City Guide: San Antonio restaurants for 2011

Mex & Tex-Mex

Daniel’s Café

The food at Daniel’s defines hearty and homey: Rich refried beans, savory caldos, tasty asada, and addictive papa con chorizo tacos. The milanesa is one of the best in town, and the family-staff are warm and welcoming. 5008 S Presa, (210) 533-6222

El 7 Mares Seafood Restaurant 

Mariachis, ceviches, cocteles de mariscos, soups brimming with sundry seafood, and crisply fried smelts chased with cold beer are just some of the staples in this seashore meets border-baroque environment. 3831 W Commerce, (210) 436-6056

La Gloria

This spin on Mexican street food tucked behind the Pearl along the newly expanded River Walk does a decent transplant job. The molcajete dishes are rich and satisfying; the ceviches are fresh and tangy. Don’t skip the camarones aquachile or coconut flan. 100 E Grayson, (210) 267-9040,


Barbecue & Soul Food

Jones Sausage & BBQ House

An ethereally smoky, tender, and moist sliced brisket sandwich is served on white bread, the way God intended, and the sausage at this economically sized Eastside joint is no slouch, either. Save room for 7UP pound cake for dessert. 2827 Martin Luther King Dr., (210) 224-6999

Mama Lee’s Soul Food

Sweet and downhome, Mama Lee’s earns its Soul Food designation with loaded plates of freshly prepared classics. The fried pork chops, fried chicken, and fresh takes on okra and collard greens are especially notable. 310 Valley Hi Dr. #205, (210) 675-6262


Americana/New American

Big’z Burger Joint

The most down-to-earth gourmet burger you’ll find. Order it “dirty” and don’t skip the house-made potato chips. An outdoor patio and fenced yard makes it a perfect post-soccer-game family hangout. 2303 North Loop 1604 West, (210) 408-2029,

The Grill at Leon Springs

L’Etoile is dead; long live Thierry Burkle’s new star, which serves updated, casual, continental fare (with Asian accents) in a classy country kitchen. Check the website for live music. 24116 IH-10 West, (210) 698-8797,

King’s Court Frankfurter Express

These ambitious dogs blow our minds (deep-fried with bacon, please!) but not our pocketbooks, and the front-porch and patio hangout make us feel 20 again. 111 King’s Court, (210) 737-7774,


The gayest place to get a burger in town, served homestyle and late-night, but suitable for casual business lunches, too. 1425 N Main, (210) 223-7727,

The Monterey

With a jewel-box of a dining room and excellent patio space, this well-oiled gastropub rightfully puts flavor ahead of any protein-carb calculations, offering street-level luxuries like pork bellies, bacon grilled cheese, and roasted bone marrow. 1127 S St Mary’s, (210) 745-2581



Dough Pizzeria Napoletana 

The finest pie in town (and authentically, officially Neapolitan), with a crisp and savory crust topped with fresh, milky mozzarella melting into the sweet and tart sauce. Excellent appetizers, too. Current readers named Dough Best Local Pizza in ’08 and ’09. 6989 Blanco Rd., (210) 979-6565,

Il Sogno

Andrew Weissman’s Italian outing is everything we hoped for, from the perfectly tender squid in the squid-ink orzo to the delectable wild-boar ragout with polenta to the regional (and affordable) wine list, all served in an elegant but informal dining room. Arrive early and start with prosecco on the patio. 200 E Grayson, (210) 223-3900


Around the globe

Ilsong Garden

Starters such as the “pancake” filled with squid and oyster are an easy introduction to the kitchen’s authentic style, but don’t skip the Korean barbecue and the treasure-like array of panch’an. 6905 Blanco, (210) 366-4508

Moroccan Bites

Rich, savory meat-and-fruit stews played against fragrant couscous and rice dishes. Run by a Moroccan family by way of New Orleans. 5714 Evers, (210) 706-9700

Pasha Mediterranean Grill

Delicious Mid East fare with an especially good, smoky baba ghannouj, and excellent saffron-marinated Cornish hens. 9339 Wurzbach, (210) 561-5858,

