Maddy Murphy's Irish Sports Bar/ Facebook

Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio's restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our weekly roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

A downtown pub won't be around to celebrate St. Patrick's Day 2024. Via a September 17 Instagram post, Maddy McMurphy's Irish Sports Bar announced its immediate closure after a five-year run. The watering hole teased the news a few days prior, promoting a "Last Hurrah" party on September 15. Neither bulletin offered any explanation for the move. Sibling concepts in owner Terry Corless' portfolio, including Mad Dogs British Pub and Prost Haus, will continue to operate.

Local fast-casual joint Biff Buzby's Burgers observed National Cheeseburger Day by announcing a second location. The outpost will be located at the former site of the short-lived Windmill Ice House on 2769 Nacogdoches Rd., confirming the latter's July temporary closure was permanent. Judging by Facebook photos, Biff Buzby's is nearing completion, though the owners weren't quite ready to declare an opening date. They did share that the original location's popular car shows would not be revving up at the new space.

Drive-thru coffee shop 7 Brew is also in expansion mode. A press release spilled the beans on an upcoming second San Antonio location at 6202 North I-35 Frontage Rd. The Arkansas-based company opened its first local outlet in July, introducing the Alamo City market to original creations like the Smooth 7, a white chocolate and Irish cream breve. The new location will host soft opening events September 22-29, leading up to the September 30 grand opening.

Other news and notes

While America's craft beer industry is struggling, Alamo Beer Co. is making a bold move. The Eastside brewery is merging with VIVA Beer, according to a release. The move will allow the latter to grow the brand in San Antonio and beyond.

Embracing the de facto return of fall, if not the return of crisp weather, the food scene is preparing for a flurry of events. The Big Red & Barbacoa Festival has announced the dates for its 11th year. Single-day tickets start at $10 and are available online.

Can't wait until October for festival season? The San Antonio Brunch Festival runs from 11am to 3 pm on September 23. More than a dozen local eateries will be participating, offering unlimited bites. Tickets, ranging from $85-$150, are no longer available online but will be available at the door. More details are available here.

The University of Texas San Antonio's popular Ven a Comercelebration returns on September 29. Several activities are planned to support UTSA's renowned Mexican cookbook collection, including a series of dinners at Mixtli, a DIY cookbook workshop, a community pachanga, and a party at Carriqui. As always, the event's showcase will be a fundraising dinner on September 29 featuring local chefs Alexana Cabrera and Sofia Tejeda, mezcalero Pedro Jimenez Gurria, and James Bears Award winner Iliana de la Vega of Austin's El Naranjo.

Ladino is marking its first anniversary with a grill-out party on October 1. The shindig will feature unlimited bites, a live DJ, and games for $40. Cocktails will be available for purchase.


A Broadway seafood joint's ghosting and a coffee shop's new haunt spook San Antonio food news


Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio's restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our weekly roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

Near-downtown seafood joint Señor Fish has abruptly shuttered after a little more than two years in business. Though the owners did not issue an official statement, the concept’s Facebook and Instagram profiles have been deleted, and the Google Business profile lists it as permanently closed. Signage for a new concept called Ay Caramba has popped up at the 1915 Broadway address with an Instagram account promising an imminent opening.

Farther into the city core, Broadway Delicatessen has also hung up its apron. According to a Facebook post, the spot will stay open until the first week of September or until supplies run out. The owners did not share the reason behind the decision.

Spine-tingling caffeine slingers Gravves Coffee have revealed the opening date for a brick-and-mortar. The new shop will first welcome guests at 2106 McCullough Ave. on September 2 — just in time for spooky season. Vampires should beware, however. Currently, the business is only advertising daytime hours between 8 am and 2 pm.

Recent Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation filings are abuzz with restaurant expansion news. First up is local mini-chainStout House. The sudsy concept will soon begin construction on its fifth location at La Picosa at Brook’s City Base. According to records, the outpost will debut with two patios when construction wraps up in June 2024.

Instant Donuts is expecting a third addition to the family. The business, surely the subject of many Homer Simpson daydreams, filed paperwork for a new location at 14124 Culebra Rd #116. The build is set to be completed by December.

Other news and notes

The newly spiffed-up San Antonio locations of Piatti have introduced brunch. On Saturdays and Sundays starting September 2, guests can day drink between 10 am and 3 pm. The menu includes lemon ricotta pancakes, poached eggs on polenta, and boozy temptations like a limoncello bellini.

