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Best of San Antonio > Best of San Antonio

Best of San Antonio: Food

2011 Best Of winners in the Food category

Photo by Enrique Lopetegui
Mi Tierra was founded in 1941 with just three tables. Today, it seats more than 500 customers.
Photo by Bryan Rindfuss
“This is like my last hurrah,” barista Sarah Cazares told us comically as she beautified our latte. The decorated resident foam artist is reportedly leaving Olmos Perk for a job at the San Antonio Children’s Museum.
Photo by Enrique Lopetegui
Besides its superb guacamole, Boudro’s goodies include the lime chess pie and the Prickly Pear margarita, made with cactus pear puree and frozen margarita.
Photo by Nicole Chavez
Our readers aren’t the only ones enamored with La Fogata’s margaritas. 99.5 KISS FM listeners have regularly bestowed top honors on La Fogata in the station’s “Margarita Pour Off” contest.
Photo by Bryan Rindfuss
Before there was Green, chef Mike Behrend and mom Luann Singleton (who’s also an accomplished chef) owned and operated another Best of SA winner: Lulu’s Bakery and Café, home of the Best Chicken-Fried Steak.
Photo by Bryan Rindfuss
When Gus Gonzalez and Gabe Garman aren’t cooking amazingly fresh bistro-style cuisine at G & G Mobil Bistro, you might find them playing amazingly loud punk-rock music as The Bad Ones.
Photo by Nicole Chavez
If you head to Viet Nam Restaurant, make sure you don’t park in front of Van’s (next door) or you WILL get towed! Extra parking is available behind the building.
Photo by Bryan Rindfuss
Despite the image it might conjure, Goro’s “Tako Enchilada” is not a Mexican combination plate, but a sushi roll with spicy crab on the inside, octopus and avocado on the outside, and smothered in squid salad and teriyaki sauce.
Photo by Michael Barajas
Before delving into the food world, owner Wayne Douglas Beers, right, attended dental school, but ultimately decided to fill stomachs instead of cavities.

 

Best Late Night Restaurant, Best Bakery/Panadería, Best Menudo

1. Mi Tierra Café y Panadería

218 Produce Row, (210) 225-1262, mitierracafe.com

“OK, let’s meet at Mi Tierra, then … ” How many wee-morning-hour phone calls resolve this way every year? We don’t recall every one of our bleary-eyed planning sessions, but whenever two or more frustrated persons discuss where to eat in San Antonio at 3 a.m. you can bet they frequently move in this direction. But you could be having a similar conversation any time of the day. No matter what time it is, Mi Tierra has something for you. Besides being a first-class Mexican restaurant (which serves breakfast 24 hours a day, and that includes its award-winning menudo; yeah, menudo for breakfast, gotta problem with that?), the bakery and bar are truly remarkable. The panadería has a variety of 28 panes (breads) and pastries, and the full bar offers strong margaritas in three sizes: grande, jumbo, and liter. I don’t know if it’s the colorful decorations on the ceiling or the mariachis moving from table to table or what, but getting drunk at Mi Tierra makes one feel like Harrison Ford circa Blade Runner getting lost in Guadalajara. For that alone, Mi Tierra is worth a visit. If you’ve been once, you know why this place has grown into a San Antonio institution since Pete and Cruz Cortez first opened in 1941. Enjoying Mi Tierra today is like visiting an Alamo City museum, one with tables, food, and a tantalizing air of pan-cultural possibility.

 

Best Late Night Restaurant

2. Los Robertos Taco Shop

226 W Bitters Rd #118, (210) 494-9131

3. Lulu’s Bakery and Café

918 N Main, (210) 222-9422, luluscafeinsa.com

 

Best Bakery/Panadería

2. Broadway Daily Bread

5001 Broadway, (210) 822-1621, broadwaydailybread.net

3. Panera Bread

999 E Basse Rd, (210) 822-7000, panerabread.com

 

Best Menudo

2. Taco Haven

1032 S Presa, (210) 533-2171, tacohavenpresa.com

3. Pico de Gallo Mexican Restaurant

111 S Leona, (210) 225-6060, picodegallo.com

 

 

 

Best Barbecue

1. Augie’s Barbed Wire Smokehouse Bar-B-Que

3709 N St. Mary’s, (210) 735-0088, augiesbs.com

Augie’s brands itself as a “Hill Country setting in the heart of San Antonio,” and they’re not kidding around. Just five minutes from downtown, Augie’s looks more authentic than even the most rustic outpost beyond 1604. Inside, customers can belly up to the wooden counter and order thick cuts of brisket (on a plate, or in a sandwich), down-home sides like potato salad, beans, or mac and cheese, and wash it down with iced tea or lemonade. Try the sausage sandwich (a Current favorite), topped with crisp onions, pickles, and drizzled in Baby Augie’s barbecue sauce. Out back is Augie’s famous beer garden, outfitted with a 12-foot screen relaying sports action and Hollywood drama. To recap: barbecue, beer, and movies? Let’s see the Hill Country try and top that one.

