The 15 Hottest San Antonio Restaurants This Season 

click to enlarge JESSICA GIESEY
  • Jessica Giesey
Rosella at The Rand
114 Houston St., (210) 277-8574, rosellacoffee.com

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

click to enlarge LAUREN DE HOYOS
  • Lauren De Hoyos
La Hacienda Scenic Loop
25615 Boerne Stage Road, (210) 687-1818, lahaciendascenicloop.com

A not-entirely-new location makes four for the Los Barrios Family behind puffy tacos and cheesy enchiladas. With a history that dates back to the mid 1800s, when German immigrants first established homesteads near Scenic Loop and Boerne Stage Roads along the Old Spanish Trail, the latest Los Barrios Family Restaurant is securing their place in San Antonio lore.

This October, Los Barrios headed north, again. This time, the storied Tex-Mex institution that's spun off sister restaurants such as Los Barrios on Blanco, La Hacienda de los Barrios on Redland and Viola's Ventanas near SeaWorld, took ownership of Scenic Loop Cafe.

The Cafe, which opened in 1991, closed at the end of September and reopened the next day with brunch by the new La Hacienda Scenic Loop, which is using a sprawling patio and sizable stage to host lively Friday nights in this sleepy far-off corner of San Antonio.

"We're focusing on the historic value of Scenic Loop," Barrios-Treviño said. The restaurant marries elements of Los Barrios and Scenic Loop Café. The brunch favorites from Scenic Loop including the house-made sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, eggs Benedict, share the table with chilaquiles, carne guisada, chorizo and egg and a fresh fruit.

Other favorites from Scenic Loop will stay on the regular menu such as the burger and chicken friend steak with other menu items landing as chalkboard specials on any given day. And, yes, plenty of margaritas.

click to enlarge JESSICA ELIZARRARAS
  • Jessica Elizarraras
Nonna Osteria
401 S. Alamo St., (210) 224-8800, nonnasa.com

Your own first look at Nonna in the Fairmount will be of a gleaming wall of wine. This is not just to impress you — though it does; servers will kneel to unlock the tall, glass doors frequently during the course of the evening. But even more dazzling may be the kid-in-the-candy-store smile of Chef Luca Della Casa from his white-tiled post in the open kitchen. He’s got a lot to smile about.

The menu in this totally, and handsomely, revamped space seems at first glance to be a little modest, given all the time and effort that went into the place’s making. It stops, where most Italians are just getting started, with pizzas and pastas. But it pays to know that Silo Prime, an equally handsome enclave behind Nonna, will open soon as a steakhouse, satisfying carnivorous urges. With that in mind, you might even consider restaurant hopping.

Start with the altogether satisfying arancini, the golden orbs of fried, saffron-scented risotto with mozzarella. Beautifully seasoned chopped, tender octopus with potatoes and a basil aioli will likely not disappoint as a follow-up. In order of preference, we moved on to the subtle and aromatic lobster ravioli and cherry tomatoes, the robust pappardelle with cinghiale (wild boar) and mozzarella, and the very good but just not as exciting Gnocchi di Nonna: rabbit, olives and fontina. An earthy Montepulciano d’Abruzzo worked especially well with the wild boar. And stay for desserts by pastry chef Jenn Riesman, such as the interactive chocolate and porcini ice cream sandwich with dulce de leche interiors or the olive oil cake topped with curried blueberry compote and candied pine nuts. Salads and pizza we left for another time — and there will be one. Or two …

click to enlarge JESSICA ELIZARRARAS
  • Jessica Elizarraras
Carnitas Lonja
1107 Roosevelt Ave., (210) 612-3626, facebook.com/Lonja17

Blue skies, puffy clouds, light breeze; chunky carnitas, great guac, savvy salsas … all brought to your picnic table by possibly the best smile in the city’s serving fraternity: Get yourself to Carnitas Lonja.

After a closure hiccup occasioned by a Health Department “misunderstanding,” the little carnitas cabaña that could is back in business, coffers lightened by the several thousand dollars in expenditures (some help provided by a GoFundMe type campaign) required to install a massive exhaust hood, redo plumbing and more. And though I truly hate to report that the carnitas are now cooked inside, not in a screened exterior annex, and are even better than before, that’s my solemn opinion.

