READERS PICK FOOD Best Burger 1. Chris Madrid’s
1900 Blanco, 735-3552 2. Chester’s Hamburger Co.
Multiple locations 3. The Cove
606 W. Cypress, 227-2683, Thecove.us
It isn’t the beef — standard-issue, pounded flat, heavily salted and peppered — that makes this family-run hometown eatery a fixture on best-burger lists, but the toppings: a slow-moving lava flow of cheddar cheese, smoky refried beans, tostada chips, and/or jalapeños. The final combo of your choice can be ordered in ridiculously large or inhumanly gargantuan and consumed with a cold beer in the Jimmy Buffet-esque surroundings.
Best Local Pizza 1. Rome’s Pizza
Multiple locations, Romespizza.com 2. Capparelli’s
Multiple locations, 735-5757 3. Goomba’s
7214 Blanco Rd., 348-9090
Since circa 1986, Rome’s has appeased the hungry appetites of many, serving everything from gourmet pizza to salads to pastas. Try their Mediterranean Greek Pizza which features a taste-tantalizing combination of mozzarella and feta cheeses, gyro strips, pepperoncini, and tomatoes – all topped off with fresh oregano.
Best Margarita 1. Chacho’s & Chalucci’s
click to enlarge
I'll take the top self, with salt
8614 Perrin Beitel, 892-1400 2. La Fogata
2427 Vance Jackson, 340-1337, Lafogata.com 3. Chili’s Grill & Bar
Multiple locations, Chilis.com
The margaritas at Chacho’s (and Chalucci’s) come strong, fast, cheap, and out of control. And the problem is? If you want to really enjoy yourself, then upgrade to the top-shelf frozen margarita for $4.99. It’s worth the price to fully enjoy the amazing people-watching at this 24-hour zoo.
Best Bistro 1. Boardwalk Bistro
4011 Broadway, 824-0100,
Boardwalkbistro.net 2. Bistro Vatel
218 E. Olmos, 828-3141, Bistrovatel.com 3. La Frite Belgian Bistro
728 S. Alamo, 224-7555
Sadly, gone are the days that the Current had time to while away evenings at longtime SA favorite Boardwalk Bistro, eating paella and listening to a friend’s Irish band (jazz is more the thing nowadays, but the menu’s still eclectic Mediterranean). Locals also love Damien Watel’s French and Belgian outlets in Olmos Park and Southtown.
Best Seafood 1. Sea Island Shrimp House
Multiple locations, Shrimphouse.com 2. Red Lobster
Multiple locations, Redlobster.com 3. Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen
76 NE Loop 410, 340-7413, Pappadeaux.com
Local chain Sea Island’s obvious claim to fame is its shrimp, but it’s also a favored destination for plump, flavorful raw oysters on the half shell. The shrimp feast may be the best bet for an empty stomach. A combination of fried Texas Gulf shrimp, charbroiled lemon-pepper shrimp, skewered grilled shrimp, and butterflied coconut shrimp plus sides, the feast is a generous sampling of the restaurant’s best fare and leaves you stuffed for under $12.
Best Chicken-Fried Steak 1. Lulu’s Bakery and Café
918 N. Main, 222-9422, Lulusbakeryandcafe.com 2. De Wese’s Tip Top Café
2418 Fredericksburg, 732-0191, Tiptopcafe.com 3. Barn Door Restaurant
8400 N. New Braunfels, 824-0116,
Located at the southern hub of the North Main strip, Lulu’s is one of the city’s best bets for late-night eats in large quantities. The menu has a special section for chicken-fried steaks; the standard is topped with cream gravy and called the Deputy Special, while the SAPD Mexican Chicken-Fried Steak is topped with chili con queso. The remainder of the chicken-fried menu is devoted to larger portions of the above, guaranteed to hang off the sides of your plate.
Best Beer Selection 1. Flying Saucer
11255 Huebner, 696-5080,
Beerknurd.com 2. Chester’s Hamburger Co.
Multiple locations 3. The Cove
606 W. Cypress, 227-2683, Thecove.us
“Flying saucer best … worst atmosphere,” opined one voter, echoing a Current
critic’s estimation a few month’s back. But real beer drinkers care more about the hundred-odd brews, chilled (or not) to the correct temp and available for drinking, than the sometimes frat-party atmosphere. Or maybe they love that, too, and the buffalo-wings wrap, a brilliant bit of American engineering.
