Best Of 2015

1. Señor Veggie
620 S. Presa St.
(210) 228-0073

Guarded by a cartoon Aztec mural, the marigold building housing Señor Veggie hosts some of the best vegan chow in San Anto. Run by the husband and wife team of José Alfredo Cruz and Tiffany Cruz, the restaurant began in 2012 as a booth in the Quarry Farmer's market and quickly transitioned to a permanent spot on South Presa (formerly occupied by Mr. Tim's Country Kitchen). With Thai, Spanish and Mediterranean inspirations, Señor Veggie has an impressive range of flavor, pairing the veggies of the world with their best representations in food culture (i.e. a delicious Baba ghanoush starter, the Indian samosa plate and a potato-based Vichyssoise). Of course, in their big '50s-style diner booths, Señor Veggie provides American dishes, like their black bean or beet burgers and sweet potato wedges with umami-packed curry ketchup. Ultimately, as their name might suggest, the Tex-Mex tradition inspires Señor Veggie's best grub. The black bean nachos with crumbled tempeh is a mighty lead-off dish, matching well with a lovely agua fresca or BYOB libation. Batting cleanup is the Jackfruit street tacos, chopping the world's largest treefruit into a tender carnitas alternative with a remarkable verisimilitude to the original pork.


Green Vegetarian Cuisine
Various Locations

Crossroads Kitchen
517 E. Woodlawn Ave.
(210) 257-0628

1. Rosella Coffee
203 E. Jones Ave., Suite 101
(210) 277-8574

While choosing the best coffee shop in San Antonio, we took into consideration all the roles a java joint should fulfill besides just a tasty caffeine jolt — a place for meetings, for music and art as well as to break up with someone. In a setting of exposed brick, Rosella Coffee provides the 360-degree role of the coffee spot. On weekdays, the place buzzes with laptop work, brainstorm meetings and social media distraction. On the weekend, singer-songwriters and bands post up in front of the tall glass wall for ad hoc folk and rock 'n' roll. And with multiple exits and a variety of beer and wine, it's a strong choice for a public breakup spot if things get ugly. In the past few years, an excellent coffee scene has emerged in San Antonio, with strong brews from Local, Press, Olmos Perk and Brown Coffee Company (recently heralded by Alton Brown on Instagram as "the best cup of coffee I've ever had IN MY LIFE!"). But with 16 red wines, 15 whites and beers from 13 Texas breweries, Rosella works at an advantage with the dual threat of caffeine and alcohol. And from the light, universally lauded avocado toast to full sandwiches, it's hard to stick with just a cup of the Rosella house blend.


Local Coffee
Various locations

Brown Coffee Company
Multiple locations

1. Barbaro
2720 McCullough Ave.
(210) 320-2261

Discerning readers should have discerning tastes in mates (or at least casual dates ... let's have some standards, people!). That's why a date to Barbaro, where we've witnessed many a romantic-awkward-sexy evening, is in order. For starters, what sort of beer does your date order? Are they adventurous eaters or do they reach for the straitlaced pepperoni and cheese? Does your would-be beau know what kale is? You'll find out quickly whether he/she is the one or the one-you'll-shake-hands-with-awkwardly after you split the check. And it's accessible on several levels — sit at a booth for a mid-day $10 getting-to-know-you lunch, grab a table for two and split a sweet skillet pancake during brunch, share a pizza at dinner or get cozy over dark cocktails inside this neighborhood eatery that packs in the sultry lighting and courage-giving cocktails be it day or night. Our honorable mentions run the gamut for first-date options. Stick with the tried-and-true coffee shop option and head to the twee CommonWealth, where you and your courter can split a croissant. If you've been swiping left and right to score a date, reach for tasty cocktails at Stay Golden and gain liquid courage with a house-made "Fireball" shot. Remember, chemistry's not always guaranteed.

Honorable Mentions:

CommonWealth Coffee
118 Davis Court
(210) 560-2955

Stay Golden Social House
401 Pearl Pkwy

Brindle’s Awesome Ice Creams
11255 Huebner Rd., Suite 210
(210) 641-5222

Two words: “cake batter.” No shop has come closer than Brindle’s Awesome Ice Creams to replicating that lick-the-batter-off-the-spoon experience, which is why this dessert mash-up is one of its signature ice creams. Located in The Strand Shopping Center in Huebner Oaks, Brindle’s features dozens of classic and imaginative ice cream and gelato flavors, all made in-house. Their limited edition ice creams — which in the past have included bacon walnut, cookie butter and savory creations such as garlic, honey and currant — are always worth a try. But everyday offerings such as Azteca — their chocolate cinnamon combo — make repeat visits a necessity. If you really want ice cream, order the Muddy Feet, a decadent cookie sundae that’s perfect for date night with your sweetie or those evenings you just want to be left alone to eat your feelings. The ice cream flavor of your choice is scooped onto a warm chocolate chip cookie and piled high with almonds, whipped cream, hot fudge and caramel. If cookies are not your thing, there’s also the Turtle Crumble which switches out the Muddy Feet’s cookie for a warm, chocolaty brownie. And remember, you can order pints and quarts of your favorite flavor to enjoy at home.


