News you can eat

7 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Lauded barbecue joint burns out

7 things to know in San Antonio food: Lauded barbecue joint burns out

Bandit BBQ San Antonio
Pandemic pressures caused Bandit BBQ to shutter. Bandit BBQ

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

One of San Antonio’s best barbecue joints has gone up in smoke. After a two-year run at Freight Gallery & Studios, Bandit BBQ suddenly called it quits via a May 5 Instagram post. The Texas Monthly-approved business did not offer many specifics for the closure. Still, it did share that the decision was mainly spurred by business losses suffered during the pandemic lockdown. Fortunately, owner Brandon Peterson and chef Mark Garcia won’t stay inactive for long. The pair have teamed up with Jeret Peña of 3 Star Bar to open the casual concept Big Animal in the former Hello Paradise space.

Near Dark, an enigmatic bar at 1024 S. Presa St., quietly opened on May 6. The tiny Southtown space offers a dark academia vibe with assorted skulls, vintage mirrors, a hidden bookcase door, and flooring plucked from the Clue board game. Guests can solve mysteries while sipping a mix of classic and original cocktails like the spicy tequila-based Not Today Satan.

Southtown tapas spot Hola! will officially introduce itself on May 12. Helmed by chef Rene Fernandez, the new restaurant is located at 603 South Alamo, steps away from Fernandez’s Azuca Nuevo Latino. The menu includes pintxos (tiny one-bite treats) and tapas, ranging from charred octopus to Moroccan lamb stew. The eatery also offers paella and an international selection of mostly affordable wines and beer.

According to recent filings at the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, two restaurants will soon join the lineup at the Rim shopping center. Both Austin-based pizza purveyors Via 313 and Souther California fried chicken chain The Crack Shack are set to begin construction at 17315 West Interstate 10 in June, with estimated completion dates in December.

A new cantina specializing in agave spirits is now serving the Mission Reach area. Mas Chingon at 4904 S. Presa St. celebrated its grand opening on May 5 with drink specials, mariachi music, and tapas. The cocktail menu features a variety of margaritas, beer, micheladas, and a variety of rare and popular mezcal and tequila pours. According to the website, a full food menu will be coming soon.

Other news and notes

Some of San Antonio’s best restaurants are coming together to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Founded by Adrian and Camille De Los Reyes of the Sari-Sari restaurant group, the San Antonio AAPI Heritage Month Restaurant Passport highlights participating eateries by offering a 10 percent discount all May. Guests can collect stamps at popular eateries like Bakery Lorraine, Dashi Sichuan Kitchen + Bar, Best Quality Daughter, Pinch Boil House, and Singh’s Vietnamese, then redeem their passport at any Sari-Sari location between June 1-5 for a chance to win Spurs swag.

Southtown newcomer Bar Loretta has received a major vote of confidence from Tales of the Cocktail. The annual cocktail conference honored the hot spot as one of the U.S. Central nominees for Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar, part of its prestigious Spirited Awards. Bar Loretta was the only San Antonio contender on the list. Winners will be announced in July.