Why is San Antonio one of the hottest culinary cities in the country? Check out the eight nominees for the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards 2018 Restaurant of the Year. With menus showcasing everything from classic haute cuisine to innovative comfort food, these are the reasons why Alamo City is cooking up some of the most inspiring food in Texas.
Find out what makes each one so special below, then party with us in Austin on April 12 when we announce the winners.
The latest feather in the collective cap of Stefan Bowers and Andrew Goodman, Battalion specializes in approachable Italian served inside a firehouse redone in the restaurateurs' unmistakable contemporary style. The menu offers hearty meats, vegetable dishes that stand on their own, and affordable house pastas (the Trenne Bombay with gin, cream, and dill pollen is a must). Need an extra excuse to get fired up? Order a tipple off the well-stocked amaro cart.
This Southtown stunner is all about the unexpected. Helmed by Tastemaker Chef of the Year nominee Mark Bliss, the rotating menu includes small plates; salads; mains; and several plant-based options like the current menu’s vegetarian risotto with roasted butternut squash, grilled onions, artichokes, red chard, crispy kale, and Parmesan cheese. A robust wine list is an equal match for the striking cuisine. Enjoy a glass on the charming back patio.
Just look at the Saints hat he often wears or the Southern hospitality he brings to each of his restaurants — chef Pieter Sypesteyn has a deep love for his native New Orleans. Luckily, he has brought a little of the Big Easy to Alamo City with The Cookhouse. With a menu that doesn’t just stick to Creole classics, Sypesteyn gives a snapshot of the city’s rich gastronomic heritage, while gently pushing the cuisine forward with components like Herbsaint foam.
There’s a sense of history in chef Steve McHugh's showcase restaurant, not only in its Pearl district surrounds but also in a menu that honors traditional techniques and often uses indigenous ingredients. The service also seems of another time, with a hospitality focus that helps you forget the hustle and bustle of modern living. It goes without saying that at an eatery called Cured, the charcuterie is exceptional.
Dough Pizzeria Napoletana
As San Antonio’s pizza evangelists, Dough starts with just that — an authentic base that has been certified by the experts at L'Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana. From there, it is topped with local ingredients, both traditional and out-of-the-box (the bacon and onion jam is a revelation), and fired into the signature bubbly charred crust. If you are not a pizza lover (LOL!), there’s still plenty to love, like truffle burrata, antipasti, and beautiful salads.
When folks call Restaurant Gwendolyn old school, they mean it. A tribute to the industriousness of Depression-era cooks, chef Michael Sohocki's eatery manages to keep up service without using any plug-in appliances. The menu is similarly crafted with what would have been available to 1930s diners, only using ingredients sourced within 150 miles. If that sounds precious, never fear. The dining experience has the creature comforts current diners expect.
Signature represents famed San Antonio chef-owner Andrew Weissman back in fine dining form. The menus are not showy (he leaves that to the gorgeously appointed dining room), and largely pronounceable with even the thickest Texas accent, but there’s a sense of true luxury that is increasingly rare. Try the pheasant with roasted seasonal vegetables, wild mushrooms, and a rich jus, a dish that will make any occasion special.
Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery
This casual Pearl district hangout specializes in creative Texas cuisine with a particular focus on the Gulf. Chef Jeff Balfour's menu ranges from comforting favorites like jalapeño cheddar grits and crispy fried chicken to raw bar selections like oysters and shrimp cocktail. The in-house brewery shines with creative beers like a French saison made with sage tincture and a tomato gose.