San Antonio’s 2015 was nationally defined by Ozzy’s apology for pissing on the Alamo and city council’s long and cumbersome dispute with Uber and Lyft. But it was also the year that catapulted our city into the discussion for best food in Texas. So, if you’re looking to branch out in 2016, use this list as your fearless sherpa.
The Thrillist Awards: San Antonio's Best New Food & Drink of 2015
Best new restaurant
CookhouseAddress and Info
We finally have a Cajun restaurant that would make Ignatius J. Reilly proud. The fried boudin balls will have you moaning audibly with pleasure, but we’re really just waiting until they put gumbo back on the menu. If you want to try those boudin balls, act swiftly because Cookhouse adjusts its menus per the season and before you know it, they may disappear.
Best new bar
Mezcalería MixtliAddress and Info
With over 70 bottles of mezcal, Mezcalería Mixtli is frequently and fairly misidentified as just a “mezcal bar.” This place is much more than that and it’s probably the best bar in our city. Its Spanish gin and tonic was in rotation last August and would have inspired Hemingway to write another classic. Try its take on bar peanuts, cacahuates con chile too. The spice will entice you to drink more and that is a very good thing here.
Best new burger
The Old Main Assoc.Address and Info
It sounds gimmicky, but The Old Main Assoc. is not playing with its Concha Burger. It’s messy, sweet, salty, and has a pink bun too! If you’re smart, you’ll order it with bacon to help cut the burger’s sweetness.
Best new seafood
Shuck ShackAddress and Info
Jason Dady is at it again, you guys. Clam chowder and half a baguette in Downtown SA? Order this and dip the bread into the broth and renew your love with life. Follow it up with an old fashioned and be content with the world.
Best new pizza
BarbaroAddress and Info
Yeah, Barbaro has been around for a while (thanks pizza gods), but its margarita pizza is new and beautiful and completely delicious. Smoked mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, cilantro, basil, avocado, and pickled jalapeños + you = holy pizza matrimony. Support this pizza in sickness and in health.
Best new sushi
Nama RamenAddress and Info
This is not a joke: a ramen place with great sushi now exists on Babcock Rd. A lot of San Antonio residents patiently awaited the opening of Nama Ramen and the restaurant has delivered consistently. Try the salmon nigiri. For $9, you can’t beat it.
Best new bakery
La BoulangerieAddress and Info
La Boulangerie has an excellent array of pastries and tarts to choose from, but its bread steals the show. Get a sourdough loaf on your way home from work and make a meatloaf sandwich with your leftovers. No other bakery in SA makes bread that comes close to how good this stuff is.
Best new craft beer joint
The Hoppy MonkAddress and Info
Question: where else can you get a (512) Wit and a Ballast Point Sculpin IPA on draft in San Antonio? Answer: nowhere. If the beers aren’t enough for you, order a bowl of pozole and peruse its extensive cigar selection.
Best new drink
The Last WordAddress and Info
The person who engineered these drinks might be a genius and the Seasonal Julep is the creator’s most impressive. With Jack Daniel's, seasonal simple syrup, and a heavy dose of fresh mint, it shouldn’t matter what season it is when you drink this thing. Drink it in summer, winter, fall, or spring for all we care.
Best new first date spot
SternewirthAddress and Info
Sternewirth is Hotel Emma’s resplendent bar. Unlike the lobby bars you’re probably used to, it has good alcohol and excellent bartenders making strong drinks. Order the Three Emmas for you and your date and walk next door to the library where you can intellectually stimulate each other for hours on end.
Best new hotel
Hotel EmmaAddress and Info
Excluding LaMarcus Aldridge, Hotel Emma was the most anticipated addition to San Antonio in 2015. The hotel’s interior is straight from a Wes Anderson movie, the book collection was donated by a Harvard Fellow, and every room comes with a fully stocked ice box. Buy a drink at the Sternewirth and take it with you as you tour the premises.
