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Editor’s note: As 2022 comes to a close, we're looking back at the stories that defined San Antonio this year, now turning our attention to San Antonio's ever-evolving food scene. This year, we saw big changes to individual businesses — including openings, closings, and makeovers — and an interest in best-of lists. Here are the 10 hottest restaurant and bar headlines of 2022.

1. Famous fried chicken and biscuit chain hatches 3 San Antonio locations. Bojangles, the North Carolina-based fried-chicken-and-biscuits chain with a die-hard following, plans to enter the San Antonio market over the next several years with three locations. It says it will open three Bojangles locations in Northeast San Antonio. Those franchise restaurants will be operated by Copacetic Group.

2. Popular San Antonio Asian eatery named one of the 10 best new restaurants in the country. Best Quality Daughter, the pioneering eatery specializing in “New Asian American” cuisine that began as a pop-up dinner series before practically becoming a household name in the Alamo City, was dubbed a Best New Restaurant by USA Today 10Best.

3. Iconic Southtown restaurant relocates and taps internationally acclaimed artist for new look. Not only did Rosario’s, an iconic Mexican restaurant in San Antonio’s Southtown neighborhood, move to a new location down the street, it's creating a new look. Restaurateur Lisa Wong hired internationally recognized artist Inti Castro to paint a mural at the relocated Rosario’s, making San Antonio the first Texas city to feature an artwork from Castro.

4. Beloved San Antonio barbecue joint from star chef closes amid construction boom. After four years of serving his peach-glazed baby back ribs on Grayson Street, 2022 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Chef of the Year Jason Dady decided to retire his family-friendly Alamo BBQ Co. concept in May.

Alamo BBQ Co. plate Alamo BBQ Co. shuttered May 30. Alamo BBQ Co. Facebook

5. 16 Veterans Day specials that salute San Antonio military service members. From restaurants and coffee shops to retailers and exercise classes, CultureMap rounded up the best Veterans Day discounts for those that have served and continue to serve our nation.

6. Massive new Pearl restaurant unveiled by San Antonio's newest hospitality brand. Days after Potluck Hospitality revealed itself to the San Antonio community, it announced its first new project — a massive 11,000-square-foot restaurant at 239 E. Grayson St. Named after the South Texas native green jay, Carriqui debuted at Pearl in September 2022. According to a press release, the sociable bird lent more than a catchy name to the concept. Its flight path was the inspiration for the menu.

7. 6 San Antonio eateries cook up spots on Texas Monthly’s list of best new restaurants. Led by food critic and executive editor Pat Sharpe, the 21st edition of the list highlights the magazine’s favorite dishes from around the state. Texas Monthly utilized the same format for its 2021 list, opting not to publish a ranked list due to the difficulties restaurants faced during the pandemic.

8. The 21 most anticipated San Antonio restaurants and bars opening this fall and beyond. San Antonio is currently experiencing a population boom. A diverse crop of restaurants and bars is sprouting up to feed all the hungry newcomers. From promising new ideas from the city's most lauded chefs to a gaggle of Austin imports, here were the most anticipated spots making local's mouths water.

Carriqui San Antonio Trees canopy an outdoor dining space at Carriqui, in two of the Top 10 San Antonio food stories. Rendering courtesy of Don B. McDonald Architect

9. San Antonio airport lands new Tex-Mex restaurant from celebrated chef. No news is good news, but some news is Super Bien, which is also the name of a new concept from chef Johnny Hernandez, which opened at the San Antonio International Airport (SAT) in November. A partnership with global restaurateur HMSHost, the new outpost is the third SAT restaurant from Hernandez, who has been feeding hungry airport passengers at La Gloria and The Frutería since 2013.

10. Texas taco chain finally comes out of its shell for San Antonio debut. One crave-worthy hot spot that rolled into San Antonio in 2023 is inspired by authentic Acapulco street tacos — and it’s ready to put a little fiesta flavor in your face. Rusty Taco, the Dallas-based chain that specializes in street-style tacos made from original recipes (including a mouthwatering selection of breakfast tacos that are served all day), finally opened its first San Antonio location in February.

