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.

Via 313/Facebook

Detroit-style pizza, Southtown nightlife, and a new weekend bar spice up 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 regular roundup of essential food news.


A third location of Austin-based chainVia 313 will soon be rolling into San Antonio. According to Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation filings, the Detroit-style pizzeria will begin construction on a new building at 17315 W. I-10 #100 in late September. Construction is set to wrap up in March 2024, barring any delays.

South Presa Street's bustling nightlife corridor will soon have a new addition. TDLR filings reveal that a concept called Palomino Bar will finish renovations in the same strip as Hands Down, Bar Ludavine, and Near Dark. The owners have yet to pony up any details, but the buildout will include a new HVAC system and finishes.

Another nightlife concept will soon be taking over a former Asel Art Supply space. A concept called The Weekend, not to be confused with the slightly creepy pop star, has applied for a mixed beverage permit with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission at 1524 N Main. Although the location is San Antonio's longtime LGBTQIA-plus strip, it's unclear what the vibe will be.

Pet-friendly beer bar Hops and Hounds will soon be sniffing out a new location closer to downtown. Via Instagram, the spot announced it was moving to a new location near Museum Reach in the fall. However, North Siders (and their furry companions) need not worry about finding a new watering hole. New owners will soon transform the original Jones Maltsberger location into a similarly warm-and-fuzzy spot — Pups and Pals.

Medical Center staple Chef's Table Turkish Mediterranean Grill is biting off a new project. In a Facebook post, the restaurant teased a new coffee house coming to 1546 Babcock Rd. The eatery did not include many details, including the estimated opening date, but Turkish Delight will also act as a patisserie specializing in baklava.

Other news and notes

Pearl showpiece Carriqui is launching a new lunch menu on August 8 with dishes like a brisket pastrami on rye sandwich and pecan mole enchiladas and cocktails such as a smoked pineapple mojito and sandía daiquiri. The offerings will be available daily, including Sundays, when the popular group Mariachi Las Coronelas will have an August residency between 11 am-2 pm.

Rendering courtesy of White Lodging

First San Antonio Kimpton hotel unveils over-the-top bar and restaurant concepts


In building construction, topping out is a huge thing. The tradition marking the laying of the highest beam on a structure has a long history of rites from chugging beer to placing a tree atop the roofline. Forest-dwelling spirits, after all, are in constant need of appeasement.

Now that San Antonio's first Kimpton Hotel has hit that all-important milestone, it has chosen to appease a different crowd — the public busybodies thirsting for more information. When the 423 S. Alamo property broke ground in October 2022, developer White Lodging offered scant details. Now, it's leaking details on the hotel's four upcoming concepts.

The marquee space will be an upscale steakhouse settling into the main building of a repurposed 18th-century German-English schoolhouse. Additional historic structures will be used for eight tony guest suites and a shaded courtyard cocktail bar.

More booze will come from another bar focused on whiskey. A rooftop bar, a modern must for any high-end hotel, completes the nightlife picture. Menu details have been promised closer to the opening date.

In addition to the bustling hospitality program, Kimpton will offer plenty of amenities for guests. CultureMap previously reported that the sleek new structure will feature a rooftop pool and more than 11,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space.

With its prime positioning, the hotel will be convenient to some of San Antonio's most popular sites, including the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, River Walk, Alamo Plaza, King William District, La Villita, and Hemisfair.

"This is a pivotal moment not only for Kimpton San Antonio, but the surrounding community," said White Lodging Chief Executive Officer Jean-Luc Barone in a statement. "Together with other surrounding developments, we are creating a new destination district by solidifying the connection from downtown to Southtown."

Kimpton San Antonio

Rendering courtesy of White Lodging

The Kimpton plans include a stunning rooftop lounge.

Photo by TXTroublemaker

Veteran San Antonio bar owners strike a chord with 2 new Southtown concepts

Hey! Ho! Let's Go

Mere days after announcing the shutter of St. Mary’s Strip bar Squeezebox, Aaron Peña is on a blitzkrieg. The Amor Eterno proprietor has teamed up with Roger Herr of Bar Loretta to introduce two new Southtown concepts in the former home of Francis Bogside.

Opening in mid-July, the sibling bars are the first collaboration between the industry vets. The upcoming spots, Forged over a shared love of music, are named in tribute to two of the giants of ‘70s rock.

