December 22, 2016

The Good, The Bad and the Yuck: 22 Bars and Restaurants We Reviewed in 2016

Here's a look back on everything we ate in 2016.
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Sichuan House
3505 Wurzbach Rd #102,  (210) 509-9999
"At first glance, the tiny strip the restaurant is in isn't compelling unless you're into anime, need to rent a tuxedo, print a few signs or get a touch up on your Shellac. Not quite in the corner lot of this string of random shops sits Sichuan House, inside the former 4 Star Chinese Cuisine. Once inside, Sichuan is a whole other story. Instead of tossing red lanterns every which way, Sichuan chooses demure décor and lets the food handle the rest. And boy does it." — Jessica Elizarraras 
Full review:   You’ll Want to Try the Dumplings at Sichuan House 
Courtesy photo
Sichuan House
3505 Wurzbach Rd #102, (210) 509-9999
"At first glance, the tiny strip the restaurant is in isn't compelling unless you're into anime, need to rent a tuxedo, print a few signs or get a touch up on your Shellac. Not quite in the corner lot of this string of random shops sits Sichuan House, inside the former 4 Star Chinese Cuisine. Once inside, Sichuan is a whole other story. Instead of tossing red lanterns every which way, Sichuan chooses demure décor and lets the food handle the rest. And boy does it." — Jessica Elizarraras
Full review: You’ll Want to Try the Dumplings at Sichuan House
Courtesy photo
Viva Villa Taqueria 905 Dolorosa St.,(210) 987-8482
"Green chile con queso comes to you in a clay cup flanked by a raft of chips. The name suggests that chile will dominate — or at least participate equally. You will now have guessed that it doesn't. There are just a few strands on top of the melted cheese mixture. That mixture, however, is an unexpectedly rewarding blend of sharp cheddar and avocado — smooth, creamy and in need only of a little more thermal heat and the zing of a few more rajitas de chile. This could easily become the perfect bar snack with one of Viva Villa's craft or Mexican beers on tap or in bottles or cans. (The drink list is otherwise confined to wine and wine-based margaritas.)" — Ron Bechtol
Full review:Don’t Miss Viva Villa’s Cazuelitas 
Courtesy photo
Viva Villa Taqueria
905 Dolorosa St.,(210) 987-8482
"Green chile con queso comes to you in a clay cup flanked by a raft of chips. The name suggests that chile will dominate — or at least participate equally. You will now have guessed that it doesn't. There are just a few strands on top of the melted cheese mixture. That mixture, however, is an unexpectedly rewarding blend of sharp cheddar and avocado — smooth, creamy and in need only of a little more thermal heat and the zing of a few more rajitas de chile. This could easily become the perfect bar snack with one of Viva Villa's craft or Mexican beers on tap or in bottles or cans. (The drink list is otherwise confined to wine and wine-based margaritas.)" — Ron Bechtol
Full review:Don’t Miss Viva Villa’s Cazuelitas
Courtesy photo
Rebelle
300 E. Travis St., (210) 352-3171 
"Lunch is a different animal at Rebelle. The setting that is sexy and sultry by night is not quite as successful in the light of day. Red-lamped sconces and suspended fixtures seem especially out of place. At 12:30 on a Thursday, the place was hardly bustling. And at first glance, the more-casual noonday menu seems like less of a fit than it does at dinner." — Ron Bechtol
Full review: Your Next Night Out Should Be at Rebelle 
Photo by David Rangel
Rebelle
300 E. Travis St., (210) 352-3171
"Lunch is a different animal at Rebelle. The setting that is sexy and sultry by night is not quite as successful in the light of day. Red-lamped sconces and suspended fixtures seem especially out of place. At 12:30 on a Thursday, the place was hardly bustling. And at first glance, the more-casual noonday menu seems like less of a fit than it does at dinner." — Ron Bechtol
Full review: Your Next Night Out Should Be at Rebelle
Photo by David Rangel
Sketch
200 W. Jones Ave., 
(210) 896-6161 
"Housed inside the Hops Building behind the museum, the tiny café has used its interiors expertly. Because there isn't an honest-to-god kitchen inside the building, the eatery is instead outfitted with small appliances that handle the bulk of the menu. Baked goods, of the French variety, naturally, are created off-site." — Jessica Elizarraras
Full review:Going Parisian at Sketch 
Courtesy photo
Sketch
200 W. Jones Ave., (210) 896-6161
"Housed inside the Hops Building behind the museum, the tiny café has used its interiors expertly. Because there isn't an honest-to-god kitchen inside the building, the eatery is instead outfitted with small appliances that handle the bulk of the menu. Baked goods, of the French variety, naturally, are created off-site." — Jessica Elizarraras
Full review:Going Parisian at Sketch
Courtesy photo
The Bread Box
555 W. Bitters Road, Suite 115 (210) 277-8612 
"There's something to be said about a place that knows its target audience. At The Bread Box, which opened last November, owners Tina and Lucas Kent know what their customers want and they're delivering it." — Jessica Elizarraras 
Full review:  Spot On Flavors and Baked Goods at The Bread Box 
Photo by Jessica Elizarraras
The Bread Box
555 W. Bitters Road, Suite 115 (210) 277-8612
"There's something to be said about a place that knows its target audience. At The Bread Box, which opened last November, owners Tina and Lucas Kent know what their customers want and they're delivering it." — Jessica Elizarraras
Full review: Spot On Flavors and Baked Goods at The Bread Box
Photo by Jessica Elizarraras
Grayze
521 E Grayson St., (210) 481-8776
