Photo courtesy of Headspace

When it comes to self-care, some folks treat themselves to a day at the salon, some take a moment to relax at a café, and still others let loose with a stiff drink. In a eureka moment, a new Southtown concept offers all three experiences under the same roof.

Headspace is now easing into business at 109 Playmoor St. The playful outfit offers an array of cut and color services paired with a full espresso bar and light bites. Cocktails will eventually be available after the shop emerges from its soft opening phase.

The hybrid concept is the work of Anya Krotova, a 20-year beauty industry veteran specializing in low toxicity, gender- and hair texture-neutral styling. She is joined by prolific entrepreneur Mike Torres, the founder of several catering and restaurant concepts and an outdoor lifestyle brand, Bird & Sun.

Via email, Krotova shares with CultureMap that Headspace's business model isn't as left-field as one might think.

"It's not uncommon in other parts of the world and the country," says Krotova. "We aim to provide a complete experience for all our customers. Some of our salon clients need to spend hours in the chair, and their friends or significant others may want to hang out with them."

Though Headspace will eventually expand its offerings, it now pours a full array of espresso drinks. In addition to serving pastries, the café also dishes up pulled pork sliders, brisket hash, a smoked chicken salad, and a weekly biscuits and gravy special. Early risers can also grab an array of breakfast tacos.

The concept will also make room for neighborhood happenings. In conjunction with First Friday, Headspace welcomed chef John Mesa and artist Jorge Villareal on May 5. Krotova says patrons can expect many more activations to come.

"Our goal is to be more than just a cafe, bar, or salon; we aspire to create a community hub and a vibrant scene," she says.

Currently, Headspace is open by appointment for salon services. The café hours are 7 am-2 pm on weekdays and from 8 am-2 pm on Saturdays.

Headspace San Antonio

Photo courtesy of Headspace

Headspace offers a salon and café under one roof.

Photo courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort

Texas' dreamiest destination spa unwraps exclusive $1,000 Swiss facial for 25th anniversary

Palatial pampering

When the Lake Austin Spa Resort went shopping for a 25th-anniversary gift for guests, it aimed higher than traditional silver and picked treatments that incorporated gold, diamonds, and caviar. As a result, the dreamy destination spa now offers some of the most opulent, exclusive, and — at upwards of $1,000 — most expensive facials in the world.

In anticipation of its milestone anniversary in 2022, the Lake Austin Spa Resort’s LakeHouse Spa partnered with Swiss luxury skincare brand Valmont to introduce the new facials, which are as cutting-edge as they are indulgent.

Creme de la creme among them is The Regal by Valmont, which costs a jaw-dropping $1,050. The Regal was designed in Switzerland exclusively for LakeHouse Spa, and Austin is the only place in the world to get it.

“It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a lot of people,” says Becky Bence, Lake Austin Spa Resort lead esthetician. “And it’s definitely worth it.”

The 135-minute facial begins with the high-tech deep cleanse of the HydroFacial and proceeds with seven masks, including four collagen masks, a papaya enzyme, and a medical-grade LED light mask. Every single product from Valmont’s ultra luxe “masterpiece collection” called l’Elixir des Glaciers is used; some products are made with an uber anti-aging essence of gold sturgeon fish. All are applied using a Valmont signature “butterfly” motion that helps to lift and sculpt the face.

What puts the Regal over the top, though, are 35 minutes of choreographed massage, including a 500-year-old technique called “kobido,'' developed for the empress of Japan. Touted as a “surgical facelift as a massage," Bence says, kobido was once reserved only for nobility and the empress, then later handed down from masters to disciples.

So rarified is the Regal facial, that just six of the 21 LakeHouse Spa estheticians are trained to perform it. They learned at a weeklong “bootcamp” conducted by two Valmont experts who flew in to Austin from Switzerland.

“It was kind of like the Navy Seal program of facials,” Bence says. “It was kind of like being handed down something from a true master.”

