Pizza Guys/ Facebook

It's not just you. Californians are so hot for Texas right now. The state's exploding population makes it a golden goose for any chain looking to carve its niche. No wonder Sacramento-based Pizza Guys is champing at the bit to enter the Lone Star market.

Via release, the company announced plans to open almost 200 locations in Texas' major metropolises — including 26 stores in the San Antonio area. Though Pizza Guys didn't divulge the targeted locations, it is rapidly recruiting potential local franchisees.
Operating at a similar price point to Papa John's and Pizza Hut, Pizza Guys promises pies made with whole milk mozzarella, daily-made dough, and sauce made from fresh-packed Californian tomatoes. However, the restaurant sets itself apart with an array of specialty pizzas.

Although pepperoni is on the menu, the chain digs deep into the pantry for varieties like Artichoke Fiesta — a garden vegetable pie by way of a taco salad. Other offerings include chipotle chicken, curry chicken, serrano chili, a couple of choices using Impossible vegan beef, and Texas Barbecue. (See? So Obsessed!) Customers can also customize their toppings on various crusts or, seasonally, on an amorous heart-shaped pie.

"Customizable restaurant options have become exponentially more popular since customers prefer the autonomy of creating what they're craving over ordering the same thing," CEO and co-founder Shahpour Nejad explains via a release.

In addition to the pizzas, the chain offers flatbreads and the usual mix of accompaniments like wings, cheesy bread, salads, and pasta. Stores will also have the opportunity to double as ghost kitchens under the company's Pizza Piatta and Calzone Life.

Piatta specializes in flatbread pies, including a saucy selection striped with the colors of the Italian flag. The marketing is a little more upscale, with its condiments presented as "sauce pesto, sauce marinara, and sauce ranch." Switching the usual order of descriptions is the most efficient route to fanciness. Just ask Parfums de Couer.

Calzone Life, which would look fetching as an Old English tattoo, serves up gorgeous latticework pies in flavors mostly named after Californian towns. Santa Monica inspires a chicken riff with taco seasoning and cilantro, while Monterey is fond of Franks RedHot Buffalo sauce.

It's still to be determined when locals can try Pizza Guys. The chain is aggressively recruiting early franchise adopters with generous sign-on discounts. Once the expansion plans are realized, it will give the company a bigger brand presence than many homegrown franchises such as Pizza Patrón and Mr. Gatti's.

Grady's BBQ/ Facebook

7 things to know about San Antonio food right now: Barbecue chain goes up in smoke


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

One of the San Antonio area's longest-running barbecue chains has gone away in a puff of smoke. After weathering more than 70 years of business, Grady's BBQ abruptly announced the closure of all locations. In a statement posted to the business' since-deleted website and social media accounts, the company gave no reason for the sudden shutter. Still, it did say it was actively helping its employees find other work.

A new pizza joint is slicing into Boerne this summer. Darkside Brick Oven Pizza Co. will serve pies and beer with a side of '80s movie nostalgia. The exact details are still under wraps, but owner Michael Hawes has been teasing some of the décor via Instagram. In addition to Star Wars memorabilia, the eatery will feature life-size sculptures of E.T. and Michael J. Fox as Teen Wolf.

Business at the new Southtown Rosario's Comidamex and Bar is looking up. The recently relocated restaurant debuted its rooftop terrace and bar on May 4. The spacious 5,000-square-foot space, open to guests 25 years old and up, offers specialty libations and sweeping downtown views. Eventually, the bar will also provide a dedicated bites menu.

The revolving door at 303 San Pedro Ave. is set to take another turn. This summer, the space will welcome Savvy Sliders, a Detroit-based chain known for, well, sliders. The building has hosted several fast food concepts over the past few years, including Jack in the Box,Project Pollo, and — most recently — Side Chicks. The latter shuttered in April after being acquired, along with Project Pollo, by an unnamed national franchising group.

