10 Hot Restaurants: Where to Eat and Drink Right Now in San Antonio 

Page 4 of 10

click to enlarge DAVID RANGEL
  • David Rangel

O’liva

115 Plaza de Armas, #107, (210) 229-2638, olivasa.com

Into the food desert between Downtown and Produce Row bravely came Chuck Hernandez — and not with a burger or pizza joint. That would have been too easy — and would not have done justice to this handsomely repurposed corner of Plaza de Armas across from City Hall. The repainted limestone walls, the burnished wood floors, the rugged, exposed ceiling structure … all of this demanded more Hernandez responded with a menu that supports seasonality, local farmers and artisan suppliers — olive oil not unsurprisingly — among them.

A tasting of three Salud de Paloma olive oils with grilled bread is one way to start. Cold-pressed in Dripping Springs, the oils come in natural, Meyer lemon, garlic and chili pepper infusions. We’d be tempted to toss in a natural for one of the flavored versions — probably the chili. But we’d be remiss in not noting that the accompaniments (you get three) almost outshine the oils. The chunky babaganoush, the robust muhamarra and the stiff hummus all demanded more bread. Cheerfully supplied.



click to enlarge DAVID RANGEL
  • David Rangel
A fourth condiment, the lusty olive tapenade, asserted itself in the Ba Ba burger, based on local ground lamb and graced with bibb lettuce, tomato relish and — most importantly ­— a gently fried egg. To be blunt, this burger is a hot mess: The flimsy bun disintegrates, the egg runs all over everything … but it’s a very tasty mess. And that runny yolk is great with the side salad of romaine, kale and blue cheese. We liked this with a glass of good, Spanish tempranillo, the only wine available at that moment. There is more to come, and we’re hoping for a white to go with an ahi tuna aguachile or the Slappin’ the Bass ceviche. A “Smoky Swine” sammie with pickled cabbage could swing both ways, wine-wise. Vegans can take comfort in the Portabellizo enchilada with vegan chorizo. And everybody should try to get back to the historic heart of the city. Downtown Tuesdays beckons with free parking.

Dishes to try: chunky babaganoush, the robust muhamarra and the stiff hummus

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