As before, you order at a counter in a space that’s often hotter than the tables under the trees. The kitchen, now visible, is complete with its requisite cocinera, though Michoacan native and former Lüke cook Alex Paredes is still in charge. Breakfast is not currently being offered, and the menu is consequently shorter: carnitas by the pound ($14/$7 with tortillas, jalapeños and salsas), a carnitas taco ($3), a bollilo torta with carnitas and beans ($7), and various sides to include a chunky guacamole good right out of the gate — no lime or salt required, simple soupy beans swimming in a flavorful liquor, chicharrones and chorizo. The corn tortillas (sorry gringos, no flour) are thick and primal, the pico de gallo fresh and just chile-spiked enough, and the two squeeze bottle salsas play yin to yang: one rustic-red and robust, the other creamy, green and avocado polite.

But back to best-in-town-contender carnitas. They were served in an almost pristine stack, glistening with just the barest gloss of fat. I had asked for some crust, but would have been hard-pressed to pick a favorite between the moist and porky interior parts and the barky exterior — so let’s call it a draw. It’s almost a shame to profane the pork with salsas. But it’s equally impossible to imagine not using them. And by all means slather on some guacamole.

As winter approaches, Paredes has opened a small dining room in the adjacent building where he has plans to serve ceviche in the summer months.

click to enlarge JESSICA ELIZARRARAS
  • Jessica Elizarraras
Tenko Ramen
312 Pearl Pkwy., Building 6, tenkoramen.com

It was the dead of summer when Tenko Ramen officially joined the ranks of ramenhood in San Antonio, but noodle seekers didn't seem to mind. As a young pop-up by chef Quealy Watson and business partner Jennifer Dobbertin, Tenko had drawn out noodle nerds far and wide, often lining up for more than an hour for a hot bowl of broth and fixings.

​With its opening inside the Pearl’s Bottling Department Food Hall, the first of its kind in the city, in July, Tenko was a siren song for San Antonians hungry for more ramen — regardless of the 100 degree temperatures.

​The Tokyo shoyu is a favorite by far with a sweet roasted snapper tare sauce, marinated egg, chewy bamboo shoots, springy noodles and house-made pork chasu. Go ahead and add the fried chicken thigh to round out the dish. Or try the miso tonkotsu, an exploration in richness brought on by the pork chasu and parmesan cheese fat and dotted with crispy garlic.

​Summer eaters also found solace from the hot temps in the “snacks” offered by the ramen shop. There’s the house-made kimchi, or beefed up edamame with dunkable miso popcorn butter or Lucas togarashi and the bright sunomono cucumber salad. The karaage fajita nuggets are great, but don’t sleep on the chicken katsu sandwich with pickled kimchi mayo, the best bang for your buck in the Bottling Department.

click to enlarge LAUREN DE HOYOS
  • Lauren De Hoyos
Revolucion Café + Juice
Multiple locations, revolucioncoffee.com

There will be more fast, healthy and fresh food options on Houston Street in the coming months as Revolucion Coffee + Juice opens a second San Antonio location inside the former Moshe’s Golden Falafel at 300 E. Houston St.
After chef Andrew Weissman vacated that space earlier this summer, owners Manny and Angie Carral “jumped” on the chance to bring their 5-year-old concept to a changing Downtown landscape.

Though finding a location Downtown had turned into almost a three year project for the pair, the Carrals, downtown denizens themselves, stuck it out and landed on this 1,500-square-foot space where they’ll bring most of the products carried at their flagship store in Alamo Heights. Pitaya and acai bowls, smoothies, along with sandwiches, wraps and to-go meals prepared by chef Michael Hernandez will be available at the new shop. And the aesthetic found at the Broadway location will make its way downtown as well with designer Claire Zinnecker out of Austin tackling the project.

The Carrals are hoping to replicate the process several times over (a few locations have already been scouted for future Revolucions), and are actively seeking investors. As of now, Revolucion, which opened in 2012 making it San Antonio’s first raw cold-pressed juice shop, opened San Antonio Running off St. Mary’s in 2015 which carries their juices and nut milks, and franchised a Houston location in 2016.

Revolucion’s downtown location is expected to open in early 2018.

click to enlarge JESSICA ELIZARRARAS
  • Jessica Elizarraras
Chas Market Kitchen
1431 N. Pine St., (210) 227-1521, facebook.com/chasgrill

Though I lived off Pine Street for just under a year, I often wondered what was inside the Chas Market & Kitchen, and sadly never ventured in. The market, at the corner of I-35 and Pine, needs a paint job and the parking lot can be a bit of a nightmare (an 18-wheeler was idling out front during our visit). But the interiors hold a very different story.

Owned by J.T. Kim and Hwa Youn Kim since the mid-1980s, Chas Market & Kitchen feels like an NYC bodega meets Rhea’s Deli Market in San Francisco’s Mission District. But instead of Rhea’s massive Korean barbecue hoagies made behind a deli counter, Chas Market brings the 'cue to your table. The addition is fairly new but the breakfast tacos and lunch plates have been part of the store for much longer. The rest of the shop is a colorful mishmash of produce, beer, sodas, all the cheesy daytime TV you can handle and giant posters explaining the menu.

