Photo by Henry Becerra on Unsplash

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

1. This is how much income a San Antonio resident needs to afford rent in the city. Thankfully, the city's median annual income is higher than what a resident would need for a one bedroom apartment.

2. San Antonio hospital is one of the top 20 in Texas this year, says U.S. News & World Report. Baptist earns particularly high marks for cancer-related care and procedures.

3. Hemisfair prepares to break ground for hotel and residences around San Antonio's new Civic Park. Hemisfair is always looking toward the next thing, but now it's time for the future to become reality.

4. Fun and affordable San Antonio shows up on new list of best cities for Gen Z. San Antonio charms young adults with its vibrant arts and entertainment scene, diverse restaurants, and buzzy nightlife.

5. San Antonio museum collects spooky set pieces for 30th anniversary of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Hope you're sitting down: This year, the classic holiday mashup movie The Nightmare Before Christmas turns 30 years old.

Rendering courtesy of Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation

Hemisfair prepares to break ground for hotel and residences around San Antonio's new Civic Park

Park Living

Hemisfair is always looking toward the next thing, but now it's time for the future to become reality. The Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation and its trio of partners have finished the agreed-upon due diligence phase and are nearly ready to break ground.

The partnership includes the following projects and entities, according to a news release:

  • A 200-room hotel by Zachry Hospitality
  • A 10-story residential tower and three-story retail building by Post Lake Capital Partners
  • An indeterminate "residential/retail building" to break ground much later by AREA Real Estate
  • In total, by all parties, "450 residential units with workforce housing, roughly 70,000 square feet of retail space ... [and] hundreds of parking spaces"

“It is great news to share that our three development partners have completed the due diligence phase of the lease agreements and are ready to get started on the next phases,” said Hemisfair CEO Andres Andujar. “Our partners’ dedication to the Hemisfair transformation is critical as we are set to open one of the world’s great public places, Civic Park, in just a few weeks.”

Zachry Hospitality is leading the charge, breaking ground in fall of 2023. The hotel will be a "one-of-a-kind Curio Collection by Hilton product,” according to Zachry Vice President of Public and Government Affairs Tara Snowden. As the name would suggest, this collection features bespoke hotels with eclectic style.

Many Curio Collection hotels place a special emphasis on the surrounding natural world, and Hemisfair is about to unveil its newly improved green spaces on September 29; It's probably a good bet that the two will feature some interplay, even if it's just great views.

The new hotel will join the four others in Texas — two each in Dallas and Houston — sometime in 2025. In the meantime, Post Lake Capital Partners will be working along the Riverwalk, breaking ground in the fourth quarter of 2024, and AREA Real Estate will start wrapping things up when it breaks ground in 2025.

The Hemisfair District, as any San Antonian knows, is too busy to shut down for construction. All the work has been planned around events in the area, according to the release. The 2025 NCAA Final Four, also known as March Madness, was given special consideration; games have already been scheduled at The Alamodome on April 5 and 7, 2025.

It may also quell some San Antonio's anxieties to learn that these developments are all located around City Park, and not directly on parkland. The decision to use these spaces was made in 2014, and funds have been appropriated from Hemisfair District revenue, not tax revenue. In fact, according to the Redevelopment Corporation, the goal is to make Hemisfair financially self-sustaining.

Unveiling Civic Park is part of the second phase of Hemisfair's urban park series. Yanaguana Garden was the first phase, and the third and final phase focuses on "Tower Park," on the eastern side of Hemisfair.

More information about changes in the district is available at hemisfair.org.

Civic Park Hemisfair San Antonio

Rendering courtesy of Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation

Civic Park will be open to the public on September 29.


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.


James Beard award nominee Nicola Blaque set to open 3rd restaurant concept in Hemisfair Park

Hungry at Hemisfair

Chef Nicola Blaque has a new restaurant concept in the works at Hemisfair Park.

The City of San Antonio Historic and Design Review Commission officially approved Blaque's concept for her third restaurant, Port Royal, to be housed in the historic Schultze House in Hemisfair Park.

While Port Royal will feature similar menu items from Blaque's original restaurant, the Jerk Shack, the Hemisfair spot will also feature a full bar and cocktail program, the first of its kind for Blaque's restaurants.