The $1K price tag hasn’t kept people away. Since the Regal was introduced several months ago, guests have come from all over the world — and from all corners of Texas — to experience what the spa calls “the ultimate in anti-aging perfection and cellular renewal.” (After all $1,000 is still far less than an actual facelift or even regular nick-tuck-plump-ups by a cosmetic surgeon.)

Why reach all the way to Switzerland for the palatial new treatments? After emerging from COVID shutdowns, Bence says, LakeHouse Spa personnel “auditioned” just about every single skincare line out there. The estheticians voted, and Valmont won.

“We wanted to add something really special, something luxurious but yet something out-of-this-world amazing that truly benefited the skin,” Bence says. “Something almost to replace Botox and fillers …that gave you basically a natural face-lift without being invasive but still being relaxing.”

In addition to the Regal, other new Valmont facials introduced in this 25th anniversary year include:

  • The 150-minute Gold & Diamond Trifecta Facial that involves three massages, four masks, infra-red LED, and a hydrogel mask with micronized gold and diamonds, which costs $990.
  • The Golden Aura Rose & Caviar Facial, a 100-minute treatment that incorporates marine products containing caviar extract and Diamond Collagen, costing $790.
  • Energy of the Glaciers, a 90-minute facial that features rare ingredients from Switzerland and deep, structural massage of the face, stimulating muscles to tone and lift; $750.
  • Luminosity of Ice Facial, a 90-minute treatment described as a “toxin-flushing, facial reflexology-inspired facial” that uses a cocktail of seven plants organically cultivated at high altitudes; $650.

The spa also has a complete menu of non-Valmont facials and dozens of other signature treatments.

Luxe but laid back
Lake Austin Spa Resort’s Dallas-based co-owner, Mike McAdams, says the new facials are indicative of how high the spa wanted to aim for its 25th anniversary.

“Our guest demands a luxurious, more refined experience, and Valmont helps us deliver on that objective,” he says.

And yet, Lake Austin Spa Resort remains a place where robed guests can emerge from a $1,000 facial and step over geckos skittering along the sidewalk while a speedboat whizzes by pumping Beyonce through the speakers. It’s upscale but unpretentious, luxurious but laid-back — almost like “spa camp.”

“We never wanted to create the ‘zen’ spa with stark lines and absence of color – we aimed to create just the opposite,” McAdams says. “Your surroundings absolutely have an impact on how your wellness journey can unfold and influence your daily life. The colors and textures that surround you mimic the vibe of the Texas Hill Country and pay homage to nature.”

The top-rated spa and resort is a far cry now from the place McAdams purchased on January 1, 1997. Located along the shores of scenic Lake Austin in the Texas Hill Country, the property had lived previous lives as a fishing camp, nudist enclave, rodeo ranch, and diet camp.

McAdams — at the time a commercial real estate developer for Dallas-based Trammell Crow — experienced a personal work-life-balance crisis that's wholly relatable in today's post-pandemic, "great-resignation" world two-and-a-half decades later.

“I was living on a plane, traveling a lot. It was high stress, and high energy and I loved it,” he says. “In 1984, I found a place that changed my life — the Ashram in Calabasas, California. It was a true bootcamp, with physical activities and dietary restrictions that were very intense… This experience forced me to come down from my hectic lifestyle of traveling, eating, drinking, and not exercising."

After adopting healthier habits in his own life, he and an LSU fraternity brother, Billy Rucks, seized an opportunity to buy and transform the Lake Austin Spa Resort; they still co-own it today. “It was a diamond in the rough," McAdams says.

More 25th anniversary offerings
One of the biggest challenges running the spa the last 25 years (besides navigating a global pandemic), McAdams says, has been continually evolving in an industry dominated by fleeting fads and headline-grabbing gimmicks.

“The changes in the last 25 years in the spa industry have been monumental,” McAdams says. “The global wellness industry is now a $4.5 trillion economy, with ‘spa’ being one small part of the bubble. We are all seekers looking for ways to look and feel our best, and I think the growth is due to a demand in wanting to take our health into our own hands.”

