Justin Holt/Ralph Smith Studios

Each year we hold a Texas-sized celebration of two of the things we love most: food and drink. The annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awardshonorsthe top restaurant and bar talent in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.

The program started in Austin in 2012 and has expanded to include every city we cover. Our mission is to shine a spotlight on the people making the restaurant scene special and honor their innovation, energy, and creativity. Here's how it works. First, we collaborated with industry experts to determine a list of nominees in each city. Our local panels then selected winners in every category, except Best New Restaurant, which was determined by you, our savvy readers.

The winners were revealed at our swanky tasting events and awards ceremonies, held April 18-20 in Houston, Austin, and Dallas. (See highlights from the Austin party here.)

Meet the winners below, and join us in toasting the best of Texas dining right now.


  • Restaurant of the Year: Emmer & Rye
  • Chef of the Year: Todd Duplechan, Lenoir
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: James Dumapit and David Baek, Old Thousand
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Abby Love, Dai Due
  • Bar of the Year: King Bee Lounge
  • Bartender of the Year: Josh Loving, Small Victory
  • Brewery of the Year: Hops & Grain
  • Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: June's All Day
  • Best Burger: Contigo
  • Best New Restaurant: Sophia's


  • Restaurant of the Year: Lucia
  • Chef of the Year: Julian Barsotti, Nonna, Carbone's, Sprezza
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Josh Sutcliff, Mirador
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Sarah Green, The Joule
  • Bar of the Year: Armoury D.E.
  • Bartender of the Year: Charlie Papaceno, Industry Alley Bar
  • Wine Program of the Year: Gemma
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Bbbop Seoul Kitchen
  • Best Fried Chicken: The Slow Bone
  • Best New Restaurant: Pie Tap Pizza Workshop + Bar

Fort Worth

  • Restaurant of the Year: Tokyo Cafe
  • Chef of the Year: Jesus Garcia, Oni Ramen
  • Best New Restaurant: Tortaco


  • Restaurant of the Year: Coltivare Pizza & Garden
  • Chef of the Year: Ryan Pera, Coltivare Pizza & Garden
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Martha de Leon, Pax Americana
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Victoria Dearmond, One Fifth/Underbelly
  • Bar of the Year: Eight Row Flint
  • Bartender of the Year: Leslie Ross Krockenberger, Reserve 101
  • Wine Program of the Year: Pappas Bros Steakhouse
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: State of Grace
  • Favorite Taco: Tacos Tierra Caliente
  • Best New Restaurant: State Fare

San Antonio

  • Restaurant of the Year: The Bin Tapas Bar
  • Chef of the Year: Stefan Bowers, Feast
  • Best New Restaurant: Sangria on the Burg

Lucia, Dallas Restaurant of the Year.

Lucia Dallas
Justin Holt/Ralph Smith Studios
Lucia, Dallas Restaurant of the Year.
CultureMap Tastemaker Awards 2017 Restaurant of the Year Austin Emmer & Rye
Photo by Shelley Neuman

Texas foodies get their fill at best Tastemakers party yet

A Taste of Tastemakers

A huge crowd gathered at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin on April 19 for the annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our big event celebrating the top food and beverage talent in Austin and San Antonio.

Almost 800 foodies attended the swanky tasting event. It all culminated in an awards ceremony, emceed by beloved Texas chef Tim Love, in which the night's big winners were revealed.

Attendees noshed on bites from San Antonio's own Boiler House Texas Grill and Wine Garden, as well as Austin's 827Ray's Kitchen + Cellar, Cannon + Belle, Culinary Dropout, Emmer & Rye, Geraldine's, Grizzelda's, Juniper, Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Old Thousand, Parkside, Ritual (Houston), Rosemary's Catering, Salt Traders Coastal Cooking, Sophia's, Swift's Attic, Uchiko, and Wu Chow. A Sweet Suite featured treats from Chocolaterie Tessa, General Tso'Boy, The Cupcake Bar, Spread & Co., and Sugarfina.

