Rendering courtesy of Don B. McDonald Architect

Maybe you've heard: San Antonio is currently experiencing a population boom. Even Austin renters are moving to the Alamo City in droves in search of greater affordability, less traffic, and much better tacos.

Of course, tacos aren't the only dish that San Antonio does right. A diverse crop of restaurants and bars is sprouting up to feed all the hungry newcomers. From promising new ideas from the city's most lauded chefs to a gaggle of Austin imports, here are the most anticipated spots — making local's mouths water — and coming soon.

Be Kind & Rewind
This upcoming arcade bar in the former Alamo Plaza Fuddruckers had sites on opening by this year's Fiesta. However, the website still lists a vague "opening 2022." The concept ignores the gravitas of the Texas Revolution for more recent history — the scrunchied pomp of the '80s.

Big Animal
Though locals were saddened to see Hello Paradise end its run in February, the announcement did come with some promising news. The team behind Bandit BBQ is planning to open a new all-American eatery on the grounds. The opening date is still anyone's guess. It had initially intended to open by spring.

Brenner's Steakhouse
Though locals have been abubble about the River Walk location of this luxury Houston steakhouse since May 2021, the Landry's restaurant group still hasn't offered exact opening details. It has, however, gotten around to updating the website with a targeted date in the fall.

The first of Pearl's big reveals this year, Carriqui will open at 239 E. Grayson St. on September 2. Locals are already abuzz about chef Jaime Gonzalez's menu, which is dedicated to South Texas favorites like coastal seafood, botana platters, barbacoa, and brisket.

Francis Bogside
Coyness seems to be in vogue among San Antonio restaurateurs. So goes it with Francis Bogside owner Steve Mahoney. When announcing that the popular Irish pub would leave Southtown at the end of July, he promised a new Francis Bogside would rise from the ashes. The location and timeframe are yet to be disclosed, though local reporters are no doubt breaking out their trenchcoats.

Full Goods Diner
Paperboy made a name in the Capital City with approachable, locally sourced fare. Now the team is moving into Pearl's new plaza in September. Like its Austin sibling, Full Goods will focus on breakfast and lunch. But guests can expect San Antonio flavor in dishes like carnitas tortas and breakfast enchiladas.

Go Fish Market
One of three anticipated concepts from hospitality dynamos Houston and Emily Carpenter, Go Fish will combine a fresh fish market with a casual café. The pair estimate a winter 2022 opening at 125 W. Grayson St.

Jerk Shack
Chef Nicola Blaque is gearing up for a third brick-and-mortar location of her nationally recognized concept, tentatively set for opening in late summer. The menu will have some slight tweaks with a few more upscale offerings.

Kerbey Lane Cafe
The first San Antonio location of Austin's most famous pancake slinger was expected to arrive at 5515 N. Loop 1604 W., #101 this spring. There's still no definite date, but the outpost has begun hiring.

Künstler Brewing
Vera and Brent Deckard are bringing a second location of their beloved Southtown brewery to Hemisfair's Yanaguana Garden sometime this summer. The new joint will be similar to the original but will offer to-go bites to be enjoyed on the grounds.

This Mediterranean restaurant from Austin's acclaimed Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group will fire up the grill in late summer at 200 E. Grayson St. — the former site of Andrew Weissman's Pearl pioneer Il Sogno Osteria. Executive chef Berty Richter's menu focuses on live-fire cooking with scratch pita, mezze, and bountiful vegetables.

La Ruina
The team behind Grayson Street's The Modernist hasn't revealed much about this rum-focused bar. Will it be on the East Side or Southtown? Will it open before the end of the year? For now, San Antonians are free to wildly speculate.

Construction is still underway for this upscale sports bar, a Southtown version of a Houston favorite. Social media offers little clue to the ultimate opening date. Its Instagram page's single post still says the spot will open in early 2022.

Nineteen Hyaku
Tucked into the lobby level of the upcoming Jefferson Bank tower at 1900 Broadway, Nineteen Hyaku promises upscale sushi served in chic, midcentury modern surrounds. Elevated seafood, tony design? It's no shocker that this is another project from the aforementioned Carpenters. The debut is expected in July 2023.

Pink Shark
Downtown nightlife will gain new vigor when Picks Bar owners Jessica Marinez and Amber Hernandez take over the former Davenport Lounge at 203 N. Presa St. for a brand-new concept. When CultureMap last checked in, the bar did not have a name. Now Pink Shark has an Instagram page so neighbors can follow along with the progress.