Other news and notes

Comfort Café has received a vote of confidence from Yelp. In its annual list of the top 100 brunch spots for Mother's Day, the customer review giant gave the nonprofit eatery the second spot. The ratings were ranked a number of factors, including a large volume of posts mentioning "brunch." Comfort was the only local restaurant to make the list.

Outdoorsy Southtown spot Camp Outpost Co. is also getting into the brunch game with Saturday and Sunday service, 10 am-2 pm. The menu follows the same adventurous theme with dishes like fried chicken and johnny cakes served with local honey, a sausage skillet with home fries, and smoked overnight oats soaked in ricotta whey.

Dashi Sichuan Kitchen + Bar is bringing back its Daq Off Cocktail Competition for a second year. Eight bar teams will shake up daiquiris on June 26 for a chance to win in three categories: speed, judge's choice, and people's choice. Tickets are now available for $25-$75.

Righteous Pie/ Facebook

6 things to know about San Antonio food right now: Favorite pizza truck serves last slice


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
Popular pizza truck Righteous Pie has served its last slice. The two-year-old operation, most recently parked at the Block, was especially known for its variety of plant-based alternatives like vegan cheese and summer squash. In a frank social media post, the trailer said that continuous construction and food inflation caused the project to be untenable.

Dance club Cream is clearing out the cobwebs of Saint Paul Square. Via Instagram, the Beacon Hill night spot announced it had begun renovations of a multi-story building at 102 Heiman St. Creatures of the night will lurk in the goth-themed main level, while technophiles will sweat in the basement. The top floor, with a skyline view, will be available for private bookings and musical showcases. Though the owners did not yet divulge a projected opening date, the original Cream will stay open until the first bass drop before transitioning to a hookah lounge and late-night eatery.

The owners of South Side spot Bobbie's Café are taking a second concept under their wing. According to a new Facebook page, Birdie's Bake Shop, Coffee House & Eatery will take flight this summer. Located next door to the Southern restaurant, the shop will dish out French pastries and plenty of caffeine.

Other news and notes
We guess there's a market for it. Touring dining experience Karen's Diner stops in San Antonio on September 16 and 17. During the pop-up, purposefully rude servers dish out burgers and fries in a vaguely '50s atmosphere. Unlike other famous Karens like BBQ Becky, however, the concept prohibits racist, sexist, homophobic, or ableist slurs. It does not, however, ban hefty pricing. The $47 ticket covers one burger, one soda, and an order of fries.

And apparently, there's a market for this one too. In celebration of Fiesta, Bakery Lorraine has debuted a pickle macaron. Available at all locations, the sesame seed-topped cookie is filled with pickle curd buttercream and retails for $3.

Like many of us, it looks like Texas Monthly's long-running TM BBQ Fest is so over Austin. The magazine announced that its meat festival will return to Lockhart for a second year. The two-day extravaganza, held November 4-5, kicks off with the BBQ World Fair in Lockhart's historic downtown on the 4th, followed by a November 5 picnic featuring pitmasters from the magazine's vaulted top 50. Members of the TM BBQ Club get first dibs on the tickets on June 1.

Sichuan House/ Facebook

The top 10 neighborhood restaurants in San Antonio serve the soul of the city


Neighborhood restaurants are not merely places to eat; they become essential parts of their patron’s personal stories. Within their walls, romantic entanglements are formed, promotions are announced, and heartbreaks are drowned at the bottom of a cocktail. In a frantic fast-food world, they have the patience to create memories.

That unassuming work often goes unsung. That’s we annually honor the Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year as part of the prestigious CultureMap Tastemaker Awards. But before we reveal the winner at our highly anticipated event at the Briscoe Museum on May 18, we want to take a moment to celebrate all the nominated restaurants. It takes magic to provide a home away from home. Buy tickets now before they sell out.

It’s often said that San Antonio is the smallest big city in America. This tiny St. Mary’s strip dynamo proves it. A personal project for chef-owner Chris Cullum, it also speaks to a shared local experience. The dishes call back to Alamo City restaurants of yore and the largesse of everyday indulgence. The dining room crowds guests in to form friendships over a perfect omelet.

