Gold Epicure

Located in the heart of Southtown is a charming little place called Headspace, complete with pink flamingos in the front yard. Inside however, is a whole world unto itself, with a hair salon, a coffee/cocktail bar, and a dining area, perfect for chef pop-ups.

And as luck would have it, Headspace does have pop-ups at least weekly. Those who haven't visited before can kick off their new fall routine on September 1, when Headspace hosts an exclusive dinner for only 16 guests with open-fire, farm-to-table catering company Gold Epicure.

The collaboration is Gold Epicure's San Antonio debut ("we proudly unveil the Gold Epicure tasting room," the event details proclaim), after selling out San Francisco, Austin, Lockhart, Santa Fe, and Marfa. It's celebrating with one star ingredient: steak.

The four-course prix-fixe menu offers a choice of a 2.5-pound smoked reverse-seared tomahawk, ideal for two, or a Wagyu chateaubriand. (Think of the latter as a fine filet mignon roast.) The event is spearheaded by Gold Epicure's executive chef, Matt Torres, a dedicated grill master.

The meats are paired with Caesar salad, a campechana shrimp cocktail, and a flaming Bananas Foster for dessert. Wine, whiskey and cocktails will also be flowing, starting with a cocktail hour to kick off the event.

Even more appealing than the intimate venue is the price point: each ticket is only $50 until Thursday. (After that, the tickets go up to $75).

If this small-scale launch sells out, all is not lost; there will be plenty more opportunities to see other chefs in the space. Saha Palestinian recently completed a residence, and will be back on Fridays for the foreseeable future. Headspace has its own in-house brunch daily. It even sells works by local artists, further adding to its incubator-like appeal.

Headspace announces new pop-ups (and reminds followers of existing ones) on Instagram. Tickets ($50-75) to the Gold Epicure debut on September 1 at 8:30 pm are available via Square.

Photo by Courtney Warden

Splashy seafood pop-up docks at St. Mary's Strip wine bar


The pace of restaurant openings might have slowed down in the blistering San Antonio summer, but enterprising chefs are keeping the culinary scene fresh through pop-ups. The latest debuts at 6 pm on August 5 at a frequent stop for aspiring restaurateurs: St. Mary’s Strip wine bar Little Death.

Down Bad is the work of chef Chris Martinez, an alum of local restaurants like Shuck Shack and Go Fish Market. After a stint running the kitchens for Seattle’s Craftbent Hospitality group, he returned to Alamo City and couldn’t quite find his footing. So, he decided to branch out on his own with a name inspired by Twitter slang.

“Our chef was feeling lost after coming back from Seattle and not really finding a solid home in any kitchens here in [San Antonio],“ explains co-owner Bobby Criollo. “He felt down on his luck, he was down bad…so the name fit.”

Criollo and his wife, Lisette Rodriguez, decided to go along for the ride. Though neither had much industry experience, they share Martinez’s passion for food.

“All three of us are really close friends, like family,” says Criollo, “so when Chris decided to start this business, it only made sense to include his two closest friends.”

The debut menu focuses on one of Martinez’s specialties — seafood. The offerings include rolls filled with beurre blanc-poached lobster, “Nashville hot” spiced soft-shell crab, and fried mussels. The flavors are international, incorporating fermented Fresno pepper jam, kewpie mayo, and Old Bay.

Eventually, the team hopes to parlay the concept into a brick-and-mortar. Martinez shares that the goal is to open a wine bar with eclectic fare.

Until then, seafood fans can find Down Bad at Little Death. After giving a first taste on August 5, the concept will be back on August 11 and 12 before starting a Thursday through Sunday residency beginning August 17.

Down Bad San Antonio

Photo by Courtney Warden

Down Bad is the newest resident concept at Little Death.

