Carnitas Lonja is basking in the national spotlight. Esquire magazine ranked the San Antonio hotspot 10th on its list of America's best new restaurants for 2018.
"Mexican food in the United States doesn’t get any more delicious and honest than this," food and drinks editor Jeff Gordinier writes about the “crackly and creamy” carnitas. The author also heaps praise upon the restaurant's signature tortillas, writing that they're "the right chewy texture from the griddle and a pronounced flavor of corn.”
The Esquire honor is only the latest acclaim for Carnitas Lonja, which opened in January under the direction of owner Alex Paredes. In July, Eater national restaurant critic Bill Addison picked the taco joint as the sole San Antonio restaurant on his coveted 18 Best New Restaurants in America list. A few days later, it was named a top 50 finalist for Bon Appétit’s annual Best New Restaurants issue.
Overall, Texas restaurants earned three spots on the Esquire list. Nancy’s Hustle, whose chef Jason Vaughn earned Rising Star Chef of the Year honors from the Houston CultureMap Tastemaker Awards panel, was cited for being “like a roadside diner in which a bunch of Michelin-starred talents are secretly hiding out, thanks to the witness-protection program,"
Dallas restaurant Petra and the Beast ranked lucky number 13 for dishes that “seem to writhe with flavor” like fried chicken heats in a green garlic crepe and pigtails with sour purple cabbage. San Francisco restaurant Angler, a seafood-oriented concept from Joshua Skenes (also chef-owner of Michelin three-star tasting menu restaurant Saison) takes the top spot, while New York chef Missy Robins earns chef of the year honors.