Though a neighborhood restaurant can be hard to define, it absolutely must pass the slump test. Flop into one of the booths at this Monte Vista eatery and order a canned Lambrusco and a carbonara pie. Or chase the Sunday Scaries away with the “keep it coming” Bloody Mary bar. We’re willing to bet that your shoulders will drop, your back will relax, and you’ll settle in for the long haul.

Bar Loretta
On paper, this Southtown haunt seems suited for special occasions. Indeed, more than a few locals have celebrated milestones with a smokey Birthday Manhattan. As the night draws on, however, the spot grows more familiar. Service industry types stream in from nearby bars and restaurants. The light dims as the conversation hits full roar. Yes, dozens of San Antonio bars host post-work parties. Only Loretta serves immaculate steak frites until 1 am.

Most neighborhood favorites eschew innovation for comfort, filling the menu with standbys like burgers or simple steaks. This Castle Hill jewel adds a little zest. Cavatelli is topped with broccoli top pesto, fried quail is dipped into the charred eggplant skin mayo, and crème brûlée awakens with coffee meringue. The menu is ingredient-driven, sure, but Clementine serves it with the unfussiness of a sidewalk café.

Comfort Café
Community is at the forefront of this Los Patios café. For those in recovery, it provides a stable workplace free from the pressures of the often toxic restaurant world. For those on a fixed income, it gives a pay-what-you-can model. For everyone else, it delivers on the promise of its name with a beautiful outdoor setting and simple sandwiches, salads, and egg dishes served with dozens of variations.

Il Forno
Michael Sohocki is known as one of San Antonio’s most statement-making chefs. His much-missed fine dining restaurant, Gwendolyn, famously operated without electric machines. But Southtown’s Il Forno has always been about ease. Yes, the produce is meticulously sourced from local farmers, and the meats are cured in-house. Still, the offerings are accessible, the wine list affordable, and the dessert menu is tidy with a single luscious chocolate mousse.

Sangria on the Burg
This Medical Center restaurant’s website says it all. Sangria on the Burg offers “craft sangria, margarita, and beer paired with sliders, tacos, and salads.” The aforementioned are flourished with ingredients like hand-pressed corn tortillas and pineapple cabbage slaw, but chef Ceasar Zepeda isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Sichuan House
Who says a neighborhood restaurant can’t also be a destination? This Northwest Side plays pied piper with Chinese classics like Sichuan green beans, Mala dry pots, and tea-smoked duck. Regulars know they should arrive with four or five best friends and order more than anyone could eat in one sitting. One shouldn’t miss out on the frenzy of flavors; besides, plenty of take-out containers are in stock.

Thai Dee
When this beloved Blanco Road eatery resumed dine-in service after a lengthy pandemic pause, it almost broke the internet. Floods of fans graffitied its Facebook page with rows of emoji hearts while followers busily tagged friends to plan a quick visit. That sort of rapture is usually reserved for celebrity baby bumps or NBA draft picks. Thai Dee does it in a stir of curry.

The Magpie
This newly expanded East Side bistro is hard to describe. Chef Jungsuk “Sue” Kim doesn’t let genre hold her back, dishing out Korean specialties like dak galbi and Italian rabbit ragu. The wine list has an equally well-stamped passport, exploring traditional and low-intervention winemaking in equal measure. The Magpie doesn’t need to be easily categorized to make an impact. Guests happily gobble up whatever comes into the nest.

Sichuan House San Antonio

Neighborhood restaurant of the year: Sichuan House

Dough Pizzeria Napoletana/ Facebook

These 12 San Antonio pizzerias add up in the perfect Pi Day equation


One wouldn’t know it from the yearly chain promos, but Pi Day on March 14 originally had little to do with pizza. Founded in 1988 by physicist Larry Shaw, its observance involved strolls around the circular spaces of the San Francisco Exploratorium and recitations of the very, very long number. For non-mathletes, it wasn’t exactly thrilling stuff.

