Want a taste of San Antonio’s innovative restaurant scene? Take a look at the eight nominees for the 2018 CultureMap Tastemaker Award for Best New Restaurant. With unique concepts and unfailingly great food, each are defying expectations that Alamo City food is just Tex-Mex.
Weigh in on your favorites during our annual tournament, powered by Whole Foods Market, where you get to decide the best of the best. You can vote once a day, every day, in the bracket-style elimination challenge now through April 10. Meet the next generation of restaurants making San Antonio proud, and then join us in Austin to toast the winner at our annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards on April 12.
This casual eatery from famous San Antonio chef Johnny Hernandez isn't your average burger joint. All beef patties are topped with interior Mexican-inspired ingredients like grilled pineapple, tomatillo ketchup, black beans, and salsa verde for a taste that’s pure San Antonio. For a side, get the mole fries, a sort of Mexican poutine topped with crema, pickled red onion, and queso fresco. For dessert, you can't go wrong with a fresh raspa or fruity paleta.
This Fairmont Hotel restaurant serves accessible Italian fare in a charmingly rustic environment. House pastas like wild boar pappardelle, tagliatelle al pomodoro, and braised rabbit gnocchi are the star of the show, but simple Neapolitan-style pizzas are equally deserving of some notice. The encyclopedic wine list is one of the broadest in San Antonio, with a heavy focus on Italian varietals and a few French sparklers thrown in for good measure.
This innovative concept seeks to redefine San Antonio's takeaway game by offering chef-driven meals for the whole family. Order sides, desserts, and mains to-go when you want to chill out in front of the TV, or enjoy an evening out by ordering an affordable prix fixe in the cozy restaurant. Chef Paul Sartory has quite a resume, ranging from a stint under Alain Ducasse in Monaco to years teaching at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. It shows in the quality of each and every meal.
This Monte Vista sweetheart offers unfussy cuisine with elements from the Southern U.S. and Italy. The interior takes a similarly clean approach with midcentury inspired furnishings, lots of plants, and contemporary artwork on the walls. The menus change with the season, but expect innovative vegetable dishes, crowd-pleasing mains, and smoke used in unexpected ways, sometimes even in dessert.
Pinch Boil House & Bia Bar
Vietnamese street food meets Cajun seafood boils at this casual eatery located inside downtown's Rand Building. Opt for delicious pork and chicken banh mi, rolls with fried honey-sriracha glazed shrimp, or banh dogs made with local sausage. Diners can also choose your own adventure with shrimp, crab, and crawfish boils complete with all the fixings. Currently, the restaurant is BYOB, but expect a bar program soon.
It's expected that celebrity chef Jason Dady's chophouse concept would deliver superlative beef, here sourced from Texas producer 44 Farms. More surprising is the fresh raw seafood bar, international dishes like shabu-shabu and burrata, and quirky touches like cotton candy delivered after every meal. The martini cart is perfect when you want to pretend you are on Mad Men, and the environment avoids the usual steakhouse cliches with a clean, contemporary look.
Rosella at the Rand
This jewel box restaurant has shed its coffee shop roots to become one of the busiest hot spots in town. It has many of the dishes from the original location, supplemented with classic cocktails and a dinner menu of seared scallops, steak frites, and braised pork. The environment is glistening, taking its historic Rand Building surrounds as the inspiration for a wholly contemporary design.
This fast-casual concept in the Pearl Bottling Department food hall from noted chef Quealy Watson proves that good things come in small packages. They may not have a cocktail program (although wine and beer is available nearby from the separate bar), nor a maître d’, but the ramen is delicious — especially the double mushroom — and simple dishes like chicken karaage and kimchi always excel.