One of the resort’s newest touts (proudly stated on their home page) is that they’re Texas’ only destination spa on a lake. Recently they’ve introduced a full range of water activities, including a water taxi that transports guests to the spa and back.

“When we bought Lake Austin Spa Resort in 1997, our guests would put a toe in the water — but we’ve also evolved and now understand the power of being near a moving body of water and how it affects your health, happiness, and even alleviates depression,” McAdams says.

Along with the new fancy facials and lake programming, the resort has also added new classes and activities and upgraded amenities for its 25th anniversary. Befitting its location in the “live music capital of the world,” Austin-area musicians now entertain guests nightly around s’mores pits. There’s new artwork around the campus, too.

“My favorite part of celebrating our 25th anniversary this year has been to watch a very special piece of commissioned art be installed in the first few months of the year,” McAdams says. “A local Austin artist created a 64-foot long, 400-square foot abstract mural of stone, glass, and tile designed to honor our magnificent natural location on Lake Austin.

"Within the creation, I wanted to honor all of the amazing past and present people who helped get to where we are today. Their names are included in this mural, discreetly placed within this homage to nature. Because of these special people, Lake Austin Spa Resort has enjoyed many wonderful accolades through the years.”


To mark its 25th anniversary, Lake Austin Spa Resort is offering 25 percent off stays of at least two nights or more, through January 31, 2023. Reservations must be booked by October 31. Some packages include generous spa credits, but sadly, the $1,050 Regal facial is not 25 percent off. Find more information at www.lakeaustin.com.

Red light mask, facial

Photo courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort

A red light mask is part of the $1,050 Regal by Valmont facial.

Photo courtesy of Rowan

Innovative piercing studio needles into San Antonio with new La Cantera store

Piercing news

A modern ear piercing company focused on the health and safety of clients has come to Texas via San Antonio: Rowan is opening at La Cantera.

Located at 15900 La Cantera Pkwy, Unit 1625, the studio approaches piercing more like a minor medical procedure than a rite of passage performed at a shopping mall kiosk. Piercings at Rowan are performed only by licensed nurses who pierce with both hollow needles and single use piercing devices, they say.

Additionally, all earring designs are hypoallergenic, using only ethically sourced materials suited for freshly pierced ears, they say. That means pre-sterilized 14k gold or stainless steel and titanium. They do not use brass, nickel, or zinc in any of the earrings, nor do they use metals that can cause irritation, rashes, allergic reactions.

“Ear piercing is essentially a medical procedure, and we pride ourselves in hiring our nurses, who are the experts, when it comes to skin integrity, infection prevention and keeping patients calm in unfamiliar situations," says Rowan founder and CEO Louisa Serene Schneider in a release. "We can’t wait to celebrate our Texas customers.”

According to the website, Schneider founded Rowan in 2018 because she "observed first-hand that products and services that were labeled 'girly' weren’t paid much attention and especially, in the ear piercing industry the choices were limited to either an impersonal experience at the mall and tattoo parlors or an intimidating one at a doctor’s office."

The New York-based company now has locations in New York City, Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Georgia, New Orleans, South Carolina, and Fort Worth; they promise more coming soon. They also have a partnership with Target, with several in-store locations across Texas, including San Antonio.

Note that Rowan pierces only ears, but they'll do multiple piercings at one appointment. Prices are as follows: $35 for one piercing (device and needle piercing); $50 for two piercings (device piercing only) plus cost of piercing studs ($40-$60 per pair); $25 for a post downsize (needle piercing only).

For more information and appointment bookings, visit the website.

Rowan is a medically supervised piercing studio.

Rowan piercing studio, Westbend
Photo courtesy of Rowan
Rowan is a medically supervised piercing studio.
Photo courtesy of Milan Laser Hair Removal

San Antonio experts list 5 things to know before you get laser hair removal

Smooth Like Buttah

Does never shaving again sound too good to be true? It's not! There are so many pros to getting laser hair removal, but even if you're certain you want to ditch unwanted hair forever and give laser hair removal a try, it's important to study up to know if this method is right for you.