For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of eating at the Jerk Shack, Blaque's signature culinary style is artisanal Jamaican cuisine, with menu options like Blaque's signature jerk chicken, fried plantains, jerk egg rolls, and more.

Guests at Blaque's new restaurant concept will also be able to order 'steakhouse-menu like items,' per an official press release from Hemisfair. Port Royal will also have the distinction of being one of the first public tenants on what is the now-driveable E. Nueva St.

So we know what you're thinking — when does Port Royal open anyway? Can we expect cocktails and food at Port Royal this summer?

Bit of bad news fellow foodies — Port Royal is slated for a summer opening, but not until summer 2024.

However, anything new from the James Beard Award nominated chef (most recently she made it to the James Beard Award semifinals for 2023) is always worth the wait, so just hang tight for now and we'll keep you posted on details of Port Royal's grand opening.

Blaque, who is also a military veteran, had this to say about Port Royal in an official statement — "The response to The Jerk Shack has been amazing, which has allowed us to expand across the city...Our fans and customers have been extremely supportive of our growth so we’re looking forward to bringing The Jerk Shack to Hemisfair."

Port Royal will join other new tenants at Hemisfair's Civic Park, including Künstler Tap Haus, Bombay Bicycle Club and Kusch Faire.

Construction on Port Royal is slated to begin in fall 2023.

San Antonio's Hemisfair expects more fun and great food coming in 2023

4 million and counting

This past holiday season, San Antonio's Hemisfair area welcomed 4 million visitors to Yanaguana Garden since opening the public playground and meeting area in 2015. And in exciting news for the year ahead, more amenities and events are expected to open the coming months.

According to a press release, 2023 holds plenty of arrivals at Hemisfair in the form of new restaurants, new additions to Yanaguana Garden, more special activities, and the opening of Civic Park Phase I. Hemisfair officials shared news of four more restaurants coming to the redeveloping public park area: Kunstler Tap and Brat-Haus, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Jerk Shack, and Kusch Fair.

Kunstler Tap and Brat-Haus comes from the owners of Kunstler Brewing Co. in the Lone Star neighborhood. Bombay Bicycle Club is developed by the owners of the same popular Brackenridge Park-area eatery. The Jerk Shack (one of our 2022 Tastemakers) is created by the owners of a renowned far west side Caribbean restaurant. Kusch Faire is the newest concept by those responsible for DASHI Sichuan Kitchen + Bar.

Each new restaurant will restore and occupy a 19th century home within Hemisfair, adding even more diverse culinary options to reflect the global optimism exhibited at the 1968 World’s Fair — the original reason for Hemisfair’s rebirth.

“It’s important for us to welcome a diverse group of tenants because that's who our city is,” Hemisfair CEO Andres Andujar said in the release.

Hemisfair officials also plan to expand Yanaguana Garden’s playground area by starting construction this month on a toddler play area on the Bank of America Promenade near The Box Street Social. With five climbable vignettes that mimic a garden atop the existing squishy play surface, the toddler play area is slated to open in early spring.

Hemisfair Conservancy Executive Director Anne Krause said individual donors and major gifts from an anonymous foundation and the Jeanie Rabke Wyatt Family Foundation made possible development of the toddler play area. Philanthropic contributions backed public and private funding to build Civic Park Phase I, including a seven-figure gift from the Mays Family Foundation for the Peggy Mays Gardens, which will open to the public in 2023.

“We take 'Hemisfair is for all' very seriously here and this space helps us achieve that notion,” Krause said.

Additionally, Hemisfair will continue to play host to some of major cultural gatherings, such as Muertos Fest, Diwali, and Lymphoma Leukemia Light the Night, and Celebrate SA — as well as the weekly story time and the monthly Super Fun Saturday.

Hemisfair officials said the opening of the first phase of Civic Park this fall will accommodate a larger number of significant events. Located along Market Street and supported with $27 million in city of San Antonio bond proceeds, Civic Park Phase I will encompass five acres of public parkland, including a shaded promenade, “the springs” water features and a great lawn for large events for up to 15,000 people in concert mode.

Andujar said Hemisfair’s Civic Park will help boost San Antonio’s portfolio of public gathering spaces with the creation of a space worthy of luring thousands of residents and visitors to enjoy a variety of happenings. A second phase of Civic Park, including the grand Source Plaza entrance adjacent to the Torch of Friendship, and a zocalo with a built-in terrace for community performances, is estimated for completion in late 2024.