While some of us can barely calculate how much flour is needed for a dough, we can agree that math has improved our lives exponentially. Whiz kids, keep figuring it out. We’ll raise a slice in your honor at one of these essential San Antonio pizzerias.

Black Laboratory Brewing Kitchen

Pizza and craft beer are legendary co-stars, so it makes sense that this East Side brewery would put both on the marquee. Local outfit 2-1-Dough handles the kitchen, churning out innovations like the "Elote Loco" with corn, Valentina hot sauce, lemon pepper, mayo, and cilantro. Perfect for a meet-cute.

Capo's Pizzeria
Specializing in maximalist Buffalo-style pizza, this spot piles the toppings on. The Vegetali — loaded with baby spinach, mushrooms, artichokes, Roma tomatoes, and red bell pepper — is better than a salad any day.

Cosa Nostra Pizzeria
Though omnivores will find plenty to like at this Huebner Road joint, it gets extra props for not making its plant-based fare an afterthought. This menu has three entirely vegan pies and cheesy garlic bread.

Dough Pizzeria Napoletana
Since 2007, Dough owners Doug and Lori Horn have been getting the Neapolitan equation right. 90 seconds at over 900 degrees equals thousands of happy locals. Try the prosciutto crudo with a tumble of bitter arugula dressed with a sprightly lemon-truffle vinaigrette.

Fiume Pizzeria and Wine Bar
This River Walk newcomer is putting a Texas spin on Neapolitan pies. Even the dough is made from locally grown grains from Barton Spring Mill. The toppings keep the theme with pizzas like the "Chroizo Quesa Flameado," a bubbling delight with roasted corn, poblano sauce, and Oaxacan cheese.

Il Forno
Chef Michael Sohocki’s DIY ethics are famously exacting. He even built the oven at this Southtown spot. But Il Forno finds him at his most playful. Check out the "Things Found Underground" pie with garlic, two onions, and leeks uprooted with preserved lemon.

Pizza Classics
No one will say that this San Antonio staple is reinventing the wheel. However, the infinite variety in the toppings can create strikingly innovative combinations. No matter what, we hope movie nights will be powered by Pizza Classics for decades.

Poppy’s Pizza
This is New York-style pizza in all its greasy, gooey glory. Go with "Hal’s New York" — a tantalizing trio of sausage, peppers, and onions — and fuggedaboudit.

SoHill Café
This neighborhood bistro makes a covetable burger and one of the best steak frites in town, but the pizza is the brightest star in its galaxy. The fig and prosciutto pizza bewitches with an unexpected crumble of pistachio.

Tank’s Pizza
This East Side gem brings the party with first-rate pies. While waiting for your take-out order, have a drink at the bar. The friendly regulars are a part of the Tank’s charm.

Trilogy Pizza Bistro
Pizza styles can be points of contention, so why not go to a place that bridges the divide? Trilogy excels at New York-style and Chicago-style served with traditional and newfangled toppings. Unity has never been more delicious.

Chef Ben Schwartz is wowing guests at Pearl’s Bottling Department food hall with no-frills pizzas like meatballs, pepperoni, and the "Green Monster" with shredded zucchini. Grab a whole pie and pair it with wine from Park Bar or grab a quick slice on the go.

Photo courtesy of The CO-OP SA.

New food truck park and food hall revs up in Northeast San Antonio


When StreetFare SA unexpectedly shuttered in November 2022, many local food trucks were left without a place to park. Stephen Paprocki, the owner of The CO-OP SA, saw an opportunity to build community.

The local chef quickly sprung to action to invite the displaced businesses to operate at the Northeast Side culinary incubator, a collection of warehouses at Wurzbach Parkway and Crosswinds Way. To combat San Antonio's often harsh heat, he converted the former home of Islla St. Brewing into The Club House, a family friendly space with plentiful seating and games.

