have a couple of cocktails at Springbok, then walk down main until you get to Moving Sidewalk or Captain Foxheart’s.

The food at Springbok

First, let’s get the food out of the way.

Frying bread is genius, by the way.
Fried bread filled with spicy ground meat. I mean spicy ground goodness!

It’s good, okay?

Nuff said.

They even showed us how they make the special South African jerky, and then let us try it. And it was damn good. Everything is spicy in just the right way. The bread was excellent, especially when fried.

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Go there to eat. It’s all worth it.

But make sure you have a few cocktails, too.

The cocktails at Springbok

They can make anything, though. Give 'em a challenge!
The cocktail menu at Springbok

They started us off with the Springbok Mule, which had an interesting twist: Fernet Branca. Those of you who read my blog know I have a love/hate relationship with this stuff. Pretty much, I hate it by itself, but I love a touch of it in anything. And putting it into a Moscow Mule is pretty much putting it in anything, if you ask me. Maybe I will go to some highfalutin cocktail bar and they will have a Gin and Tonic with Fernet in it. As long as they credit me, who cares?

Maybe the Fernet thing has gone a bit too far?

The problem is that it works. Springbok mixes it with rye and Goya ginger beer, which is excellently spicy, too. It adds just the right amount of menthol and mint flavor to make it a tad different.

The Springbok Mule with rye, Fernet Branca, and Goya ginger beer
The Springbok Mule with rye, Fernet Branca, and Goya ginger beer

Then I had to try the Zulu Warrior. With tequila, yellow Chartreuse, lime, grapefruit, and more Goya ginger beer, this drink was excellent. The best I had all night, in fact. I love Chartreuse, as you guys well know. Both kinds. And this drink had it all: the sweet, the sour, the spicy, the herbal. Really, it hit every taste bud imaginable.

The Dutch don't stand a chance against these warriors.
The Zulu Warrior cocktail with tequila, yellow Chartreuse, lime, grapefruit, and Goya ginger beer

Then I headed upstairs, and they have an entire bar up there, too! Here, I talked with the bartender a while, and when he told me that his favorite drink to make was an Old Fashioned, I had to take him up on it.

Pour it, man! Pour it!
Making an Old Fashioned the right way: sugar, bitters, rye, and an orange peel.

Old Overholt is their well rye, so it started off very, very good. Just a touch of simple syrup, which is fine, and a few dashes of bitters. Not quite as spicy as I usually make my own Old Fashioneds, but still competent. He knew what he was doing.

Be sure to watch the Metro train go by.
The view from the upstairs deck of Springbok.

And while you’re up there, you can check out the view of Houston’s metro rail from their second-story deck. And then head back inside to play some ping pong. Or, if you go on Friday, you can pay the $5 to get upstairs and see whatever band is playing.

Just don't play against me. I'm a ringer when it comes to the little balls.
You can even play ping pong for who buys the next round.

Springbok is worth it. Most of us know nothing about South African cuisine, so I can’t comment on how Springbok compares to other South African food, but as a restaurant all its own, it’s great.

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