Last week, while clinging to a rock wall nearly 40 feet from the ground, I had the most glorious view of my lunch. My stomach growling, I rappelled back down, never losing sight of my bánh mì tacos as they waited for me at my table in 5.ATE Café, which sits inside InSPIRE Rock Indoor Climbing and Team Building Center. This Spring-area restaurant, whose name is a play on words (5.8 is a rating on the Yosemite Decimal System, which numerically describes the difficulty of rope-assisted climbs), serves up a serious selection of internationally inspired dishes.
But 5.ATE Café is not just for climbers who need to replenish calories burned. With its eclectic menu and made-fresh-daily philosophy, it has garnered a lunch crowd of mostly non-climbers. Paul Short, owner of InSPIRE and 5.ATE Café, says there’s a special synergy between the rock gym and restaurant. “Climbing is a social activity. Eating is a social activity," he explains. "Wonderful times are shared on the rocks and over food, so we’re lucky to have the best of both under one roof.”
5.ATE Café’s menu includes a subtle infusion of climbing terminology, with dishes like the Hueco Tanks Burger, which jolts taste buds with its fire-roasted green chiles, jalapeño ranch dressing and pepper jack cheese. Its namesake—a famous climbing destination in West Texas near the New Mexico border (hence, the green chiles). And then there’s the Shar-warma Burger, its name a clever blend of shawarma, the Middle Eastern dish, and Chris Sharma, one of the world’s greatest rock climbers.
The café also offers a wide selection of pizzas and sandwiches, such as the Vietnamese Bánh Mì Tacos. This dish, which also comes on a roll or in a wrap, mixes marinated pork belly with spicy paté mayo, pickled daikon, cilantro, jalapeños and Sriracha sauce. Or, try the PB&J— no, not the PB&J you used to eat in grade school, but rather a pork belly and jalapeño sandwich. 5.ATE Café also offers vegetarian options, like the Caprese wrap and meatless pizzas.
The monthly burger specials reflect the kitchen crew’s boldness and creativity. This month, it’s the Oktoberfest burger, topped with beer cheese sauce, sliced bratwurst and sauerkraut. You’ll want to add this substantial burger to your list of local Oktoberfest must-haves.
Short has announced plans to open two more InSPIRE rock gyms—one in Cypress, near 290 and Fry Road, and another in San Antonio. Both locations will initially include a coffee bar and possibly, in the future, a 5.ATE Café as well. You can keep your fingers crossed, just not when you’re grasping climbing holds 40 feet up a rock wall.