Taste Test: How to Cool Down a Spicy Mouth
Friendly, casual restaurant featuring a variety of games and comfort food
TBD Bar + Social opened up just in time for St. Patrick’s day, and features an extensive array of games (including an extra-large game of Battleship) and fun feature acts every night of the week, like karaoke or live music. The restaurant itself features an extensive menu of tacos, burgers, and tasty appetizers like loaded potato skins and French fries -- what really sets TBD apart, though, is the excellent drinks list, with a fully loaded Bloody Mary on offer that will knock your socks off. TBD also has an excellent patio, with a firepit, televisions, cornhole, and comfortable seating all around (and dogs are welcome).
Scenic, family-friendly bar and restaurant in a historic house in Yanaguana Garden
Con Safos serves up a variety of new and classic Mexican dishes, including a pan dulce burger and rich chorizo fried rice. As Con Safos is located in the Hemisfair district drinks can be taken “to go” if you’re hankering for a walk around the park. Con Safos itself serves up frozen margaritas, and 50 different types of beer (including one brewed specially by Southerleigh, appropriately called “Con Safos”). The restaurant is kid-friendly, too, and there’s a park and splashpad situated directly out front, meaning the whole family has a chance to relax.
Relaxed, high-concept spot serving seasonal Southern fare
Run by husband and wife (and chef!) team Elise and John Russ, Clementine takes traditional Southern dishes – including seafood and steak – and elevates them to another level. In particular, the Atlantic Swordfish (served with couscous and ratatouille) tastes fresh off the boat. Clementine is where you go if you want good food, well picked drinks, and the intimate feeling of knowing you are at a restaurant that no one else knows about yet.
Savory ramen served in a basic, no-frills location
Ito Ramen may be one of the most authentic ramen houses in San Antonio. Located on the Northside, Ito Ramen’s housed in an intimate (read: small) space that maxes out at 30 people. The staff are very friendly, and the spicy tonkotsu ramen is hot and flavorful, with delicately soft boiled eggs and just enough spice to clear the sinuses. Ito Ramen initially opened with just a few items on the menu, but has gone from strength to strength by slowly adding new options – including classic Japanese comfort fare like fried chicken gyoza.
Fashionable, French-meets-Texan food mashup in modern environs
Maverick Brasserie is one of the latest and greatest additions to Southtown, offering a unique French-Texas (Frexas? Tench?) menu in addition to a vast menu of drinks. The restaurant features a mid-century modern rustic aesthetic, and combines 1920s style with more modern accents. If you’re looking for something less than a full meal, Maverick offers a large, graceful bar at the front, and a casual back patio with several benches and tables. There’s also a large and diverse wine menu, with a solid selection of wines from Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Germany, in addition to the expected French varietals. Expect French classics like Salad Lyonnaise and Steak Frites on the menu, in addition to decidedly Texan dishes like Texas quail with citrus and fennel and seasonal Gulf Coast fish filet.
Charming seaside themed spot for fresh, upscale Mexican seafood
Villa Rica’s a joint venture between Chef Johnny Hernandez and a prolific family of restaurateurs in Veracruz, Mexico. As such, you’ll find a number of traditional coastal Mexican dishes on the menu, including a few different types of ceviche; Ceviche Veracruzano is one of the more popular options, and features tangy lime-marinated fish mixed with a heap of tomato, avocado, cilantro, and onion. The fish is selected fresh daily, and everything on the menu is incredibly refreshing on a hot day, especially when mixed with one of the house mojitos or tart pisco sours.
Elegant & classic steakhouse focused on traditional cuts and local Texas vibes
Every hamlet, town, and city in Texas has a steakhouse (or three). Despite only being open for less than a year, Range has knocked it out of the park with its refreshed take on the basics. Range is located in the former Luke space, and while the belt-driven fans, honeycomb tile, and old fashioned bar are still in place, the restaurant itself has been redesigned to create a slightly darker, more intimate atmosphere with dark blue accents, and added mirrors and granite. The juicy cuts of steak here are served exactly to taste, which means you needn’t fear overdone cuts of rubber. The meat is sourced from a variety of specialty farms -- including a few local ranches in Texas -- and the ribs in particular (hailing from Grand Island, Nebraska) are perfectly cooked and fall off the bone. In addition to meats, the menu has a full seafood bar, and offers a range of diverse choices, including the must-try Lobster Enchilada.
Modern Italian food & handmade pastas in a restored firehouse
Battalion has possibly the coolest location on this list: a restored firehouse in the heart of Southtown. The fireman’s pole is still there, but the whole place has been redone in modern, luxurious style. The pasta is the star of the show, and so it should be; you’ll find a range of different handmade pasta styles represented on the menu, including a rich pumpkin lasagna with pork sausage, and savory bucatini ai frutti di mare with clam and octopus. The servings are a bit smaller, so be sure to order multiple entrees and get ready to share tapas-style. The drinks menu is extensive, meanwhile, and includes classic wine and cocktails served in steel tumblers. Protip: Parking can sometimes be a bit difficult, so be sure to get there early.