SA Pops
3420 N. St. Mary’s St.
(210) 736-2526

Justin’s Ice Cream Company
245 E. Commerce St.
(210) 222-2707

1. Silo Terrace Oyster Bar
22211 I-10 W.
(210) 698-2002

Silo's upstairs-downstairs shtick survives at the latest outpost, Silo Terrace on I-10. There's no bar downstairs (it occupies the actual outdoor terrace), but before ascending in another copper-clad elevator, you can peruse wines while snagging a sample from a techy dispenser. Think crisp Loire Valley whites — and immediately order oysters upon arrival upstairs. The selection is in constant tidal flux (and the Pacific Northwest gets short shrift), but try to pit British Columbia against, say, New Brunswick — if that's an option. Or try another variation on the East vs. West theme that can yield bright and briny mollusks in one instance, plump and almost buttery in another. (Silo's iconic chicken fried oysters are also available, of course.) Ceviches could use a little tightening up, but the grilled, blackened swordfish is superlative. The shrimp fra diavolo simply scintillating. And the lobster with ravioli a lushly, luxurious indulgence. (You're encouraged to think chardonnay here.) If we may be allowed to consider squid ink as seafood (why not?), that dramatic pasta is another contender. Big spenders have the additional option of a bountiful seafood platter that includes shrimp and king crab. And as long as you're being ostentatious, might as well go for the bubbly here. It's elevating.


The Cookhouse
720 E. Mistletoe
(210) 320-8211

Las Islas Marias
522 SW Military Dr.
(210) 922-7777

1. Big'z Burger Joint
Multiple locations

When we say "family-friendly restaurant" we mean a place where mommy and daddy can get a little buzz on while the kids can be safely let loose to wreak havoc in a designated play area. Big'z Burger Joint's West Side location off 151 and North Side location off Loop 1604 fit that description quite nicely. The simple, no-nonsense menu features big-ass burgers — wear stretchy pants and brave their triple-patty monster with a side of sweet potato fries — and 40 bottled and draft brews for parents. Big'z also offers a kid-friendly menu of burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken strips for those picky little scamps. Each location boasts a large, outdoor patio and flat screen TVs to watch the game. Families are invited to bring their own outdoor toys and games, so the kids can take advantage of the play area and run amok as if they were experiencing the taste of freedom for the very first time. The picnic table seating is perfect for accommodating large parties. Plus each Big'z location has a rentable party barn for birthdays, graduations and other large get-togethers. If you're childless, Big'z is still worth a visit, but be warned — this is a place where families reign supreme.

Honorable Mentions

The Cove
606 W. Cypress St.
(210) 227-2683

Cerroni's Purple Garlic
1017 Austin Hwy.
(210) 822-2300

1. Crossroads Kitchen
517 E. Woodlawn Ave.
(210) 257-0628

Do street-style tacos and giant nachos still have a stronghold in San Antonio's late night cuisine? Yes. We can't deny that. But inroads are being made to satiate past-midnight cravings. The aroma of fried chicken has been wafting out of the small window inside Faust Tavern for the just under a year. There is where chef Drew Morros and longtime childhood friend Roberta Marques are whipping up drool-worthy fare that won't have you reaching for the antacid. We're talking about fresh, scratch-made Southern food we haven't seen the likes of in San Antonio in a good while. The aforementioned chicken, hand-breaded and deep-fried to order is a mainstay and variations such as chicken and biscuits and a giant chicken sandwich rotate every few weeks. Don't miss the savory and tender pulled pork. The bar-friendly fried pickled okra has converted the okra-averse (it could very well have something to do with the creamy house-made ranch). Vegans and vegetarians don't have to miss out on the fun either — seitan sausage is available. If in Southtown, Hot Joy's been building a fierce late night crowd with ingenious Asian fare, while Alamo Street Eat Bar's fleet of trucks feature something for everyone.


Hot Joy
1014 S. Alamo St.
(210) 368-9324

Alamo Street Eat Bar
609 S. Alamo St.
(210) 227-2469

1. SA Pops
3420 N. St. Mary's St.
(210) 736-2526

Nothing beats South Texas heat like a paleta. Since 2013, SA Pops has been offering Alamo City residents looking to fight those scorching temperatures the best paletas in town. With adventurous flavors like hibiscus rasberry and Mexican chocolate, SA Pops also offers staples like mango, strawberry and lime. While the simple treat easily brings the taste buds alive, the atmosphere at Chef Andrew Gutierrez's is friendly and his customers have nothing but good things to say — not only about paletas but also about Gutierrez's ice cream and off-the-cuff creations he's known to make on the spot. That's a product of loving what you do. "I always liked ice cream and I always wanted to have my own business, but I've always been working," Gutierrez has told the San Antonio Current. "This is something I could do at the same time." If the constant five-star reviews on SA Pops' Facebook page are any indication, the dessert restaurant's tasty fruit pops are tops.


El Paraiso
1934 Fredericksburg Rd.
(210) 737-8101