“It’s very rare that urban downtowns receive this significant of a park and gathering setting after the city has been well-established,” Andujar said.

Courtesy of Hemisfair

New 29-story residential tower coming to San Antonio's Hemisfair Park

Hemisfair Park

Hemisfair Park is growing, growing, growing. Hot on the heels of a recent hotel announcement, slated for 2025, and under the same $340 million redevelopment plan approved earlier this year, the City of San Antonio Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) released sneak peeks of a 29-story residential tower and three-story retail building coming soon to the area.

Proposed by Post Lake Capital Partners in a public/private partnership (P3s) with the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC), the new tower will land on Market Street, situated on roughly 2.14 acres and steps from downtown San Antonio attractions. Post Lake Capital Partners will develop the property in conjunction with FitzGerald Associates Architects.

“Residential development in the Hemisfair District is key as we prepare for San Antonio’s population growth,” said Andres Andujar, Hemisfair CEO, in a release. “We are replacing the density of the population that lived in the District before HemisFair ’68 to bring back the neighborhood and the vitality that comes from people living next to open spaces. Neighbors use the park daily and bring a sense of security to the area.”

With sweeping views of the San Antonio skyline, the 29-story residential tower will feature a mix of studio, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom apartments, as well as an amenities deck and parking for residents and the public. The second building will become one of the largest retail concentrations in downtown San Antonio, connecting Civic Park to the River Walk and the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

“We need to increase residential density in our downtown and we need boots on the ground to improve and create that neighborhood that we want,” Lori Houston, assistant manager of the City of San Antonio said in the release. “The great thing about Hemisfair is that we had time and patience, and we’ve been planning and executing for a decade.”

Construction of the mixed-use property is expected to begin in early 2023, with a goal to open the ground-floor retail spaces of each property in time for the 2025 NCAA Men’s Final Four.

Revitalization of the area started in 2015 with the Yanaguana Garden, which has since welcomed over 3.7 million visitors, the majority of whom are San Antonio locals. Civic Park is currently under construction, slated to open in early 2023 as part of the next revitalization phase to make the area an urban destination for locals and visitors alike.

“We are grateful to the City of San Antonio and our private partners for joining in the vision to create one of the ‘World’s Great Public Places,’” said Andres Andujar, Hemisfair CEO, in the release.

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Hot San Antonio hotel brings back popular live fire dinner series for fall

Straight fire

Fall is finally upon us, and while we welcome the end of 100 degree days, we're all for the heat at Ambler Texas Kitchen + Cocktails, which is bringing back its popular live fire series.

The downtown restaurant, located inside the Hotel Contessa, is reprising a summer series, this time for the fall season. Led by executive chef Michael Collins, the Ambler live fire dinners are a fun, interactive dining experience out on the hotel patio. If you're looking for a way to eat well and stay warm as temperatures (hopefully) cool, the live fire dinner is a guaranteed way to get the best of both worlds.

Chef Collins and his team are essentially hosting a hotel cookout where every item on the plate is grilled. It kicks off with a complimentary welcome cocktail, alongside buttermilk biscuits made with Shiner Bock beer and honey, plus a romaine salad for starters.

Guests will then choose between starters like mesquite-smoked and grilled Texas Akaushi ribeye, cast iron-blackened Gulf mahi-mahi, or mesquite-smoked beer can chicken. These entrees have more than a touch of Texas in the tasty mesquite smoke — and the 22-ounce ribeye and the half-chicken are seriously big portions.

Ambler invited CultureMap to a previous live fire dinner, where the sides were a surprising star. The cast iron-griddled potatoes also caught some smoke from being on the grill, and each dish is only lightly seasoned, to enhance the natural flavors rather than create a new taste.

Reservations for the fall live fire series ($79-$129 per person depending on entree, beverages at additional cost) are available on OpenTable. The fall live fire dinners kick off on September 30, and occur every Saturday all the way through November.

Stylish Barbie merch truck cruises through San Antonio on 'Dreamhouse Living Tour'

This Barbie Sells Merch

Hot on the heels — or wheels — of the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck comes another timely pink rolling shop. Actually, this truck will beat the Sanrio version here on September 30.

The Barbie Truck will stop in San Antonio on its 2023 "Dreamhouse Living Tour," which celebrates the 60th anniversary of Barbie's ever more popular property, and will give visitors a chance to spice up their own homes.