Potchernick’s Cervecería
Local architecture firm Clayton Korte is reworking a former sporting goods store at 211 N. St. Mary's St. into a stylish new restaurant and brewery. The completion date has not been revealed, but it is expected to be up and running by year's end.

Restaurant Claudine
The ever-busy Carpenters are also hard at work converting a ramshackle house at 517 E. Grayson St. into an elegant New American eatery. According to its Instagram page, Restaurant Claudine will grace Government Hill in October. Roland Gutierrez, an alum of Supper and Up Scale, will help the kitchen as chef de cuisine.

Stable Hall
Locals will have to wait a bit to enjoy this state-of-the-art music venue at the Pearl. The ambitious project with an outdoor beer garden is not set to open until Spring 2023.

Unnamed Stefan Bowers Project
Sometimes a restaurant doesn't need a name to be highly anticipated. When lauded chef Stefan Bowers unexpectedly announced the closure of Playland Pizza, he also announced a new concept opening at the 1221 Broadway Lofts this fall. Unfortunately, he shared no menu details for the upcoming eatery — only saying that pizza will not be on the menu.

Voodoo Doughnuts
Those wondering what would happen to Playland's 400 E. Houston St. spot soon got their answer. The marble-clad space will become the first San Antonio location of Portland's Voodoo Doughnut by the end of the year.

Wurst Behavior
Sean Wen and Andrew Ho, the team behind Curry Boys and Pinch Boil House, are partnering with craft butcher Joe Saenz on this upcoming beer garden just off the St. Mary's Strip. This time the prolific alchemists will meld traditional german cuisine with Asian flavors. The spot will have a fall opening to take advantage of crisper weather.

Carriqui debuts September 2.

Carriqui San Antonio
Rendering courtesy of Don B. McDonald Architect
Carriqui debuts September 2.
Voodoo Doughnut/Facebook

Iconic Portland doughnut chain bakes up first San Antonio shop downtown

Hole foods

By the end of the year, downtown San Antonio will have one more tourist attraction: Cult Portland-based concept Voodoo Doughnut is moving into 400 E. Houston St., just blocks from the Alamo.

Shaina Hill, the company’s marketing director, confirms to CultureMap that the first San Antonio location will be operational by late 2022. Voodoo Doughnuts previously shared the news via Instagram.

The 24-hour doughnut and coffee shop will replace Playland Pizza. After three years in business, chef and owner Stefan Bowers announced in late May that he was closing the popular restaurant on June 30. Bowers will be opening an as-yet-unnamed new eatery in the 1221 Broadway Lofts in the fall, but it will not serve pizza.

Founded in 2003 by Portlanders Kenneth Pogson and Tres Shannon, Voodoo Doughnut has become an internationally recognized brand. It first dipped its toes into the Texas market in 2015 with a store on Austin’s iconic Sixth Street. It currently runs three other stores in the Houston area.

The chain is known for its trademark pink boxes and its tongue-in-cheek offerings. In addition to selling standard varieties like glazed and cinnamon sugar cake, it also proffers doughnuts like the Maple Blazer Blunt and the dried chili-topped Ring of Fire. All are available in singles or curated boxes.

Voodoo should be popular in the busy downtown corridor near attractions like the Majestic Theater and Hopscotch. A new Alamo visitor center and museum is also being developed nearby in the historic Crockett and Woolworth buildings, although it is not expected to debut until 2025.

If other Texas openings are any indication, Voodoo will draw its own crowds.

“We’re excited to bring the Voodoo Magic to San Antonio, in the downtown corridor, where so much exciting growth is occurring,” says Voodoo Doughnut CEO Chris Schultz via statement.

7 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Ramen shop bowls over Northeast Side with new locations

News you can eat

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 regular roundup of essential food news.


Popular noodle shop Bakudan Ramen is hoping to bowl over Alamo City with two new locations. Known for its eclectic atmosphere and pan-Asian offerings like poke nachos, bibimbap, and takoyaki (fried octopus balls), the emerging chain first debuted at the Rim in 2019. A company representative tells CultureMap that a Stone Oak outpost, located at 22506 Us Hwy 281 N. #106, is expected to be guest-ready by July. A third store, at the Bandera-Loop 1604 interchange near Helotes, is aiming for an October opening.

A Japanese street food upstart has dived into the Balcones Heights area. In an Instagram post, Hanamaru Café spilled the beans on its April 24 opening of its 7460 Callaghan Rd. #333 shop. The concept specializes in Taiyaki, fish-shaped pastries commonly filled with red bean paste. Bucking tradition, the store also offers Nutella and mozzarella varieties, along with soft serve-filled taiyaki “cones.”