2. Texas Pride Barbecue

2980 E Loop 1604, Adkins, Texas, (210) 649-3730, texaspridebbq.net

3. Two Bros. BBQ Market

12656 West Ave, (210) 496-0222, twobrosbbqmarket.com

 

 

 

Best Barbacoa

1. Tellez Tamales & Barbacoa

1737 S Gen. McMullen, (210) 433-1367

Barbacoa is a weekend tradition in SA, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through the week. You can pick up some of the city’s best Wednesday through Sunday at Tellez. By the pound to go, or plated in the restaurant, it’s never greasy and comes in three varieties, including lengua. The cafeteria opens at 5 a.m. and does a brisk business till 2 p.m., but don’t wait until the last minute to order — the barbacoa is a neighborhood fave and sells out early.

2. El Milagrito Café Mexican Restaurant (Tie)

521 E Woodlawn, (210) 737-8646, elmilagritocafe.com

Rachel’s Barbacoa & Tortillas (Tie)

1702 Pinn, (210) 674-4325

 

 

 

Best Local Burgers, Best Nachos

1. Chris Madrid’s

1900 Blanco Rd, (210) 735-3552, chrismadrids.com

This well-known gathering place for real burger lovers touts a short-but-sweet menu that packs a mean punch. The standout is the Tostada Burger, Chris Madrid’s hallmark. This monster — a beef patty topped with refried beans, chips, onions, and cheddar cheese — comes in “regular” or “macho” sizes and requires a serious stomach and an equally serious stack of napkins. Consider bringing a friend to share (seriously, the thing is huge). A colossal plate of nachos topped with a healthy heap of Chris Madrid’s homemade salsa is also recommended. The atmosphere here is as laid back and unassuming as the menu. And past the large, open dining room, you’ll find a nice, dimly lit cantina with a full-service bar and a decent
beer list.

 

Best Local Burgers

2. Chester’s Hamburger Co.

9980 IH-10 W (@ Wurzbach), (210) 699-1222

3. Big’z Burger Joint

2303 N Loop 1604 W, (210) 408-2029, bigz-burgerjoint.com

 

Best Nachos

1. Chris Madrid’s (Tie)

1900 Blanco Rd, (210) 735-3552, chrismadrids.com

Rosario’s Mexican Café y Cantina (Tie)

910 S Alamo, (210) 223-1806, rosariossa.com

2. Chacho’s

7870 Callaghan, (210) 366-2023, chachos.com

 

 

 

Best Breakfast Tacos

1. Taco Taco

145 E Hildebrand, (210) 822-9533, tacotacosa.com

In 2007, when Taco Taco joined world-renowned restaurants such as Peter Luger Steakhouse (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Wolfgang Puck’s CUT (Beverly Hills, Calif.) on Bon Appétit and Food Network’s collaborative list of Top American Restaurants (the award: Best Tacos in America), owner Helen Velesiotis was visiting her native Greece and missed their visit. But when WOAI showed up a few weeks ago — unannounced, with a camera crew — to present her with another Best Breakfast Taco award for her growing collection, Velesiotis was there in her bustling kitchen. “I cried for an hour and a half,” she told us. “But that’s OK. People saw how much I care.” In a city where breakfast tacos can be found on nearly every corner, the ones served at Taco Taco stand out as a hands-down favorite for all walks of life.

2. Taco Haven

1032 S Presa, (210) 533-2171, tacohaven.info

3. El Milagrito

521 E Woodlawn, (210) 737-8646, elmilagritocafe.com

 

 

 

Best Local Coffee House

1. Olmos Perk

5223 McCullough, (210) 858-2956, olmosperk.com

It’s hard to compete with Olmos Perk. The cozy coffee house offers the best of both worlds — quick and painless takeout for the on-the-go/late-for-work set and a quiet, focused atmosphere that’s perfect for dates with your laptop. If you’ve got time to stay, by all means, order a latte. Baristas here pride themselves on leaving a delicate, lasting impression on your foamy pick-me-up. If you know another locally owned establishment with killer cappuccinos, comfy furniture, free internet, a breezy patio, shared reading material (The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and more), fruit smoothies, yogurt parfaits, ample parking, and a friendly, good-looking staff, by all means, go there (and vote for them in next year’s poll). But for now, Olmos Perk is still the Best Local Coffee House in San Antonio.

2. Candlelight Coffeehouse

3011 N St. Mary’s, (210) 738-0099, candlelightsa.com

3. The Foundry

2720 McCullough, (210) 785-8208, thefoundry-sa.org

 

 

 

Best Chicken-Fried Steak

1. Lulu’s Bakery and Café

918 N Main, (210) 222-9422, luluscafeinsa.com

Though we’re no fans of eating challenges, there’s always an exception to the rule. A San Antonio dish that absolutely deserves the airtime it received on Man v. Food is Lulu’s chicken-fried steak, if only for the fact that it shockingly hangs off the edges of an enormous platter. Lulu’s steak is actually thick — surprising for one so huge — and though the batter honorably retains its crispness against the pool of gravy, it yields right when it needs to. The menu offers a version smothered in queso (read: heart attack) but we trend toward the traditional version.