Lunch and dinner entrees vary from $9.99 to $17.99, but the main event is the All-You-Can-Eat Gogi. At $19.99, this makes for a pricy lunch, but there’s no way you’re leaving without a few leftovers.

Pro-tip: Call ahead for a reservation. The restaurant might seem dead, but there was a steady stream of to-go orders and sit-down lunchers while we ate.
The dining area is split in two sections of square four-tops and picnic-style benches outfitted with indoor smokeless grills. Because we weren’t savvy to the call-ahead suggestion, we strolled in and the cashier let our cooks know we were there for the Korean barbecue. It was go-gi time.

Our cook lined white banchan-filled saucers and sturdy serving plates in front of us: from pickled daikon, to kimchi, to all manners of cucumbers and seaweed topped with gochujang (red chili paste) to thinly sliced fried fish cakes with cured fish similar to that found in ramen. (Bottled waters were presented as well.) We happily picked at these while our cook bounced back and forth between dropping off a container of rice and the kitchen.

And then came the meats. Our cook cut through crisp pork belly, which gave way to tender and flavorful bulgogi, and by the time she arrived with spicy pork and beef short ribs in tow, we were in a meat-induced euphoria. Paired with the sticky short grain rice that held a perfect clumpy chew, it was hard to find faults in this lunch.

There are a few lulls, so don’t partake if you’re in any sort of rush. Don’t give away your leftovers to coworkers like I did, because you’ll be thinking about this meal for days on end. Make this Korean feast part of your San Anto bucket list. — Jessica Elizarraras

click to enlarge LAUREN DE HOYOS
  • Lauren De Hoyos
Rolling Fish
12730 I-10 W., Suite 304, (210) 592-1003, facebook.com/rollingfishsushiburrito

Poké bowl shops finally landed in San Antonio this year, though they’d been gaining on menus across the city.

With Rolling Fish Sushirritos and Poké’s opening in late July, the city gained a spot to satiate their fresh seafood cravings in a fast-casual setting.

The shotgun restaurant nestled in the Northside in the same complex as HuHot, Twin Peaks and Einstein Bagels is a fresh option for UTSA students and locals alike in more ways than one. The menu features a choice of signature poké salads like the “Hawaiian Classic” with ahi tuna, “Samurai” with salmon, “Geisha Crunch” with shrimp tempura, “Ninja” with chicken, along with unagi or tofu renditions.

Patrons can choose between a bowl on a bed of sushi rice; a salad on romaine; or a sushi burrito with sushi rice and a seaweed wrap.

Think Chipotle with fresh flavors, delectable seafood options by the scoop and just about every dressing and topping you could muster and you’re at Rolling Fish, where you decide just how spicy, crunchy or sweet your creation is. Stop in after your next workout for lean proteins and yes, organic brown rice is also available.


click to enlarge JACQUELINE FIERRO / GIANT NOISE
  • Jacqueline Fierro / Giant Noise
The Good Kind
312 Pearl Pkwy., Building 6, (210) 439-0030, eatgoodkind.com

With 2018 around the corner, and resolutions rearing their optimistic heads, it’s time to explore the menu at The Good Kind.

The brainchild of Tim McDiarmid of Tim the Girl catering, The Good Kind was set to open as a standalone shop at the Pearl before moving into the Bottling Department to join ramen, donuts, burgers and rotisserie chicken as part of the lineup. Its first iteration featured 50-plus items, but the menu has been whittled down to just the hits of smoothies, juices, sandwiches, and bowls.

All organic and local when possible, the meals and The Good Kind are there for you when you need to reset, when you need to self-care and when you’re sick of burgers.Though not vegetarian in the least, the vegetable-forward menu includes hearty panini like the tomato, mozzarella and basil, along with a veggie burger, and a signature barbacoa bahn mi, a hit during the Pearl’s Dia de los Muertos celebration this November.

With temperatures heading south, McDiarmid and co. reached for comfort through their bowls. The Market Bowl features produce found during weekend markets and it is customizable so you can load up on choice of dressing (the spicy carrot ginger is a winner) and add-ons such as chicken, feta, beef meatballs, boils eggs or nuts and seeds.

Keep warm with a bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese, a veggie-filled free-range chicken rice stew, go light with the soba noodle.