Pearl Farmers Market mainstay The Beignet Stand is now sweetening the Broadway corridor with a new brick-and-mortar. According to an Instagram post, the pastry shop celebrated its grand opening at 8343 Broadway on April 20. Husband-and-wife team Michael Grimes and Elisa Trevino are serving many of the varieties that make the kiosk an essential stop, including churro honey butter, Nutella, and piña colada beignets.

St. Mary’s strip revelers now have one more option for late-night eats. Taquitos MB El Sazon Norteño owner Mario Reyna Borjon took over the former home of Pizza Party at 2334 N. St. Mary’s St. on April 21. Among the offerings at Puro Taco are chicken, steak, carnitas, shrimp, and quesabirria tacos.

Central Texas barbecue chain Smokey Mo’s TX BBQ is hoping to expand its San Antonio footprint with an ambitious expansion plan. According to a release, the franchise is eyeing the Alamo City area for its first new stores, although it did not divulge the targeted amount. In all, the growing chain plans to add 32 locations in Texas. Currently, it operates four locations locally.

Other news and notes

High Street Wine Co., hot off a James Beard Awards semifinalist nod, has nabbed another plaudit. National culinary website Tasting Table has named the Pearl hot spot No. 11 on its list of top wine bars in the United States. Editors praised its devotion to small producers and wide variety of snacks.

Contemporary Southern hospitality will meet Regency era English manners at The Good Kind on May 7. The Southtown event space is putting a Bridgerton spin on its Kentucky Derby celebration with a hat contest, live jazz music, and a showing of the big race. The full bar and food menu will be offered from 4-9 pm.

7 things to know in San Antonio food: Upscale bar with Japanese twist dashes into Five Points

News you can eat

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 regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

Michael Sohocki is back at it after shuttering his trailblazing Restaurant Gwendolyn and the downtown location of ramen shop Kimura in December. On January 11, the busy chef reintroduced Kimura in the former Five Points Local space at 1017 N. Flores St. Then, on January 15, he quietly cut the ribbon on Dash Bar in the loft of the same building. The latter specializes in “European classic cocktails with Japanese techniques,” like the Crazy 88 with yaupon gin, matcha syrup, lemon, and sparkling wine and a bramble cocktail with colorful butterfly pea powder.

La Fogata has expanded its footprint with a third location in Alamo Heights. Named La Fogata Cantina, the new outpost has taken over the former home of Nosh, at 1133 Austin Hwy., also owned by restaurateur Patrick Richardson.

Los Angeles-based chain Mochinutunveiled its latest San Antonio location in a January 7 Instragram post. Located at 19202 Stone Oak Pkwy., the shop serves breaded Korean hot dogs, milk teas, and Hawaiian-style mochi doughnuts, a hybrid of the American pastry with rice flour.

Austin import Kung Fu Saloonopened its first San Antonio location on January 14 at 5531 N. Loop 1604 W. in the Rim Crossing Entertainment District. The playful concept bills itself as a “vintage arcade bar,” complete with Skee Ball, karaoke rooms, and a pixelated aesthetic inspired by classics like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. Guests can also expect plenty of beer and a cocktail menu heavy on flavored spirits.

Those needing a break from Alamo City’s endless supply of breakfast tacos (hey, it happens!) now have a new Southtown spot for the morning meal. The Breakfast Truck, a new mobile eatery at Hub Mrkt at 1203 S. Alamo St., debuted January 10 with a menu that includes breakfast sandwiches, traditional egg plates, and caffeine from locals Stranded Coffee.

Other news and notes

H-E-B has won yet another plaudit, this time from the dryly named Annual Retailer Preference Index: U.S. Grocery Channel Edition from Dunnhumby. The international research firm ranked the hometown heroes second on its list of best stateside grocers. The top spot went to Amazon, proving only that much of the nation has yet to be introduced to the singular charms of H-E-Buddy.

Lone Star distilleries will once again be highlighted as the Texas Whiskey Festival returns on May 13-14. Held at Star Hill Ranch, the affair includes a seated tasting of rare whiskies on the Friday of the event and a more casual sip-and-stroll event on Saturday. Tickets, ranging from a $20 pass for designated drivers to a $215 two-day pass, are on sale now.

