Photo courtesy of Ladino

Nestled away in a quiet corner of the Pearl Brewery is Ladino, an upscale Mediterranean restaurant with consistently good food, drinks, and elegant ambience. As the restaurant rounds the corner for its one year anniversary this September, we're revisiting why its one of the best new restaurants in San Antonio (and one of our 2023 Tastemaker nominees).

Before we get to the menu, Ladino's design details lend credence to the overall experience dining at the restaurant. More than a simple dinner out, Ladino truly feels like a journey away from the hustle and bustle of the city: Wide archways allow guests to see cooks working diligently to prepare dishes like saffron chicken, lamb belly ribs, oyster mushrooms and of course, perfectly baked pita bread with hummus — among other options.

This writer's favorite dish by far was the Wagyu Denver steak. Each slice of steak was perfectly cooked to medium-rare perfection. Suffice to say the steak alone at Ladino warrants a return visit, of which we've made several.

Another refreshing aspect of Ladino is the team's dedication to ensuring that guests with food allergies are well taken care of. More often than not, eating out with allergies can be a limiting, stressful experience — not the case at Ladino. Kudos to chef Berty Richter (of the Emmer and Rye Hospitality Group) for curating a menu that features plenty of food allergy-friendly options.

As summer approaches, Ladino is now offering its first ever happy hour as well. From 5 pm to 6:30 pm Monday through Friday, guests can head to Ladino's upstairs bar and enjoy $5 off select Ladino specialty cocktails, like the Mezcal-based Matkot & Chill, the Ladino Spritz, and (available during happy hour only), the refreshing frozen Raki lemonade.

The happy hour menu also includes deals on small bites, like the aforementioned hummus plate for $8 (it's normally $14), Kabocha Squash Babaganoush for $5 (sensing a theme here? it's normally $10), and other options. The Chicken Wing Kebab, priced at $11, will only be available to order during happy hour.

Now within months of reaching its first anniversary milestone, Ladino's consistently sumptuous fare, sophisticated decor, attention to dietary needs, and overall elegant vibe make Ladino a must-visit for guests new and old alike.

Ladino is located at the Pearl at 200 E. Grayson St, No. 100

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9 San Antonio spots to score big on Super Bowl Sunday

Game plan

Hey, the Cowboys didn’t make it to the end. That’s something San Antonians will have to live with. But chances are, most locals will be watching the Super Bowl on February 12 anyway. The commercials are (mostly) clever. Riri is performing for the first time in years. And, at the very least, it’s an excuse to tackle a mountain of mozzarella sticks. Whatever one’s reason for watching the big game, it’s more fun to watch with a crowd. Let these 10 local spots be your weekend goal.

Backyard on Broadway
This Alamo Heights-area complex is kid-friendly until 9 pm, which should be just enough time to see the last touchdown. It’s pet-friendly, too, in case Rover is a big Eagles fan.

Big’z Burger Joint
This UTSA-area hangout is full of genius ideas for the championship day. For one, the $2 Gatorade shots are a brilliant blend of hydration and intoxication. Have one too many? Soak them up with the All-American burger, a monster half-pound Angus patty topped with a butterflied hot dog.

Charlie Brown’s

With plenty of screens to watch the action and a quiet enough atmosphere to discuss the commercials, this North Side neighborhood haunt is as comfortable as an old jersey. The food wears equally well, especially the pizza and its killer rib eye deal.

The Friendly Spot
No, the name wasn’t plucked out of a hat. This rambling bar really is one of the most sociable spots in town. Keep the camaraderie going with hundreds of craft brews and shareable snacks like Buffalo chicken jalapeño poppers and fried cheese curds. Then, settle in to watch the big game on a giant inflatable screen.

The Hangar
Not a huge football fan? This Broadway strip bar has plenty of games to keep fair-weather fans busy until halftime. The menu is mainly fried, but there’s no sport in salads. Munch on the celery served with a dozen wings for a bit of roughage.

Lucy Cooper’s Ice House
No food pairs with football better than wings, so here’s the Sunday game plan. Head to this North Side icehouse and pony up $49.99 for 40 cluckers. Choose up to four sauces and wash it down with a $12 beer bucket. Way to be on the ball!

Get cracking to this luxe Southtown sports bar, and you might go home $1,000 richer. Still, football squares isn’t the only game available. Cravorites will be dishing out crawfish from 2-6 pm, and the bar will be cranking out $20 mimosa carafes and domestic beer buckets until 8 pm. The big game, of course, will be broadcast from multiple flatscreens.

Picks Bar
This North San Antonio hot spot is staging a drag brunch and a Super Bowl watch party on the same day, which is reason enough to visit. It also has a sturdy cocktail program (both boozy and zero-proof) for those who punt on the usual longnecks.

Tony’s Siesta
There are Chiefs fans, there are Eagles fans, then there is the Rihanna Navy. The latter will be at Tony’s Siesta for a Gay-lentines bash featuring themed cocktails, bubbles, a food pop-up, a DJ, and the most important concert of the year. Score!

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio International Airport clears runway for 1st nonstop flight to Europe, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor's note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From international flights to local delights, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio International Airport clears runway for 1st nonstop flight to Europe. Passengers can now book tickets for flights from San Antonio International Airport (SAT) to Germany's Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

2. Hot San Antonio hotel brings back popular live fire dinner series for fall. Executive chef Michael Collins will keep grilling on the patio at Ambler Texas Kitchen + Cocktails.

3. New honky-tonk surprisingly two-steps into St. Paul's Square. When Steve Mahoney first relaunched Francis Bogside and Anne’s, rumors circulated on how he would use the expansive upstairs space.

4. Nola breaks new ground and a Hill Country eatery heads to City Hall in San Antonio food news. This week's food news saw the expansion of a popular brunch spot, cookbook and website features, and more.

5. Here are the top 7 things to do in San Antonio this weekend. There's much to do this weekend, including beer festivals and a great standup set.

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.