Although this is all about the house, there are only a few homewares: things like coasters, glass tumblers, a glass mug, a throw blanket, and an "accessories cup." Visiting Barbies have more opportunities to take home wearable and on-the-go items like graphic tees, hoodies, and denim; a baseball cap; embroidered patches; and keychains.

Barbie Truck Dreamhouse Living TourPhoto courtesy of the Barbie Truck Dreamhouse Living Tour

Most people who have been awake and on social media in the past year have learned that Barbie's Dreamhouse has a more empowering history than many girls realized while orchestrating drama between the dolls.

A release announcing the arrival of the truck reminds fans (and detractors) that when the Dreamhouse came out, only a tenth of a percent of young women were independent homeowners, and states that someone buys a Dreamhouse every minute.

This is not the first time a Barbie truck has visited San Antonio, but for obvious reasons, it should be in very high demand this time around.

Barbie Truck Dreamhouse Living Tour

Photo courtesy of the Barbie Truck Dreamhouse Living Tour

Dreamhouse aside, this is a dream ride.

The Barbie Truck will be in San Antonio on Saturday, September 30th, from 10 am to 7 pm at North Star Mall. See it in the parking lot on the corner of the 410 access road and McCollough. Arrive early in case of long lines.

These Barbies will hit six other Texas cities on the tour:

  • October 7 — Austin
  • October 14 — Laredo
  • October 21 — Friendswood (Houston)
  • October 28 — The Woodlands (Houston)
  • November 4 — Plano (Dallas)
  • November 11 — Fort Worth

Follow along to see more stops on Instagram or Facebook.

Colors change at San Antonio Botanical Garden with new fall events and 10,000 marigolds

Follow the Marigold Road

It may not feel like the seasons are changing yet, but plants notice that kind of thing. As the days get shorter, the rhythms of life at San Antonio Botanical Garden chance, and locals are invited in to feel the shift with new programming.

Starting off with pure excess and sunny fall joy, the garden will be showing off a path of 10,000 marigolds throughout the month of October at "Marigolds en Maravilla." The Oz-like exhibit draws attention to a fall bloom very significant in Hispanic cultures, and perhaps most associated in San Antonio with Día de los Muertos. (The garden celebrates this in its own event on October 21.)

A special event will introduce visitors to the golden display on October 8 with a live performance by local singer-songwriter Azul Barrientos. Guests can take part in marigold printmaking, a community chalk mural, guided tours, marigold planting, and even tasting the flowers. A separate tea party on the same day will teach visitors to make cake and tea out of marigolds; a craft event on October 11 weaves the blooms into headpieces; and more of the flowers turn up in other events across the calendar.

Of course, a family pumpkin patch was a must-have, and there were some opportunities to taste those too, but they have since sold out. Less expectedly, orchids are also prominently featured with their own tour on October 8. According to the garden, the fall is a "fabulous time" to see orchids in bloom.

Two exhibitions will be departing the garden soon: the "Imaginary Worlds: Once Upon a Time" topiary collection, which brought the park even more to life with fantasy creatures; and the "Frida Kahlo Oasis," which replicated some elements of the famous artist's home and displayed plants as she would have.

Other events to look out for this October include:

  • Fall Brews & Blooms: Sunday, October 15 — Guests will assemble on the lawn to enjoy local and regional craft beers and live music.
  • Bootanica: Saturday, October 21 — Halloween comes early at the garden, where families are invited to dress in costume, trick-or-treat, and try hands-on activities taught by Garden Educators. The event is free with the price of admission.
  • Sinister Soiree: Friday, October 27 — This adults-only experience meet-and-greet connects visitors with pop culture villains, teasing a heavy Disney focus in the event imagery. Guests will "sip and sing" along with live performances.
  • 5th Annual Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Fest: Saturday, October 28 — At the intersection of fantasy and Halloween, this less-spooky event focuses on the candy and dress-up with a "fairytale, superhero, and villain" twist, assisted by live characters, live music, and even live animals.

Next up after the fall programming will be the famous Lightscape holiday path, with more than one million lights and a few upgrades from past years. But let's enjoy fall before rushing forward to winter quite yet.

More information about San Antonio Botanical Garden and its extensive fall programming is available at sabot.org.