The 15 Hottest San Antonio Restaurants This Season

click to enlarge The 15 Hottest San Antonio Restaurants This Season
Jessica Giesey
Rosella at The Rand
114 Houston St., (210) 277-8574,

When Charles Gonzalez developed a passion for becoming a coffee connoisseur in 2007, he had his sights set on introducing the world of craft coffee to San Antonio. He and his wife had always wanted to try their hand at an entrepreneurial venture. He suggested a coffee shop, and it was all hands on deck to open their first location.The heart of Rosella has always been about the coffee. Gonzalez wanted to introduce a concept the Alamo City hadn’t seen before: a community-driven establishment that served a high quality cup of joe.

It’s safe to say his vision was embraced with open arms. The first Rosella Coffee location opened on 203 E. Jones Ave. and quickly became a neighborhood staple — Gonzalez, the now-retired KSAT anchor, hasn’t looked back since. Seeing an opportunity back in 2013 when Geekdom took up residence in The Rand building in downtown San Antonio, Gonzalez had his eye on the spot below. The stars finally aligned and he and his partner Tom Schleuning opened Rosella at The Rand in mid-October. Since his transition from investor to partner, Schleuning was confident in Gonzalez’s ability to grow Rosella into a major success.

“Our goal is to get high-quality coffee to the highest amount of consumers possible. There are things that you can do to showcase your skills as a roaster that might not translate to what people actually want to drink,” said Gonzalez when we sat down for a cup of coffee the day after the opening. The delicious Ethiopian blend that’s standard at all of their shops went down smooth as I furiously typed away — taking note of all the beautiful details from my vantage point across from the bar, which was the perfect spot to take it all in.

Not aiming for a vibe of exclusivity, the goal is that residents, business professionals, tourists, and everyone in between would know that from sunup to sundown they can enjoy a great cup of coffee, a delicious meal, and a well-crafted cocktail.

As soon as you walk through the doors you’ll notice that every beautiful detail has been planned with care. Gonzalez and Schleuning partnered with New Braunfels design firm, TADA (Total Art Design and Architecture) for the interior layout of the space. TADA owner Patrick Winn along with his colleague Ashley Brukas, worked closely with Schleuning who has a background in the entertainment scene in LA. “My vision is to offer a truly unique experience at a level you’ll find in other major metropolitan cities,” Schleuning shared. Winn and his team ran with that vision and brought their own concepts to the table too — wanting to capitalize on the natural beauty of the Rand building by capturing its inherent elegance and charm.

Settling on an Art Deco style with a modern touch, they incorporated bold colors and geometric, linear characteristics that lends to a sophisticated ambiance. The gold, cascading wall, white marble table and bar-tops, custom-made and welded boomerang standing bars, and brass details are just a few of the intricate and beautifully placed details that really pop when you first walk in.

The design elements definitely add to the experience, but perhaps most exciting at this new location are two new additions to the Rosella team: chef Rafael Peña and bar manager Jesse Torres. Peña, formerly at Cured and Cappy’s, has developed a robust lunch and dinner menu, which reinforce the idea that this new location is more than just a coffee shop.

Peña sees his dishes at Rosella as the culmination of the best things he has made over the last decade. After spending some time on the corporate side of things, he’s excited to be hands on again and really develop his team. “We are sharpening things every day,” he said. He hopes to introduce some more obscure ingredients to San Antonian’s palates — something fresh, unique, and surprising while still being accessible. His favorite example of this on the menu is the tuna poke with its unique ingredients and Asian cuisine-inspired flair.

“My vision is to bring new things to the San Antonio culinary scene that people haven’t experienced before. Just having a chance to contribute to the culinary landscape in this city is very exciting,” said Peña.

Torres’ team is bringing some classic cocktails and house cocktails to the menu, even incorporating some of the Rosella coffees into the recipes. You’ll find some go-to’s like an Old Fashioned or French 75 as well as unique originals. The new drink menu is currently being developed.

“I’m most excited about partnering with and training up some amazingly talented bartenders,” said Torres. Rob Green from Tre Trattoria and newcomer Kaylee Hippensteel will be among them. Torres wants people to feel comfortable and know that they’re going to have a good time while enjoying a well-crafted drink when they sit down at the bar. “Rosella at The Rand is just going to keep growing and people will realize that this place is more than just a coffee shop,” said Torres. Torres’ reputation precedes him since the development of his bar program at the acclaimed Mezcalieria Mixtli (now closed), and now Rosella is putting their expanded drink menu into his very capable hands.

When Rosella first opened their doors there were a handful of independent shops around the city. Now with dozens scattered throughout SA, and more popping up all the time, Gonzalez is excited and grateful to be a part of the process of raising awareness about craft coffee. Part of his efforts to do just that are his “grab-n-go” shops which will be opening in the Lincoln Heights and Alon Market H-E-B locations in the coming months. These small outposts will offer coffee and pastries to busy shoppers. There are also plans to open a location in Southtown.

The fast expansion of Rosella Coffee is further proof that the coffee and food scene in San Antonio is still growing. Each new shop that opens raises the bar by offering more roasts, bringing in skilled baristas, and designing the space in a way that draws in more people.

Rosella at the Rand is now taking it a step further with thoughtful food and drink offerings that run the gamut and can be enjoyed any time of day. The concept goes beyond a coffee shop filled with laptops and glowing screens. From business meetings to tech meet-ups and beyond, Rosella’s ready for it. — Hannah Lorence


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