Best new sandwich
Dignowity MeatsAddress and Info
Good barbecue in Texas without exorbitantly long lines + best new sandwich in SA = in your mouth tomorrow. Dignowity’s KC brisket sandwich comes with smoked brisket burnt ends, pickles, mustard cabbage slaw, and barbecue sauce on Texas toast. Order it with a side of sharp cheddar mac with smoked bacon and a Mexican coke. Make sure to stop by during your lunch hour: Dignowity has limited hours and is only open Monday through Friday from 11am to 3pm.
Best new barbecue
SmokeAddress and Info
You can tell how good a barbecue joint is based on the ribs and Smoke’s are fall-off-the-bone tender. Get an order of its beef short ribs with a side of macaroni -- if you like the meal, you can buy the kitchen a six-pack of Shiner Bock. Check it out Monday through Saturday from 4:20-7pm for its happy hour and $2 off drinks.
1. The Cookhouse720 E Mistletoe Ave, San Antonio
2. Mezcalería Mixtli5313 McCullough Ave, San Antonio
3. The Old Main Assoc.2512 N Main Ave, San Antonio
4. Shuck Shack520 E Grayson St, San Antonio
5. Barbaro2720 McCullough Ave, San Antonio
6. Nama ramen-ya & sushi bar6565 Babcock Rd Ste 19, San Antonio
7. La Boulangerie207 Broadway St, San Antonio
8. The Hoppy Monk1010 N Loop 1604 E, San Antonio
9. The Last Word229 E Houston St #10, San Antonio
10. Sternewirth136 E Grayson, San Antonio
11. Hotel EMMA136 E Grayson, San Antonio
12. Dignowity Meats on Houston St.1701 E Houston St, San Antonio
13. Smoke: The Restaurant700 E Sonterra Blvd, San Antonio
From the popular food truck Where Y'at comes this brick and mortar New Orleans-inspired restaurant specializing in Creole and Cajun cuisine. The menu is seasonal, and The Cookhouse supports local farmers and growers whenever possible. They serve beer and wine and also allow guests to bring their own bottles for a corkage fee.
You're going to want to try the Mexican street corn.
With weekend brunch, inverse happy hour (that's happy hour from 10pm to 1am) and cocktails to kill for, there's not much not to love about The Old Main Association.
Jason Dady's seafood joint pulls out all the stops. Pair a drink from their generous cocktail list with the clam chowder, fresh to order served with half a baguette. Trust us on this one.
Nestled into the corner of an unassuming building and adjoining bakery is this quaint little bar and rustic wood-fired pizza restaurant. The brick-walled space has a full bar with a menu (sorted into “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly") brimming with carefully designed cocktails that change seasonally, plus a solid happy hour.
Slup-worthy ramen and quality sushi. Enough said.
The pastries and baked good may be great at La Boulangerie, but the bread really takes the cake (haha, get it?). Their sourdough loafs make for perfect sandwiches, or just eat it plain for some serious carb-y goodness.
With 99 beers on tap, The Hoppy Monk is your go-to destination for San Antonio craft beer.
Whether you're after a traditional cocktail or one of the 15 craft choices in their lineup, The Last Word has you covered. The bartenders here are anything but pretentious, are are ready and willing to help you find your ideal drink. Our recommendation? Start with the Seasonal Julep, then work your way from there with the help of the experts behind the bar.
This rustic cool bar, located in Hotel Emma, has soaring ceilings and no shortage of wooden accents or intimate sofas. Craft beers, carefully selected wines and handmade cocktails pair perfectly with small plates or conversation. The top bartender recommendation is The Three Emmas, which combines gin, gran classico, apricot and absinthe.
Hotel Emma's 2015 opening was much anticipated, and seriously lived up to the hype. Get a drink at the Sternewirth, indulge in the ice box available in every room, or peruse through a book in the library donated by a Harvard fellow.
This counter-order sandwich shop is so much more than a sandwich shop. With midwestern smoked meats and classic east coast slices, Dignowity Meats serves up some serious high quality hand-crafted sandwiches.
Smoke's fall-off-the-bone ribs are drool worthy, and with a side of macaroni and cheese, you might end up having to roll out of the restaurant. This fully loaded barbecue restaurant serves hickory smoked meat (duh), but also serves up a mean brunch with elevated bar food and breakfast cocktails (marys and mimosas). The elegant, tavern like space provides the perfect setting for this savory and satisfying fare.