Best Of 2020

Best Local Brewery

Winner: Freetail Brewing Co.

4035 N. Loop 1604 E.

(210) 625-6000

When Freetail Brewing opened the doors of its Loop 1604 brewpub on Black Friday in 2008, San Antonio had been a one-brewery town for years. Hop heads welcomed the new addition with open arms for its variety of beers, some of which revived old styles or reinvented them altogether, and pizzas from a brick oven on full display. In late 2014, the Freetail opened a production brewery to make larger batches for statewide distribution. That location outside downtown on Presa Street, invited another group of people, who otherwise wouldn't make the trek to Loopland, to delights such as various flavors of the tart Berlinerweiss, hearty and spicy Belgian IPA Buffalo Hump and the signature fall release of numerous variants of the La Muerta Russian Imperial Stout. While Freetail caters to San Antonio's thirst for thirst-quenching lagers and ales, the brewery made a mark nationally with bold brews La Muerta and a Baltic-style porter for its two Great American Beer Festival gold medals.

Editor's Pick: Weathered Souls Brewing Co.

606 Embassy Oaks #500

(210) 274-6824

When this Northside brewery launched Black is Beautiful, a social justice initiative in the form of a shareable Imperial Stout recipe, it was hard to predict the momentum it would gain around the globe. Since June, the Weathered Souls team has championed the Black Lives Matter movement in a unique, industry-specific way, bringing worldwide attention to the empathetic nature of the craft brewing community. It's recruited dozens of breweries to produce their own twist on its recipe, thereby raising money for groups fighting for racial equality. Of course, it also doesn't hurt that Weathered Souls brews one hell of a product, expanding San Antonio's stout game with every new release.

2. Künstler Brewing

302 E. Lachapelle

(210) 688-4519

3. Weathered Souls

Food & Drink

Food & Drink

Winner: La Panaderia 

Multiple locations

There's no shortage of great pan dulce in San Antonio, but when it comes to classic and reimagined Mexican dessert specialties, readers clearly love La Panaderia. Inspired by their family's legacy of bringing freshly baked breads and pastries to the streets of Mexico City, brothers José and David Cáceres opened the bakery's flagship Alamo Heights location in 2014. San Antonians look to La Panaderia for traditional Mexican specialties including sweet conchas, fruit-filled empanadas, hearty tortas and the bakery's signature "croncha" — a decadent cross between a doughnut and croissant that's sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.

2. Bakery Lorraine

Multiple locations

3. Miss Chickpea's Bakeshop

8065 Callaghan Road

(210) 993-0748

Winner: Esquire Tavern

155 E. Commerce St.  

(210) 222-2521

The Esquire Tavern temporarily closed its doors in May due to COVID-19 but don't worry — the downtown craft cocktail destination is expected to reopen soon, serving up not just expertly crafted drinks but its impressive lineup of bar food. We're guessing plenty of readers miss the bar's generous fried pickles, creative sandwiches and crisp fish and chips. The tavern's chili-salt fries also make a flavorful duo with the house cheeseburger — a sesame bun stacked with fresh ingredients including a Texas beef patty topped with smoked gouda.

2. Lucy Cooper's Texas Ice House

16080 San Pedro Ave.

(210) 462-1894

3. Francis Bogside

803 S. St. Mary's St.

(210) 369-9192

Winner: Tellez Tamales & Barbacoa

Multiple locations

(210) 433-1367

Few food combinations say "San Antonio" better than an order of barbacoa and a Big Red. And it's clear an overwhelming number of Current readers turn to Tellez Tamales & Barbacoa for the meaty side of that combo. Operating a duo of cafeteria-style restaurants, Tellez excels at serving up tender, slow-roasted barbacoa served with handmade corn and flour tortillas — and the obligatory Big Red as well. But the barbacoa isn't all readers rave about. This year's polling shows that Tellez's homemade menudo has won plenty of converts as have its tender and spicy tamales stuffed with chicken, pork and other fillings. Tellez and its substantial menu are no secret to San Antonio diners, so call ahead.

2. Rios Barbacoa

Multiple locations

3. Pepe's Barbacoa

Multiple locations

Winner: Smoke Shack

3714 Broadway St.

(210) 957-1430

It all started as a shack on the back of a trailer, but it wasn't long before all that smokey goodness blew up into a restaurant in the heart of the Broadway corridor. Pork, chicken, sausage and ribs are all worth writing home about, but you'd be hard-pressed not to realize that brisket is the star of just about everything else on the menu except the sweet tea. As a standalone, patrons love the sliced brisket for the perfect amount of smoke and pull to the tender meat. Chopped brisket even shows up in the mac and cheese, a grilled cheese sandwich and a Frito Pie.

2. 2M Smokehouse

2731 S. WW White Road

(210) 885-9352

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

Multiple locations

Winner: Wayne's Wings

4453 Walzem Road

(210) 300-3891

Since owner Wayne Price celebrated his namesake's grand opening in 2010, the restaurant has found a loyal statewide fanbase and national recognition for its delectable wings and fried chicken. The eatery's menu is full of original flavors and dry-rub choices including sweet-and-savory Texas honey, garlic-parmesan and spicy ghost pepper "creeper" wings. Clearly, supporting Black-owned businesses never tasted so good. Why do people flock to fast-casual franchises when a homegrown option can be so much more fulfilling on multiple levels?

2. Smashin Crab

Multiple locations

3. The Jerk Shack

117 Matyear St.

(210) 776-7780

Winner: Magnolia Pancake Haus

606 Embassy Oaks

(210) 496-0828

2. Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

Multiple locations

3. Max and Louie's New York Diner

226 W. Bitters Road

(210) 483-7600

Winner: The Original Donut Shop

3307 Fredericksburg Road

(210) 734-5661

It seems improbable that the city's best donuts and breakfast tacos would harmoniously exist under one roof, but The Original Donut Shop is all about defying expectations. A first-meal destination for locals since 1954, the Original serves up San Antonio-style breakfast tacos on hot corn and flour tortillas, with a variety of well-seasoned fillings and a delectable house salsa. For those more into sweet indulgence, the shop bakes up an array of unique donut flavors including cinnamon pretzel and maple bacon plus an assortment of cream-filled options, all prepared fresh daily.

2. Tommy's Restaurant

Multiple locations

3. Chela's Tacos

Multiple locations

Winner: Magnolia Pancake Haus

606 Embassy Oaks

(210) 496-0828

2. La Panadería

Multiple locations

3. The Rustic

17619 La Cantera Parkway

(210) 245-7500

Winner: Chris Madrid's

1900 Blanco Road

(210) 735-3552

Despite the seemingly infinite number of burger joints opening in San Antonio, it's clear locals will always find a place in their hearts for Chris Madrid's. This Alamo City institution has spent more than 40 years serving both traditional and creative versions of the American fast-food staple — best enjoyed with a side of the restaurant's fresh and savory salsa and pico de gallo. After lengthy renovations following a fire, the iconic restaurant is again serving up popular eats such as its gooey Cheddar Cheezy burger, bacon-friendly Porky's Delight and Tostada Burger, stacked high with refried beans, onions, cheese and tortilla chips.

2. Burger Boy

Multiple locations

3. Longhorn Cafe

Multiple locations