Craft cocktails incorporating Woodford Reserve were flowing at the main bars, and the Bartender Showcase featured signature drinks from Natalie Mauser-Carter of Backbeat, Dennis Gobis of The Roosevelt Room, and Angela Zamora of Stay Gold, all of Austin. Wine from Sonoma-Cutrer and beer from Oskar Blues Brewery, Alaskan Brewing Co., and SweetWater Brewing Company rounded out the bar options. An Illy coffee bar got folks caffeinated, and Topo Chico kept them hydrated.

Nominees were treated to an exclusive lounge courtesy of Korbel, which featured free bubbly and swag bags filled with goodies from Jack Black Skincare, Kettle & Brine, Krave Jerky, Liber & Co., Nina Berenato Jewelry, Outdoor Voices, SoulCycle, Whole Foods Market, and Woodford Reserve.

A fun photo booth helmed by Ben Porter Photography and powered by Whole Foods Market had everyone smiling. Across the room, Priv pampered guests with fun, foodie nail art. The best part? Ten percent of the proceeds from the Tastemaker Awards supports the Austin Food & Wine Alliance.

Spotted in the crowd: Pedro Cuéllar, Geronimo Lopez, Jeff White, Tyson Cole, Kevin Fink, Tavel Bristol-Joseph, Page Pressley, David Baek, James Dumapit, Abby Love, Jack Gilmore, Bill Norris, Billy Hankey,Justin Lavenue, Mark Sparacino, Paula Collins, Alexis Cawley, Simon Cawley, Stephanie Samuels, Kim Fuller, Kayluis Peña, Mary Verhaeghe, Dani Verhaeghe, Lizzy Verhaeghe, Shaun Monforte, William Jackson,Gabby Cikota, Stacy Hubrath, Holli Young, Hayden Walker, Misty Journey, Faez Khan, Melissa Kuo, Rebecca Kan, Craig Beveridge, Sarah O'Brien, Thien-Y Hoang, Melissa Grady, Torie Gehrig, W.H. Harris, and Marie Smyth.

Mary Verhaeghe, Dani Verhaeghe, Lizzy Verhaeghe, and Shaun Monforte.

CultureMap Tastemaker Awards 2017 Mary Verhaeghe Dani Verhaeghe Lizzy Verhaeghe Shaun Monforte
Photo by Shelley Neuman
Mary Verhaeghe, Dani Verhaeghe, Lizzy Verhaeghe, and Shaun Monforte.
The Bin/Facebook

San Antonio restaurant of the year and top chef revealed at 2017 Tastemaker Awards

Tastemaker Winners

Recently, we've introduced you to the top restaurant talent in San Antonio as part of our 2017 Tastemaker Awards. These outstanding nominees, selected by an expert panel of judges, represent the very best of San Antonio's food scene.

On Wednesday night, emcee and Texas restaurateur Tim Love revealed the winners at our annual Tastemaker Awards party, held at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

Join us in toasting the 2017 Tastemaker winners:

Restaurant of the Year: The Bin Tapas Bar
East Grayson Street is as inviting as ever, thanks to this new restaurant from acclaimed chef Jason Dady. The Bin's patio is great for dining al fresco, and the bites are super quick and designed for sharing, if you so choose.

Chef of the Year: Stefan Bowers, Feast
Chef Bowers is over-the-top creative with his food, and it shows in every bite. His restaurants (including the just-opened Battalion) are a collective of culinary prowess. From brunch to pasta, Bowers always hits the mark.

Best New Restaurant: Sangria on the Burg
Sangria on the Burg opened quietly on Fredericksburg Road last summer. The eclectic little neighborhood bar and grill specializes in the pairing of craft sangria, margaritas, and beer with tacos, sliders, and salads from Ceasar Zepeda.

