CULTURE AND CUISINE
Our only regret for Black Restaurant Week San Antonio? There are only so many meals we can eat in a day. So we’ve learned to form a game plan before diving into the dozens of restaurants participating in the annual celebration of culture and cuisine.
Founder Ryane Smith’s labor of love, held this year from February 26 to March 5, has become an annual tradition. Each year, participating restaurants agree to donate a dollar from a special to a local charity; this year, the San Antonio Food Bank. That alone is an excellent reason to schedule lingering dinners and mid-day lunches.
But it is also a chance to discover new favorites to return to month after month. Here are a few of ours to get your calendar started.
Carmens de la Calle
For over 20 years, this venue has been delivering la vie boheme to locals via its cozy downtown hideaway. The food pairs nicely with the flamenco often found inside. Order the house paella with chicken, chorizo, and seafood, or order empanadas 72 hours in advance. They come in a mind-boggling assortment of global flavors — everything from the Japanese-inspired Samurai Chicken to beef picadillo.
Kirk’s family-run food truck specializes in — what else — jerk chicken. Jamaica’s most famous culinary export is made into tacos, sandwiches, and sliders — and even a salad bowl. That’s just a lip-smacking start. For a limited time, the Converse trailer will also be dishing out oxtails and curry chicken for a complete family feast. All are served with the necessary sides: cabbage, rice and peas, and plantains.
This Northeast Side eatery combines soul and Caribbean cooking in one of the most piquant menus in town. Southern specialties like fried catfish and collard greens can be mixed and matched with island favorites like Jamaican beef patties, plantains, and slow-stewed chicken.
Mr. A. OK’s Kitchen
An industry vet with more than 20 years of experience, chef Steven Harris specializes in the soul food once ubiquitous at Southern meat-and-threes. That means every sandwich and entrée comes with at least one side, a list that covers all the classics — mac ‘n’ cheese, greens, black-eyed peas, dirty rice, fried okra, and more.
Roots Salad Kitchen
It used to be conventional wisdom that people who wanted a healthy meal in San Antonio had to cook it themselves. Not anymore. Spots like Roots are dishing out plenty of veggies and whole grains, all served as a fast-food value meal. Chef Chris Cukjati takes it one step further by introducing a global flavor palate. Chimichurri gives zing to flat iron steak in a Tex-Mex salad; shrimp is paired with crunchy green apples and a sunny orange dressing.
A more health-minded take on Southern fare, this East Side eatery offers lean meats, gluten-free bread, and organic produce. All of the sides are vegan, but omnivores might not notice. The red beans and rice is insanely flavorful, thanks to a squirt of sriracha and creamy avocado.
Trices Café & Lounge
Owned by chef Elsie Glasu-Atunuwa, Trices is one of only a handful of restaurants in Alamo City offering West African standards like egusi soup (a nutty comfort food made from blended melon seeds) and jollof rice (a vibrantly spiced dish made in a tomato stew). Try either with a Malta Guinness, a sweet, malty soft drink with just a hint of the familiar stout’s flavor.
This elegant neighborhood wine bar has an intriguing array of bottles, ranging from patio pounders like Field Recording’s Skins to big reds like Longevity Cabernet Sauvignon. The snacks are naturally designed to let the vino shine. Opt for charcuterie, olives, hummus, or a decadent double-chocolate cake.