"The menu tries for some of the same and occasionally scores as well. Take the Cheeks n Buns, in which the name and the product come together perfectly in the form of just greasy enough barbacoa cradled in a sturdy slider bun with cilantro ginger slaw and kewpie mayo for crunchy/tangy contrast. At happy hour, one of these puppies is three bucks. Run, don't walk." — Ron Bechtol
Full review: Grayze Nails Casual and Tasty on Grayson 
Photo by David Rangel
Grayze
521 E Grayson St., (210) 481-8776
"The menu tries for some of the same and occasionally scores as well. Take the Cheeks n Buns, in which the name and the product come together perfectly in the form of just greasy enough barbacoa cradled in a sturdy slider bun with cilantro ginger slaw and kewpie mayo for crunchy/tangy contrast. At happy hour, one of these puppies is three bucks. Run, don't walk." — Ron Bechtol
Full review: Grayze Nails Casual and Tasty on Grayson
Photo by David Rangel
Burleson Yard Beer Garden
430 Austin St.,(210) 354-3001
"The outdoor patio is the size of an Olympic pool and is split into three areas, each with their own distinct décor. The hive of the beer garden is front and center, waiting to greet you once you walk under the wooden frame — and mind your step — into the central drinking headquarters. Metal chairs and tables of pastel greens, blues, pinks and yellows dot this district, which due to its adjacency to the bar within the pavilion, is packed with people waiting in line and buzzing around tables." — Mark Stenberg
Full review:New East Side Watering Hole Defined by Patio and Pavilion 
Photo by  Jessica Elizarraras
Burleson Yard Beer Garden
430 Austin St.,(210) 354-3001
"The outdoor patio is the size of an Olympic pool and is split into three areas, each with their own distinct décor. The hive of the beer garden is front and center, waiting to greet you once you walk under the wooden frame — and mind your step — into the central drinking headquarters. Metal chairs and tables of pastel greens, blues, pinks and yellows dot this district, which due to its adjacency to the bar within the pavilion, is packed with people waiting in line and buzzing around tables." — Mark Stenberg
Full review:New East Side Watering Hole Defined by Patio and Pavilion
Photo by Jessica Elizarraras
Juniper Tar
244 W Houston St., (210) 229-1833
"I began with big, boozy and spicy. Burning in Effigy ($13) is composed of blanco tequila with Chartreuse, lemon, crème de cacao and Ancho Reyes, and it reconciles these type-A personalities with the deftness of a high-priced analyst. (Chartreuse can easily get overbearing in my experience, spicy-sweet Ancho can also be a bully and crème de cacao calls to mind bad chocolate martinis — all in lesser hands.) Equally as impressive is El Tule ($13), balancing the smokiness of mezcal with the raisin-y sweetness of Madeira, the floral bitterness of Amaro Montenegro and the dark heartbeat of xocolatl mole bitters." — Ron Bechtol
Full review:Juniper Tar Reheeled 
Photo by Koby Melton
Juniper Tar
244 W Houston St., (210) 229-1833
"I began with big, boozy and spicy. Burning in Effigy ($13) is composed of blanco tequila with Chartreuse, lemon, crème de cacao and Ancho Reyes, and it reconciles these type-A personalities with the deftness of a high-priced analyst. (Chartreuse can easily get overbearing in my experience, spicy-sweet Ancho can also be a bully and crème de cacao calls to mind bad chocolate martinis — all in lesser hands.) Equally as impressive is El Tule ($13), balancing the smokiness of mezcal with the raisin-y sweetness of Madeira, the floral bitterness of Amaro Montenegro and the dark heartbeat of xocolatl mole bitters." — Ron Bechtol
Full review:Juniper Tar Reheeled
Photo by Koby Melton
Edera Osteria - Enoteca
1903 San Pedro Ave., (210) 530-1111
"The team behind Edera is certainly capable of only blossoming roses. Partner Cesar Amadore, formerly of Andrew Weissman's operations at the Pearl, has brought with him several servers. And, though he had a brief stopover at Brigid, top chef Chris Carlson, previously at Sandbar, is also on board." — Ron Bechtol
Full review:  Edera Shows Potential with Simple Hits, Few Misses 
Photo by Dan Payton
Edera Osteria - Enoteca
1903 San Pedro Ave., (210) 530-1111
"The team behind Edera is certainly capable of only blossoming roses. Partner Cesar Amadore, formerly of Andrew Weissman's operations at the Pearl, has brought with him several servers. And, though he had a brief stopover at Brigid, top chef Chris Carlson, previously at Sandbar, is also on board." — Ron Bechtol
Full review: Edera Shows Potential with Simple Hits, Few Misses
Photo by Dan Payton
Il Forno
122 Nogalitos St., (210) 616-2198
"There's very little to remind pizza lovers that this was once a dive bar. That's not to say that the joint mimics Kimura's sleekness or Gwendolyn's Victorian charm, but Il Forno's bare bones, thoroughly rustic and DIY efficiency is evident once you step inside. A patio is still to come, but the open dining room features wooden benches (formerly pews from an area church), and light fixtures made by chef himself using foraged pallets." — Jessica Elizarraras 
Full reivew: An Early Look at Michael Sohocki’s Il Forno 
Courtesy image
Il Forno
122 Nogalitos St., (210) 616-2198
"There's very little to remind pizza lovers that this was once a dive bar. That's not to say that the joint mimics Kimura's sleekness or Gwendolyn's Victorian charm, but Il Forno's bare bones, thoroughly rustic and DIY efficiency is evident once you step inside. A patio is still to come, but the open dining room features wooden benches (formerly pews from an area church), and light fixtures made by chef himself using foraged pallets." — Jessica Elizarraras
Full reivew: An Early Look at Michael Sohocki’s Il Forno
Courtesy image