And we can't forget about our neighbors to the north. Here are the Austin Tastemaker winners for 2017:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Emmer & Rye
  • Chef of the Year: Todd Duplechan, Lenoir
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: James Dumapit and David Baek, Old Thousand
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Abby Love, Dai Due
  • Bar of the Year: King Bee Lounge
  • Bartender of the Year: Josh Loving, Small Victory
  • Brewery of the Year: Hops & Grain Brewing
  • Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: June's All-Day
  • Best Burger: Contigo
  • Best New Restaurant: Sophia's

Restaurant of the Year: The Bin Tapas Bar.

The Bin Tapas Bar restaurant
The Bin/Facebook
Restaurant of the Year: The Bin Tapas Bar.
Photo courtesy of Tre Trattoria

Get a taste of the 10 best restaurants in San Antonio

Meet the Tastemakers

We're celebrating the top culinary talent in San Antonio with our annual Tastemaker Awards. You've met the nominees for Best New Restaurant and Chef of the Year, and, with the big event around the corner, we're giving you a taste of our Restaurant of the Year nominees.

These 10 spots represent the very best of San Antonio dining. We'll celebrate all the nominees and unveil the winners in Austin on April 19.

The Bin Tapas Bar
East Grayson Street has never been more inviting. Rosé all day should be the theme of your next visit to this spot. Pair your wine with the papas bravas — rosé and potatoes make perfect sense, in particular with that spice. The Bin's patio is great for dining al fresco, and the bites are super quick and designed for sharing, if you so choose.

Just a bite is all you need at this Presa Street eatery with a South American focus. Chef Astorga-Watel never misses the mark on delicious or over-the-top pretty food, and the menu evolves with seasonal ingredients.

Bliss is known as the perfect special occasion spot, which it clearly is, but it is also so much more. Bliss is an experience, a gathering spot for you and your friends to celebrate occasions big and small, with an amazing wine list and a menu that is out of this world.

We can’t say enough about this Asian Peruvian extravaganza. The Buenazo Roll, with shrimp, avocado, mango, sesame, crispy noodles, and sweet aji sauce, is still our favorite. A new favorite is the green fried rice with tofu — it’s worth the trip alone.

The charcuterie boards at Cured give us life. This Pearl gem has an amazing selection of delectable cuisine devoted to preserving and curing naturally. Oh, and the bar program is dazzling all by itself.

Dough Pizza Napoletana
Upgrade your pizza experience with pulled mozzarella and straight-from-the-farm ingredients at Dough. Always ahead of the curve, the authentic pizza oven makes magic happen.

Southtown's crown jewel mixes it up just right. We suggest you enjoy brunch, dinner, happy hour, and repeat. A favorite neighborhood joint, the experience at Feast is exactly what dining should be.

Grayze has been heating up Grayson Street with a farm-chic vibe, amazing outdoor patio, and hearty American cuisine with international sensibilities. The varied menu is delicious and definitely worth grazing.

Restaurant Gwendolyn
Restaurant Gwendolyn celebrates time-treasured techniques with a thoughtful process that goes into every single course. Everything is fresh and made to order ih an intimate setting that can't be achieved anywhere else.

Tre Trattoria
Tuscan done right, from the pulled mozzarella to the golden beets to the pasta. Everything hits the spot at Tre Trattoria, and it all pairs well with the Italian varietals of wine on the lengthy list.


Buy tickets now to the Tastemaker Awards on April 19 at Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. Learn more about the event here.

Tre Trattoria.

Tre Trattoria
Photo courtesy of Tre Trattoria
Tre Trattoria.
Photo courtesy of Botika

10 best San Antonio chefs define good taste

Meet the Tastemakers

The CultureMap Tastemaker Awards return April 19, so it’s only fitting that we spotlight the nominees for San Antonio Chef of the Year prior to the big event. We're celebrating the 10 San Antonio chefs that define good taste — and inspire us in our own kitchens.

We'll announce the winner during our tasting event and awards ceremony in Austin, once again emceed by Texas celebrity chef Tim Love.