2. DeWese’s Tip Top Café

2814 Fredericksburg Rd, (210) 732-0191, tiptopcafe.com

3. Bud Jones Restaurant

1440 SW Military, (210) 977-9161, budjonesrestaurant.com

 

 

 

Best Local Chinese Food

1. Formosa Garden

1011 NE Loop 410, (210) 828-9988, formosagarden.com

One pessimistic voter responded to this category with the worn-out cliché “There is no good Chinese food in SA.” They’ve obviously never been to Formosa Garden. For the second year in a row, Current readers have dubbed them tops in Chinese cuisine, adding another honor to an already impressive wall of awards and critical acclaim (now might be a good time to start on a new wall, guys). The Formosa formula is simple: They offer up both “traditional” (as in “safe and comfortable”) dishes like teriyaki chicken and beef and broccoli, as well as more adventurous fare like Hunan style-sauteed lamb and Formosa Island Duck. They even offer up sushi and Thai options if you feel like getting all Pan-Asian with your night out. And you allergy sufferers can rest easy knowing Formosa’s food is 100-percent MSG-free.

2. Golden Wok

8822 Wurzbach, (210) 615-8282, golden-wok.com

3. Hung Fong

3624 Broadway, (210) 822-9211

 

 

 

Best Cupcakes

1. Kate’s Frosting

2518 N Main, (210) 248-9809, katesfrosting.net

Upon entering Kate’s quaint confectionary factory, one might mistake the bakery for a modest antique shop nestled in the heart of Monte Vista. Still, knickknacks and handmade jewelry can’t distract a sweet tooth for long, not when it’s aching for the velvety frosting artfully placed atop each cupcake’s crown. Several classic flavors (like vanilla chocolate, red velvet, and pumpkin spice) are available every day, but the rotating cast of specials get downright artsy. Indulge your inner (and maybe outer) borracha with La Margarita. Or opt for Horchata, a concoction that’s so silken you’ll be shuttled back to childhood memories of weekends with Abuelita. A glance at the complete flavor list (found in-store or online) will leave you amazed at the possibilities the cupcake craze has inspired.

2. Cupcake Couture

16535 Huebner Rd, (210) 272-0192, cupcakecouturesa.com

3. Gigi’s Cupcakes

434 N Loop 1604 W, (210) 481-2300, gigiscupcakesusa.com/sanantoniotexas

 

 

 

Best French Restaurant/Bistro

1. Bistro Vatel

218 E Olmos, (210) 828-3141, bistrovatel.com

At the top of chef Damien Watel’s (above) many marks on the San Antonio culinary scene is this Olmos neighborhood bistro (you’ll find another one of his spots at the bottom of this category). The menu, which Watel tinkers with on a regular basis depending on the season and availability of local ingredients, boasts authentic French favorites like coq au vin, escargots, and duck confit, along with the kind of desserts (think tarts and crème brûlée) you’d expect from any bona fide French restaurant.

2. COCO Chocolate Lounge & Bistro (Tie)

18402 US 281 N, (210) 491-4480, sa-coco.com

Frederick’s Bistro (Tie)

14439 NW Military Hwy, (210) 888-1500, fredericksbistro.com

3. Bistro Bakery

4300 McCullough, (210) 824-3884, bistrovatel.com

 

 

 

Best Hot Dogs

1. King’s Court Frankfurter Express

111 King’s Court, (210) 737-7774, frankfurterexpress.com

With specialty hot dogs all the rage (even a ubiquitous national chain known for free white-and-red mints has them now!), Frankfurter Express has upped the ante with 24 variations on the standard dog and eight veggie versions that’ll have you primed for summer. Thankfully, this locally owned and operated joint also has a patio that we absolutely love. For us, the Chicago Dog is the barometer, and King’s Court delivers. The all-beef dog is decked out with tomato slices, fresh chopped onions, a crisp pickle spear, sport peppers, mustard, and a dash of celery salt — they’ve gotten the neon-green relish and poppy seed bun right too. The foot-long New Yorker (red-onion sauce, sauerkraut, French’s) is über messy, but perfectly evokes the Big Apple.

2. Nick’s Chicago Hot Dogs (now JK’s)

2417 Thousand Oaks, (210) 403-3311

 

 

 

Best Riverwalk Restaurant, Best Guacamole

1. Boudro’s Texas Bistro on the Riverwalk

421 E Commerce, (210) 224-8484, boudros.com

Live in San Antonio long enough and you come to dread out-of-town guests for their programmed River Walk obsession. Once a hellhole of chain restaurants and overhyped Mexican food, the River Walk has been partially delivered by Boudro’s, where you can drink a prickly pear margarita and laugh at the sad saps dining at lesser establishments. This place is known for stellar Cajun and Mexican food and an array of margaritas. Many restaurants offer tableside guacamole, but few offer it next to seared ahi salads and duck enchiladas. The steaks are stellar, but their forte is seafood — lobster, shrimp, fish, crab, and more. But back up a sec. If it’s true that a Mexican restaurant can be reliably judged on its guacamole alone, Mexican restaurants all over town should thank God that seafood-oriented Boudro’s hasn’t limited itself to traditional Tex-Mex. Made on a cart by your table, Boudro’s recipe consists of fresh avocados, fresh-squeezed orange and lime juices, roasted and charred Roma tomatoes, Serrano peppers, red onions, and cilantro. You’ve got to see it (and taste it) to believe it.

