Roots salad Kitchen/ Facebook

Our only regret for Black Restaurant Week San Antonio? There are only so many meals we can eat in a day. So we’ve learned to form a game plan before diving into the dozens of restaurants participating in the annual celebration of culture and cuisine.

Founder Ryane Smith’s labor of love, held this year from February 26 to March 5, has become an annual tradition. Each year, participating restaurants agree to donate a dollar from a special to a local charity; this year, the San Antonio Food Bank. That alone is an excellent reason to schedule lingering dinners and mid-day lunches.

But it is also a chance to discover new favorites to return to month after month. Here are a few of ours to get your calendar started.

Carmens de la Calle
For over 20 years, this venue has been delivering la vie boheme to locals via its cozy downtown hideaway. The food pairs nicely with the flamenco often found inside. Order the house paella with chicken, chorizo, and seafood, or order empanadas 72 hours in advance. They come in a mind-boggling assortment of global flavors — everything from the Japanese-inspired Samurai Chicken to beef picadillo.

Kirk’s Jerk
Kirk’s family-run food truck specializes in — what else — jerk chicken. Jamaica’s most famous culinary export is made into tacos, sandwiches, and sliders — and even a salad bowl. That’s just a lip-smacking start. For a limited time, the Converse trailer will also be dishing out oxtails and curry chicken for a complete family feast. All are served with the necessary sides: cabbage, rice and peas, and plantains.

Momma Luv’s
This Northeast Side eatery combines soul and Caribbean cooking in one of the most piquant menus in town. Southern specialties like fried catfish and collard greens can be mixed and matched with island favorites like Jamaican beef patties, plantains, and slow-stewed chicken.

Mr. A. OK’s Kitchen
An industry vet with more than 20 years of experience, chef Steven Harris specializes in the soul food once ubiquitous at Southern meat-and-threes. That means every sandwich and entrée comes with at least one side, a list that covers all the classics — mac ‘n’ cheese, greens, black-eyed peas, dirty rice, fried okra, and more.

Roots Salad Kitchen

It used to be conventional wisdom that people who wanted a healthy meal in San Antonio had to cook it themselves. Not anymore. Spots like Roots are dishing out plenty of veggies and whole grains, all served as a fast-food value meal. Chef Chris Cukjati takes it one step further by introducing a global flavor palate. Chimichurri gives zing to flat iron steak in a Tex-Mex salad; shrimp is paired with crunchy green apples and a sunny orange dressing.

Sweet Yams
A more health-minded take on Southern fare, this East Side eatery offers lean meats, gluten-free bread, and organic produce. All of the sides are vegan, but omnivores might not notice. The red beans and rice is insanely flavorful, thanks to a squirt of sriracha and creamy avocado.

Trices Café & Lounge
Owned by chef Elsie Glasu-Atunuwa, Trices is one of only a handful of restaurants in Alamo City offering West African standards like egusi soup (a nutty comfort food made from blended melon seeds) and jollof rice (a vibrantly spiced dish made in a tomato stew). Try either with a Malta Guinness, a sweet, malty soft drink with just a hint of the familiar stout’s flavor.

Wine 210
This elegant neighborhood wine bar has an intriguing array of bottles, ranging from patio pounders like Field Recording’s Skins to big reds like Longevity Cabernet Sauvignon. The snacks are naturally designed to let the vino shine. Opt for charcuterie, olives, hummus, or a decadent double-chocolate cake.

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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