Gimme Gimme, a reference to Ramones’ 1977 track “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment,” will fittingly offer a rock ‘n’ roll vibe. Though menu details were not included in the press release, the bar will offer craft cocktails and a full food menu developed by Bar Loretta partners Michael Neff and Paul Petersen, respectively.

“Growing up in San Antonio, I’ve always known our city as the home of rock ‘n’ roll,” explained Herr via a release. “The inspiration for Gimme Gimme comes from wanting to create our own version of what we think a rock ‘n’ roll bar can be. Great music, great food, great cocktails, great service, and always a sense of humor.”

Adjacent to the more raucous environment of Gimme Gimme, A Perfect Day will be a wine-bar offering small bites and batched cocktails. Again, the name draws inspiration from a ‘70s classic — Lou Reed’s similarly named B-side to the eternal “Walk on the Wild Side.”

Though the concepts are a departure for both bar owners, they look forward to bringing an edge to the popular entertainment district.

“Musically, the 14-year-old punk rocker version of my younger self is really excited to help curate the selection of tunes we will feature inside both Gimme Gimme and A Perfect Day,” says Peña. “I think the neighborhood is going to love having an additional late night food and beverage option in the most walkable neighborhood in San Antonio.”

La Ruina/ Facebook

Cool off with these 7 San Antonio cocktails to sip all summer long


Summer has officially arrived in San Antonio — and with it, gallons of margaritas. While we would never cast shade on the city's undisputed cocktail champion, it's not the only drink in the ring. Alamo City is full of total knockouts that are just as refreshing. Whether looking for a patio pounder or something to start the brunch party, these seven sippers will take you through the steamiest of seasons.

Blush — I Know Bubbles
Day drinking is one of the greatest pleasures of vacation season, but one can't just jump into it with an Old Fashioned. Instead, ease into the day with the sparkling I Know Bubbles from this new Southtown hot spot. A fizzy rosé and vodka form the base, enlivened with grapefruit and a cucumber and strawberry shrub. It's easy like a Sunday morning, even if you're brunching on a Saturday.

George's Keep — Summer Fling
Though booking a room at the Éilan Hotel is not required to drink at this old-school bar, there is an undeniable appeal in plopping down after a couple of George's high-octane cocktails. Start your staycation with a Summer Fling, one of the spot's most unexpected libations. Scotch may seem more suited for winter, but when combined with pineapple syrup, lime, and cooling Chareau aloe liqueur, it's ready for shorts and flip-flops.

La Ruina — Daiquiri con Sabor
Ernest Hemingway drank them while leching around Cuba. The British Navy got soused on them while sailing the seas. F. Scott Fitzgerald enshrined them in literature. Of the classic cocktail constellation, the daiquiri's star shines brightest. This East Side bar gives them the respect they deserve, whether plain or mixed with intriguing flavors like soursop.

Leche de Tigre — Mi Verano, Tu Invierno
With its tropical murals and shaded backyard porch, this newcomer feels like a year-long holiday. The Mi Verano, Tu Invierno works regardless of the season, grounding a light mix of pisco, passion fruit, and ginger ale with a few dashes of bitters. And it works both as a pre-dinner cocktail and a pairing. Try it against the vibrant tamarind flavors of the Nikkei cebiche.

1Watson — Watermelon Fiesta
This rooftop bar perched above the downtown AC Hotel offers jaw-dropping views of the city. Still, those afraid of heights can reserve a table a little less close to the edge. Either way, the Watermelon Fiesta is the drink to sip all season. An easy sipper of Tito's vodka, watermelon juice, cayenne, and jalapeño, all it's missing is the pool.

Sojourn Trading Co. — Sojourn Raspa
Nothing feels like a San Antonio summer as much as a raspa, especially if you add a little booze. Still, this sunny downtown bar has made a good idea even better. Its signature Sojourn Raspa starts with a one-two punch of blanco tequila and Demerara rum, zinged with lime and mango shrub. Finally, coconut milk is floated on top. Tiger's Blood wishes.

Tokyo Cowboy — Mogwai's Night Out
Though this new River Walk concept specializes in Japanese whisky, it has equal finesse with other spirits. Mogwai's Night Out is far from a basic vodka drink, adding sake and smoked jalapeño for depth. A cucumber slice dusted with togarashi salt evokes San Antonio's many fruterías while honoring the bar's pan-Asian cuisine.