Courtesy of Favor

San Antonio foodie eats up new role as Favor’s ‘chief taco officer’

Delicious duty

San Antonio resident Chris Flores, owner of video production company, Eatmigos Creation, gained recognition when he set out four years ago to devour tacos from more than 900 Alamo City eateries.

Now, he’s taking his taco obsession to the next level. Favor, the Austin-based delivery service owned by San Antonio-based grocery chain H-E-B, has tapped Flores as its first-ever “chief taco officer.” Favor announced its search for a chief taco officer in April.

Chosen from hundreds of applicants, Flores will document and share his search for the state’s best tacos. Flores will be paid $10,000 to taste-test tacos for two months. He’ll also receive food, transportation, accommodations, and Favor swag, as well as free Favor delivery for a year.

Flores, who runs the Eatmigos social media brand, enjoys a following of nearly 37,000 users on Instagram, where he bills himself as the “taco king.”

In 2018, Flores embarked on a mission to chow down on tacos served by more than 960 restaurants in San Antonio. Three years later, he teamed up with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and five local businesses to cover 1,000 taco lunches for people affected by the statewide winter storm.

“Our goal was first and foremost to find someone who has a genuine passion for tacos, storytelling, and the history and culture of tacos in Texas, and Chris is exactly that,” Jag Bath, CEO of Favor, says in a news release about Flores’ meaty new role.

“We’ve delivered over 11 million tacos across Texas since Favor’s launch — and as a Texas-born and Texas-based company, needless to say, we take tacos very seriously,” Bath adds. “We cannot wait for Chris to share his taco journey with the rest of Texas, and really showcase a core component of Texas cuisine and culture.”

Flores’ first stop on his two-month taco tour will be Dallas-Fort Worth. Other places he’ll visit include San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Lubbock, Waco, and the Rio Grande Valley.

“I love Texas because of the melting pot of different cultures that have migrated here and adopted the taco into their cuisine,” says Flores, a San Antonio native. “I’m so excited for this opportunity to travel Texas while seeing and tasting the different impact the taco has had on each region.”

Flores’ taco travels and recommendations will be posted on the Favor website, as well as on Favor’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.

Photo courtesy of the Jerk Shack

The Jerk Shack spices up San Antonio with new Sunday brunch service

Jerks Who Brunch

Fried chicken on a weekend morning just took on a new flavor, as the Jerk Shack starts offering Sunday brunches. The husband-and-wife team put a Caribbean twist on some Southern American brunch classics that might wake you up and then immediately knock you right back out.

That means new menu items like catfish and grits with jerk remoulade, sweet potato and cream cheese French toast with dulce de leche, and a “Texas Toast Benedict” highlighting jerk pork or chicken (or regular bacon, if you’re not trying to stay on theme).

There’s no rush at all to get there early; the brunch menu is available from 11 am to 5 pm, alongside the regular menu, which already offers up items that pair perfectly with brunch: fried green tomatoes, a crispy chicken sandwich, or tacos smothered in avocado cream and pineapple pico de gallo. An array of colorful frozen drinks awaits hot summer days and stretches out those slow brunch vibes.

In January, 2022, the Jerk Shack opened its new location, replacing the actual shack with a modern interior and counter service, plus a drive-thru pickup window. Lines wrapped around the building. Since then, it’s started selling merch, chef Nicola Blaque was nationally recognized by Yelp on International Women’s Day, and staff participated in a donation drive by packing meals for Uvalde first responders.

Next, an additional location is slated for the very un-shack-like historic Schultze House at Hemisfair. This location is slated to open in "mid to end of 2023," a publicist confirms.

The Jerk Shack is located at 10234 Highway 151, Suite 103.

Photo courtesy of The Rustic

6 festive San Antonio events that go beyond margaritas for Cinco de Mayo

seis for cinco

Francamente, no one in San Antonio needs a list to find margaritas on Cinco de Mayo. Everyone is mixing up tequila and lime drinks to celebrate. The holiday has spiraled out from its military roots, initially commemorating victory over France in the Battle of Puebla in 1862, and most currently representing some United States rendition of Mexican joy.