 

Best Riverwalk Restaurant

2. Dick’s Last Resort

406 Navarro, (210) 224-0026, dickslastresort.com

3. Ácenar

146 E Houston, (210) 222-2362, acenar.com

 

Best Guacamole

2. Rosario’s Mexican Café y Cantina

910 S Alamo, (210) 223-1806, rosariossa.com

 3. Chacho’s

7870 Callaghan Rd, (210) 366-2023, chachos.com

 

 

 

Best Ice Cream/Gelato

1. Amy’s Ice Creams

255 E Basse Rd #430, (210) 832-8886, amysicecreams.com

Where else can you find an ice cream called Guinness that actually has the beer mixed in? Amy’s, nestled in the upscale Alamo Quarry, boasts over 300 recipes made from the seven different ice cream flavors the shop rotates daily. Try some of their offbeat concoctions if you’re feeling adventurous: names like Mexican Heath, Blueberry Muffin, Coconut Chocolate Rum, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Jamaican Coffee, and Lemon Cheesecake captured our imagination. Is your mouth watering yet? Or have names like Chipotle Peanut Butter boggled your noggin, instead? Don’t worry, the pleasantly eccentric staff is eager to dish out generous samples. If there is any justice in this life, the powers-that-be at your office/school/parish will make frequent use of Amy’s catering service.

2. DaVinci’s Gelato & Caffe

18720 Stone Oak Pkwy, Ste. 152, (210) 545-6686, davincigelati.com

3. Paciugo

999 E Basse Rd, Ste. 196, (210) 832-8820, paciugo.com

 

 

 

Best Indian Restaurant

1. India Palace

8474 Fredericksburg Rd #100, (210) 692-5262, indiapalacesa.com

In a city of great Indian restaurants, India Palace is second to none. The chutneys are so spicy you can hardly eat them (and so tasty you can hardly stop); the well-stocked buffet can be enjoyed at lunch or dinner; and the a la carte dishes (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) are mouth-watering. If you forgo AYCE, try the vegetarian dinner ($13.95), the chicken-based Indian dinner ($15.95), or the mammoth royal dinner ($32.95). Top it off with an excellent spiced chai or refreshing mango lassi.

2. India Oven

1031 Patricia, (210) 366-1030, indiaoven.biz

3. Mela Indian Bar & Grill

4987 NW Loop 410, (210) 682-1234, melagrill.com

 

 

 

Best Middle-Eastern Food

1. Pasha Mediterranean Grill

9339 Wurzbach, (210) 561-5858

This brightly arranged Middle Eastern oasis on Wurzbach dishes out some of the best falafel this city has to offer. While friendly to the meat eaters among us, kudos to Pasha for its generous offering of vegetarian plates — including standards like baba ghanouj, tabbouleh, falafel, and the restaurant’s signature seasoned potatoes. If your reasonably priced feast from the East leaves you wanting more, stroll on over to the Ali Baba International Food Market, which sits just across the parking lot from Pasha.

2. Jerusalem Grill

3259 Wurzbach, (210) 680-8400, jerusalemgrill.net

3. Turquoise Grill

3720 NW Loop 410, (210) 736-2887, turquoisegrill.com

 

 

 

Best Local Sandwiches/Deli

1. W.D. Deli

3123 Broadway, (210) 828-2322, wddeli.com

For 20 years W.D. Deli has been serving up some of the freshest, tastiest sandwiches in town — every day but Sunday. For lunch try the combination specials — a half sandwich of your choosing with soup (cup or bowl) and/or a small Caesar salad. Combo prices start at $6.75; sandwich upgrades or additional items will cost you a bit more. The delicious Foccaccia Supreme has always been a Current favorite: the hearty sandwich layers turkey, avocado, Swiss, and alfalfa sprouts, and the spicy tomato-basil soup (which is one of four soups served daily) pairs perfectly. Fine baked goods, like the corn-flake-secreting Ranger cookie, are perfect take-along snacks to keep your hands busy until you reach the car.