Bruce Auden, Biga on the Banks
Chef Auden has been nominated for just about every accolade on the culinary planet, so it seems fitting that he should be among the top in town at every turn. Biga on the Banks is a go-to for the fine dining crowd, thanks to the amazing dishes, the expansive wine list, and the view.

Mark Bliss, Bliss
Chef Bliss can tackle any kind of protein or vegetable, however, his superpower remains his beloved chicken-fried oysters. Diners flock to Bliss for his celebrated ability to make every plate better than the next.

Stefan Bowers, Feast
Chef Bowers is over-the-top creative with his food, and it shows in every bite. His restaurants are a collective of culinary prowess — from brunches to pasta, Bowers always hits the mark on good food.

Luis Colon, Folc
Chef Colon has enjoyed many an accolade, from his top burger in Texas from Texas Monthly to his new concept being a neighborhood hit. Fans of Folc, rejoice: There will be a new and freshly moved Folc and Park Social opening soon — the fire damage couldn’t bring a great chef down.

Pedro Cuéllar, Grayze
Chef Cuéllar has been lighting up the scene as of late with his love of San Antonio cuisine that's apparent in every dish he rolls out on his neighborhood restaurant's menu. Grayze has been at the forefront of decadent and healthy food since its opening, and diners have flocked to the spot for each and every morsel.

Johnny Hernandez, La Gloria, El Machito, and The Frutería
Chef Hernandez has been busy as of late, opening restaurants across the pond, adding additional concepts in San Antonio, and celebrating authentic Mexico cuisine in all of them. Still, he remains committed to San Antonio and serves it well.

Geronimo Lopez, Botika
Chef Lopez has successfully created a thoughtful and stunningly stylish Asian-South American restaurant. The dishes range from the crowd favorite of octopus to some amazing sushi. It’s no wonder that Lopez excels in the arena of creative concepts; the former Culinary Institute of America instructor led an extraordinary venture, starting the CIA-run restaurant Nao prior to breaking out on his own.

Michael Sohocki, Restaurant Gwendolyn, Il Forno
Chef Sohocki’s time-treasured techniques never gets tiresome. He is constantly breaking into new ways of doing things, collaborating with other chefs, and sharing the secrets to his success.

Andrew Weissman, Il Sogno Osteria and Signature
Chef Weissman is committed to great service and high-end ingredients that come together magically. His newest restaurant, Signature, has proven to be another beautiful and delicious space up north.

Jeff White, Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden
Chef White is legendary for his commitment to local farms and the infusion of fresh ingredients on his menus. People come from far and wide to garner a spot at his brunch tables.


Buy tickets now to the Tastemaker Awards on April 19 at Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. Learn more about the event here.

Geronimo Lopez, Botika.

Chef Geronimo Lopez
Photo courtesy of Botika
Geronimo Lopez, Botika.
Photo by Alex Hilmy

8 best new restaurants in San Antonio compete for Tastemaker title

Best New Restaurants

We're celebrating San Antonio's newest eateries in our 2017 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards. Eight of the top new restaurants in San Antonio will go head to head in our annual tournament, powered by Whole Foods Market, where you decide who will be crowned the Best New Restaurant of 2017.

Vote for your favorites in the bracket-style elimination challenge now through April 18. The first round ends Tuesday, April 11. You can vote once a day, every day, but first, meet all of the nominees:

The newest concept from the Stefan Bowers/Andrew Goodman restaurant empire, Battalion serves easy Italian in a renovated firehouse. The cool space will fire up your appetite, and the fresh pastas, char-grilled meats, vegetable dishes, and Italian classics will leave you satisfied.

Chisme comes from the team behind Hot Joy and Barbaro. The kitchen puts a creative spin on Tex-Mex favorites, ranging from barbacoa served with green onion kimchee to charred Brussels sprouts in guajillo mole to pumpkin churros.