Texans have a unique privilege as some of Mexico’s closest U.S. neighbors; an opportunity to interact with actual Mexican and Mexican-American culture on a daily basis, and absolute Mexican camp on May 5.

The following are six San Antonio spots getting in the Cinco de Mayo spirit with parties and specials that go beyond a margarita happy hour. Whether this year it feels like a tamales holiday or a burgers and beer holiday, locals have another fun opportunity to learn about and celebrate our Mexican friends and family.

Costa Pacifica
If a trip to the Pacific Coast feels a little out of reach, one coastal restaurant in town offers an all-day getaway. Costa Pacifica is augmenting its usual seaside fare with special food and drink options to celebrate, including margaritas, beer, and shots of Milagro tequila (priced at $3.99 for happy hour). There will be three hours of live music sets starting at 4 pm, then an hour of Mariachi Oro y Plata, and karaoke until 10 pm. The restaurant even has a page on the website to discuss the history of the holiday.

The Rustic
Live music at a local restaurant is standard for Cinco de Mayo, but live music is always bigger on the big stage at The Rustic. Its annual event will include $20 Modelo beer buckets, tacos by Joe Leo, mariachi and other live music. It’ll be decked out in colorful decor, and promises photo ops, including mini beer burros who will be visiting and making the rounds like two adorable waiters. Happy hour starts at 3 pm and runs until 6 pm, with festivities until around 9 pm.

Hopdoddy
An Austin contribution to the San Antonio food scene and over-the-top burgers, Hopdoddy, is bringing back a “fan favorite” Mexican burger for the month of May, starting on Wednesday, May 4. The Bidi Bidi Burger is a cross between a burger and a tostada (layered with entire intact tostadas the size of the burger itself). That’s topped with two cheeses (pepper jack by Tillamook, and cotija), a black bean spread, pico de gallo and shredded lettuce, and seasoned with chipotle aioli, guacamole crema and cilantro.

Market Square
If you didn’t get enough of the constant circus that is Market Square during Fiesta, head back for special Cinco de Mayo programming. This time the market is open Saturday and Sunday, with live bands and mariachi (in past years, a competition), and a Folklorico dance performance. Then, of course, there will be the usual working artist and food booths, who will surely be in the holiday spirit. Sometimes the best holiday plans are about seeing places you’re used to … just a little different.

Tony’s Siesta
Tony’s Siesta is not messing around this Cinco de Mayo, with its 5 Days of Cinco party. The first day, May 1, was a pig roast collaboration with four barbecuers. Other events include the Blood In Blood Out Trivia Night and karaoke, Industry Night, Cholo STAR WARS Loteria y Costume Party, and on May 5 … who knows? Head over to their Instagram or Facebook for more information on daily events as they come out. Tony’s is known for great cocktails and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

Chicken N Pickle
One of the great things about this holiday is the absence of one agreed-upon traditional activity. If your Cinco de Mayo includes pickleball, it sounds like you’re really doing it right. Chicken N Pickle will host a street taco cookout on May 5, with all bites coming fresh off the grill: chicken tinga, carnitas, burnt ends tacos, and elote cups. Margaritas will be made with Una Vida tequila. Book a court ahead of time at chickennpickle.com. The venue has events most days, from trivia nights to watch parties for big sports games.

Courtesy of Favor

H-E-B-owned Favor carts out new job opportunity — chief taco officer

Tasty opportunity

Do you fancy yourself to be a taco aficionado? If so, you’ll really eat up a spicy new job opening at Texas-based delivery service Favor.

Owned by San Antonio-based grocery chain H-E-B, Favor is hunting for its first-ever chief taco officer. Yes, a chief taco officer — not to be confused with another type of CTO (chief technology officer).

“The company will pay one energetic, hungry, and social savvy Texan $10,000 to track down the best tacos across the state this summer,” Favor says in a news release.

Aside from the $10,000 in pay, Favor will provide food, accommodations, and transportation in each city, as well as wellness activities such as massages and yoga classes. In addition, the chief taco officer will receive customized Favor swag and one year of free Favor delivery.

