San Antonio's dining scene is flourishing with exciting new restaurants, and eight of them are going head-to-head in our annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Best New Restaurant tournament.
Our 2022 nominees for Best New Restaurant range from Italian-inspired hot spots to splashy new concepts from top local restaurateurs. They were selected by our expert panel of judges, but the winner is up to you.
Now through April 25, you're invited to vote in our Best New Restaurant tournament. The tournament starts with the eight restaurants below, and the winner from each matchup moves on to the next round, until only one remains.
Meet all of the restaurants below, vote for your favorites daily, then join us April 26 at The Espee for our inaugural San Antonio event. We'll unveil the Best New Restaurant champion — plus all of this year's San Antonio winners — during our live awards program. Tickets are on sale now.
Inspired by the stunning beauty of Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Allora delivers the equally dazzling flavors of Italian seafood and pasta to the Pearl. Living la dolce vita is a cinch at this beautifully adorned restaurant, where the aim is to redefine Italian food in San Antonio. Menu highlights include a staggering amount of shareable antipasti and crudi (sashimi-grade seafood) dishes, a vibrant selection of first-course pasta plates, and a mix of main course offerings that span seafood, steak, and game. Diners can even opt for the condividere menu, which includes larger shareable plates like the stunning lobster lasagna, perhaps the restaurant’s most tantalizing dish.
Ambler Texas Kitchen & Cocktails
Hotel Contessa’s showpiece restaurant is a culinary tribute to Texas, so it’s fitting that its backdrop is one of the Lone Star State’s most striking locales: the River Walk. While Texas-inspired cuisine anchors the menu, executive chef John Zaner is quick to note that Ambler Texas Kitchen & Cocktails does not simply serve Tex-Mex. Here, diners can delight in chicken-fried Texas quail, roasted cauliflower and chorizo queso, an array of ranch-cut steaks, and other house specialties. The folks at Ambler sum up the River Walk restaurant’s offerings best: “Brisket from nearby Augusta Ranch, coffee beans from San Antonio’s own Merit Coffee Co., and Shiner Bock-infused shrimp boil tell you everything you need to know about our Texas-on-a-plate menus.”
Arrosta, billed as San Antonio’s first Italian-style rotisserie cafe and bakery, features Bohemian charm, European flair, and uniquely Texan flavors. Mornings start off savory or sweet, and whether you opt for the frittata, focaccia, or Nonna’s Torta, you’ll definitely want to do as the Romans do and pair it with a perfect espresso. Lunch and dinner offerings range from quarter-pound meaty trays served with sides, dipping sauces, and breads, to pizza, panini, and irresistible cups of crispy fried snacks. Wash it all down with a glass of house wine or a carbonated soda to get the full Italian experience.
Box St. All Day
Box St. All Day is the big sister to popular local food truck and catering company The Box Street Social. Located at The ’68 development at Hemisfair, it offers some gorgeous views, from the natural surroundings to the Tower of the Americas and Yanaguana Park. From brunch and coffee to dinner, wine, and cocktails, Box St. All Day boasts a vast menu of comfort food ideal for gobbling up while kicking back on the 5,000-square-foot patio. Menu highlights include the must-have Box St. Brekky and milk bread French toast, Thai fried wings, the bacon jam burger, and the crispy-skin snapper Grenobloise.
Dashi Sichuan Kitchen & Bar
New from Sichuan House, one of the city’s most celebrated Chinese eateries, is Dashi Sichuan Kitchen & Bar, which aims to integrate the diversity and innovation of Sichuanese cuisine with a modern American-style dining experience. Dashi, which means “grand artist” in Chinese, is an appropriate moniker for this spirited gathering spot where familiar Chinese food favorites meet more adventurous ingredients in a bevy of family-style dishes. Cold-plate specials include Spicy Listeners (five-spice pig ears), while warm plate offerings include a variety of savory “little eats” like crispy dumplings and Sichuan classics. Various noodle and rice dishes, soups, and sweet treats round out the ambitious menu.
Located in the Los Patios development, Naco 210 features longtime Naco favorites and new dishes, as well as brunch offerings. All-day specials include a wide variety of enchiladas, tacos (which can be made keto with Naco 210’s irresistible cheese “tortilla”), tortas, and the incredibly popular chilaquiles. Mexican brunch is a must here and includes such crave-worthy specials as huevos ranchero, Double Black Benedicts (with huitlacoche and black garlic salsa), loads of breakfast tacos, pancakes, and omelets. While the restaurant’s interior is colorful and vibrant, its massive tree-lined deck offers a lovely spot for a brunch-fueled hiatus.
Sari-Sari Supper Club
Quaint family-owned Filipino eatery Sari-Sari recently unveiled its new west side supper club, which offers both pickup orders of its Filipino fare, as well as special event supper club dinners. Traditional dishes like lumpia, wok-fired noodles, Filipino-style steak sandwiches, and savory barbecue skewers and rice bowls dazzle the palate. Sari-Sari Supper Club dinner events include multicourse chef-prepared menus with such drool-inducing dishes as duck fat seafood gumbo, six-hour braised short ribs, and sweet potato beignets. Complimentary wine and live music entertainment turn the experience into a dining adventure.
Given the immediate success of their Little Em’s Oyster Bar concept, San Antonio restaurateurs Emily and Houston Carpenter were wise to quickly follow with their splashy seafood restaurant, Up Scale. The high-end eatery oozes glam, from its elegantly embellished and thoughtfully designed dining room to its menu of freshly caught luxury seafood dishes like the dover sole, which is presented tableside with foie gras, buttered farro, and beurre blanc. Up Scale also specializes in decadent meat dishes, like its 60-day dry-aged tomahawk steak, as well as a luscious assortment of nigiri, sushi rolls, and apps.