As the pandemic continues to rage and health officials remind Texans to remain vigilant in the effort to stem the spread, some San Antonio restaurateurs are bravely forging ahead. But that doesn’t mean they’re playing with fire.
While the challenges of opening a restaurant are tenfold these days and dining in remains a risky activity, proprietors are adapting, serving up stringent safety measures alongside their house specialties and encouraging San Antonians to take heed while also supporting local restaurants.
From a much-anticipated kitchen and market housed in a 100-year-old historic building, to a charming seafood eatery shucking out otherwise hard-to-find oyster offerings, and a pay-by-the-ounce self-serve taproom and eatery, here are three new places to try right now in San Antonio.
Award-winning executive chef Paul Peterson — a San Antonio native and the nationally recognized former chef of the Gage Hotel’s Café Cenizo in West Texas — is teaming up with local restaurateur Roger Herr to open Bar Loretta in the King William District. Housed in the historic building formerly home to Madhatters Tea House and Cafe at 320 Beauregard St. the restaurant is scheduled for a February 2021 opening, and will highlight modern Texas cuisine in a very chef-y way. Seasonal menu specialties include prosciutto-crusted Morbier cheese with red-wine-stewed figs and grilled bread; pepper-crusted elk medallions with potato gratin and a red wine demi-glace; and spiced grilled Gulf shrimp with a green chile grit cake and fire-roasted tomatillo butter. Seasonal drinks and local craft beers will also be available, and seating in the outdoor garden will offer a dine-in experience without patrons having to congregate indoors. Likely to draw cautious patrons during the pandemic is the neighboring Bar Loretta Market, which will offer curated sandwiches, cocktails, cheeseboards, freshly baked breads, sweet treats, and to-go family meals.
Little Em’s Oyster Bar
Aw-shucks, the world is your oyster at Little Em’s Oyster Bar. Opening December 4 in the former Friendly Spot space at 1001 S. Alamo St., Little Em’s is a delightfully adorable, pastel-hued seafood spot owned by local restaurateurs Emily and Houston Carpenter, and led by skilled chef Benjamin Crumley. Menu highlights include West and East Coast oysters, ceviche, and crab, as well as burgers and other meaty specialties. Beer and wine offerings complete the menu. Little Em’s houses a spacious outdoor dining area and will offer a limited seating capacity during the pandemic. Other safety measures the oyster bar is taking include requiring masks for guests and staff, enforcing social distancing, sanitizing between customers, and offering hand sanitizer.
What better way to enjoy a draft beer during a pandemic than to pour it yourself? That’s the idea behind The Dooryard, a self-serve beer and wine taproom and restaurant opening December 12 at 4503 De Zavala Rd. in the Starlight Oaks Shopping Center. With 30 taps keeping a selection of local, regional, and international craft beers flowing (as well as a smaller selection of wines and ciders available), and a pay-by-the-ounce setup, this is a spot where it’s okay to be self-serving. Food offerings include the types of fare that pair perfectly with craft beer: charcuterie, soft pretzels, hearty sandwiches like the muffaletta and Reuben, and even Asian-inspired dishes like soy-and-ginger baby back ribs, a banh mi sandwich, and laab lettuce wraps. And with a sizable deck accommodating several picnic tables, it’s easy to sip while staying socially distant. The Dooryard will also provide hand-sanitizing stations throughout the space and will frequently sanitize all high-contact areas.