Mambo Seafood/ Facebook

Latin-inspired seafood, steamy outdoor brews, and a settled lawsuit spice up San Antonio food news


Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio's restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our weekly roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

Out with one seafood chain, in with another. Houston's Mambo Seafood will open its first San Antonio location on April 14, taking over the former locale of Joe's Crab Shack at 4711 NW Loop 410. Guests can expect a Latin twist on maritime cuisine in dishes like seafood tostadas and tilapia chicharrones. Though a variety of fried platters will no doubt satisfy Joe's fans, assumably, the tie-dye will be kept to a minimum.

Though the prospect of being outdoors may strike San Antonians as slightly less appealing than flat Earth theory, Wild Barley Kitchen & Brewery is inviting locals to suck it up at its new outdoor bar. Basecamp, an al fresco addendum to the restaurant's 8403 Broadway St. outpost, serves up the concept's in-house brews and a selection of other sippers. Though the infernal weather may make the opening timing somewhat inopportune, the owners do have experience dealing with high temps. The brand originated as a food truck serving wood-fired bagels.

Broadway corridor sweet shop Laika Cheesecakes & Espresso has baked up a second location at 6626 W. Loop 1604 N. #215 in Alamo Ranch. The new storefront carries the same menu as the Alamo Heights original, including a dozen varieties of its signature Mason jar dessert.

San Antonio's culinary diversity continues to grow with the opening of Wei Chow at 9703 Bandera Rd on the Northwest Side. Currently, the eatery is in an extended soft opening phase, with hours being updated regularly via its social media channels. Guests who can squeeze it into their schedule can expect Taiwanese comfort food like beef noodle soup and chicken spring rolls.

Down the road at 6812 Bandera Rd. #101, Comfort Cafédebuted its third San Antonio location on August 11. The AM favorite, known for a flexible pricing model benefiting recovery program SerenityStar, will be open Friday through Sunday, 8am-4 pm.

After volleying barbs for almost two years, Moses Rose's Hideout owner Vince Cantu has finally agreed to sell the downtown bar. The stalemate started when Alamo officials attempted to purchase the property to make way for the Alamo Visitor Center and Museum. Most recently, the conflict boiled over when the city filed a lawsuit to seize the building under eminent domain. In an agreement painted as "mutual," the concept agreed to vacate the building by August 15.


7 can't-miss meals to reserve during this summer's San Antonio Restaurant Weeks


It’s inevitable. Every San Antonio restaurant experiences a seasonal slump when locals spend long weekends tubing, watching double matinees in the theater, or otherwise avoiding melting like the villains of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Filling seats when everything is sticky is no easy task.

But almost 15 years ago, Culinaria had a lightbulb moment. What if you coax folks away from swimming pools with something impossible to resist: bargains on some of the best eating in town? It was a natural fit for a nonprofit promoting San Antonio as a food destination.

Now, the two annual editions of Restaurant Weeks are a tradition for local diners looking to strike a few eateries off their ever-growing list. From August 12-26, guests can enjoy prix fixe deals on brunch, lunch, and dinner ranging from $20-$55. The only hard part is figuring out where to make reservations.

Since it’s too darn hot to sweat over making decisions, we’ve made it easy. Break out the linen and stop by one of these seven can’t-miss spots. Then keep checking the Culinaria website for menu updates.

One of the biggest bargains during Restaurant Weeks, this Pearl district beauty is offering a $55 four-course dinner starting with crowd-pleasing openers like olive-brined octopus and chicken liver mousse. The mains will satisfy both seafarers and landlubbers. Choose from sautéed flounder, PEI mussels, roasted pork line, or balsamic-glazed chicken. A $25 three-course brunch is available too for a repeat visit on Sunday Funday.

Damien and Lisa Watel’s French brasserie has long been a favorite for unfussy but elegant dining. This summer’s Culinaria offering is no different, serving up hits like soupe de poisson (a rich fish-based broth) and skate wing and frites for $45. Dessert is a particular indulgence with a choice of chocolate mousse or a luscious crepe a l’orange.

Box Street Social
A few words of advice. Book a reservation at Box Street Social now. The dreaded heat bubble seemingly isn’t diminishing the Hemisfair hot spot's popularity one bit. Once the seating is secured, daydream about which $25 main will make the ultimate cut. The strawberry cheesecake French toast, topped with Graham cracker streusel and meringue, is particularly enticing.

