GOLIAD — Mediocrity isn’t on the menu at Goliad’s Mustang Cantina.

“We’re going for the best restaurant in South Texas,” said owner Scotty Light, of San Antonio.

About 14 years after buying the location, Light is just beginning to put the final touches on the Mustang Cantina, 306 S. Commercial St. Since then, his location has featured a bar for only about two years and a restaurant for less than one.

Light is working to complete his vision by making an adjacent building into a hotel. Work there is underway.

Built in the 1890s, the former mercantile shop turned restaurant is practically half antique with its aged hardwood floors, heirloom windows, a door taken from the nearby historic courthouse and walls fashioned from bricks reclaimed from a centuries-old mission.

“This is all old, seasoned stuff,” said Light.

But all those old storied materials pale in comparison to a discovery made by Light and his wife as they refurbished the wall along the restaurant’s expansive patio.

Patsy Pittman Light, an avocational historian, said she was shocked to discover a painted billboard-sized wall advertisement for Durham Tobacco dating to the start of the 20th century.

“Oh my gosh,” she said, recalling her surprise.

On the patio, diners are free to take in the restored advertisement.

“By the time we uncovered it, there was no one alive who remembered it,” she said.

Also on the patio are tastefully modern sunshades and a bubbling fountain.

Beneath the restaurant’s inside dining area, a cool and quiet wine cellar is available to rent, offering an ideal space for receptions, parties and meetings, said Scotty Light.

But diners will find the restaurant does more than merely stimulate the imagination.

Thirsty customers can escape the South Texas heat by indulging in a bar that offers beer, wine and a handful of signature cocktails, including a colorful, layered drink known as the “La Bahia Sunrise” after a nearby Spanish fortress.

“People love it,” said Aly Hodges, kitchen manager.

The menu offers traditional American dishes such as steak, meatloaf and french fries and some intriguing game-inspired items like quail poppers and bison sliders.

Whether customers are looking for a full dinner experience or just to nibble at the bar, they should leave satisfied, Hodges said.

“It’s simple country food,” she said. “We have a lot of home cooking, but it’s also classy.”

Jon Wilcox reports on courts for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached jwilcox@vicad.com or 361-580-6515.

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Jon covers crime, public safety and the courts at the Victoria Advocate. Born in Huntsville, Ala., he grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism at Texas State University.

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