You can’t go wrong at The Good Kind.

click to enlarge LAUREN DE HOYOS
  • Lauren De Hoyos
Tony G’s Soul Food
915 Hackberry St., (210) 451-1234, tonygssoulfood.com

Tommy Moore’s may have closed in 2014 due to foreclosure, but soul food never truly left the Eastside. Tony G’s Soul Food, which relocated from its original location at St. Paul Square to the former home of Tommy Moore’s, is keeping soul alive.

The space received a deserved makeover — the carpets are gone, as are the transmissions that were left by previous tenants, according to one of our servers. In its place are stained concrete floors, a sleek new paint job, a bar and a new buffet line that brings in hordes for a lively Sunday brunch.

The food is everything you crave when seeking comfort fare. The collards leaned on the bitter side during lunch, and the smothered pork chop (covered in a velvety brown gravy) fared better with a steak knife, rather than the butter knife we were given. Still the fried chicken is a must, as is the cornbread and grits (cheesy or chipotle, your choice). The grape Kool-Aid was a plus.

Tony G’s was also known for its brunch, which they jumped back into this weekend in their new digs. Brunch gets going at around 10:30 a.m. and the inside of the restaurant fills up as rotating bands set up for the day. The never-empty buffet line, emblazoned simply “Soul Food” held brunch basics such as sausage, bacon and scrambled eggs on one side and on the other side all the hits such as biscuits and gravy, mac ‘n’ cheese, wings and waffles (honestly, more convenient than an entire leg), fried catfish, collards and tournedos (the end portion of beef tenderloin) with mushroom and gravy. Oh, and there’s a meat-carving station.

Head there for the jovial and communal vibe that sets this restaurant apart.

click to enlarge JESSICA ELIZARRARAS
  • Jessica Elizarraras
Outlaw Kitchens
2919 N. Flores St., (210) 300-4728, outlawkitchens.com

Imagine if Mr. Rogers invited you over for dinner. Now, imagine that Mr. Rogers had a Mrs. Rogers, an elaborate garden, a couple of kitchens and seats for 23 or so of his closest neighbors. You don’t have to imagine because chef Paul Sartory and wife Peggy Howe have made all that a reality with their new takeaway restaurant Outlaw Kitchens, which officially opened this past September.

The new Alta Vista eatery was several years in the making. After Howe and Sartory married in 2012, the chef started to work on the idea he had been brewing since his time in New York. The Culinary Institute of America-trained chef and instructor wanted to open an eatery that would keep costs and food waste down.

They settled on a takeaway shop where customers could zip through on their way home from work, grab a great meal and enjoy at home. The couple also wanted to bring down costs by converting their Alta Vista home into a live-work business. A year of rezoning later (with help from State Rep Diego Bernal and their neighborhood association), the beauty-salon-turned-home was cleared for a Inner City Development designation. Turns out you CAN work from home.

The concept is simple. Open Monday through Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. only, Outlaw serves one menu item and a vegetarian counterpart the first three days of the week. The opening week menu was made up of Greek pastitsio (a baked pasta dish with beef and lamb) or choice of vegetable lasagna; each served with a Greek wedge salad. As the weather cooled, the patio at the corner of Magnolia and North Flores became the perfect spot for people- and puppy-watching, complete with upcycled mink coats.

Come Thursday and Friday, Sartory makes a new item. Favorites include the wood-grilled hanger steak with béarnaise, twice-baked potato and steamed snow peas. Previous efforts included paella, steak chimichurri, sautéed chicken breast with a tarragon cream sauce, or vegetable Shepherd’s pie. Hearty, literally home-cooked, and served up by friendly neighbors — what more do you need?

click to enlarge HILMY
  • Hilmy
Range
125 E. Houston St., (210) 227-4455, rangesa.com

Yep, 2017 has been the Year of Dady. After a turn relatively successful turn on the Food Network’s Iron Chef Gauntlet this April, and an appearance in Throwdown with Bobby Flay (Dady was robbed!), Dady and co. returned to downtown San Antonio proper with Range.

Found inside the former home of Lüke San Antonio, Range takes on the modern chophouse with a Dady-flair. With a makeover and rebranding by Hilmy, a local design and production firm, Range delivers a new fine-dining spot for those power lunch meetings, an indulgent afternoon bite or a celebratory dinner.

That’s not to say Range doesn’t give you plenty of reasons to visit on days when you’re not getting engaged, or celebrating a promotion. There’s the interactive and bubbly Wagyu shabu shabu to dip, tableside bar carts with martinis to sip and proteins to explore. Range takes its roots in Texas’ abundant ranch and farmlands and delivers dishes not often seen on restaurant menus like the classic Parisa, a Castroville favorite that adds cheddar to a beef tartare preparation.