High Street Wine Co.
This hot spot for wine and bites in the Pearl district also offers tastings, classes, and professional consulting. High-quality, small-production, seasonal varietals can be enjoyed by the bottle or by the glass, and the food menus are crafted to complement the exquisite selection.

Jazz, TX
This San Antonio destination for music, food, and drinks comes from Doc Watkins. In addition to live music, you can enjoy a full menu of San Antonio-inspired eats by chef Lorenzo Morales — think country-fried pork chops and chilaquiles, plus craft beers and sultry cocktails.

Sangria on the Burg
Sangria on the Burg opened quietly on Fredericksburg Road last summer. The eclectic little neighborhood bar and grill specializes in the paring of craft sangria, margaritas, and beer with tacos, sliders, and salads from Ceasar Zepeda.

San Antonio chef-owner Andrew Weissman returns with Signature. Named one of Texas Monthly's best new restaurants for 2016, star dishes include butter-poached lobster and sweetbreads with a wine-and-mushroom reduction.

The Well
Lone Star comfort food — made from scratch daily — is on the menu at The Well. This hot spot for food, drinks, and dancing also serves a Texas-sized Sunday brunch.

Whiskey Tree
Whiskey Tree is a new addition to San Antonio's Northside, complete with an awesome patio. The bar offers unique whiskey-based cocktails, and the kitchen serves a full menu of Southern favorites that go hand in hand with the drinks.

Jazz, TX.

Jazz, TX venue San Antonio food country-fried pork chop
Photo by Alex Hilmy
Jazz, TX.
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Online home searching platform Compass buys top San Antonio-based brokerage

real estate news

National residential real estate agency Compass has acquired Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio, in a move that will expand its position as the leading national firm and its growth in Texas by more than 600 agents.

Although the sale price was not disclosed in Compass' announcement, the local brokerages completed $5.24 billion sales just in 2022 alone.

Compass added that the Austin and San Antonio leadership will have direct oversight of daily operations as part of the terms of the acquisition. Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio co-founder Yvette Flores maintains that she and her leadership team will strive for a "seamless transition" into the national firm that respects the home-grown culture they have created.

Realty Austin was founded in 2004 by Flores and Jonathan Boatwright, and has grown through the years to become one of the most innovative brokerages in Central Texas and beyond. The company expanded its operations to San Antonio in 2021.

Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio CEO Gabe Richter said in the release that Compass' leading-edge technology will help his agents foster greater successes, particularly in one blossoming San Antonio category: luxury real estate.

"Our agents have consistently set records with remarkable achievements," Richter said in the release. "Now, by aligning with Compass, they gain access to a transformative technology platform that enhances efficiency and elevated resources that empower them to secure even more luxury listings."

Compass was founded in 2012 as the largest real estate brokerage in the U.S., and preserves its stronghold as the No. 1 brokerage in Texas thanks to its milestone acquisition. The national brokerage has already surpassed $10 billion in sales in Texas in 2023, according to the release.

“With this acquisition, we've positioned ourselves as Austin's leading brokerage — our commitment to setting new standards and inspiring innovation for all our exceptional agents remains the top priority while honoring what Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio has built," said Compass Texas President Rachel Hocevar.

Fantastic visuals and original story make The Creator a must-see sci-fi film

Movie Review

In the relatively risk-averse world that is modern Hollywood, getting an original story is a rarity. The vast majority of potentially blockbuster movies these days are ones that have a connection to some kind of existing intellectual property that already has a well-established track record. So anytime something interesting arrives that’s not a sequel/reboot/remake/commercial for a product, it deserves to be celebrated.

And that goes double when it’s done as well as the new sci-fi film, The Creator. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world in 2065, 30 years after a sentient artificial intelligence detonated a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. Joshua (John David Washington) is an American soldier who for years worked undercover alongside A.I.-enhanced robots, many of which are fitted with clones of human faces, to try to find their reclusive leader, Nirmata, in a part of the world now called New Asia.