San Antonio laser hair removal experts, Milan Laser Hair Removal, share the top five laser hair removal questions on everyone's mind before they decide to live that stubble-free life.

1. Does laser hair removal hurt?
Lasers on your skin? Sounds scary, so we get the concern. But it doesn't come close to the pain of waxing. Many say it stings like a rubber band snap, but only for a millisecond — the time it takes for the laser to zap your hair.

Many lasers, such as the Candela GentleMaxPro used at Milan Laser, even have built-in features to minimize any potential discomfort. And to make sure you have the most comfortable laser hair removal treatments possible, go to a provider that has highly trained medical professionals operating the lasers, as Milan Laser does.

2. How much does laser hair removal cost?
Laser hair removal is surprisingly cost-effective. Here are the facts: The average person spends $3,800 in a lifetime on shaving essentials such as razors, creams, and exfoliators. But has anyone ever shaved and then never had to again? Nope! The regrowth sometimes happens in just a day or two. With waxing, the average person spends $24,000 in a lifetime on salon appointments — again, just for temporary results.

Since the results of each laser hair removal treatment are permanent, you can view the cost as an investment rather than an expense. The average Milan Laser client is 95 percent hair-free in their treated areas within seven to 10 treatments. So in the long run, you're saving time and money.

Milan Laser also offers affordable payment plans, with payments that can be as low as $29 a month.

3. How permanent is laser hair removal?
Light from the laser targets and destroys the hair follicle, so it can never grow again. When laser hair removal is performed properly, the results of each treatment will be permanent — many see a noticeable difference after their very first treatment. However, not all hair follicles grow at the same pace, so multiple treatments are needed to ensure that each one is zapped, and peach fuzz and white hair cannot be removed with laser hair removal.

That being said, new hair follicles can become active for a variety of reasons including age, hormones, and genetics, causing new hair to grow. So if possible, try to choose a provider who offers unlimited treatments at an affordable price for those occasions. Milan Laser will guarantee your results for life, so there's no worry about touch-up fees down the road.

4. Is laser hair removal safe for all skin tones?
Laser hair removal is safe and effective for all skin tones, as long as the correct technology is used. For instance, Milan Laser uses the Candela GentleMax Pro, which contains two separate laser technologies: Nd: Yag and Alexandrite. The Alexandrite is used for lighter skin tones, while the Nd: Yag is best for brown to black skin tones.

But it's more than just having the right technology. For the safest treatments possible, you'll want to select a provider who has experience treating all skin tones and knows how to tailor your treatments to your specific skin tone and hair type. That way they know exactly which laser to use and use the appropriate settings for each treatment.

Milan Laser providers have extensive experience with both Alexandrite and Nd: Yag laser technology and develop a custom treatment plan for each client, allowing them to safely and effectively treat all skin tones and make hair-free skin a reality for everyone.

5. How do I choose a laser hair removal provider?
Research, research, research! Who offers pricing plans to fit your budget? Who uses the right laser for your skin tone? What happens if you need touch-up treatments down the road? Who has great reviews? Laser hair removal is never a one-size-fits-all process, so the more in the know you are, the better experience you'll have.

Ready to kick your razor to the curb and never shave again? Give Milan Laser a call at 833-NO-RAZOR or go in for a free consultation. Visit with a local laser hair removal expert at any of Milan Laser's San Antonio locations conveniently located in San Antonio, West San Antonio, and a new location coming soon in New Braunfels.

Learn more about laser hair removal in San Antonio here.

Think of it as an investment.

Woman after workout
Photo courtesy of Milan Laser Hair Removal
Think of it as an investment.
Courtesy of Iron Goat Spirits

Hill Country village market taps Fredericksburg distillery and more new tenants

We’re not kidding

A crafty local goat is bringing a “baa-cchanal” experience to the Hill Country that will have spirits lovers hoofing it to the area’s massive new village market once it opens.

Fredericksburg-based Iron Goat Distillery, launched in 2016 and already the winner of six industry awards for its craft rums and agave spirit, is one of the newest tenants to sign a lease at Grand Central at Milam, the new public market destination currently in development in Fredericksburg.