Best Chinese Takeout 1. Pei Wei
Multiple locations, Peiwei.com 2. China Sea
Multiple locations, 946-7777 3. (Tie) PF Chang’s
Multiple locations, Pfchangs.com Formosa Garden
1011 NE Loop 410, 828-9988, Formosagarden.com
If you’re looking for the best Chinese takeout outside of San Antonio, one reader suggests “New York.” Considering that New York is probably not an economically efficient destination the next time you’re craving Chinese, our readers suggest Pei Wei, China Sea, or any of the heaping platters from PF Chang’s.
Best Sandwich 1. Subway
Multiple locations, Subway.com 2. Jason’s Deli
Multiple locations, Jasonsdeli.com 3. Quizno’s
Multiple locations, Quiznos.com
Hard times for the sandwich, this globalized century, in which it must compete with wraps, summer rolls, and salads for lunchtime attention. If a few more locals spent their bread allowance on the pimento-cheese or chicken-and spinach-salad sandwiches at the homey and hometown W.D. Deli, which just missed a slot in the top three, its legacy as America’s favorite finger food woud be secure.
Best Sushi 1. Sushi Zushi
Multiple locations, Sushizushi.com 2. Koi Kawa
4501 Broadway, 805-8111 3. Godai Sushi Bar & Japanese Restaurant
11203 West Ave., 348-6781, Godaisushi.com
The ever-expanding empire of swank, Latin-inflected Sushi Zushi (latest outpost: Lincoln Heights) heralds an era of cream-cheese-enveloped, often-cooked sushi, but they also serve less-ubiquitous treats such as Musubi-Zushi, rice baked around Japanese pickles or smoked salmon. And they deliver. Still, if you like it more traditional, it’s easier to navigate Koi Kawa’s or Godai’s menus.
Best Indian Cuisine 1. India Oven
1031 Patricia, 366-1030,
Indiaoven.com 2. India Palace
8440 Fredericksburg, 692-5262,
Indiapalacesa.com 3. Simi’s India Cuisine
4535 Fredericksburg, 737-3166
Surveying the office for opinions on our second place winner India Palace turned up the following soundbytes: “comfy,” “cozy,” “awesome naan,” and “great service.” The Palace has opened up a second restaurant on the US-281 and they’ll need the votes if they’re going to win over India Oven next year, which beat them out three to one.
Best Sunday Brunch 1. India Oven
1031 Patricia, 366-1030,
indiaoven.com 2. Los Patios
2015 NE Loop 410, 655-6171 3. St. Anthony’s
300 E. Travis, 227-4392
Who would’ve thunk that a churchgoing city like San Antonio would follow their psalms with anything other than chicken-fried redemption? No, Say-Town likes its brunches as spicy as it likes its selection wide. On India Oven’s Sunday buffet table: lamb sikh kebab, chicken makhani, meatball curry, vegetable curry, sagbaneer, vegetable samosa, vegetable pakora, rice, naan, garlic naan, rice pudding, tomato soup and salad. Sundays, 11am – 3pm, $8.95
Best Starbucks 1. Alamo Quarry Market
255 E. Basse 2. Hear Music Café
111 W. Crockett Street 3. Alamo Heights
Deep in the shadows of the Current’s secret Best Of SA lab, our resident evil genius proposed we just embrace the fact that most people frequent a Starbucks. Little did we know “the best” would not be determined by foam quality, but for the sake of being a wee-hours refueling station. The Quarry is open 24 hours.
Best Tamales 1. Delicious Tamales
Delicioustamales.com 2. Ruben’s Homemade Tamales
1807 Rigsby Ave., 333-9529 3. Rudy’s Tamales
3421 S. Flores, 533-5436
Tamales have always been a staple during the local holiday season, but, hey, you live in San Antonio — you can have the masa-encased treats year-round! Founded locally by the Lopez family and cooking daily for the past 30 years, Delicious is the go-to spot for tamales in town. Don’t want to drive? They’ll deliver them hot and fresh to your house. Word on the street is that Ruben’s pork tamales are a fan-favorite, as well.