Fatburger/ Facebook

6 things to know about San Antonio food right now: Hefty burger chain heads to far West Side

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

Fatburger is doubling up on its San Antonio footprint. According to Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation filings, the chain is opening its second area location at 6507 W. Loop 1604 N. in the far West Side. The California-based franchise is known for its calorically dense Kingburger (the 1.5-pound triple can ring in at 2050 calories), which can be augmented by eggs, chili, bacon, cheese, or onion rings.

In other franchise news, Florida-based Jeremiah's Italian Ice is opening its first San Antonio store at 12030 Culebra Rd., according to TDLR records. The frosty chain is known for gelato, soft-serve ice cream, and Italian ice — naturally.

Chichi Bird's Hot Chicken is back from hiatus, just in time for its fifth anniversary. Via Instagram, the popular food truck announced it would be slinging sandwiches on June 30-July 2 at 6007 Tezel Rd, near Brevity Coffee. There's no word yet on whether that will be its permanent home.

Other news and notes

Want to be really alert this Independence Day weekend? The San Antonio City Wide Coffee Crawl is back July 1 with more than 15 participating caffeine peddlers. An $8 pass gives locals access to a treasure map detailing all the locations that will be passing out samples of their signature drinks. Among this year's crew are Akhanay Coffee Roasters, Clearlight Coffee Co., Olla Express Café, Folklores Coffee House, and Shotgun House Roasters.

San Antonio's puro Barbacoa and Big Red Festival is returning on October 7 and 8 for the 11th year. The celebration of Alamo City's culinary heritage will bring plenty of tastings, loads of soda, and live music to the R&J Music Pavilion located at 18086 Pleasanton Rd. Tickets for the annual tradition will be available soon, according to a release.

River City's mania for experiential cocktail pop-ups continues apace with The Alice, a curious series of events held on Alamo Plaza August 10-31. Based on Lewis Carroll's beloved children's books, the traveling show includes activities such as riddle solving and roses painting. Tickets, which include two Wonderland cocktails and an "Eat Me" cookie, are available for $47.

The Good News Burgers/ Facebook

7 things to know about San Antonio food right now: Local burger joint shares bad news


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

Openings and closings

The reverberations of a 2021 legal battle are still affecting local mini-chain The Good News Burgers. Via a June 11 Facebook post, the fast-casual joint announced it was shuttering half of its locations. The tussle began when Houston’s Pappas Restaurants dished out a cease-and-desist letter to the then-Papa’s Burgers, accusing the locally owned spot of infringing on a 2008 trademark. Though owner Robert Walker eventually complied, costs associated with the rebranding — as well as “transient increases” and “non-negotiable lease agreements” — led the entrepreneur to close the San Pedro and Portranco outposts. The 36th Street location and the Good News Burger Express at North Star Mall will remain open.

Poppy downtown bar Paramour is adding fine dining to its already eclectic mix. On June 15, Colette at the Phipps (a restaurant within a bar) officially debuted with a prix-fixe menu inspired by Mexican, Japanese, and French cuisine. Social media posts give a sneak peek at the preliminary menu, which includes tuna tiradito, ribeye topped with shiitake and basil cream sauce, and wonton tacos.

Acclaimed taqueria Milpa is taking a hiatus. Hardworking chef Jesse “Kirk” Kuykendall — also at the helm of downtown’s Ocho — took to social media to explain that the business is taking a break in preparation for a move. Though she did not share details on the location or estimated opening date, a hashtag did promise that a new menu was coming soon.

Alabama-based Chicken Salad Chick is taking a road trip. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation filings indicate that the chain is opening its first location in New Braunfels at 1050 FM 306 #110. New Braunfelsers (yes, we Googled that) can expect loads of chicken salad variations from the Fuji apple-specked Fancy Nancy to the Buffalo Sauce and ranch-flavored Kickin’ Kay Lynne. Assumably both have their hair set at Truvy’s Beauty Spot.