Photo by Haley Hull Photography

Outrageous made-to-order doughnut chain waddles into San Antonio's Far West Side


If it acts like a duck and quacks like a duck, it might just be the latest doughnut shop opening in San Antonio. A rep for North Carolina-based Duck Donuts tells CultureMap that the company is expanding into a second Alamo City location at 7010 W. Loop 1604 N. in late spring 2020.

Like many contemporary concepts, the sweets shop specializes in made-to-order desserts. Each order starts with the company’s signature vanilla cake doughnut, fried in sight of the customer. Each treat is then dipped into coatings like powdered or cinnamon sugar and a variety of icings ranging from classic chocolate and strawberry to unexpected flavors like lemon and blueberry.

Guests are invited to go over the top with their custom creations by adding additional toppings and drizzles. The toppings include graham cracker crumbs, chopped peanuts, bacon, shredded coconut, Oreos, and two kinds of sprinkles — rainbow and chocolate. Drizzles come in hot fudge, marshmallow, salted caramel, and raspberry flavors.

Not just content with outrageous standalone sweets, Duck also uses its donuts as the base for other dishes. Sundaes are topped with Breyers ice cream and the brand gets weird with breakfast sandwiches including a sausage, egg, and cheese version topped with maple icing and bacon bits.

Founder Russell A. DiGilio started Duck on a whim in 2007, naming the concept after his family’s vacation retreat in Duck, North Carolina. Currently the chain operates over 200 stores in 26 states, mostly clustered on the East Coast.

The Loop 1604 location will be the second local outpost for the popular brand, which currently only operates only two locations in Texas (a Pflugerville store outside Austin is coming in early 2020). As with the first San Antonio shop at 11703 Huebner Rd., the new Duck Donuts will be run by area franchise owner Ben Newell.

7 next-level San Antonio pumpkin spice treats to welcome fall

Hello, gourd-geous

This time America might have gone too far. Counting on a seasonal rise in squash-related sociopathy, Hormel Foods released pumpkin spice Spam on September 23. It’s time for a pumpkervention.

Far be it from us to malign the nostalgia of nutmeg, but there is a better way. San Antonio is full of places that are greeting the season with sugar and spice and everything nice — and not a trace of canned meat.

The Art of Donut
This St. Mary’s Strip shop is going gaga for gourds, offering pumpkin glazed yeast and cake doughnuts. Get cozy by pairing it with an iced pumpkin pie latte or chai, available both hot and cold. Balance a doughnut on the lid for an extra cute selfie.

Bakery Lorraine
It’s a no-brainer that San Antonio’s macaron maestro would offer pumpkin spice cookies for fall, but that’s not the only way it is celebrating the changing of the season. Those who haven’t fallen to pumpkin mania can choose from a variety of treats, including speckled Zinfandel macarons and stunning fig or pear tarts.

Boozy’s Creamery + Craft
Since the South Texas weather rarely coincides with the changing of the seasons, locals must improvise. Instead of braving a steamy latte on an even steamier day, invite in the chill with an affogato made with Drunken Pumpkin ice cream spiked with spiced rum and served with a slice of dreamy pie.

Busted Sandal Brewing Company
Busted Sandal’s seasonal the El Gourdo pumpkin porter has a creamy mouthfeel and a hint of sweetness, making it an uncommonly versatile beer. Pair it with caramelized savory dishes like French onion soup, sweet treats like spice cakes and gingerbread, or enjoy alone.

Earth Burger
This local fast-food fave’s newest milkshake offers all of the cool weather vibes with none of the dairy. The vegan Pumpkin Spice Earth Shake starts with a coconut milk base, then adds spices, brown sugar, and real pumpkin. A sprinkling of vegan graham crackers gets it ready for its Instagram close-up.

With a dollop of pumpkin whipped cream and an infusion of caramel, this Alta Vista coffee shop’s fall latte is far from basic. Enjoy it alone for a mid-afternoon treat or pair it with a smashed sweet potato and caramelized onion toast for a leisurely weekend breakfast.

Plantyful Sweets
This familiar farmers market vendor is prepping for sweater weather with the return of its popular pumpkin pie bars. Each gooey square is loaded with harvest flavors but is plant-based and gluten-free so everyone can enjoy. Find it at Juice Joint in the Dominion Springs Plaza.

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'Little West Side gem" sparkles with summer grand opening


Some bar owners talk about community, but the all-woman trio behind new Prospect Hill spot Chiflada’s mean it. The team says the concept, celebrating its grand opening on June 2, wouldn’t have happened without it.