2. Madhatters Tea House and Café (Tie)

320 Beauregard, (210) 212-4832, madhatterstea.com

Zito’s Deli & Sandwich Shop (Tie)

8800 Broadway #108, (210) 826-4793, zitosdeli.net

3. The Filling Station

701 S St. Mary’s, (210) 444-2200

 

 

 

Best Meat Market

1. Bolner’s Meat Market

2900 S Flores, (210) 533-5112, bolnersmeatmarket.com

A cross between a butcher shop and a barbeque joint, Bolner’s isn’t the prettiest meat market, but it’s the best. You can find any cut of cow, pig, or chicken, as well as other breeds of dissected animal. Whether you want menudo or akaushi beef, you’ll find it here. Plus, the people here know their meat. When the Current went to Bolner’s for bones to make stock (don’t ask who we were boiling), we got an earful about the best way to brown the bones, get the marrow out, and how long to simmer our meat water. Aside from raw meat, you can order standard barbeque plates, too — grilled and smoked meats (with sides) are ready to be lovingly consumed on the spot.

2. Central Market

4821 Broadway, (210) 368-8600, centralmarket.com

3. Cooper’s Meat Market

6002 Broadway, (210) 820-3838, coopersmeatmarket.com

 

 

 

Best Enchiladas, Fajitas, Salsa, Michelada

1. Rosario’s Mexican Cafe y Cantina

910 S Alamo, (210) 223-1806, rosariossa.com

Rosario’s isn’t your usual Tex-Mex restaurant, offering instead a more contemporary, lighter take on traditional fare that won’t break your belly. Their enchiladas come with a variety of stuffings; we like the chicken topped with mole sauce or the Enchiladas Mexicanas, which are covered with a sauce made of guajillos and pasilla chiles and filled with queso fresco. The beef or chicken fajitas are just some of the parrillas (grilled foods) on the menu. For more adventure, skip the common fare and try “Poquito de Todo,” a little of everything: sweet breads, tripas, and chicharrones, topped with guacamole. The salsa is dark and smoky, with the earthy tang of roasted tomatoes and the gentle bite of a Mexican hairless. Nowadays, every place pours their own version of the michelada, a hot-day thirst quencher that pairs perfectly with savory dishes.

Rosario’s version is delivered in a salt-rimmed glass, packed with lots of spice and a choice of beers. Dos Equis Amber proved a nice variant on the traditional mix of Clamato juice and lager. If the dining room is busy the bar can set you up with chips or apps on the quick while you quaff a glass of red, cold delight. Rosario’s food and drink, as popular as they are in SA, is only half of the restaurant’s appeal. Located a few blocks east of the Blue Star Complex, this is a people-watching spot in the King William District, the view heats up on weekends when the real salsa in the house is delivered by live music.

 

Best Enchiladas

2. Blanco Café

1720 Blanco Rd, (210) 732-6480, blancocafe.net

3. Los Barrios

4223 Blanco, (210) 732-6017, lhdlb.com

 

Best Fajitas

2. La Fonda on Main

2415 N Main, 210) 733-0621, lafondaonmain.com

3. La Fogata

2427 Vance Jackson, (210) 340-1337, lafogata.com

 

Best Salsa

2. Salsalito Cantina Mexican Restaurant

14535 Nacogdoches, (210) 646-8088, salsalito-sa.com

3. La Fogata

2427 Vance Jackson, (210) 340-1337, lafogata.com

 

Best Michelada

2. The Friendly Spot

943 S Alamo, (210) 224-2337, thefriendlyspot.com

3. Ácenar Mexican Restaurant (Tie)

146 E Houston, (210) 222-2362, acenar.com

Guajillo’s: The Shortcut to Mexico (Tie)

1001 NW Loop 410, (210) 344-4119

 

 

 

Best Local Desserts

1. Madhatters Tea House & Café

320 Beauregard, (210) 212-4832, madhatterstea.com

The desserts here come from local bakeries Janie’s Pie Factory and Le Cake, but the loving is all Madhatters. You can eat chocolate cake, yes, but when they ask you whether you want that same piece of cake warmed up and served with some ice cream on it … don’t be embarrassed when you’re caught vacant-eyed and drooling. You wouldn’t be the first. Madhatters is family- and friend-friendly, but to be honest, these desserts are meant to be eaten by you and you alone.

2. COCO Chocolate Lounge & Bistro

18402 US Hwy 281, Ste 114, (210) 491-4480, sa-coco.com

3. Green Vegetarian Cuisine & Coffee

1017 N Flores, (210) 320-5865, greensanantonio.com

 

 

 

Best Veggie Burgers, Best Vegetarian Options

1. Green Vegetarian Cuisine

1017 N Flores, (210) 320-5865, greensanantonio.com

Almost anyone who’s tried making veggie burgers from scratch will tell you it’s no easy task. Unless you’re an Iron Chef, you could easily end up with a tasteless, crumbling pile of mush. But Green Vegetarian Cuisine knows the secrets to this and other meatless conundrums. Vegetarian options abound at this kosher restaurant, where a rabbi inspects and blesses all that goes into healthy dishes like the protein-rich Monk’s Bowl (a satisfying $6 mixture of quinoa, tabouli, black beans, kale, and chipotle aioli) and not quite as healthy ones like Buffalo Fingers (breaded and fried tofu with your choice of either BBQ or buffalo sauce, $9). Although they didn’t exactly share the recipe for the Green Burger (which is also sold at Sam’s Burger Joint and one other undisclosed local restaurant), sibling co-owners Chris and Michael Behrend were kind enough to give us some big hints. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try your hand at making something similar to the Best Veggie Burger in San Antonio, you’ll need white beans, black beans, lentils, olive oil, garlic, and two secret ingredients (get creative). As for the hearty fennel-seeded bun (which gets spread with house-made chipotle mayo and mashed avocado), you’re on your own — that’s Mom’s secret recipe.