Other news and notes

Three popular downtown-area spots are ignoring the summer torpor by introducing brand-new menus. First up, chef Stefan Bowers has revamped the menu at Rebelle with dishes like a Maine lobster roll, served warm with a drizzle of caramelized garlic-Parmesan butter. The St. Anthony Hotel restaurant has also added the astounding Power Tower with poached shrimp, East Coast oysters, Alaskan king crab legs, and an “aggressive” cocktail sauce.

A short stroll away, Tributary at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter is getting seasonal with its own new menu offerings. Southern-inspired highlights include a fried green tomato sandwich and pork belly BLT sliders.

Lastly, Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery is hitting the bottle. For the first time in its history, the Pearl anchor has added liquor to its service mix. Highlights include the Mistress, the eatery’s take on the Margarita; Brewer’s Night Cap, an espresso martini riff; and the Cellerman, an Old Fashioned variation with pecan syrup.

Photo courtesy of Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group

Acclaimed gourmet Austin burger joint pops up at Pearl

Here Today

Whether it’s a stunning garden bouquet or Freddie Prinze Jr.’s acting career, sometimes the best things are only temporary. So, it’s no wonder that pop-up eateries are a San Antonio obsession. The short-lived concepts ensure there is always something new to try in an already booming food city.

But the latest nomad entering the scene has one extra benefit — making Austinites green with envy. Henbit, a fast-casual concept from the Capital City’s much-admired Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group, has taken up residence at Pearl’s Bottling Department Food Hall.

The concept first debuted in 2018 as part of the opening lineup of Austin’s Fareground Food Hall. It was Emmer & Rye chef Kevin Fink’s first local foray into everyday cuisine after opening his vaulted signature fine dining restaurant in 2015.

Since then, the group has opened several showstoppers, including Hestia and Canje in its home base and Ladino at Pearl. In March 2023, the group decided to focus its efforts on the newly opened Ezov — shuttering Henbit and its sibling concept TLV.

According to a press alert, the San Antonio iteration will carry a similar menu to the lost Austin spot. Standouts include the Henbit burger with two Peeler Farms beef patties, a milk bun, American cheese, and shiitake aioli; and a kale avocado salad highlighting Texas ingredients. Details on breakfast offerings are still forthcoming.

Sadly, chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph’s famed "Monster Cookies" will not be part of the package, but allow us to gently suggest an email campaign. Hey, it worked for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Cookies or not, diners might want to avoid dilly-dallying. Although the group did not share how long the pop-up would stick around, it’s surely a blink-and-miss-it affair. Currently, Henbit is open Sunday through Thursday, 10 am to 9 pm, and Friday and Saturday, 10 am to 10 pm.

Busted Sandal/ Facebook

6 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Local brewery teases new Hill Country spot


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.


It looks like beloved brewery Busted Sandal has something brewing in Kerrville. In a playful Instagram post, the local company shared coordinates for a new project coming soon — pointing to the Hill Country town. Little other information is known about the spot, but the post promised an opening day in July.

A new AM café has awoken at 23702 I-10 #108 in Leon Springs. Open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, Mae Dunne Kitchen & Goods serves a variety of dishes, ranging from classic American fare like French toast to Mexican dishes like machacado tacos. The stylish eatery also acts as a retail space, selling artisan home goods, fragrances, and specialty foods.

Market Square’s La Margarita is making a splash in the pop-up game. The popular restaurant has launched Mar de Cortez, a weekend-only concept devoted to fresh seafood like oysters and ceviche. The temporary eatery concept will be open from 11 am-9 pm every Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer.

Other news and notes

One of San Antonio’s most-respected food journalists passed away on June 8. Chuck Blount, a food writer with a more than 20-year tenure at the San Antonio Express-News, was especially known for his barbecue coverage — paving the way for the barbecue-obsessed media of today and his humorous 75-Second Beer Reviews. Family friends have established a GoFundMe to help with hospice expenses and to provide for Blount’s daughter.