A personal tragedy sends him into exile, but he’s recruited back into service by Colonel Howell (Allison Janney) to seek out and destroy a weapon that may turn the tide in the war for good. Turns out the weapon is a robot in the form of a child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), and when Joshua discovers that fact, he finds it impossible to carry out the mission. Instead, he does everything he can to protect the girl he calls Alphie, with the military hot on his tail all the while.

Written and directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One) and co-written by Chris Weitz, the film is astonishing in a number of ways, but mostly for its ability to draw the viewer in visually. The CGI is amazingly believable, making it easy to immerse yourself in the storytelling. From a foreboding super-weapon in the sky called NOMAD to the futuristic landscapes to the whirring metal cylinders that appear to be the brains of the robots, the film is full of fantastic details that make it a feast for the eyes.

The concept of A.I. is increasingly being used as a storytelling tool, and here the filmmakers seem to try to play both sides of the fence. Many people in the film fear its capabilities, especially given the nuclear event. But by literally putting human faces on many of the robots, it becomes more difficult to see them as pure evil, a dilemma that’s at the core of the problem for both Joshua and the audience.

Washington, who’s fast becoming as reliably good as his father, Denzel, is the star of the film, and he does a great job in that role. But stealing the show every second she’s on screen is Voyles, who delivers a debut performance the likes of which hasn’t been seen in many years. She is utterly convincing and heartbreaking as Alphie; while the story may have worked with a lesser actor, she helps take it to completely different level.

Also putting in great work are Janney, who proves herself as badass and fearsome a military leader as any man; Mark Menchaca as her No. 2; Ken Watanabe as an A.I. robot; singer-turned-actor Sturgill Simpson as a friend of Joshua; and Gemma Chan, redeeming herself after the misfire of Eternals.

John David Washington in The Creator
Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

John David Washington in The Creator.

The Creator could’ve earned praise simply by giving us an original sci-fi story. But by accompanying it with awe-inspiring imagery and performances that elevate the story immeasurably, Edwards and his team have made a film that will likely be remembered for years to come.


The Creator opens in theaters on September 29.

Nola breaks new ground and a Hill Country eatery heads to City Hall in San Antonio food 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 weekly roundup of essential food news.


The long lines at Nola Brunch & Beignets may soon double. According to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation Records, the brunch behemoth is opening a location at 1101 Broadway. The restaurant did not return a request for comment by publication time, but Nola executive chef Melissa Villanueva is listed as the tenant. It's unclear if this is a relocation or a second outpost, but the project is set to wrap up in March 2024. CultureMap will update as we hear more information.

New Braunfels will have a new dining destination when an ambitious redevelopment is completed. According to state filings, Wiggins Hospitality Group — the folks behind McAdoo's Seafood Co. — will renovate the town's former City Hall into a mixed-use building incorporating offices on the ground floor. New Braunfels Historic Landmark Commission records give more details about the unnamed eatery, including plans for a bar and courtyard. Construction is set to wrap up in May 2024.

Other news and notes

San Antonio standout The Jerk Shack will be featured in a new book from national food site Eater. The restaurant — an Eater darling since being named one of the best new restaurants in the country by Hillary Dixler Canavan in 2029 — appropriately contributed a chicken dish.

Favor gave some insight into San Antonio's ordering habits via its first-ever dining report, released September 19. Alamo City requested more orders for barbecue than any other city in the state but surprisingly fell behind Austin in overall taco orders. The delivery app also shared a few tidbits about how San Antonians customize their meals. Locals favor lean brisket, flour tortillas, chorizo, and — controversially — chili with beans. Read all the findings at favordelivery.com.

Not content at only being a Food Network personality, chef Braunda Smith is now set to break the internet. The owner of Lucy Cooper's Ice House will soon be featured on the popular web series America's Best Restaurants. The restaurant confirmed the filming via a Facebook post but did not share when the segment will be aired.