Upmarket food hall with options for everyone
The food hall at The Pearl technically contains five different food stalls, as well as an aesthetically pleasing marble-covered bar offering a range of local beers and wines. Bud’s Southern Rotisserie offers southern classics like melt-in-your-mouth rotisserie chicken with a side of greens, candied yams, or mashed potatoes. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious you can follow your Bud’s meal up with one of the handmade donuts at Maybelle’s, which come in a range of creative flavors including key lime, cinnamon roll, and strawberry shortcake. Tenko Ramen serves bowls of hot, savory ramen, including an unbeatable Tokyo Shoyu that comes with some of the best marinated eggs in the city. The Good Kind offers healthy alternatives (and includes vegetarian options) such as avocado toast, free range chicken stew, and cold pressed juices and smoothies. Fletcher’s hawks classic American hamburgers, hot dogs, and perfectly salted fries. You can choose to eat inside the food hall, or move outside to one of the many outdoor tables in the center of the Pearl’s courtyard and enjoy some of the best people watching in San Antonio.
Homey and savory Irish comfort food in a cool, dark pub
Francis Bogside was previously known as Brigid, and was rebuilt from the ground up after it burned down back in 2016. The moody pub atmosphere is equally comfortable in summer or winter, and there are several cozy private nooks for a more intimate dinner -- if, however, you’re in the mood for banter, the kidney-shaped bar is large and open. The food is comprised of classic Irish staples (including Bangers and Mash, and Shepherd’s Pie) in addition to some adopted staples like Yardbird Curry and Thai Fried Chicken. Their version of the Scotch egg (“Scotchantonio Egg”) is especially delicious and comforting -- even more so when complemented by a crisp pint of Guinness.
Elevated southern food served with flourish (and beer)
One of The Pearl’s newer restaurants, Southerleigh dishes up what chef Jeff Balfour calls "Texas cross-cultural cuisine” and a dozen or so original beers brewed on the premises. The broad and easily navigable menu features hearty fare -- oxtail pie, steak, and fried chicken, plus an array of fish and seafood -- as well as unique smaller plates such as roasted beets and a wood-fired pretzel, all with recommended beer pairings. Housed in the old Pearl Brewery itself, Southerleigh is as much worth visiting for its architecture, ambience, and design as it is for its consistently good food.
Modern Mexican regional food that changes with the seasons
While there’s nothing wrong with a heaping plate of cheesy enchiladas, sometimes it’s nice to go for more nuanced Mexican food. The food and spirits menus at Mixtli draw from a variety of Mexico's regions, resulting in diverse pork, beef, and chicken dishes, creative sharing plates, and authentic desserts. Focusing on sustainable sourcing and featuring a menu that changes with the seasons and chef's ideas, Mixtli delivers consistency while offering eating and drinking experiences that are never the same thing twice.
Contemporary and classic cuisine served in a former petrol station
A welcoming atmosphere and constantly evolving menu of thoughtful contemporary American cuisine have built Bliss a loyal following. Specific dishes vary based on what ingredients are available, but chef Mark Bliss' commitment to backing up his restaurant's tagline -- “Food is Bliss” -- has remained constant since its launch in 2012.
Diverse dishes and funky cocktails in a high-energy, brightly lit spot
This lauded foodie favorite garners scads of attention, and with good reason: the food is just that good, and the location draws a variety of diners, from local hipsters to tourists, brunch regulars, and even families making the pilgrimage from outside the Loop. Feast's menu changes daily, but crowd favorites are constant. And thanks to the creatively organized menus, no matter what you're in the mood for, you’ll always find something at Feast that satisfies.
Rich, flavourful meats served in stylish environs in the heart of the Pearl
Cured’s charcuterie offerings are made in house, cured for up to a year, and offered with suggested beer and cocktail pairings that enhance the flavors of the meats and cheeses. Lunch, brunch, and dinner menus are creative and distinct from each other, as well as surprisingly eclectic. The dinner menu features a broad array of seafood, fowl, lamb, beef, and pork dishes, all masterfully executed and served by a well-trained staff that knows its stuff.
Tasty pizza served in a light and airy Italian style dining room
A local favorite since it opened in 2007, Dough is the undisputed king of pizza in San Antonio. Unlike many of the city's top restaurants, Dough doesn’t change its menu very often. It doesn’t need to, because what diners have come to expect here is exactly what they want to get every time they come in the door: Neapolitan-style pizza crafted from locally sourced ingredients and prepared in a traditional wood-fired oven.
Cocktails and oysters served in a whimsical, seaside-themed restaurant
If you can’t get to the coast for lunch or dinner, Jason Dady will bring the coast to you. Family-friendly but definitely not kid-centric, Shuck Shack is a relaxed joint with standout lobster rolls, clam chowder, and oysters by the dozen or half-dozen. Grab a picnic table and a cold beer, close your eyes and breathe deeply, and you can almost (almost!) feel the warm breeze coming off the Gulf.