Braunda Smith of Lucy Cooper’s Texas Ice House has created the Blount Burger to raise additional funds for the journalist’s family. The fitting tribute features a four-ounce patty with pepper jack cheese, pulled pork, applewood-smoked bacon, Alabama white barbecue sauce, a smoked sausage link, two chicken fried onion rings, and a drizzle of Coca-Cola barbecue sauce. The burger will be available beginning June 9.

Looking for another way to do good while enjoying some of the city’s best burgers? San Antonio Burger Week is back June 16-25 to benefit the San Antonio Food Bank’s Summer Meals for Kids Program. The 2023 lineup features an all-star cast of restaurants, including Benjie’s Munch, Broadway 50 50, Chris Madrid’s, and the Jerk Shack. The full list of participants can be found here.

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10 San Antonio chefs go head-to-head in gourmet Burger Showdown

Burger Beasts

San Antonians can argue with friends all day about who has the best burger in town, but nothing lands quite like a head-to-head live victory.

This October, 10 San Antonio chefs are battling for those bragging rights at the Burger Showdown 4.0 — the numeral representing the competition's fourth year running. Hosted by cooking video series Homegrown Chef and Alamo Beer, the event will set all the chefs up under the Hays Street Bridge to serve up their best creations, so San Antonians can make the final call.

If eating 10 sliders seems excessive, think of it as a public service. Not only are visitors selecting the best burger (basically citizen science), but funds raised will benefit the San Antonio Food Bank.

This is the first year that the competition will be judged by a panel alongside the usual fan voters. There will be three judges: Great Day SA reporter Clark Finney; Edible San Antonio co-publisher Ralph Yznaga; and San Antonio Food Bank's director of food sustainability Mitch Hagney.

"The Burger Showdown is always such a great community event and a really fun way to celebrate our incredible chefs while getting out and trying something new and absolutely delicious," said Homegrown Chef founder and local food writer Kimberly Suta, who helped organize the event, in a release. "I like to challenge people to eat all the burgers because it's never been done!"

Chefs plan to bring the following burgers:

  • Chef Joseph Thadeus Martinez of Tributary (last year's 1st place winner) — "The French Onion Burger," featuring a Dean and Peeler smash patty, black pearl onion aioli, gruyere fonduta, and crispy shallots on a sourdough potato slider bun.
  • Chef James Richard Smith of toohotfortabc (last year's 2nd place winner) — "The Blue Mountain Smash Burger," featuring "sweet heat," bacon jam, and veggies on a Far West Texas Cattle Co. smashed beef patty with melted American cheese on a sourdough bun.
  • Chef Diana Anderson of JD's Chili Parlor (last year's 3rd place winner) — "The Italian Job," featuring tomato-basil pasta sauce, white wine and garlic-marinated beef, buffalo mozzarella, zucchini, red onion, and romaine hearts skewered with fried mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.
  • Chef Justin Bluhm of STXBBQ — "The Oktoberfest Burger," inspired by beer, meat, cheese and pretzels. It features a beef patty with sliced brisket, house-pickled onions, and smoked beer queso on a soft pretzel bun.
  • Chef Joshua Calderon of Catering by JC — "The Backyard Barbecue Burger," featuring a beef patty, cheddar cheese, onion, cucumber, and iceberg lettuce on a potato roll.
  • Chef Stephen Chavez of FredericksBurgers — "The Bacon Huebner Burger," featuring bacon, mushrooms, and Swiss cheese on a beef patty.
  • Chef Francisco Estrada of Naco — "The Aztec God Burger," featuring black garlic-seasoned beef, epazote aioli, caramelized onions, and huitlacoche.
  • Chef Greg Ferris of Bobbie’s Cafe — "The Texas Tailgate Burger," featuring a beef patty, American cheese, barbecue chips, and a mysterious "'go big or go home' twist."
  • Chef Kaius of The Kaius Experience — "The Texan Black Gold Burger" featuring a beef patty seasoned with Texan spices, topped with aged cheddar cheese, black garlic aioli, roasted jalapeño bacon, and crispy truffle sweet potato sticks, served on a brioche bun.
  • Chef Braunda Smith of Lucy Cooper’s Ice House — The release says, "This Food Network star is known for her burgers and will tell you she can make a burger out of absolutely anything, which is why she wants to surprise you!"