Colette at the Phipps
We have so many questions about the standing tuna sandwich, one of the offerings for this newcomer’s $55 dinner. Google’s image search provided a half dozen whimsical examples, some defying the laws of physics. That’s reason enough to make Colette a Restaurant Weeks stop. A refreshing lemon posset dessert is just the cherry on top.

Go Fish Market

Play hooky and spend an afternoon nibbling on a $35 feast that starts with everyone’s favorite hot weather nosh, charcuterie. From there, guests can enjoy anchovy skewers, calamari and peppers, or fried fish. A bottle of crisp rosé is practically mandatory.

La Frite Belgian Bistro
La Frite, c’est chic! Live la vie boheme with this charming Southtown bistro’s $35 dinner. For the starter, the mussels are a must and are available in three mouthwatering varieties. The entrée is equally tempting. Opt for flaky rainbow trout or curry lamb shank.

Outlaw Kitchens
Vegetarians will relish this Alta Vista spot’s $45 menu, which switches up in the middle of Restaurant Weeks. From August 17-19, guests can enjoy rigatoni Bolognese loaded with mushrooms, lentils, and aromatic sofrito. Then, they can return August 24-26 for a 100-layer lasagna stuffed with fresh tomato, zucchini, eggplant, and bechamel. Meatier options are available on both weekends.

Paloma Blanca Mexican Cuisine
Locals need little excuse to stop by this Alamo Heights favorite for lunch. For one, the famously punchy ’09 margarita has been starting parties for generations. Order two, then an Uber, and gird the stomach with a $20 lunch consisting of dishes like ceviche, pollo en salsa verde, and vanilla tres leches cake.


San Antonio chefs take a bite out of the Big Apple for prestigious dining series


Start spreadin’ the news. A gaggle of local culinarians is currently on a field trip to the Big Apple to showcase the skyrocketing food and beverage scene.

The meals are part of Vacation Vibes, a series of events presented by Visit San Antonio at the James Beard Foundation’s recently opened Platform. The kitchen and event space in Hudson River Park’s Market 57 food hall debuted in March as the nonprofit’s state-of-the-art hub of public-facing events.

Over the July 8-9 weekend, some of River City’s buzziest chefs teamed up with local beverage makers for two meaty brunches. On July 8, Chefs Andrew Ho, Sean Wen, and Andrew Samia – 2023 James Beard Award Best Chef: Texas semifinalists for Curry Boys BBQ — joined Re: Rooted 210 Urban Winery owner Jennifer Beckman for a four-course feast pairing vibrant flavors with texas wine.

Beer was the focus of a brews and Barbecue brunch on July 9. Samia, also the owner of South BBQ & Kitchen, went at it alone during a family style service devoted to traditional Central Texas pit craft. Marcus Baskerville of 2023 Outstanding Bar semifinalist weathered Soul’s Brewing Co. showcased San Antonio brewed beers, including the lauded Black is Beautiful.

Texas expats living in New York (and locals gifted with teleportation powers) can still catch A Culinary Tapestry of San Antonio, a July 11 dinner featuring three of the city’s most lauded chefs. Best Chef: Texas nominees John Russ of Clementine and Nicola Blaque of Jerk Shack will combine their unique gastronomic sensibilities with the pastry prowess of Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef semifinalist Sofie Tejeda of Hotel Emma.

Blaque and Tejeda will have an encore performance on July 12 for an evening focused on the celebrated Jamaican cuisine of Jerk Shack and Mi Roti. Tickets to both events are available online.

“San Antonio offers an amazingly wide variety of tastes that will delight the diners that join us at Platform by the James Beard Foundation,” said Marc Anderson, President & CEO of Visit San Antonio, via a release. “We are honored to be the first city to fully activate the new space and look forward to showcasing San Antonio’s rich culinary culture, the fastest growing city in the U.S., to New Yorkers and global visitors as part of this collaboration.”

Twin Sisters Bakery & Cafe/Facebook

6 things to know about San Antonio food right now: Sisterly cafe calls it quits


Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio's restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our weekly roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

It's the end of an era for one of San Antonio's true dining institutions. Via a Facebook message offering no further explanation, TwinSisters Bakery & Café announced the "heartbreaking" news that it was closing shop after a 43-year run. The Alamo Heights restaurant debuted in 1981, quickly becoming a neighborhood staple for its artsy décor, health-conscious fare, and community minded spirit. The post attracted scores of well-wishers, a testament to the indelible impression the café made on locals.

