Photo courtesy of H-E-B

Ben Affleck having more fun at Dunkin' than at the Grammys. Maya Rudolph hawking candy-coated clams. Tubi creating the most disarming horror villain since M3gan. For better or worse, Super Bowl ads get people talking. No wonder a hometown grocer would want to get in on the game.

In H-E-B's latest bid to prove that "no store does more," the San Antonio-based grocery giant debuted two Big Game ads riffing on its fandom's unyielding passion. In the series titled "If You Know, You Know," friends of H-E-Buddy go to great lengths to enjoy the company's signature products.

A couple wearing hats large enough for Pharrell to appreciate sneaks That Green Sauce into a stadium. A driver buckles up her precious little one — a tub of Creamy Creations ice cream. And a traveler presents a suitcase filled with flour tortillas to airport security (TSA also featured this one on its social media channels this week).

To add some pathos to the vignettes, Dallas-based Plot Twist Creativity scored the commercial to the immortal LeAnn Rimes hit "How Do I Live." (Or at least, we think it was Rimes' version. Trisha Yearwood also released the song in 1997 for Con Air. It was a whole thing.)

Though exaggerated for comic effect, the sentiment isn't that far from reality. Since launching the H-E-B family of brands in 1992, the company now has thousands of privately labeled products. At least in Texas, they helped transform store brands from dreary black-and-white generics to covetable items of their own.

Of course, few regional grocery chains have as much fun with branding as H-E-B. The fandom now gobbles up items like tortilla-scented candles and onesies for H-E-Babies. The customer zeal regularly helps the corporation land on national lists like dunhumby's recent survey of best U.S. grocers.

"At H-E-B, we appreciate that our customers have come to know and love our H-E-B brand products," sums up Ashwin Nathan, H-E-B Group Vice President of Marketing. "The love and fanaticism that H-E-B customers have for our brand and our products is like no other, and we think many of our loyal H-E-B fans will see themselves in these commercials."

Missed the championship game/ Rihanna pregnancy announcement? H-E-B says the commercials will air in select Texas markets through February.

McIntyre's Southtown/ Facebook

9 San Antonio spots to score big on Super Bowl Sunday

Game plan

Hey, the Cowboys didn’t make it to the end. That’s something San Antonians will have to live with. But chances are, most locals will be watching the Super Bowl on February 12 anyway. The commercials are (mostly) clever. Riri is performing for the first time in years. And, at the very least, it’s an excuse to tackle a mountain of mozzarella sticks. Whatever one’s reason for watching the big game, it’s more fun to watch with a crowd. Let these 10 local spots be your weekend goal.

Backyard on Broadway
This Alamo Heights-area complex is kid-friendly until 9 pm, which should be just enough time to see the last touchdown. It’s pet-friendly, too, in case Rover is a big Eagles fan.

Big’z Burger Joint
This UTSA-area hangout is full of genius ideas for the championship day. For one, the $2 Gatorade shots are a brilliant blend of hydration and intoxication. Have one too many? Soak them up with the All-American burger, a monster half-pound Angus patty topped with a butterflied hot dog.

Charlie Brown’s

With plenty of screens to watch the action and a quiet enough atmosphere to discuss the commercials, this North Side neighborhood haunt is as comfortable as an old jersey. The food wears equally well, especially the pizza and its killer rib eye deal.

The Friendly Spot
No, the name wasn’t plucked out of a hat. This rambling bar really is one of the most sociable spots in town. Keep the camaraderie going with hundreds of craft brews and shareable snacks like Buffalo chicken jalapeño poppers and fried cheese curds. Then, settle in to watch the big game on a giant inflatable screen.

The Hangar
Not a huge football fan? This Broadway strip bar has plenty of games to keep fair-weather fans busy until halftime. The menu is mainly fried, but there’s no sport in salads. Munch on the celery served with a dozen wings for a bit of roughage.

Lucy Cooper’s Ice House
No food pairs with football better than wings, so here’s the Sunday game plan. Head to this North Side icehouse and pony up $49.99 for 40 cluckers. Choose up to four sauces and wash it down with a $12 beer bucket. Way to be on the ball!

Get cracking to this luxe Southtown sports bar, and you might go home $1,000 richer. Still, football squares isn’t the only game available. Cravorites will be dishing out crawfish from 2-6 pm, and the bar will be cranking out $20 mimosa carafes and domestic beer buckets until 8 pm. The big game, of course, will be broadcast from multiple flatscreens.

Picks Bar
This North San Antonio hot spot is staging a drag brunch and a Super Bowl watch party on the same day, which is reason enough to visit. It also has a sturdy cocktail program (both boozy and zero-proof) for those who punt on the usual longnecks.

Tony’s Siesta
There are Chiefs fans, there are Eagles fans, then there is the Rihanna Navy. The latter will be at Tony’s Siesta for a Gay-lentines bash featuring themed cocktails, bubbles, a food pop-up, a DJ, and the most important concert of the year. Score!

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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