Best Of 2018

Best Coffee Shop

Winner: Local Coffee

Multiple locations, meritcoffee.com

2. Summer Moon Coffee Bar

3233 N. St. Mary's St. Suite 102, (210) 320-1773, woodfiredcoffee.com

3. Rosella Coffee Co.

Multiple locations, rosellacoffee.com

Food & Drink

Food & Drink

Winner: Bakery Lorraine

Multiple locations, bakerylorraine.com

Bakery Lorraine opened in 2011 in a small cottage on Grayson (the place now houses Jason Dady's Alamo BBQ Company), and it's likely that not even Anne Ng and Jeremy Mandrell imagined they'd expand faster and farther than a batch of runaway sourdough. But with business partner Charlie Biedenharn on board, the trio has moved well beyond the prominent corner at the Pearl that the bakery next conquered. A small, similar outlet took the concept to the Medical Center area. The more tightly focused Maybelle's Donuts became a part of the mix at the nearby Pearl Bottling Department. With the recent debut of BL at The Rim on I-10 West, beer and wine were added to the original menu — itself much expanded over the years to encompass much more than pretty-in-pastel macarons. Breakfast offerings include banana toast with indulgent whipped cream, a kind of morning dessert, and savory bread pudding with ham, spinach and cheese. Yes, there's the obligatory quiche expected of a bakery. But, bakery also implying bread, there are ultra-stuffed sandwiches such as the irresistible Cuban with roasted pork loin and the offbeat but excellent roasted cauliflower with marinated shiitakes and Fontina. A grilled cheese sandwich incorporates comte, chevre, Fontina and apricot jam. Bacon can be had for an additional two bucks. Go ahead and have it — though not if it stops you from leaving with a peanut butter chocolate chip or Mexican hot chocolate cookie in hand.

2. La Panaderia

Multiple locations

lapanaderia.com

3. Bird Bakery

5912 Broadway

(210) 804-2473

birdbakery.com

Winner: Bakery Lorraine

Multiple locations, bakerylorraine.com

Bakery Lorraine opened in 2011 in a small cottage on Grayson (the place now houses Jason Dady's Alamo BBQ Company), and it's likely that not even Anne Ng and Jeremy Mandrell imagined they'd expand faster and farther than a batch of runaway sourdough. But with business partner Charlie Biedenharn on board, the trio has moved well beyond the prominent corner at the Pearl that the bakery next conquered. A small, similar outlet took the concept to the Medical Center area. The more tightly focused Maybelle's Donuts became a part of the mix at the nearby Pearl Bottling Department. With the recent debut of BL at The Rim on I-10 West, beer and wine were added to the original menu — itself much expanded over the years to encompass much more than pretty-in-pastel macarons. Breakfast offerings include banana toast with indulgent whipped cream, a kind of morning dessert, and savory bread pudding with ham, spinach and cheese. Yes, there's the obligatory quiche expected of a bakery. But, bakery also implying bread, there are ultra-stuffed sandwiches such as the irresistible Cuban with roasted pork loin and the offbeat but excellent roasted cauliflower with marinated shiitakes and Fontina. A grilled cheese sandwich incorporates comte, chevre, Fontina and apricot jam. Bacon can be had for an additional two bucks. Go ahead and have it — though not if it stops you from leaving with a peanut butter chocolate chip or Mexican hot chocolate cookie in hand.

2. South Alamode Panini & Gelato Company

1420 S. Alamo St., (210) 788-8000, southalamode.com

3. Justin’s Ice Cream

245 E. Commerce St., (210) 222-2707, facebook.com/justinsicecreamsanantonioriverwalk

Winner: Tellez Tamales & Barbacoa

Multiple locations, (210) 433-1367

With two locations in San Antonio (1802 Bandera Road and 1737 S. General McMullen Drive), Tellez is a perennial favorite for tamales and barbacoa alike. This year's voters were likely wooed by the sprawling Willy Wonka factory vibes of the Bandera location that's lined with 2-liter bottles of Big Red. Stop by early in the morning for a dozen tamales or a pound of barbacoa just like you like it, and don't forget the fixin's — fresh pico, salsa, jalapenos and chunky guac. Don't sleep in, though. The holidays mean early morning campouts to score your orders of corn husk-wrapped tamalitos available in pork, chicken or jalapeño pork.

Barbacoa

2. Rios Barbacoa

Multiple locations, facebook.com/riosbarbacoa

3. Pico De Gallo Restaurant

111 S. Leona St., (210) 225-6060, picodegallo.com

Winner: Tellez Tamales & Barbacoa

Multiple locations, (210) 433-1367

With two locations in San Antonio (1802 Bandera Road and 1737 S. General McMullen Drive), Tellez is a perennial favorite for tamales and barbacoa alike. This year's voters were likely wooed by the sprawling Willy Wonka factory vibes of the Bandera location that's lined with 2-liter bottles of Big Red. Stop by early in the morning for a dozen tamales or a pound of barbacoa just like you like it, and don't forget the fixin's — fresh pico, salsa, jalapenos and chunky guac. Don't sleep in, though. The holidays mean early morning campouts to score your orders of corn husk-wrapped tamalitos available in pork, chicken or jalapeño pork.