A colorful new concept has taken over the former home of El Bosque Mexican Restaurant at 12656 West Ave. Although Palomar Comida & Cantina opted out of a grand announcement, social media posts indicate that the eatery opened around June 15. Menu details are missing from the website, but the restaurant has featured several offerings like chocoflan, crispy enchiladas verdes, fajitas, and poblano mac 'n' cheese. Palomar also boasts a full bar with margarita flights and frozen sangria.

Wildly popular brunch spot Comfort Cafe is spreading the gospel to Leon Valley. The pay-as-you-go restaurant took to Facebook to tease the new location at 6812 Bandera Rd. #101. The nonprofit venture, completely staffed by workers in recovery, currently has two outposts in San Antonio and another in Smithville. The team newly signed the lease but hope to be operational by early August.

Continuing the recent explosion of out-of-state coffee franchises colonizing San Antonio (see PJ's, Dutch Bros et al.), Oregon-based The Human Bean is brewing up a third area location. As with the others, the new drive-through will be outside the loop at 8403 Culebra Rd. According to Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation records, construction will be completed by the end of October.

Other news and notes

Much-missed St. Mary's Strip eatery La Botánica is gearing up for a one-night-only comeback at new West Side barChiflada's. The pop-up will be part of Cura la Cruda on June 25, a Pride-themed showcase with performances by Wayne Holtz, De la O, and DJ Melon. The evening will also feature plant-based bites from Carmen Vidal and wares from Very That and Amorcito by Yari G.

June 25 is also the anniversary of Hugman's Oasis. The River Walk tiki bar is celebrating on the patio with rum cocktails, Polynesian-inspired nibbles, and vinyl deejay sets. The festivities begin at 5 pm.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Hugely popular San Antonio restaurant Ladino celebrates first anniversary with Mediterranean party

Luck be Ladino

Although Ladino has only been a Pearl gem for one year, the mediterranean hotspot already feels like a San Antonio staple.

Helmed by executive chef Berty Richter and Emmer Hospitality, Ladino is slated to celebrate its first anniversary this Sunday with a festive party celebrating the restaurant's success as well as its future. Guests will enjoy a welcome beverage (and more cocktails for purchase), plus unlimited grilled meats, pita sandwiches, and other bites. DJ Zain will keep the energy up, while guests play yard games and kids get their faces painted.

Chef Richter tells CultureMap, '"In the world of restaurants and hospitality, we always strive to progress, keep learning, and improving."

When Ladino opened last September, it represented a promising branching out from its Austin-branched hospitality group parent, which had prior (and has since) earned acclaim from national publications for its cultural vibrancy — and deliciousness, of course.

In Ladino's case, the cultural touchstone is the Judeo-Spanish language of the same name that Chef Richter spoke growing up, which also included elements of Castellano, French, Italian, Greek, Turkish, and Hebrew. Richter's Turkish mother inspired many parts of the restaurant's popular Mediterranean menu.

Despite a strong point of view, the restaurant does have something for everyone, and is very accommodating to patrons with dietary restrictions. Signature staples include the sourdough-based pita bread (which comes unlimited with the hummus dip), kibbeh nayeh with Wagyu tartare, shishbarak (lamb and pork dumplings), and saffron chicken. The Wagyu Denver steak is a consistent standout, with a perfect crispy edge surrounding the medium rare middle.

Chef Richter plans to keep the menu generally the same for now, with the ongoing tradition of rotating some dishes out based on seasonal availability.

"We are excited to continue exploring the cuisines and cultures that Ladino represents, while strengthening our relationships with local farmers, growers, producers, and the communities of San Antonio," says Richter.

Now open seven days a week, Ladino offers a happy hour on weekdays from 5-6:30 pm. Deals include six dollars off of the hummus dip and pita, $5 off of Ladino's signature cocktails and wines by the glass, and deals on other plates like babaganoush, a spicy Feta plate, and more. The happy hour specials are only available at the upstairs bar, which is easily accessible catty-corner to the main Ladino entrance at the Pearl.

Tickets ($40, $15 for kids) to the anniversary celebration on October 1, from 4-8 pm, are still available via Eventbrite. Regular reservations and to-go orders may be made at ladinosatx.com.

Botanical Garden's Lightscape mesmerizes with new exhibits and discount tickets


Call it the grown-up version of posing with Santa Claus. Since its dazzling debut in 2021, the San Antonio Botanical Garden’s Lightscape has been the essential stop for holiday photoshoots. Planners are already working hard to ensure the annual tradition is more brilliant — and accessible — than ever.