Family and friends turned out to support the bar months before it was ready for the build-out. They turned out again to help transform a vacant bungalow at 1804 West Martin St. into a comfortable and stylish lounge. When the ice machine went on the fritz during the June 27 soft opening, the bar’s supporters flexed their muscles to ensure the drinks remained cold.

Even the West Side neighborhood gave it a seal of approval. Natasha Riffle, who co-owns Chifladla’s with her mother, policewoman Veronica Riffle, and El Buho owner Melanie Martinez, says the team walked door to door to change the zoning, ensuring residential buy-in.

The result is a bar that is by and for the neighborhood. At the soft opening party, Marigolds swayed in the breeze under a pergola as congratulatory bouquets filled the bar’s shelves. Guests busily chattered as popular deejay Sunnyboy played oldies and conjunto hits.

“It feels like you’re at your abuelita’s backyard and hanging with your family,” Natasha Riffle says of the bar’s vibe.

The drinks honor that spirit, too, toeing the line between the neighborhood’s blue-collar roots and the team’s cocktail-making skills. Featured sippers include a punchy Mexican Martini, a melon Paloma, the Chif Peach, and the mezcal-based Smoke on the Water.
“It’s a place to get a nice cocktail, but also a place to get a beer and shot combo,” Natasha Riffle tells CultureMap about the high-low mix.

Ultimately, Chiflada’s feels like home — the type of place folks let loose after a long day at work, where multiple generations can get in on the party and where bartenders become close friends.

“We all lived [on the West Side] off and on,” says Riffle of the team, “and we’ve all worked with each other over the years. We are more of a family than we are co-workers — 100 percent.”

Chiflada's San Antonio

Photo by Joe Rodriquez

Natasha Riffle beams in front of her newly opened bar.

Contemporary Irish pub sprouts up in new St. Paul's Square home


One of San Antonio’s most storied bars is gearing up for its next chapter. After a brief hiatus, Southtown hot spot Francis Bogside has reopened in St. Paul Square, along with a sister concept — Anne’s.

The bar first opened in 2015 in conjunction with the fine dining eatery Brigid. The pair had barely been in business for a year before an early morning fire ravaged their shared space in 2016. In 2017, the bar reopened on South St. Mary’s Street sans Brigid, becoming one of Alamo City’s favorite haunts.

In July 2022, owner Steve Mahoney announced another change. Francis Bogside was moving out of its longtime home and into a new location. Eventually, internet sleuths figured out that spot would be 1170 E Commerce St #100 in St. Paul’s Square, the former home of Smoke BBQ.

Though in a new location, the basic DNA of the bar is still intact, with a similar layout featuring a large central bar and a jumble of artwork on the walls. The space, however, is a more contemporary interpretation of an Irish pub with a bold mix of upholstery, up-to-date wallcoverings, and mosaic tiles, all enlivening the mostly brick space.

Though Bogside’s signature cocktails have often strayed from theme, a release promised a return to form with sippers like Paddy’s Irish whiskey-based Irish Maid and low ABV Jammy Lass. As usual, the specialty drinks will be supplemented by various classics, including daiquiris and negronis.

Currently, the bar has a limited food menu of pub grub, like focaccia pizza, wings, and loaded potato skins. A more fully developed menu will be rolled out as it prepares for a grand opening later in June.

The media alert did not offer many details about Anne’s, a wine bar now open in the adjoining space, but did tease at an international bottle list. The concept will also have a dedicated food menu, although no details were shared.

Currently in its soft opening phase, Francis Bogside welcomes guests 4 pm-2 am Tuesday through Sunday. Anne’s operates Wednesday through Sunday with the same opening hours.

Francis Bogside San Antonio

Photo by TXTroublemaker

A large central bar is the focal point.

5 tips to build stunning sand sculptures from 2023 Texas SandFest winners

Fun at the beach

As summer fast approaches, sandy vacations to coastal destinations are on the horizon for many travelers. For those with kids in tow, sandcastle-making might top the list of beach trip must-dos.

But “playing” in the sand isn’t just an activity for children, as proven by the 22 professional sand sculptors from around the world who recently competed in the 26th annual Texas SandFest, held in Port Aransas in April. The internationally recognized event, started by Port A locals in 1997, is the largest native-sand sculptor competition in the nation; nearly 70,000 people attended this year.

Competition entries featured everything from mermaids to the Grim Reaper, all intricately carved, brushed, and chiseled from sand, ocean water, and perhaps a little diluted spray glue that sculptors say helps maintain detail. The competitors work on their masterpieces during the event, allowing spectators to witness their progress from start to finish.