All burgers except those made by last year's first and second-place winners will be made pasture-raised Akaushi beef from local rancher 529meats. Ben E. Keith & Food Related will provide some toppings.

Tickets ($55) to the Burger Showdown 4.0 are available via Eventbrite. Only 25 VIP tickets ($75) will be sold; these guests will be welcomed 30 minutes early and will receive one drink ticket. Email homegrownchefsa@gmail.com, or text or call (210) 725-2339 to order.

Country icon Willie Nelson returns to traditional 'hillbilly' inspiration in new album

The Red Headed Stranger goes Blue

Almost as much as Willie Nelson is known for Austin, he's known for Nashville — and for subverting it. The 90-year-old singer has made an iconic, and extremely long career of conforming to and bucking against musical expectations, and now he's circled back around to tradition — without losing his own sound.

Nelson's new LP, Bluegrass, is his first album-length tribute to the traditional country genre. Yet, released on September 15, it's not even his first album of 2023. It follows I Don't Know A Thing About Love: The Songs of Harlan Howard, a tribute to the Nashville songwriter who gave folks "I Fall to Pieces."

Bluegrass, in a way, is Nelson's genre-bent tribute to his own work. The setlist gathers a dozen of the songwriter and his fans' "favorite" songs he wrote, according to a press release, re-rendered with a bluegrass ensemble.

The focus on orchestration highlights that this is a collaborative effort by the amiable, but largely solo performer. One song, "Good Hearted Woman," is the only track on the album not just written by Nelson, thanks to the similar creative genius of outlaw country great Waylon Jennings. Willie's son, Micah Nelson, created the cover art: an appropriately blue portrait of the singer with warm undertones and a wreath of familiar recreational leaves. The album was produced by Willie's longtime collaborator Buddy Cannon.

Willie Nelson BluegrassNelson's son created the cover art — in blue, of course.Image courtesy of Willie Nelson; created by Micah Nelson

Even if a listener doesn't recognize each song on the album, Nelson's voice is as unmistakeable as ever. Against a bluegrass arrangement, it floats undisturbed and unhurried. At times, it even sounds like Nelson and the band are performing in different meters, the band bustling along cheerfully while the singer lounges around the beat — but never on it.

In fact, listeners who avoid Bluegrass may find their tune changes when listening to these laid-back renditions. "Still Is Still Moving To Me" brings the more frenetic tempo and multi-part harmonies that the genre is known for at its most ferocious; but iconic songs like "Sad Songs and Waltzes" and "Yesterday's Wine" may not even strike listeners as bluegrass if they're not listening for it — just very string-heavy traditional country tunes.

"On the Road Again," "Man With the Blues," and album-opener "No Love Around" are perhaps the tracks that benefit the most from the Bluegrass treatment. All three seem a little more cheerful, a little more upbeat, and a little more reassuring than their original forms. There's nothing warmer than hearing the iconic "On the Road Again" melody on gut strings — except perhaps listening to the country legend offer his "advice" over that plucky, self-assured backcountry orchestra.

Most important, the arrangements rework rather than rewriting the songs. None of the renditions give off an air of hokeyness or trying to shake things up; These are just great country songs that sound even better with a banjo. It makes sense that the change in instrumentation wouldn't shift much, since according to the release, Nelson decided to record the tribute because the style informed so much of his natural songwriting style.

