I recently invited a friend to dine at The Monterey with me, and he said, "Oh, no. Please tell me you’re not taking me to yet another Mexican restaurant in San Antonio!" That's not what this place is at all. This little gastropub/beer garden isn't named for the Mexican town of Monterrey but for the vintage Mercury Monterey that's parked out front. Like the old car, this little nose-to-tail joint is pure Americana. Most of the action is outside, in what looks like anybody's backyard. Indoors, there's a small section of seating around the bar in a building that looks like a retro-mod Howard Johnson's diner. Actually, it's an old Sunglo gas station, with all the mid-century "Mad Men" touches that are so popular these days. The owners insist that their food be delicious, inexpensive, and fun. They're also keen on good wines and cold brews. The menu features unusual options like griddled house Spam, or barbecued chicken thigh with roasted corn cake, charred tomatillo-avocado salad, and cilantro jus. There are tasty vegetarian options, too, like grilled winter squash with chiles, wild rice granola, and crema. A favorite of hipster types and twenty-something locals, this no-reservations restaurant is a place of little surprises and unexpected culinary delights. It's also the perfect spot on those hot San Antonio days when a cold beer sounds just about right. I'm going back as soon as I can—with or without my friend.