"I read about StreetFare closing in the paper and felt really bad for all those businesses," explains Paproki via a release. "My wife and business partner, Elizabeth Bolger Paprocki, suggested I reach out to them. I've been wanting to do something with the former microbrewery space we had on property, so I thought, hey, let's make something of this."

The food truck lineup offers diverse options for both omnivores and vegans. The current offerings include Bob & Timmys on Wheels (grilled pizzas and salads); Go Vegan San Antonio (plant-based eats), Crispy (fried chicken), Sauce's Southern Kitchen (Cajun and Creole cuisine), Malongdo Thai Food, Malik's Phillys Phamous Cheesesteaks, and Lumpia Hut Express (Filipino cuisine).

"Stephen really saved our lives!" says Chelsea Sanchez, co-owner of Bob & Timmys on Wheels, in the release. "It really means a lot to us that he came to our rescue, and we're very excited about our new home on the northside at The CO-OP."

To add to the fun, Brian Conaway of Powered By Plants, a maker of hemp-infused soft drinks and nonalcoholic spirits, decided to get in on the action with weekend bar pop-ups. The Margarita-style mocktails are made plain or with a choice of CBD tequila, rum, or gin.

Locals can visit The Club House Wednesday through Sunday, noon-8 pm. Still, they should check each truck's social media accounts for individual hours. The zero-proof bar runs Friday and Saturday, 5-8 pm.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio plummets on list of best places to live, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From hotel accolades to urban treasure hunting, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio plummets on list of best places to live in new national report. San Antonio was previously the No. 75 place to live in America in 2021, tumbling to No. 83 in 2022 and dropping even further down the list to No. 103 in 2023.

2. Here are the top 7 things to do in San Antonio this holiday weekend. Check out Spoon or Kool and the Gang tonight, or head to UTSA for their annual Asian festival.

3. This is how big San Antonio apartments get for $1,500 a month. San Antonio renters can find apartments that span 1,010 square feet for $1,500 a month.

4. Posh Pearl hotel books top spot on best luxury hotels in U.S. list. Tripadvisor's coveted Travelers' Choice Best of Best Awards recently gave Hotel Emma top marks in two categories.

5. Texas unearths new ranking as 2nd best state for urban treasure hunting. Fun fact: Texas has the highest number of metal detecting sites in the nation.

Fine dining chef unpacks nostalgic pop-up concept at popular Grayson Street bar on Memorial Day


With new restaurants seemingly opening daily, San Antonio’s culinary scene is more exhilarating than ever. But even those with a packed reservation schedule sometimes crave something different.

Enter pop-ups — a San Antonio obsession that grows more popular each month. The latest to enter the fray is Restaurant Claudine chef Mel Cavazos, who will debut Throwback Sammies, a one-night-only concept sprouting up at Three Star Bar on May 29.

“I want to do something comforting that everyone can relate to,” explains Cavazos of the nostalgic concept. “I want the menu to read simply but totally unexpected when you eat it.”

The small menu includes a trio of dishes that evoke childhood memories. Cheese bread is reimagined with Romesco sauce, burrata, and basil, while another sandwich has all the fixings of a Sunday pot roast with potatoes, carrots, and gravy. Those desperately waiting for fall will no doubt flock to the Thanksgiving Meltdown, complete with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry.

One dish, however, is even more personal. In honor of a recently passed friend, Cavazos added a “secret” vegan sandwich featuring buffalo cauliflower and homemade pickled vegetables.

“He loved his vegan wings,” Cavazos remembers.

The chef tells CultureMap that Throwback Sammies is just the start of a series of pop-ups she hopes to hold monthly. As she continues developing a career at Carpenter Carpenter Hospitality’s ever-growing restaurant empire, she sees the pop-up series as a chance to keep exploring her culinary voice.

“I want to expand and explore more options,” Cavazos says, adding, “I love sandwiches, but that’s not what I like to be known for.”

