Some might have been shocked when Paula Deen said goodbye, y’all to the Alamo City after little more than a year in business. We barely raised an eyebrow. After all, why would anyone need to visit a chain when locally owned spots are dishing out some quality Southern cooking?
Some of it is traditional, some of it is just a little newfangled, but all of it proves San Antonio doesn’t need an outsider to tell it how to do home cooking.
Bud’s Southern Rotisserie
This Bottling Department food hall vendor may be a casual cousin to The Cookhouse chef Pieter Sypesteyn’s other restaurants, but it has the same quality. The concept focuses on two roasted meats — chicken and pork — but the possibilities are endless. Order the proteins as a hot plate with sides like Cajun cornbread or braised greens, or on a baked potato loaded with butter, sour cream, cheddar, and green onions. Whatever the main, be sure to pair it with an order of the tangy and sweet house bread and butter pickles.
Jeff and Jenn White are walking a tightrope with their Government Hill newcomer. The chef-y flourishes in the menu are plentiful — from the brioche dough used in the chicken and dumplings to the marrow butter slathered on a ribeye — but it never loses sight of the comfort folks love about Southern cuisine. Upscale ingredients are chosen for flavor over flash. Plain old hushpuppies are good, but adding bacon and pimento takes the dish to a whole new level.
Fontaine’s Southern Diner & Bar
With a cocktail tradition that stretches back almost as far as the culinary, it’s a mystery why so many Southern eateries are dry. Not so at this downtown newbie, which reinvents some of the South’s most hallowed libations like juleps, cobblers, and milk punch. Though Fontaine’s fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, and thinly sliced country ham go down just fine with a tall glass of sweet tea, they’re downright experiential when one adds a little Bourbon.
Mr. & Mrs. G’s Home Cooking
The San Antonio restaurant scene has changed several times since this East Side institution opened in 1990, but thankfully Mr. & Mrs. G’s remains the same. Classic soul food is still served up cafeteria-style, the dining room is still as unfussy as ever, and healthy cuisine isn’t even a passing concern. Let other restaurateurs create buzz. With cornbread muffins, ham-flecked veggies, and perfect fried chicken, owner William Garner continues to create a sense of home.
The South Chicken & Waffles
This Northwest Side spot may have chicken and waffles in the name, but that’s far from its only specialty. The menu traverses the entire Southern coast, from a Florida-inspired pork chop with pineapple relish to an Acadian chicken breast served with peppers, corn, bacon, and mushroom gravy. The best dishes, however, come from the all-day breakfast menu. The praline pecan French toast is rich enough to be a dessert, and the pair of Benedicts are among the most creative in town.
This San Antonio mainstay may offer a lighter take on Southern fare, but that doesn’t mean it tastes like health food. Sure, the rice is brown instead of white, the burger features a portobello mushroom instead of ground meat, and the greens are organic. But the gluten-free Ark-La-Tex gumbo sticks to the ribs just as readily as the traditional kind, and D-Geezy’s Mac ’n’ Cheesy is so good that it sells out daily.