In San Antonio, debating the city's best restaurants is practically a sport. That’s why each year, we launch a foodie version of March Madness, where eight of Alamo City’s most promising newcomers duke it out to be named 2019’s Best New Restaurant as part of the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.
The best part? You get to decide in a bracket-style elimination challenge. You can vote once a day, every day from now until April 8. Then join us at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin on April 10 as we crown this year’s winner.
This Castle Hills newcomer from hospitality vets John and Elise Russ is located in a strip mall, but it is easy to forget the surrounds. The dining room decor, inspired by the restaurant’s namesake fruit, is bright and welcoming, and the cuisine is just as vibrant. Although plates are available a la carte, guests shouldn’t miss the “Feed Me” option, a customized feast that showcases the freshness of the eatery’s seasonal fare. Even paired with selections from the wine list, it’s one of the biggest values in town.
Dos Quality & Flavor
Some creations are so genius that it’s a shock that no one thought of it before. Such is the case of the discada burger, brothers Israel and Raul Armando Cepeda's signature dish at Dos Quality & Flavor. The name comes from a time-honored technique of cooking that originated in the northern Mexican states. A mixture of meats (Dos uses chorizo, bacon, pork, beef, and sausage) are slowly cooked on plow disc to absorb chiles and spices before traditionally being wrapped in a tortilla. Though this spot has tacos, too, the medley is best eaten on a bun with a juicy patty, proving that “quality and flavor” is no mere tagline.
Lattoia Massey, a graduate of San Antonio’s Culinary Institute of America, achieves a lot in a very small space. The chef makes jerk chicken, of course, but she also throws her fiery signature spice blend on jackfruit and shrimp topping creamy buttermilk grits. And that’s just the beginning. Guests can also get steamed fish with a sprightly pickled vegetable blend, a greaseless goat curry, and salty fritters. Jamaican has been an underrepresented cuisine in Alamo City, but Massey more than makes up for it.
Ernie Bradley took over the Cherrity Bar location of Ramen Bar in December 2018 and made it even better. Along with ramens like the velvety tantanmen in chicken soy broth, he added crispy katsu sliders, delicate shrimp and shiitake mushroom shumai dumplings, and an electric pickle plate served with cured meats. The ingredients used are top-notch, and focus on seasonality and local sourcing.
Maverick Texas Brasserie
This Southtown charmer pulls off a neat trick with its menu. One minute, a server brings out weightless gougeres and guests are transported to Paris. Then, a mixed grill of quail, sausage, pork belly, and tenderloin comes out to remind them they are indeed in Texas. The truth is this rebellious eatery is a little bit of both with its combo of classic European techniques and local veggies and meats. At least for the duration of a dinner, the French flag flies over the Lone Star State once again.
Meadow Neighborhood Eatery + Bar
Chef PJ Edwards has an accomplished palate, something seen in the global flair he brings to each dish. Still, the vibe of Meadow is more down home than jet-setter. Using reclaimed wood slats, vintage appliances, and cookbooks as decor, the restaurant feels like a gracious Southern kitchen. Sure, it’s the kind of kitchen that might pair creamed corn fritters with ’nduja marmalade, but that doesn’t make it any less welcoming.
The Fairmont Hotel's resident Italian 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 a taste. The encyclopedic wine list is one of the broadest in San Antonio, with a heavy focus on Italian varietals with a few French sparklers thrown in for good measure.
In August 2018, this popular food truck made the leap to brick-and-mortar, but they still kept the same successful formula. All the favorites are here, from fresh goi (salad) to the addictive fried Thai chili butter Winghs with jalapeño, lime, and cilantro. There is one welcome addition, however. Now, it has Japanese craft beer, low-octane cocktails, and a curated selection of sake.