Something to Taco-bout

Surprising San Antonio taco joint cooks up coveted spot among America's best new restaurants

San Antonio taco joint nabs spot among America's best new restaurants

Carnitas Lonja San Antonio
Eater named Carnitas Lonja one of America's best new restaurants. Carnitas Lonja/ Facebook

On July 25, Eater national restaurant editor Bill Addison released his coveted list of the 18 Best New Restaurants in America. For the first time since the feature began in 2015, a San Antonio restaurant made the cut, but the choice may not be what you’d expect.

Ignoring the many new upscale eateries that have popped up over the past year, Addison instead lauds the South Side’s casual Carnitas Lonja as San Antonio’s most inspiring freshman eatery. Stopping to admire the handmade tortillas and complimentary red and green salsas, the critic reserves his highest praise for owner Alex Parades signature carnitas.

“He slow-cooks them for hours until the ropy, near-greaseless hunks of pork reveal a gamut of textures in every bite,” Addison raves. “In its devotion to one specialty rendered spectacularly well, Carnitas Lonja is complete, and it is wonderful.”

The beloved taco joint was among three Texas restaurants to make the exclusive list. Theodore Rex — the Houston hot spot helmed by James Beard Award winner Justin Yu — continued its streak of accolades. Addison called it a worthy successor to Oxheart, saying it "showcases Yu cooking at the exact same level of exuberance and ingenuity."

Addison was also taken with Austin Interior Mexican restaurant Suerte and the heirloom masa on which most of the menu is based, calling it “next-level Mexican-Texan cooking.”

In total, Texas had the second most restaurants on the list, bested only by California, which had five winners.