Thai Chili Oriental Restaurant

Fresh, piquant, and authentic Thai cuisine makes it hard to pick a favorite dish, but we’re currently stuck on Rice of the Drunks and the Chicken Larb. 4303 Thousand Oaks, (210) 656-8589, 19141 Stone Oak Pkwy., (210) 402-4042,




An elegant, old-school steakhouse that offers adventure in the form of wild game and a hot new downstairs bar. 219 E. Houston, 2nd Floor, (210) 472-2600,

Little Red Barn Steakhouse 

The cowgirl outfits and suffocating ranch memorabilia aren’t satirical, podna, and the dirt-bottom prices are the real-deal, too. Don’t feel like you have to finish the enormous and satisfying Porterhouse in one sitting. 1836 S Hackberry, (210) 532-4235

Little Rhein Steakhouse

With one of the best positions on the River Walk, Little Rhein could coast on its location laurels, but its dependable menu of Prime steaks and chops is a perennial crowd pleaser, and the award-winning wine selection is among the best in the city. In good weather, pick the patio. 231 S Alamo, (210) 225-2111,

Waring General Store Steaknite

You pay $20 at the side door of the Waring General Store, and get gorditas, quesadillas, a ribeye steak or chicken breast, a foiled potato, and grandma-made desserts — plus a Hill Country band and Texas atmosphere to burn. 6-9pm Wed. 544 Waring Welfare Rd., Waring, (830) 995-4377,


French & Fancy

Bistro Bakery

Savor a rich quiche in a flaky crust, or a deliciously rustic pâté in the charming dining room, then wow your significant other with take-home almond croissants. 4300 McCullough, (210) 824-3884

Le Midi

Jean-Francois Poujol brings the comfortable finesse of Soleil Bistro downtown. Dishes such as rillettes de porc, escargots Bordelaise, and snapper a la tapenade, are both French Mediterranean and contemporary traveler, and you’ll find plenty of pairing options on the wine list. 301 E Houston, (210) 858-7388,


This French-German brasserie — with a dash of Creole — serves up satisfying gumbo, craft beers, and 50-cent oysters during happy hour. 125 E Houston, (210) 227-5853,


Bigger and fancier than its former location, Sandbar at the Pearl is known for sophisticated sauces and accompaniments. It’s strenghs are still fish in any form, and its special way with lobster. 200 E Grayson, (210) 222-2426,


Vegetarian & Sustainable

Green Vegetarian Cuisine & Coffee

The menu is kosher as well as meat-free, but the food aesthetic is homey and filling, making it a good transition restaurant for new herbivores and a great compromise for mixed food partners. 1017 N Flores, (210) 320-5865,

The Cove

Justly famous for its fish tacos, the Cove is also a good location for locavores and vegetarians thanks to owner Lisa Asvestas’s commitment to sustainable food sources (she can tell you where to find raw milk, too). Beer and wine tastings, plus live music and the adjacent laundromat make it a one-stop lifestyle shop without the Austin attitude. 606 W Cypress, (210) 227-2683,

Pavani Express Vegetarian Cafe

Newcomer (as of December 2010) Pavani is an all-vegetarian Indian fast food eatery serving up breads (puri, chapati, naan), a wide selection of subjis (vegetables), lemon and coconut basmati rice, sweets (gulabjamuns, burfi) and appetizers (pakoras, samosas). 5755 Evers Rd, (210) 680-3134


Margaritas y micheladas

The Friendly Spot

Madhatters’ Rene Guerrero reimagined SA’s old Friendly Spot as a family-accommodating ice house with a playground, a worldly beer selection, interior-Mexico tapas, and excellent micheladas, and we’re grateful. 943 S Alamo, (210) 224-BEER,

La Fogata

La Fogata’s brightly lit rascuache patios and fountains feel like a holiday any night of the week, making it the perfect setting for sipping the margaritas that earned it the nickname “I Forgotta.” 2427 Vance Jackson, (210) 340-1337,

Read more from our 2011 City Guide here.