Iron Goat — which ferments, distills, bottles, and labels its spirits by hand in the Hill Country haven — is known for its Agave Spirit, Honey Spirit, and flavored rums, including Texas Heat Cinnamon, Amber, and Silver. Its tasting room and shop at Grand Central at Milam will represent Iron Goat’s first retail location.

Located at 206 N. Milam in Fredericksburg and under redevelopment by Austin’s St. Croix Capital Corp., Grand Central at Milam is scheduled to be completed this fall and will offer nearly 16,000 square feet of retail space for eight concepts, as well as four food kiosks that will highlight unique Hill Country cuisine.

Anchored on a 1.6-acre site, the market will also include outdoor amenities like picnic tables, yard games, a fire pit, a small stage for performances, and local art exhibits.

St. Croix Capital announced Wednesday, October 27 that also joining Iron Goat at Grand Central at Milam will be:

  • Paint Nail Bar, a beauty franchise owned by Fredericksburg residents that boasts a fume-free environment, nontoxic products, complimentary mimosas, and an in-house jewelry line.
  • Santa Fe Handwoven Designs, which features women’s handwoven clothing and gifts created by a longtime fiber artist from Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Grand Central at Milam shop will be the brand’s second Fredericksburg location.

Other tenants that previously signed leases for Grand Central at Milam include healthy beverage biz NobiliTea, Fredericksburg sandwich and snacks shop Fresh Pickens Market, and Palinuro Italian Cuisine.

“We’re thrilled we’ve attracted such a diverse slate of tenants for Grand Central at Milam,” says Ken Satterlee, founder and chairman of St. Croix Capital Corp, via a release. “We continue to seek tenants that will have appeal to both local residents and visitors to the area, and we’re confident each of these concepts will achieve that in their own unique ways.”

Spirits lovers can soon get their goat at the new village market.

Iron Goat Spirits
Courtesy of Iron Goat Spirits
Spirits lovers can soon get their goat at the new village market.
Courtesy of Texas Fashion Week

Texas’ official fashion week struts into San Antonio for inaugural event


San Antonio’s most stylish new event is optimistic about making a strong fashion statement, heralding a feather in the cap for Lone Star State designers.

Texas Fashion Week, the official fashion week for the entire state, promenades into San Antonio October 1-7 with a lineup of style-studded events. Tickets are currently on sale online for individual events.

Hardly cut from the same old cloth, Texas Fashion Week is the product of six years of research and a pilot launch in 2019 under the temporary name Fashion Week SATX. Texas Fashion Week is part of the Texas Fashion Industry Initiative, the state’s official nonprofit dedicated to the Texas fashion industry.

What’s more, the event has solidified a partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, making Texas Fashion Week the first in the history of the U.S. fashion industry to garner such support from the prestigious organization.

But let’s buckle down and talk specifics. As part of its launch year, Texas Fashion Week will feature more than 200 fashion industry pros from all over the state, highlighted through a collection of fashion shows, city activations, and networking events.

Also showcasing various genres of the Texas fashion trade in support of economic development and competitiveness within the global fashion industry, Texas Fashion Week’s anchoring events this fall will exhibit fashion designers, fashion artists, fashion retailers, beauty industry professionals, and more.

With the theme of “A Pop of Optimism,” Texas Fashion Week 2021 events include:

  • Kickoff Night, Friday, October 1, 6:30-9 pm, Rosenberg Skyroom at the University of the Incarnate Word, 847 E. Hildebrand Ave., $15. Meet the designers, models, “glam squad,” and more at the launch of the first-ever Texas Fashion Week.
  • Fashion is Art, Saturday, October 2, 7-10 pm, Brick at Blue Star Art Complex, 108 Blue Star, $50-$65. The official celebration of bridging fashion and art, this event includes a night of fashion shows highlighting avant garde designs.
  • Look Local Night, Sunday, October 3, 7-10 pm, Brick at Blue Star Art Complex, 108 Blue Star, $50-$65. This is San Antonio’s chicest incentive to shop local fashion, and will include pop-up activations, fashion shows, and more.
  • Street Beat, Tuesday, October 5, 7-10 pm, Brick at Blue Star Art Complex, 108 Blue Star, $50-$65. Street Beat is all about bringing awareness to San Antonio’s local streetwear community. A fashion show will feature the area’s top designers.
  • Celebrate San Antonio, Wednesday, October 6, 7-10 pm, Brick at Blue Star Art Complex, 108 Blue Star, $50-$65. The local fashion design community (and beyond) will showcase their local “wears.”
  • Texas Fashion Awards, Thursday, October 7, 6-10 pm, Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. This is the red-carpet fashion event of the year. (Note: Check the website for ticket specifics, which will be released soon.)

All proceeds from Texas Fashion Week will go to the nonprofit Texas Fashion Industry Initiative.

Though this will be the inaugural Texas Fashion Week, organizers say it’s just the first stitch in a design that includes growing the local and statewide fashion industries to new heights.

“With focus on Texas Fashion Week in particular, we have a three- to five-year plan for this inaugural event that will begin as a platform for local fashion industry artists annually, will make high-fashion experiences more accessible to this market, and eventually grow into the Texas Fashion Industry Convention in later years, bringing in fashion industry professionals into San Antonio from all over the world,” says Burgundy Woods, president of the Texas Fashion Industry Initiative and founder of Texas Fashion Week.

“This is just the beginning. It is an incredibly exciting time as we spearhead so much for the future of industry and headquarter it right here in San Antonio.”

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio plummets on list of best places to live, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From hotel accolades to urban treasure hunting, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio plummets on list of best places to live in new national report. San Antonio was previously the No. 75 place to live in America in 2021, tumbling to No. 83 in 2022 and dropping even further down the list to No. 103 in 2023.

2. Here are the top 7 things to do in San Antonio this holiday weekend. Check out Spoon or Kool and the Gang tonight, or head to UTSA for their annual Asian festival.

3. This is how big San Antonio apartments get for $1,500 a month. San Antonio renters can find apartments that span 1,010 square feet for $1,500 a month.

4. Posh Pearl hotel books top spot on best luxury hotels in U.S. list. Tripadvisor's coveted Travelers' Choice Best of Best Awards recently gave Hotel Emma top marks in two categories.

5. Texas unearths new ranking as 2nd best state for urban treasure hunting. Fun fact: Texas has the highest number of metal detecting sites in the nation.

Fine dining chef unpacks nostalgic pop-up concept at popular Grayson Street bar on Memorial Day


With new restaurants seemingly opening daily, San Antonio’s culinary scene is more exhilarating than ever. But even those with a packed reservation schedule sometimes crave something different.

Enter pop-ups — a San Antonio obsession that grows more popular each month. The latest to enter the fray is Restaurant Claudine chef Mel Cavazos, who will debut Throwback Sammies, a one-night-only concept sprouting up at Three Star Bar on May 29.

“I want to do something comforting that everyone can relate to,” explains Cavazos of the nostalgic concept. “I want the menu to read simply but totally unexpected when you eat it.”

The small menu includes a trio of dishes that evoke childhood memories. Cheese bread is reimagined with Romesco sauce, burrata, and basil, while another sandwich has all the fixings of a Sunday pot roast with potatoes, carrots, and gravy. Those desperately waiting for fall will no doubt flock to the Thanksgiving Meltdown, complete with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry.

One dish, however, is even more personal. In honor of a recently passed friend, Cavazos added a “secret” vegan sandwich featuring buffalo cauliflower and homemade pickled vegetables.

“He loved his vegan wings,” Cavazos remembers.

The chef tells CultureMap that Throwback Sammies is just the start of a series of pop-ups she hopes to hold monthly. As she continues developing a career at Carpenter Carpenter Hospitality’s ever-growing restaurant empire, she sees the pop-up series as a chance to keep exploring her culinary voice.