“Tacos are one of the top Favored foods across all of the cities we serve throughout Texas,” says Jag Bath, CEO of Favor. “The history and culture behind one of the most iconic foods in the Lone Star State vary from city to city, and we’re excited for our new Chief Taco Officer to discover some of the best and most authentic tacos out there.”

Texas residents over 21 are eligible to apply. Applicants must create and share a short video on why they should be Favor’s chief taco officer, and submit a short form on Favor’s application page. The application deadline is 11:59 pm Thursday, May 12.

Favor’s chief taco officer may want to stock up on digestive aids, given the mass quantity of tacos they’re likely to consume. In 2015, Texas Monthly (which hired José R. Ralat as its first-ever taco editor in 2019) compiled a list of the 120 Texas tacos “you must eat before you die.” The list highlighted taco purveyors in 15 areas around the state, from Amarillo to Corpus Christi.

By the way, Texas-based outdoor services provider LawnStarter recently named San Antonio the fourth best city for tacos, behind Austin, Round Rock, and Dallas. But if Favor’s chief taco officer is traversing Texas the entire summer, they’re bound to visit dozens of cities that could argue they deserve the title.

And perhaps Favor’s chief taco officer will do us a favor and crack the shell of Rent.com’s recent ranking of Texas as the No. 2 state for tacos, behind California. Everything’s bigger in Texas, right? That includes our appetite for tacos — and our prowess in producing them.

6 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Famed chef constructs new casa in Southtown

News you can eat

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

San Antonio culinary majordomo Johnny Hernandez is once again in expansion mode with a new restaurant set to open in the spring. The local culinary ambassador is reimagining his former Southtown event space and residence at 411 E. Cevallos St., as Casa Hernán. There’s no word on the menu just yet, but a sneak peek video reveals a colorful Mexican-inspired interior.

An adventurous new concept is docking at 3299 Wurzbach Rd., the former home of Tink-A-Tako. A mixed beverage permit has been filed with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for Viking Tavern, a new bar and restaurant. Unfortunately, the rudimentary landing page reveals little about the joint. Though it does promise an April opening date, it’s unclear how far the owners are taking the Norse theme. Here’s hoping for a hefty mead selection!

Hot off the February opening of Kura Revolving Sushi Bar in the Quarry, another sushi chain is set to make a splash in Alamo City. Trapper’s Sushi Co., a Washington State chain, has filed plans with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation for a Far West Side location at 415 Loop 1604. This will be the first Texas outpost for the restaurant known for its enormous selection of fusion rolls.

East Side residents now have a new place for birria. Chef Ernie Bradley of Kuriya and Cherrity Bar is now dipping into the food truck game with La Tienda de Birria, located on the same 929 N. New Braunfels Ave. property as his other concepts. The minimal menu features albóndigas, “quesatacos,” and traditional goat birria Friday and Saturday evenings.

Other news and notes

San Antonio’s wildest food party is roaring into the San Antonio Zoo on May 14. Though the lineup for Zoo-La-La has yet to be announced, the event will include plenty of drinks, bites from more than 40 local restaurants, and live entertainment. The VIP pass includes two private parties, including one inside the hippo viewing area of Africa Live! Tickets, ranging from $85-$150, are available here.

The San Antonio Food Bank will host more than 20 businesses and organizations on March 6 during the second annual Vegan Family Reunion. The free event, hosted by vegan frozen food company Rooted Vegan Cuisine, supports Black-owned businesses, artists, and charities while promoting plant-based eating. Vendors also will help fight food insecurity through special items benefiting the Food Bank.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio suburb among the richest places in Texas for 2023, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio suburb cashes in among the richest places in Texas for 2023. Alamo Heights has been renamed the third richest place in Texas for 2023 in a recent study.

2. San Antonio home sales slowed in December 2022, report finds. San Antonio sold 36,477 homes all year, a 10 percent decrease from 2021.

3. Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend. Nina Simone, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and more music-centered events made our roundup of the best things to do in Alamo City this weekend.

4. San Antonio Home & Garden Show returns with HGTV star. Ati Williams will headline the San Antonio Spring Home & Garden Show, which takes place February 24-26.