"Using his own catalog as source material, in the spirit of traditional bluegrass sourcing hillbilly folk music, Willie chose songs combining the kind of strong melodies, memorable storylines and tight ensemble-interplay found in traditional bluegrass interpretations of the roots (from European melodies to African rhythms) of American folk songs," acknowledges the release.

By Texas Monthly'scount (shared in the release), this is Nelson's 151st album. Avid collectors can look forward to a 12-inch special edition pressed in blue vinyl, available for purchase on September 29. Preorder ($29.98) at willienelson.com.

This year the songwriter was honored with a five-part documentary series, a blowout 90th birthday concert, the naming of a prestigious arts endowment by the University of Texas at Austin, and two Grammy Awards. His book, Energy Follows Thought: The Stories Behind My Songs, comes out October 23. He will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame days later, on November 3.

Listen to Bluegrass on your favorite streaming platform. More information is available at willienelson.com.

Cassandro wrestles with lucha libre and homophobia in real-life story

Movie Review

The LGBTQ community and the sports world have long had an uneasy relationship, especially in the United States. There are exceedingly few out male athletes around the world compared to the number of players total, and even though the world has progressed in significant ways, that statistic doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.

Although some don’t view professional wrestling as a sport, the culture around it is certainly testosterone-heavy, an idea that’s challenged in the new film, Cassandro. Saúl (Gael Garcia Bernal) lives in El Paso, but regularly crosses the border into Juarez, Mexico to participate in lucha libre matches. On the small side, he’s regularly cast as the runt, who never stands a chance at winning.

Openly gay, Saúl decides to change his wrestling persona to be an “exótico,” allowing him to express himself in a flamboyant manner. With the new wrestling name of Cassandro, Saúl starts to gain the notice of promoters and fans. At the same time, he wrestles with personal issues, including the strained life of his single mother, Yocasta (Perla De La Rosa) and an affair he’s having with a fellow luchador, Gerardo (Raúl Castillo).

Written and directed by Roger Ross Williams and co-written by David Teague, the film has a solidly-told story featuring a mixture of good performances, even if it feels like there’s something missing. The movie has all the hallmarks of an underdog story, and while it hits some of expected signposts along the way, it also strangely seems to hold back in certain aspects.

If you’re not already familiar with the lucha libre culture, the film doesn’t make it easy to get a handle on it. As in all pro wrestling, the matches aren’t “real,” but how and when the wrestlers decide how to perform and who will “win” feels confusing in the context of the film. It’s clear that the confidence Saúl shows as Cassandro makes him more appealing, but the intricacies of lucha libre could have been expounded on a bit more.

This becomes even more evident when fans are shown yelling gay slurs at him and other exóticos. There seems to be a contradictory performativeness to the antagonism, as those same fans soon start supporting him. Oddly, any other explicit homophobia is kept hidden, which - given the time period (the 1980s and ‘90s) and the machismo prevalent in Mexican culture - seems like the filmmakers made a conscious choice to not go down that road.

That and other decisions leave the film a bit flat emotionally. Saúl/Cassandro goes through a lot of upheaval in the film, and while the majority of it is engaging, there isn't a point where the story fully captures your heart. As with other areas, if the filmmakers had pushed just 10 percent harder, it would’ve turned the film from good to great.

Bernal turns in a fantastic performance, despite the fact that, even though he looks younger than he is, he’s a little old to be playing this particular character. Still, he has a charm and athleticism that makes him believable throughout. Good in supporting roles are Castillo (playing a similar role he did in The Inspection) and Roberta Colindrez as Saúl’s trainer. Keep an eye out for Bad Bunny in a small but interesting role.

There’s a lot to like about Cassandro, the story that’s being told, and the performances it contains. But by choosing not to explore certain parts of the story as much as they could have, the filmmakers left a lot of emotion out of it.


Cassandro is now playing in select theaters. It debuts on Prime Video on September 22.

Gael Garcia Bernal in Cassandro

Photo courtesy of Prime Video

Gael Garcia Bernal in Cassandro.