 

Best Veggie Burgers

2. The Cove

606 W Cypress, (210) 227-2683, thecove.us

3. La Tuna Grill (Tie)

100 Probandt, (210) 212-5727, latunagrill.com

Twin Sisters Bakery and Cafe (Tie)

6322 N New Braunfels, (210) 822-0761, twinsistersbakeryandcafe.com

 

Best Vegetarian Options

2. The Cove

606 W Cypress, (210) 227-2683, thecove.us

3. Twin Sisters Bakery and Cafe

6322 N New Braunfels, (210) 822-0761, twinsistersbakeryandcafe.com

 

 

 

Best Italian Restaurant

1. Little Italy

824 Afterglow, (210) 349-2060

This small, down-to-earth restaurant hiding near the corner of Blanco and West has everything you’d expect from an authentic, family-owned Italian joint, right down to the red- and white-checkered tablecloths. The menu offers typical Italian fare (penne pomodoro, chicken parm, spinach manicotti), but the servers push the pizza and offer sample slices before you order. Speaking of pizza, you can watch the chef spin and bake the pies through a giant open window that connects the front dining room to the pizza kitchen. Word has it this is where the Lady first macked on the Tramp. The chef, who speaks with a thick Italian accent, cooks in front of an enormous green, white, and red flag painted on the kitchen’s back wall. Viva Italia!

2. Paesanos

3622 Paesanos Pkwy, (210) 493-1604, paesanos.com

3. Il Sogno

200 E Grayson, (210) 223-3900

 

 

 

Best Puffy Taco

Henry’s Puffy Tacos

6030 Bandera Road, (210) 432-7341, henryspuffytacos.com

Easily considered one of San Antonio’s staples (if not the trademark dish), the puffy taco has many representations across the city, but few are delectable enough to be the linchpin of an entire family business. Brothers Rick and Jaime Lopez (Henry’s sons), longtime family friend Frank Garza, and the rest of the family have operated Henry’s Puffy Tacos since 1978 at their original (and now express) location off Woodlawn. The larger location on Bandera selected by Current readers only opened in 2006. The pillowy shells are remarkably lacking of grease and hold their integrity through each crispy chomp. Any restaurant bold enough to have an anthropomorphic puffy taco mascot is begging for attention, but the thrifty $2.25 price per taco drives home the sale.

 

 

 

Best Korean Restaurant

1. Ilsong Garden

6905 Blanco Rd, (210) 366-4508, ilsonggarden.com

Confession: The Current used to be afraid of kimchi. The thought of eating fermented vegetables seems slimy and unnatural. But upon eating the kimchi at Ilsong, our fears were banished. The fiery mix is great on its own, as a side, or eaten as a pancake. Paired with potatoes and spicy bulgogi, it’s the epitome of Korean food. All meals should start with an order of Dragon Balls, deep-fried tuna covered in creamy sauces. If the bulgogi isn’t enough meat, the ribs are so tender you don’t need a knife to cut them.

2. Koreana

2458 Harry Wurzbach #5, (210) 804-0019

3. Kiku Garden

4527 Goldfield, (210) 662-6699

 

 

 

Best Patio, Best Margaritas

La Fogata

2427 Vance Jackson, (210) 340-1337, lafogata.com

Once La Fogata’s rugged wooden doors close behind you, the worries of the world close with them. The patio’s lush tree canopy amazingly provides a cool respite from South Texas’ harshest rays, while fragrant flowers, Saltillo tile, and bubbling fountains help you lose yourself in south-of-the-border style. Whether you eat or not is of no import (fare is traditional Mexican and decent; we suggest opting for the higher-priced dishes if your budget allows), but drinking is a must. Though there are delicious sangria and mango varieties, we usually opt for the top-shelf version of the traditional Award-Winning Margarita. Our margaritas are generally taken on the rocks as a rule, but frozen is always recommended at La Fogata. Mixing is necessary. After all, these babies are far-removed from Margarita Man’s crappy concoctions, and a copious amount of tequila is evident in the generous, long-stemmed glass. We’re always game for multiple servings, but this just might be the only margarita in San Antonio where one is enough. Sunday Funday, anyone?