Casual American comfort food served in a relaxed and open area
Chef Pedro Cuellar, formerly of Arcade Midtown Kitchen, offers comfort food with a twist just up the road from his old digs at The Pearl. Emerging favorites include sliders (barbacoa, bahn mi, meatloaf), balsamic-braised Lambshank Redemption and the gloriously decadent Queso Classico grilled cheese sandwich. Heading up the drink side of things is James Moore of TBA, whose still-emerging cocktail menu is the perfect compliment to Cuellar’s excellent grub.
Fresh seafood in a sleek, dramatic setting
The renovated St. Anthony hotel is a beautiful setting for the steak- and seafood-centric menu with lively cocktail offerings. That Rebelle hit its stride from the get-go is no surprise, given that it is the brainchild of the guys who brought us Feast. The food here is decadent, eye-catching, and thoughtfully conceived while also remaining accessible. The upshot is that Rebelle is the best of both worlds -- a memorable dining experience that doesn’t need to be reserved for rare special occasions.
Classy, locally sourced fare alongside an impressive drinks list
Supper offers locally sourced and seasonal items served in an intimate and comfortable setting. Part of Hotel Emma’s stunning complex at the Pearl, Supper is friendly, welcoming, and accessible, offering menu items whose ingredients are simple but preparation and presentation are anything but average. If you never thought you could get genuinely excited by, say, a bowl of green beans, Supper will blow your mind.
Hyper fresh pizza and prosecco joint in the heart of Southtown
It's not hyperbole: Southtown Pizzeria makes the best damn pie in the city. The restaurant is incredibly consistent for how young it is, with pizzas that are always hot, thin, and layered with fresh ingredients -- you can't go wrong with the classic pepperoni pie. It doesn't hurt that the place looks good either; each menu is handwritten, the interior is warm and welcoming, and it's just about the perfect place for date night with a loved one.
Jazzy, homemade New Orleans food in an intimate converted bungalow
San Antonians haven't had to drive 600 miles east on I-10 for a decent bowl of gumbo since Pieter Sypesteyn opened Cookhouse on Mistletoe Avenue in 2014. Always lively, loud, and full of the intoxicating smell of yellow onion & bell pepper simmering in hot oil -- Cookhouse feels like a mini-vacation to the bayou. Try the gumbo with andouille sausage and duck, but make sure to start with some fried Boudin Balls.
Window-filled restaurant with an incredible margarita/avocado toast combo
Down on Grayson enjoyed a meteoric rise through San Antonio's food scene, due in large part to the joint's location, drinks, and beautiful patio. You won't be seated quickly on a weekend evening, but don't be deterred; grab a drink, order the Double Dip, (house made guacamole & jalapeño pimento cheese served with warm tortillas), and enjoy the hustle and bustle of San Antonio near the Pearl. Then reward your patience with a char-broiled burger, because why not?
Stylish Asian fusion restaurant with creative dishes and out of this world cocktails
The only spot in San Antonio where you'll find Chinese-Peruvian & Japanese-Peruvian fare, Botika is here to intrigue and puzzle our untrained palates. Tickle your tastebuds with dishes like Huancaina Noodles and Shrimp & Almond Fried Rice, or go a more familiar route with steak & frites -- whatever you do, though, don't forget about the fried bananas for dessert. There's also a pretty strong happy hour here as well, with half-off wines by the glass and $1 off beer from 3pm-6pm, Tuesday thru Saturday.
BYOB light and relaxing spot filled with the smell of fresh beignet and hot coffee
Pieter Sypesteyn is at it again, this time with brunch. The restaurant features a diverse menu with everything a diehard bruncher could ask for: sweets, drinks, and greasy fare all perfect for sobering up hungover San Antonians. The Nola Brunch Plate comes with scrambled eggs, grits, praline bacon, and fried green tomato -- get it and take a nap afterwards for the perfect Sunday.
Modern Mexican food right off the St. Mary’s strip
Free chips and queso during happy hour is probably enough for most San Antonians to understand why Chisme makes this list -- but wait, there's more! The Pollo Asado is worth fighting through hordes of haggard, sleepless, and desperate Trinity students sure to infest the St. Mary's strip; chicken with charred spring onions, cabbage, rice, beans, and freshly made tortillas will make a San Antonian do crazy things. Free queso, though, will cause mayhem. Be careful.
Kitschy joint serving Asian fusion paired with fruity cocktails
Love it or hate it, Hot Joy (and their delicious wings) are here to stay. Bursting onto the scene in 2016, Hot Joy blazed a culinary trail with spicy hot food and ice cold tropical drinks. The curries, duck, and spam fried rice are not to be missed, and afterwards you can spend the night at the cherry red Tiki bar offering (allegedly) 8,000 rums.