Best Barbacoa 1. Rolando’s Super Tacos #1
919 W. Hildebrand, 732-6713,
Rolandssupertacos.com 2. Ruthie’s
11423 West Ave., 308-0253 3. Taco Kitchen
1027 Rittiman, 824-6630
We asked our readers to school us on the best place to pick up the wonderfully rich and greasy cow’s-head (or in Mexico, more likely cabrito) meat that’s almost as good a hangover cure as menudo. Lots of folks still associate barbacoa with Sundays, but many places, including second-place winner Ruthie’s, serve it every day: $9.99/lb. includes eight tortillas.
Best Local Coffee 1. Jim’s
Multiple locations, Jimsrestaurants.com 2. Ruta Maya Riverwalk
107 E. Martin, 223-9292, Rutamayariverwalk.com 3. Candlelight Coffee House and Wine Bar
3011 N. St. Mary’s, 738-0099, Candlelightsa.com Honorable Mentions: Jupiter Java & Jazz
726 S. Alamo, 476-8800,
Myspace.com/jupiter_java Sip Coffee & Espresso Bar
160 E. Houston, 222-0149
Our working theory behind how Jim’s won the election isn’t so much that their espresso’s extraordinary, but that San Antonio is lacking when it comes to all-night coffee shops. Fans of traditional Jim’s had a good five more hours per day to vote than Ruta Maya customers, and a full 16 more hours than Candlelight patrons. Jupiter and Sip both narrowly missed percolating into the top three, not for lack of trying.
Best 24-hour Restaurant 1. Jim’s
Multiple locations, Jimsrestaurants.com 2. Ihop
Multiple locations, Ihop.com 3. Taco Cabana
Multiple locations, Tacocabana.com
Hours vary at these chains’ many locations, although the majority of the traditional Jim’s (as opposed to those newfangled Café & Coffee Bars) are open 24 hours — you’ll have to track down your round-the-hour haunt on the website, but the Current can recommend the central Broadway and 410 Jim’s, and the Ihop at 3820 Broadway is always open to catch the students from nearby Trinity and UIW campuses.
Best Michelada 1. Rosario’s Mexican Café
910 S. Alamo, 223-1806, Rosariossa.com 2. Salsalito’s Cantina
Multiple locations, Salsalito-sa.com 3. Mi Tierra, Café & Panaderia
218 Produce Row, 225-1262, Mitierracafe.com
If you take a huge mug, add Dos Equis beer and a wonderfully spicy mixture you have the popular michelada at Rosario’s. Some may not be ready for the high heat, but our readers find it a welcome difference from many of the more modest versions around town.
Best Smoking Joint 1. Cigar Club
18730 Stone Oak Pkwy, 490-9340 2. The Mix
2423 N. St. Mary’s, 735-1313,
Myspace.com/themixnightclub 3. Club Cohiba
(Havana Riverwalk Inn)
1015 Navarro, 222-2008, Havanariverwalkinn.com
Second-place winner the Mix leads the defense against HB 9, the proposed bill that would ban smoking within 15 feet of public places. But they needn’t worry about losing business. From what we hear, many of the bar’s hardest-line fans are secretly sick of the stink on their clothes, not to mention the burn holes. They merely put up with it out of unconditional love (for alcohol).
Best Bartenders 1. Adam & Stephanie
click to enlarge
Adam & Stephanie, Best Bartenders
The Cove, 606 W. Cypress, 227-2683 2. Tori Manley
Joe’s Crab Shack, 212 College St., 271-9981 3. Richard Ramos
Vbar, 150 E. Houston, 227-9700
Adam and Stephanie’s only demerit is due to the fact that the duo bartends for an establishment that’s been accused of stuffing the ballot box before, `see, “And now, the nominee for Best Place in the Universe,” Apr 14-20, 2005`. Maybe the Cove’s patrons just love their bar/restaurant/car wash/laundromat/playground. Regardless, remember to tip your bartenders.
Best Outdoor 1. La Fogata
2427 Vance Jackson, 340-1337,
Lafogata.com 2. The Cove
606 W. Cypress, 227-2683, Thecove.us 3. Los Patios
2015 NE Loop 410, 655-6171, Lospatios.com
La Fogata perfectly melds neon, foliage, and fountains for that super-Mexico effect, making it a favorite for out-of-town guests (plus there’s that I-Forgota margarita …). The Cove is flip-flop-friendly, beer-drinking fun, while Los Patios provides more refined dining in a little woods just off Loop 410.