Not even fishing for compliments

San Antonio Mexican seafood joint heats up New York Times list of 50 exciting restaurants

New York Times names Fish Lonja to list of 50 exciting restaurants

Shrimp aguachile Fish Lonja San Antonio
Fish Lonja's esteemed shrimp aguachile. Fish Lonja/Instagram

San Antonio’s Fish Lonja restaurant is basking in the national spotlight. The New York Times selected the Mexican seafood eatery as one of the 50 American restaurants it’s “most excited about right now.” 

Published Monday, October 11, the list spotlights “the 50 most vibrant and delicious restaurants in 2021. ... They’re not ranked, but together they reflect the rich mosaic of American dining,” the article states. Four other Texas restaurants also made the list: Birdie’s, a natural wine bar and cafe in Austin; Roots Southern Table, a Southern restaurant near Dallas from Top Chef alum Tiffany Derry; Houston’s Blood Bros. BBQ; and Sylvia’s, a taqueria in Brownsville. 

Times food reporter Priya Krishna praises San Antonio chef Alejandro Paredes for his creative approach to Mexican seafood at Fish Lonja. Citing dishes such as shrimp aguachile and a shrimp-and-chorizo quesadilla, Krishna writes that the restaurant’s food “tastes so fresh, you might wonder if San Antonio is a coastal town.”

Paredes and his Fish Lonja team likely agree, with a recent Instagram post from the restaurant calling its aguachile “the best” and local social media posters drooling about the freshest mariscos in town.

Houston’s Blood Bros. certainly qualifies when comes to being “vibrant and delicious.” Founded my pitmaster Quy Hoang and brothers Robin and Terry Wong, the restaurant blends traditional Texas barbecue with a diverse set of influences that include Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, and more. 

“The daily changing menu at this strip mall barbecue restaurant in a Houston suburb is a product of the seemingly endless ideas for cooking Texas barbecue whirling through the brains of the owners and staff,” Brett Anderson writes in the short profile of Blood Bros. “One day, brisket burnt-end steam buns and smoked chicken karaage. The next, char siu pork banh mi and Thai green curry boudin balls.” 

Anderson also praises Austin eatery Birdie’s and chef Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel’s “bright, graceful food,” which includes steak tartare, roasted eggplant, and vanilla soft serve, describing the wine bar as “the leading edge of what makes eating great in this booming town.”

Krishna hails the Louisiana-influenced Southern food chef Derry is serving at Roots Southern Table, writing, “If eating [Derry’s] cornbread with smoked butter is like a warm embrace, the duck-fat fried chicken — which should certainly be ordered with a side of duck-fat-fried potatoes — is the equivalent of a bear hug.”