 

Best Patio

2. Stone Werks

7300 Jones Maltsberger Rd., (210) 828-3508, stonewerks.com

3. The Cove (Tie)

606 W Cypress, (210) 227-2683, thecove.us

Pam’s Patio Kitchen (Tie)

11826 Wurzbach Rd., (210) 492-1359, pamspatio.com

 

Best Margaritas

2. Rosario’s Mexican Café y Cantina

910 S Alamo, (210) 223-1806, rosariossa.com

3. Paloma Blanca Mexican Cuisine

5800 Broadway, (210) 822-6151, palomablanca.net

 

 

 

Best Local Pizza

1. Dough Pizzeria Napoletana

6989 Blanco Rd, (210) 979-6565, doughpizzeria.com

Eating pizza cooked in a gas oven is like drinking champagne served in a Styrofoam cup — if you’re serious about drinking, you just don’t do that. Likewise, if you’re a serious connoisseur of pizza, you know perfectly well that God created wood-fired brick ovens to make pizza. The oven at Dough (affectionately known as “Il Cuore,” the heart) was transported by three ships all the way from Naples. When you taste the pizza, you understand why they went through all the trouble.

2. Florio’s Pizza

7701 Broadway #2, (210) 805-8646

3. Goomba’s Pizzeria (Now Ray’s Pizzaria; same pizza, same menu)

7214 Blanco Rd, (210) 348-9090, rayspizzaria.com

 

 

 

Best Steakhouse

1. Chama Gaucha

18318 Sonterra Pl, (210) 564-9400, chamagaucha.com

The Brazilian way of searing meat is Chama Gaucha’s specialty. Filet mignon, top sirloin, pork ribs, and chicken are delivered to the table and cut on the spot from the skewer. It’s a carnivore’s delight, but come hungry. Chama Gaucha only offers a prix-fixe meal, the choices being salad bar only or the whole shebang. Our hunger couldn’t match the varieties of meats offered, but the eight or nine types nibbled on were uniformly juicy, and expertly grilled.

2. Little Red Barn

1836 S Hackberry, (210) 532-4235, littleredbarnsteakhouse.com

3. Kirby’s Steakhouse

123 N Loop 1604 E, (210) 404-2221, kirbyssteakhouse.com

 

 

 

Best Romantic Restaurant

1. Grey Moss Inn

19010 Scenic Loop Road (Helotes), (210) 695-8301, grey-moss-inn.com

Located in the shadowy suburban setting of Grey Forest, the Inn’s popular hideaway has been a destination for googly eyed lovebirds seeking memorable one-on-one getaways for 80 years. The restaurant offers an array of steaks, seafood, and lamb, and boasts the use of free-range chicken. At the end of of a short drive into the deer-rich oak forest of Hill Country tranquility, couples dine by candlelight (or in front of a welcoming fireplace) on Bandera quail and steaks grilled over mesquite charcoal. Pair with one of the countless wines from around the world.

2. The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills

1746 Lockhill Selma, (210) 349-8466, thelodgerestaurant.com

3. Bohanan’s (Tie)

219 E Houston, Ste. 275, (210) 472-2600, bohanans.com

COCO Chocolate Lounge & Bistro (Tie)

18402 US 281 N, Ste. 114, (210) 491-4480, sa-coco.com

 

 

 

Best Seafood

1. Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen

76 NE Loop 410, (210) 340-7143, pappadeaux.com

Want a surefire way to ensure success? Slap the “Pappa” prefix in front of your business name. (Go ahead, give it a shot — it worked for Pappa-Google.) OK, that might be simplifying it a bit, as Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen is more than just another extension of the Pappas Family franchise (which includes Pappasito’s Cantina in SA). The ’Deaux is a top-notch seafood house that delivers the goods on classics like fried catfish and shrimp, but the real draw is its Cajun cooking: five kinds of gumbo, crawfish etouffee, and Pontchartrain pan-broiled fillet, for starters. More refined palettes (and fatter wallets), should indulge in specialty fish selections like Alaskan Halibut Costa Rican Mahi — flown in daily for maximum freshness. And for you weirdos that order steak at seafood restaurants, there’s a pretty good Angus ribeye, too.

2. Wildfish Seafood Grille

1834 NW Loop 1604, (210) 493-1600, eddiev.com

3. Sandbar Fish House & Market

200 E Grayson, (210) 222-2426

 

 

 

Best Brunch

1. Magnolia Pancake Haus

606 Embassy Oaks, (210) 496-0828, magnoliapancakehaus.com

A Sunday without brunch is like Fiesta without alcohol; it’s just not as amusing as it could be. Magnolia knows brunch, and executes it superbly. They claim to serve up the “World’s Best Pancakes” (which are roughly the circumference of a South Texas cantaloupe), but it’s their fresh twist on classics that keep patrons’ mouths watering. Don’t leave without sampling the Smoked Turkey Hash or Jambalaya Omelet. Guy Fieri was inclined enough to make a pit stop in his red convertible … enough said.