Throwback Sammies starts at 8 pm and runs until supplies run out. Future pop-ups will be announced via Instagram.

Texas' best restaurants and bars reign at 2023 Tastemaker Awards


It’s another one for CultureMap’s history books, folks. Our statewide journey to recognize some of the best chefs, restaurants, and more in 2023 has finally come to a close.

The series kicked off April 13 with our sold-out Houston Tastemakers at Silver Street Studios, then we moved to Cowtown for our Fort Worth event on April 27. The Texas culinary tour steered us to our Metroplex neighbors in Dallas at the Fashion Industry Gallery on May 4. From there, we took a drive to the Hill Country for Austin’s evening festivities at Fair Market on May 11, then concluded our journey with our second-ever fête in San Antonio on May 18.

The 2023 Tastemaker Awards honor the state’s most innovative culinary pioneers, allowing nominated chefs and restaurants to showcase their talents for guests before announcing the winners during a live ceremony.

Guests sampled chefs’ specialty bites and imbibed a variety of creative cocktails or mocktails, with a few Topo Chicos sprinkled in throughout the evening. But as always, our nominees and winners are the main focus of our program and are the reason we can bring these celebrations to life.

Nominees are brought forth by a panel of previous Tastemaker winners and CultureMap editors. While the panel choses a majority of the winners, the winner of Best New Restaurant is determined by our readers in an online, bracket-style tournament. New this year in each city, a sizzling on-site Burger Throwdown sponsored by Goodstock Beef by Nolan Ryan.

Without further ado, let’s meet our 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards winners, listed by city:

San Antonio:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Carriqui
  • Chef of the Year: Robbie Nowlin, Allora, Arrosta
  • Bar of the Year: Amor Eterno
  • Brewery of the Year: Künstler Brewing
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: The Magpie
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Sofia Tejeda, Hotel Emma
  • Best Burger: Last Place Burger
  • Best New Restaurant: Reese Bros BBQ


K\u00fcnstler doppelbock
Künstler Brewing Instagram

Künstler Brewing is our Brewery of the Year.

  • Restaurant of the Year: Bludorn
  • Chef of the Year: Mark Clayton, Squable
  • Bar of the Year: Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar and Spirit Lounge
  • Best New Restaurant: Aiko
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Emmanuel Chavez, Tatemó
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Shawn Gawle, Goodnight Hospitality
  • Bartender of the Year: Kristine Nguyen, Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Craft Pita
  • Wine Program of the Year: Nancy’s Hustle
  • Best Pop-Up: Khói Barbecue
  • Best Burger: Burger Bodega

Fort Worth:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Fitzgerald
  • Chef of the Year: Juan Ramón Cárdenas, Don Artemio
  • Bar of the Year: Birdie’s Social Club
  • Best New Restaurant: Calisience
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Angel Fuentes, Guapo Taco
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Cafe Bella
  • Best Burger: Dayne’s Craft Barbecue
  • Best Brewery: Martin House Brewing Company


  • Restaurant of the Year: Shoyo
  • Chef of the Year: Junior Borges, Meridian
  • Bar of the Year: Lounge Here
  • Best New Restaurant: Quarter Acre
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Mike Matis, Fearing’s
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Maricsa Trejo, La Casita Bakeshop
  • Bartender of the Year: Haley Merritt, Midnight Rambler
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: El Rincon del Maiz
  • Wine Program of the Year: Pappas Bros.
  • Best Burger: Wulf Burger
  • Brewery of the Year: Manhattan Project Beer Co.


  • Restaurant of the Year: Birdie’s
  • Chef of the Year: Amanda Turner, Olamaie
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Joaquin Ceballos, Este
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería
  • Bar of the Year: Nickel City
  • Bartender of the Year: Erin Ashford, Olamaie
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Nixta Taqueria
  • Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
  • Brewery of the Year: Lazarus Brewing Co.
  • Best Burger: Dai Due
  • Best New Restaurant: Maie Day