2. Delicious Tamales

Multiple locations, delicioustamales.com

3. Ruben's Homemade Tamales

1807 Rigsby Ave., (210) 337-0025

Winner: Smoke Shack BBQ

3714 Broadway, (210) 957-1430, smokeshacksa.com

The barbecue giant on Broadway got some competition earlier this year by way of chef Jason Dady's Alamo BBQ Co., an extension of his Two Bros. BBQ Market. But San Antonio voters still turned out to the online polls for Smoke Shack. It could be the brisket grilled-cheese sandwich that pulls them back in, or perhaps the buttery sliders? Or maybe it's Pigpen's pulled-pork nachos, topped with meats from Smoke Shack? Or maybe it's that the same quality meats smoked at the Shack are used for Pigpen's all-you-can-eat Sunday Gospel brunch that keep folks coming back? Whatever the case, Chris and Kate Conger have found a winning formula that will likely follow them to their upcoming specialty grocery store, Smoke Shack Meat Market, when it opens next door.

2. Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q

Multiple locations, rudysbbq.com

3. Two Bros. BBQ Market

12656 West Ave.

(210) 496-0222

twobrosbbqmarket.com

Winner: Brew's Lee Tea Station

4009 Broadway, (210) 598-0068, brewsleetea.com

It's not just that Brew's Lee Tea Station is an Instagrammer's oasis. Sure, the café is adorable, the framed slogans are picture perfect, and any shot of their tea will definitely get you those double taps. But the tea is actually delicious. Brewed fresh every day by owners and college sweethearts Billy and Frances Lee, Brew's Lee Tea packs in a delicious punch whether it's in their rose milk teas, hot ginger turmeric teas or specialty teas such as the iridescent glowing tea or the cerulean honey galaxy tea, made to order and customizable for all palates and appetites. The tastiness doesn't stop there as Brew's Lee is also dabbling in Taiyaki, fish-shaped pastries filled with red bean or ube coconut custard.

2. Bobalicious

4907 NW Loop 410, Suite 103, (210) 979-8040, facebook.com/bobaliciousinternetcafe

3. Suck It The Restaurant

7220 Louis Pasteur Drive, Suite 125, (210) 560-2113, facebook.com/suckittherestaurant

Winner: Cured

306 Pearl Pkwy., Suite 101, (210) 314-3929, curedatpearl.com

In 2017, Cured was robbed of the title of Best Charcuterie by now closed Nectar Wine Bar & Ale House. But this is 2018! Everything is up for grabs and that means Cured fans joyfully voted for their fave. Since opening in 2013, Cured has stockpiled their humidity-controlled locker with perfect pickles, mighty mustards and carefully curated meats. Available in selections of three, six or nine, Cured's charcuterie — a rotating cast of apple jalapeño pork rillettes, whipped pork butter, chicken liver mousse, smoked duck ham, finocchiona, pepperoni, ham hock cotechino and a collection of 90-day-plus meats — is bright, thoughtful and imaginative, which serves to woo diners back in time and time again. The boards serve as a perfect starter for any lunch, happy hour or small dinner, and best of all, each time you indulge, Cured donates a dollar to a local charity.

2. Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden

312 Pearl Pkwy., Building 3

(210) 354-4644

boilerhousesa.com

3. Restaurant Gwendolyn

152 E. Pecan St., Suite 100

(210) 222-1849

restaurantgwendolyn.com

Winner: India Palace

8474 Fredericksburg Road, (210) 692-5262, indiapalacesatx.com

This busy Medical Center spot has long been a dependable choice for either a quick lunch that takes advantage of its bountiful buffet or a leisurely a la carte dinner that trades on the chefs' skilled handling of the tandoori oven. (The buffet is available both for lunch and dinner, but Indian food's so much better cooked to order, so why rush if there's no need?) The Palace specializes in Punjabi cuisine, arguably the subcontinent's most approachable, and its aromatic spices and velvety sauces strike a crowd-pleasing note. It's also hard for vegetarians to go wrong with the abundant options. Service is efficient and unobtrusive, plus the kitchen does an admirable job of keeping the buffet stocked so food remains fresh — not always a guarantee at a restaurant steam table.

2. Bombay Hall Indian Cuisine

8783 Wurzbach Road

(210) 691-5900

bombayhall.com

3. Simi's India Cuisine

4535 Fredericksburg Road, Suite 109

(210) 737-3166

simisindiacuisine.com

Winner: Pasha Mediterranean Grill

Multiple locations, gopasha.com

Big things have small beginnings, especially for Pasha and the restaurant group behind it, which celebrated 10 years this June. Their Wurzbach location now goes through 70 50-pound bags of flour for naan a week. Back in 2008, when founders Daniel Deiri and Kamran Hajivandi teamed up to open the restaurant inside a former Sombrero Rosa (hence the distinctive façade), the only diners familiar with the fare were members of the military. The success of the restaurant is that it found its niche early on: serving big portions, priced well for its freshness. 

Introducing tasty versions of new-to-SA dishes also helped. There was that unleavened bread that is a good replacement for chips and salsa. There's the koobideh ground beef kebab that's now one of the top-selling plates. There's the chicken sheesh tawook marinated in garlic, olive oil and herb that's also a favorite. 

And they're diving into fast-casual territory with the new Pasha Express on Culebra Road, with enough seating for 40, plus more on the patio. There are seven plates to choose from or customers can build their own salad/bowl/wrap, which uses the signature naan bread. At the end of the cafeteria-style line? A display case filled with single servings of hummus, dolmas and desserts from Baklovah. 

2. Mina & Dimi's Greek House

7159 W. US Hwy 90

(210) 674-3464

agreekhouse.com

3. Jerusalem Grill

Multiple locations

jerusalemgrill.net