MEET THE TASTEMAKERS
Ghost kitchens — restaurants that eschew a brick-and-mortar kitchen and dining room in favor of cooking at a centralized commercial kitchen space or other location and offering takeout or delivery only — have been gaining popularity in San Antonio for the past few years.
These virtual restaurants got a big boost in business during the pandemic. For local foodies who were forced to stay home for extended periods and face the repeated struggle of deciding whether tonight’s delivered dinner would consist of flabby pizza (again) or soggy sandwiches (again), these ghost kitchen concepts sprang to the rescue, offering an alternative: freshly cooked meals featuring some of our favorite dishes delivered quickly and without any fuss.
Read more about our Best Ghost Kitchen nominees in San Antonio, then join us August 5 at Fair Market in Austin for the Tastemaker Awards, when we’ll reveal the winner.
And in the meantime, don’t be shy about ordering up some tasty eats from these local ghost kitchen hot spots.
Curry up, cowboy! This fusion eatery, housed in a Pink Panther-hued takeaway shack, specializes in the unique combo of Southeast Asian curry and classic Texas barbecue — all in the form of lip-smacking rice bowls. Curry Boys is the invention of Andrew Ho and Sean Wen of Pinch Boil House and Andrew Samia of South BBQ & Kitchen, who started the project during the pandemic and found their barbecue curry bowls were a major hit. Among their fans is lauded Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn, who praises Curry Boys’ “legit barbecue brisket, smoked chicken, and sausage.”
At Firebelly Wings, a virtual eatery that offers only delivery though third-party services, you’re encouraged to devour the inferno. This chicken wing joint offers every flavor of spicy wing imaginable, from classic hot wings to the milder Cajun flavor, as well as barbecue, garlic Parmesan, lemon pepper, and the super tasty hot-honey-glazed wings. The sides are as formidable as the wings here, so don’t skimp on the classic mac bites (deep fried mac and cheese triangles) or ghost fries (french fries coated with ghost pepper seasoning).
If stick-to-your-ribs burgers and grub are your love, then J Dub’s is your hub. This burger joint was founded by restaurant vets Jeff White and Luis Colon, who propelled their three-years-in-the-making J Dub’s idea into reality thanks to the pandemic, and they haven’t looked back since. With a small but beefy menu of single and double burgers, a fried fish sandwich, and a chicken-fried steak sandwich, J Dub’s gets to the meat of the matter. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, order up a bourbon vanilla handspun milkshake on the side.
An online-only, chef-curated burger eatery created by Nextbite, Outlaw Burger promises to serve up “the antidote to boring burgers.” Messy, bold burgers featuring unexpected ingredients and combos are the norm here — and it’s all in the name of unadulterated burger enjoyment. Burger brethren can get wild with burger offerings that include barbecue sauce, bacon and onion rings; or bacon, avocado, and Sriracha ranch; or opt for including some veggies with the Bounty Hunter Burger, which is topped with mushrooms that have been sauteed in truffle butter. What outlaws!
Noodle-bowl concept (and adorably named) River Wok, which maintains it’s San Antonio’s first local ghost kitchen, takes its “noods” seriously. That’s why whether you opt for one of several flavor-bomb bowls like the Holy Cow with smoked brisket, the Sichuan Pork with smoked pork belly, the Thai Fire with ginger-soy chicken, or the Tofu Foo with sesame tofu, or go with an entirely one-of-a-kind build-your-own bowl, you’ll “wok” away happy.
Vegan and Sara
In a ghost kitchen world filled with meaty delicacies and tasty but not-so-good-for-you fare, vegan pop-up Vegan and Sara is cool as a cucumber and really bearing fruit. But just because you can’t even commit to Meatless Mondays doesn’t mean you won’t find something spectacular — and yes, plant-based — here. From piled-high soyrizo fries and meatless hot dogs topped with a bevy of veggies to the country-fried cauliflower steak sandwich loaded with garlic mashed potatoes and described by customers as “indulgent and virtuous,” trust us, you won’t miss the meat.