2. Guenther House

205 E Guenther, (210) 227-1061, guentherhouse.com

3. Candlelight Coffee House

3011 N St. Mary’s, (210) 738-0099, candlelightsa.com

 

 

 

Best Sushi

1. Goro’s Sushi

2619 Mossrock, (210) 349-8117, gorossushisa.com

While some places pride their sushi on tradition, Goro’s celebrates variety and innovation with flair. Order a starter while you study the menu — the dizzying list of maki options (we counted 68 varieties, including Kiss of Fire, Oral Design, and Three Amigos) takes some time to absorb. A favorite among regulars, the Whatever Roll ($12.95) is technically a chef’s choice menu item, but diners are welcome to draw their own boundaries (we asked that the eel be left off ours). On a recent Friday night, three of Goro’s sushi masters crafted artful rolls using the same ingredients — and all three looked entirely different. Ditto the appetizers: Our Seared Tuna Appetizer ($11.95) was thick-cut and hearty, miles apart from the look of our neighbor’s, which had the thinly-sliced look of Carpaccio.

2. Fujiya Japanese Garden

9030 Wurzbach, (210) 734-3551, fujiyajapanesegarden.com

 

 

 

Best Tamales

1. Ruben’s Homemade Tamales

1807 Rigsby, (210) 333-9529

This Southside tamale shop has been a fixture in the city’s culinary world since 1952 and is still run by the Perez family. In their signature tamale, fragrant yellow masa surrounds generous pockets of pork shoulder wrapped in husks brought in from Mexico. During the Christmas season over a dozen cooks toil to keep up with orders, but don’t wait ’till winter to grab a dozen or two of these hot treats. As owner Anita Perez (left) keeps the doors open until 7 p.m., you’ve got no excuses.

2. Tellez Tamales & Barbacoa

1737 S General McMullen, (210) 433-1367

3. Adelante Mexican Food

21 Brees Blvd, (210) 822-7681

 

 

 

Best Food Truck

1. G & G Mobile Bistro

(210) 480-4345

Gus Gonzalez and Gabe Garman take the word “mobile” pretty seriously. The culinary punks and their custom-built, two-wheeled trailer have made two major moves since we got hooked on their innovative approach to bistro-style fare. Following them from the Museum Reach (the bygone SWC Club’s back parking lot) to the Mission Reach (alongside Boneshakers Bicycle Pub) to The Boardwalk on Bulverde (which seems to be a rite of passage for all food trucks) has been no easy task. But such delicacies as cauliflower bisque, citrus salad, croutons topped with monkfish liver pâté, and cocoa-dusted beets have been well worth the goose chase. Now, in a move that will delight some and disappoint others, G & G has become a more specialized operation. If you’ve got between 20 and 50 mouths to feed, they’ll come to you and serve up some of the most unique food in town. Count on a private dinner costing $15 a head for three courses, $20 a head for four courses, and $25 a head for five courses. But if you’re not ready to commit, stay tuned to their Facebook page, where upcoming engagements — with a limited number of spaces — will be posted. Anyone can attend, as long as you RSVP.

2. Tin Can Tacos (Tie)

(210) 913-6758, tincantacos.com

Wheelie Gourmet (Tie)

(210) 370-7692

3. Duk Truck

twitter.com/duktruck

 

 

 

Best Thai Food

1. Thai Chili Oriental Restaurant

4303 Thousand Oaks, (210) 656-8589, thaichili.net

This place could have easily won for best seafood, too, as their seafood salad and shrimp and crab spring rolls are as tasty as any offering in a mariscos spot. The whole fried fish is also a winner, but call ahead to make sure the catch of the day is available. Or try one of their more adventurous and healthy options, like the pumpkin curry. Spiciness is up to you, and wait staff will mark down your order on a scale of 1-10. But you can go higher. Masochistic guests here compete to see who can eat the hottest dishes, with the chef ranking the current champ’s platter a whooping 1,110. We’d say that’s off the charts.

2. Thai Taste

5520 Evers, (210) 520-6800

3. Thai Dee Restaurant

5307 Blanco, (210) 342-3622, thaideesa.com

 

 

 

Best Vietnamese Restaurant

1. Viet Nam Restaurant

3244 Broadway, (210) 822-7461

Located in an unassuming building on Broadway, Viet Nam has long been a San Antonio staple. Start off your meal with an order of spring rolls (if they aren’t already included with your entrée): they’re fried to a golden brown and served with crisp lettuce, fresh cilantro, and fish sauce. The Bún Bo — vermicelli noodles topped with grilled beef, onion, bean sprouts, cucumber, and peanuts — is a standard bearer that sets the bar high with its exceptional flavor and the ideal mix of quality ingredients. Shis-Kabob with fried rice and spring roll is a simple, savory dish for beginners; the juicy beef is a tad peppery and reliably well cooked.

2. Pho Sure Restaurant

741 W Ashby, (210) 733-8473, pho-sure.com

3. Taste of Asia (Tie)

300 W Bitters #120, (210) 496-6266

Pho Ha Long (Tie)

6424 NW Loop 410, (210) 521-4507

 

 

2011 Best Of San Antonio: Your votes, your winners

 

Best of San Antonio: Drink

 

Best of San Antonio: Shopping

 

Best of San Antonio: Local Heroes

 

Best of San Antonio: Around Town

 

 

 

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