Photo courtesy of Maverick Restaurant Group

Southtown brasserie says bonjour to roots French cooking and new chef team


After weathering the pandemic and construction from the new Rosario's, a Southtown restaurant is hitting rewind. Maverick Texas Brasserie is returning to its Alsatian roots with a new chef team and an emphasis on live-fire cooking.

"It's like Maverick 2.0," said hospitality director Brannon Swindle via a release. "We're going back to the 'make your own rules' dining experience we had when we first opened our doors."

Executive chef Robbie Nowlin will be leading the charge. Already helming the kitchens at the Maverick Group's Arrosta and Allora, the Tastemaker Awards-nominated chef will draw on techniques learned throughout his career. The CV includes mentorship by local notables Damien Watel and Jason Dady and a stint at the world-famous French Laundry.

Culinary Institute of America grad Esteban Valdez will add even more talent. Valdez began his culinary career alongside Nowlin at The Lodge under Dady. After three years at Michelin Star restaurants in New York, Valdez has returned to San Antonio with a French-focused style.

The pair will refine the menu to focus on classic brasserie cooking. Although the restaurant never shifted too radically from its French DNA, it was less focused during the height of Covid-19. Though best-sellers like gougères remained on the menu, they were joined by dishes like Hamachi sashimi.

That's not to say that fans will have to say goodbye to some of their favorite dishes. Entrees like schnitzel and steak frites will have pride of place on the menu, along with brasserie standards like tartare, escargot, and decadent seafood towers.
"Bistro and brasserie cooking as a whole are super approachable for guests, but also a way for a chef to showcase his technique without being pretentious," shares Nowlin.

"I'm excited to see this French inspiration coming back," Valdez agrees. "It's a gradual shift to the unique experience that Maverick was known for."

Maverick Texas Brasserie San Antonio

Photo courtesy of Maverick Restaurant Group

Maverick Texas Brasserie is returning to its French roots.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

UTSA outpaces progress of every other school on U.S. News' best Texas colleges list

go roadrunners

The University of Texas at San Antonio has massively improved its high-quality educational experiences for students, earning it the highest increase of all public universities on U.S. News and World Report's just-released list of the Best Colleges in Texas for 2024.

The home of the Roadrunners claimed No. 16 in Texas, and had an incredible 92-place leap from the previous year into No. 280 nationally for 2024. The public institution had an undergraduate enrollment of more than 29,600 students in fall 2022. The school, which costs $10,580 in tuition and fees for in-state students each year, ranks No. 151 for "Top Public Schools" by U.S. News.

In a release celebrating these latest rankings, UTSA President Taylor Eighmy explained some of the ways the university has strived to improve its student experience and success.

“Over the last decade we have worked strategically to become a Carnegie R1 institution, to be eligible for National Research University fund status here in Texas, to be recognized for our immense progress in student success measures, to become a Seal Certified institution from Excelencia in Education, and to showcase how our students benefit from a UTSA education as they enter the workforce with low debt and high economic and social mobility,” Eighmy said. “These collective efforts have been noticed and we are grateful for the recognition.”

U.S. News' profile of UTSA says the university prides itself for its research opportunities for all students, including first-years.

"A focus on learning outside the classroom challenges Roadrunners to apply knowledge and skills acquired in their courses to hands-on, real-world situations, preparing them for success in competitive job markets," the site says.

The university also boasts a diverse campus culture that encourages students to broaden their worldviews.

"Our students come from diverse backgrounds, and each has their own unique goals and dreams," the site says. "With 45 percent of undergraduates being the first in their families to attend college, UTSA is recognized as a national model for first-generation and transfer students."

Ahead of UTSA in the ranking is Texas State University in San Marcos, which also ranked No. 280 nationally.

Just behind UTSA is the University of the Incarnate Word. The private institution placed No. 17 in the Texas rankings and No. 296 nationally.

U.S. News' top 10 best colleges in Texas in 2024 are:

  • No. 1 – Rice University, Houston
  • No. 2 – University of Texas at Austin
  • No. 3 – Texas A&M University, College Station
  • No. 4 – Southern Methodist University, Dallas
  • No. 5 – Baylor University, Waco
  • No. 6 – Texas Christian University, Fort Worth
  • No. 7 – The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson
  • No. 8 – University of Houston
  • No. 9 – Texas Tech University, Lubbock
  • No. 10 – University of St. Thomas, Houston

The full rankings can be found on usnews.com.

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.