And then there are the steaks. Do yourself a flavorful favor and add a topper. Choose between a fried local hen egg for your tenderloin, sea urchin butter for your sirloin coulotte or the seared foie gras with pickled blueberry on your ribeye.

You don’t need to save room for dessert: checks are dropped off with a freshly spun cotton candy cloud.

click to enlarge TXTROUBLEMAKER / INSTAGRAM
Francis Bogside
803 S. St. Mary’s St., (210) 369-9192

Francis Bogside reopened on Halloween with a bang — a year to the day from the fire that put it out of business for way too long. In commemoration, the staff was outfitted in SAFD T-shirts. With the wall formerly dividing Francis and Brigid blown out, allowing for double the bar, the space is now large, loud and, at least on this costumed and festive night, a place you wanted to be.

Little of the old Irish emphasis remains on either the food or drink menu. Among Old Familiar Friends on the bar side, there’s still an Irish Old Fashioned with Jameson and a house Guinness syrup, and the Desmond with Paddy’s Irish Whiskey. Dark Soul with both mezcal and gin I don’t recall from before, and there’s a new Kinsman Rakia drink with vodka, pear, blackberry lemon and allspice — though this sounds like way too much in one glass, it all works. There are several bottled Texas beers including the revived Celis Pale Bock. And a couple of HighWheel brews from just down the street on south Flores are available on tap.

The Francis kitchen is now under the direction of Chris Cook. I was reluctant to order food on the first night, but the troops were hungry. Massive adrenaline (or Fernet or other stimulants) must have been fueling the staff, as the food appeared in commendably short time. And it seemed spot-on. You may not have to order beef cheek mac and cheese too many times in your life, but know that if you’re ready for a caloric bomb, accented with crispy fried onion, this is your poison. The contents in the Bogside burger, bracketed by a shiny, brioche bun, seemed a little slippery, but the taste was as good as remembered, and the house chips with spicy ketchup seduced as before. One taste of the yardbird curry with coconut masala made me want to come back.

click to enlarge JOSIE REES
  • Josie Rees
Burgerteca
403 Blue Star, (210) 635-0016, chefjohnnyhernandez.com

More than four years in the making, Burgerteca, Johnny Hernandez’s latest concept is taking Southtown to Mexico with loaded burgers, over the top fries, and homemade ice creams inside a colorful venue.

Burgerteca has taken up residence on the ground floor of the Big Tex Flats behind Blue Star Arts Complex. Bright walls give way to even brighter décor: colorful alebrijes, fantastical folk art sculptures dot the neveria’s corner, while a larger-than-life mariachi doubles as host.

When it comes to burgers, the chile con queso (a nod to SA’s bean burger) combines a beef patty, namesake cheese sauce, black beans, tomato, cilantro, chipotle-lime mayo and house-made corn strips for a textural delight, while the Oaxaca burger, doused in mole negro begs you to grab more napkins. Per reviewer Ron Bechtol, “don’t ignore the right side’s Big Tex Classic with tomatillo ketchup and chipotle lime mayo.”

The fries, themselves an exploration of crispy goodness, are great on their own, but try them as queso fundido fries if you’re in the mood for a flavor explosion. Seared poblanos, melty Oaxaca cheese and fresh chorizo cover the fries and we won’t blame you for not sharing.

Perhaps Hernandez’s most appealing opening since his first La Gloria, Burgerteca combines the best of both worlds in a comfortable setting made for big groups and bigger appetites.

click to enlarge JESSICA ELIZARRARAS
  • Jessica Elizarraras
Viva La Dough
6222 De Zavala Road, Suite 104, facebook.com/vivaladough

Did you steal the spoon as a child when mom made chocolate chip cookies? Do you sneak bites of raw dough before firing up the oven? If you’ve answered yes to either of these questions, you’ll probably want to visit San Antonio’s latest: Viva La Dough.

Opened by mom-and-daughter team Krista and Angelica Rodriguez, the bright and airy shop deals in everything and anything dough related. Using heat-treated flour and no eggs, the team makes up San Antonio-centric flavors like The Big 50, an Oreo-esque base with marshmallow fluff and throwback Spurs sprinkles swirled in.

Other flavors include classic sugar cookie and chocolate chip, but don’t forget about the Doey Fatone, a riff on the 7-layer bar with butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, pecans and graham crackers; or the Fluffer-Nutter with peanut butter cookie dough and marshmallow swirls.

As the holidays approached the shop has tossed in classic winter flavors such as gingerbread cookie dough, and (hang on to your seats) cookie dough truffles. Consider these tasty childhood treats for cheat day.

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