“I want to expand and explore more options,” Cavazos says, adding, “I love sandwiches, but that’s not what I like to be known for.”

Throwback Sammies starts at 8 pm and runs until supplies run out. Future pop-ups will be announced via Instagram.

Texas' best restaurants and bars reign at 2023 Tastemaker Awards


It’s another one for CultureMap’s history books, folks. Our statewide journey to recognize some of the best chefs, restaurants, and more in 2023 has finally come to a close.

The series kicked off April 13 with our sold-out Houston Tastemakers at Silver Street Studios, then we moved to Cowtown for our Fort Worth event on April 27. The Texas culinary tour steered us to our Metroplex neighbors in Dallas at the Fashion Industry Gallery on May 4. From there, we took a drive to the Hill Country for Austin’s evening festivities at Fair Market on May 11, then concluded our journey with our second-ever fête in San Antonio on May 18.

The 2023 Tastemaker Awards honor the state’s most innovative culinary pioneers, allowing nominated chefs and restaurants to showcase their talents for guests before announcing the winners during a live ceremony.

Guests sampled chefs’ specialty bites and imbibed a variety of creative cocktails or mocktails, with a few Topo Chicos sprinkled in throughout the evening. But as always, our nominees and winners are the main focus of our program and are the reason we can bring these celebrations to life.

Nominees are brought forth by a panel of previous Tastemaker winners and CultureMap editors. While the panel choses a majority of the winners, the winner of Best New Restaurant is determined by our readers in an online, bracket-style tournament. New this year in each city, a sizzling on-site Burger Throwdown sponsored by Goodstock Beef by Nolan Ryan.

Without further ado, let’s meet our 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards winners, listed by city:

San Antonio:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Carriqui
  • Chef of the Year: Robbie Nowlin, Allora, Arrosta
  • Bar of the Year: Amor Eterno
  • Brewery of the Year: Künstler Brewing
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: The Magpie
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Sofia Tejeda, Hotel Emma
  • Best Burger: Last Place Burger
  • Best New Restaurant: Reese Bros BBQ


K\u00fcnstler doppelbock
Künstler Brewing Instagram

Künstler Brewing is our Brewery of the Year.

  • Restaurant of the Year: Bludorn
  • Chef of the Year: Mark Clayton, Squable
  • Bar of the Year: Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar and Spirit Lounge
  • Best New Restaurant: Aiko
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Emmanuel Chavez, Tatemó
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Shawn Gawle, Goodnight Hospitality
  • Bartender of the Year: Kristine Nguyen, Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Craft Pita
  • Wine Program of the Year: Nancy’s Hustle
  • Best Pop-Up: Khói Barbecue
  • Best Burger: Burger Bodega

Fort Worth:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Fitzgerald
  • Chef of the Year: Juan Ramón Cárdenas, Don Artemio
  • Bar of the Year: Birdie’s Social Club
  • Best New Restaurant: Calisience
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Angel Fuentes, Guapo Taco
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Cafe Bella
  • Best Burger: Dayne’s Craft Barbecue
  • Best Brewery: Martin House Brewing Company


  • Restaurant of the Year: Shoyo
  • Chef of the Year: Junior Borges, Meridian
  • Bar of the Year: Lounge Here
  • Best New Restaurant: Quarter Acre
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Mike Matis, Fearing’s
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Maricsa Trejo, La Casita Bakeshop
  • Bartender of the Year: Haley Merritt, Midnight Rambler
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: El Rincon del Maiz
  • Wine Program of the Year: Pappas Bros.
  • Best Burger: Wulf Burger
  • Brewery of the Year: Manhattan Project Beer Co.


  • Restaurant of the Year: Birdie’s
  • Chef of the Year: Amanda Turner, Olamaie
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Joaquin Ceballos, Este
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería
  • Bar of the Year: Nickel City
  • Bartender of the Year: Erin Ashford, Olamaie
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Nixta Taqueria
  • Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
  • Brewery of the Year: Lazarus Brewing Co.
  • Best Burger: Dai Due
  • Best New Restaurant: Maie Day