“I do around five international sand sculpting competitions per year. It’s always a great challenge to compete a high level,” says Benoit Dutherage, a competitive sculptor from France who also creates snow sculptures in the French Alps during the winter.

Dutherage took first place in the Duo Masters category, along with his sand sculpting partner Sue McGrew, for their work called “Wish You Were Here.” Comprised of two loving faces (one mystically cut in half), the sculpture was a tribute to Pink Floyd.

“We like to reflect human emotions in our sculptures,” he says. “It is never easy to pick an idea among the thousands of ideas we have.”

Florida resident Thomas Koet, whose sculpture called “The Prospector” won first place in the People’s Choice category, intended to create something with horses and a cowboy as an homage to Mustang Island, where the competition took place. High tides just before the event thwarted his plans.

“The high tide washed away so much of the sand, I had only enough left for a mule or a foal,” he says. “So I decided to make an old prospector with a mule.”

Thinking out of the box when it comes to carving sand is just one of several suggestions Koet has for recreational sand sculptors. (“Who says it has to be a castle?” he says.) He and other winners from the 2023 Texas SandFest say they are always happy to see novices get creative.

Here are five of the pros' top tips for producing a beachfront masterpiece.

1. Think beyond the standard sandcastle
“Design and sculpt outside of your comfort zone,” says Abe Waterman, a sculptor from Prince Edward Island, Canada, who took first place in the Solo Masters division with his sculpture, “Sleeps with Angels.” The mega sculpture featured four angels at four corners holding a blanket carrying a sleeping woman. “While this may not lead to the best sculpture results, one will improve faster by doing this.”

Waterman noted that there are different types of sand depending on location. Some are better suited for detailed work while others work well for verticality. “But something can always be sculpted regardless of the sand quality, the design just may need to be altered,” he says.

Koet recommends picking something that will fit your attention span. “You can make anything you want,” he says. “You can make a cat, a shark, a monster truck, your high school mascot, a sneaker, or a shark eating an ice cream cone.”

2. Use the right tools
Forgo the cheap tourist shop plastic bucket and shovel set. “You definitely need proper tools to get a good result: A solid shovel, a few trowels – not too big – and a wall painting brush to clean your sculpture,” says Dutherage. “You’ll also need buckets.”

Think big painter’s buckets, he says, used to make what’s essentially “sand mud” consisting of lots of water and sand. Which leads to the next tip ...

3. Create a form mold
Consider this the secret to head-turning sand sculptures. Whether it’s a 10-foot-tall wooden box with sides that come off, or a plastic bucket with the bottom cut out, a “form mold” is an open-top vessel used to hold packed sand and water to create a carve-able structure.

“It’s a very useful thing to have in order to get a solid block, and to go high,” says Dutherage. “If you are a handyman, you can build your own forms. But a quick solution is to take a bucket, no matter what size, and cut out the bottom. Then put that bucket upside down on the sand. Add a few inches of sand, some water, mix with your trowel and compact that layer. Repeat until the bucket is full. Then gently pull the bucket up and surprise! You will get a nice block of sand ready for a sandcastle full of windows, arches, and gates.”

The compacted layers of sand and water almost act as cement, creating a sturdy base for carving. Dutherage says folks can easily repeat the form mold process to create multiple bases, either side by side or stacked.

4. Use plenty of water, for the sculpture and yourself
Benoit recommends adding even more water during the sculpting process.

“Bring a plant sprayer,” he says. “Sand needs to be wet to be sculptable.”

Even rain during sand sculpture building isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that rain will destroy a sand sculpture,” says Waterman. “While this is possible, most often it just textures the surface.”

Water is also essential for the sculptor, as staying hydrated is key during the process, Waterman adds.

Texas SandFest

Texas SandFest

"The Prospector" took first place in the 2023 Texas SandFest People's Choice category

5. Practice, Practice, Practice
“The biggest misconception is that I do anything different than anybody who does it only for the first time,” says Koet, who’s been sculpting sand for 25 years. “Sure, I bring more and bigger tools and I spend much more time shoveling the sand high and mixing it with water. But there is no magic other than years of practice.”

Waterman, who admits sand sculpting has taken over his life, competes in up to 10 contests a year and also creates sculptures for exhibits and corporate commissions.

“Tricks and tips will only get a person so far,” he says. “But ultimately practice and putting the time in will get them a whole lot further.”

Benoit agrees. “Making a sand sculpture requires a lot of work and the more you practice, the better you will get,” he says. “But first of all, you have to enjoy the fun of it.”