Tickets are now on sale for the showstopping exhibition, running November 17 to January 1. The festivities will include familiar displays and brand-new illuminated works from global designers.

French creative studio Pitaya will return with a new installation, "Spark Ballet." The work features dozens of hanging lanterns glowing with firefly lights as a flickering guide around the lake. Visitors will also be treated to a pair of large-scale spectacles from UK outfit ArtAV, including an array of sparkling stars and a 40-foot-high LED tree.

Some of last year’s favorites will make an encore. The "Heart Arch Walk" allows guests to stroll under a tunnel of love while "Floraison" canopies explorers with brightly lit poppies. As always, the "Winter Cathedral" provides one last selfie spot.

The ever-popular "Bluebonnets" will also mesmerize sightseers, this time with an army of life-sized cowboy nutcrackers. The "Fire Garden" will have a new addition, too — the 25-foot dragon last seen in the blockbuster Imaginary Worlds: Once Upon a Time exhibition.

Peak date tickets cost $28 for adults and $18 for children, with VIP packages and member discounts available. For the first time ever, the garden also offers Value Nights on select dates in November and December. Revelers can score tickets as low as $18 for adults and $10 for kids online.

San Antonio Botanical Garden Lightscape

Photo courtesy of San Antonio Botanical Garden

The Pixel tree makes an ideal selfie stop.

Rock star Bono's daughter makes her own sweet music in Flora and Son

Movie Review

The new Apple TV+ film Flora and Son centers on a single mother and her teenage son, a situation that typically calls for an uplifting story about the mother’s struggles trying to support the two of them, and the bond that develops between them as go through the troubles together. While that element exists somewhat here, it goes down a much different path that’s both saltier and equally as rewarding.

Eve Hewson and Oren Kinlan in Flora and Son

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

Eve Hewson and Oren Kinlan in Flora and Son.

Set in Dublin, Ireland, the film follows Flora (Eve Hewson), a single mom to Max (Oren Kinlan), who gets in a fair bit of trouble. She shares custody with her ex, Ian (Jack Reynor), and their antagonistic relationship, along with Max being a teenager, likely has an effect on how Flora and Max get along. A typical interchange between mother and son has them calling each other all sorts of bad names, although there rarely seems to be any true animosity behind their arguments.

When a guitar Flora refurbishes for Max goes unappreciated, she instead starts taking online lessons herself with an American named Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). She’s no less brash with him, but her sincere interest in learning how to play and in finding out more about Jeff’s music opens a new door for Flora. Soon, a discovery that Max is making music of his own on his laptop helps them communicate better than they have in a long time.

Flora & Son is the latest music-focused film from writer/director John Carney (Once, Sing Street), and he once again finds the sweet spot in telling a personal story enhanced by song. Flora has more than a few rough edges, making her a less-than-ideal protagonist, but the heart of the character shines through precisely because she has no filter. Once music is added to the equation, it become that much easier to see the type of person she is and why you should root for her.

Both Hewson and Gordon-Levitt are charming actors, so they establish a connection through a screen well. Fortunately, though, Carney chooses not to leave it at that, adding a slight fantasy element to some of their scenes by having Flora imagine Jeff in the room with her. A romantic element naturally arises, but it’s the unexpected way in which two lonely souls find each other from across the world that makes them the most interesting.

There are a couple of decent songs that come out of the process of all of the music-making, but nothing that you could truly call an earworm. Instead, it’s the feeling you get seeing the characters interact when they’re sharing music with each other that makes the film sing. Only one character could be classified as a professional musician, with the rest of them making music for the pure joy of it, an emotion Carney translates well in his storytelling.

Hewson (the daughter of U2’s Bono, in case you were unaware) is having a moment after 15 years in the business. She has a boldness that serves her as well in this role as it did in the recent Apple TV+ limited series, Bad Sisters. This is Kinlan’s first major part, and he acquits himself well. Both Gordon-Levitt and Reynor are seasoned actors who know how to make the most of their limited scenes.

The depiction of a mother/child relationship in Flora and Son is atypical, but it still winds up in a great spot thanks to the power of music and some fine performances. Carney’s love for both songs and filmmaking has yielded some memorable movies over the years, this one included.


Flora and Son opens in select theaters and on Apple TV+ on September 29.