5. H-E-B opens first location in growing San Antonio suburb. The state-of-the-art facility offers 110,000 square feet of floor space, providing everything from cat food to charcuterie.


Popular Pearl brunch spot remixes with new weekend DJ nights

OONCE OONCE OONCE

Though Full Goods Diner has barely been open for half a year, it has already become a San Antonio staple for working weekday lunches and lingering Sunday Fundays. Now the Pearl eatery is looking to be a hot spot after dark.

Via release, the popular local haunt just announced a new limited-time music series, Full Goods at Night. Starting on February 2, Full Goods Diner will open select evenings throughout the month.

The Full Goods at Night series will feature popular local San Antonio DJs, including El West Side Sound, Hector Gallego, DJ Plata, Steven Lee Moya, and Cami Gee. Guests can enjoy live sets while indulging in a specially curated food and drink offerings.

The menu will include some of Full Goods Diner's best—selling items, such as French toast sticks, barbacoa waffle fries, and jumbo cheesy tots. Libations like the Attaboy Negroni, Royal Bermuda Daiquiri, Pink G&T, and more will fuel the festivities.

In addition to enjoying moonlight brunch, guests can relish some prime people-watching. And, of course, the restaurant is just a hop from other nightlife destinations like Pink Hill, 3 Star Bar, and Summer Camp Bar, making it the perfect party starter.

The series runs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from February 2-25, 6-10 pm. The complete DJ schedule is listed below.

February 2 — El West Side Sound·
February 3 — Hector Gallego
February 4— DJ Plata
February 9 — El West Side Sound
February 10 — Steven Lee Moya
February 11 — Cami Gee
February 16 — El West Side Sound
February 17 — Steven Lee Moya
February 18 — Hector Gallego
February 23 — El West Side Sound
February 24— Steven Lee Moya
February 25 — DJ Plata

4 San Antonio culinary pioneers win $21K from the Texas Food & Wine Alliance

CULINARY INNOVATION

Texas’ skyrocketing culinary scene is about to get a huge boost. The Texas Food & Wine Alliance’s grant program has awarded $107,500 to 19 culinary innovators around the state. This marks the Alliance’s 11th year providing funding to support culinary projects contributing to local communities.

The award winners were announced in a ceremony at Austin's Holdsworth Center on January 21. A private panel of distinguished culinary experts chose the winners out of 40 grant applications this year. Nine winners hail from Austin, three from Dallas-Fort Worth, three from Houston, and four from San Antonio. The awards range from $1,500 to $10,000, with a special $25,000 grant investment from Austin favorite Tito’s Handmade Vodka in honor of the company’s 25th anniversary. Grant funding will support chefs, farms, and culinary education groups, among others.

Out of the four San Antonio area winners, Talking Tree Farm received the most from the grant program, $6,250 to purchase shipping containers for storage and to buy a solar-powered cold room for their harvests. John Marshall High School’s culinary arts program will use their $5,000 grant to establish a morning café. Agricultural project Habitable Spaces and pasture-raised chicken farm Cielito Lindo Farm also won $5,000 each to purchase equipment or build infrastructure to further their endeavors in the culinary space.

Austin-area winners received the most funding from the grant program, totalling $53,750, while San Antonio winners received $21,250 in total. Dallas/Fort Worth winners were awarded $19,750, and the three Houston recipients won $12,750. All of the 2022 winners reflect just how diverse the state's trailblazing culinary scene continues to expand.

“All of this year’s funded projects will further enrich the state through innovation and giveback,” said Erika White, executive director of the Alliance. “We’re extremely grateful to each of the Texas communities, our sponsors and their support in allowing us to reward these mold-breaking projects.”

In Austin, organic farm Trosi Farms was awarded the most funding ($10,000), which will help construct a germination shed for more stable plant start production. Locavore pioneer Boggy Creek Farm won $7,500 in grants to provide ADA-compliant accessibility to their new climate-controlled Tomato House, while Texas’ first organic feed mill, Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill & Farm, received $6,250 to help purchase a building to be used as a store for the local community.

The six other Austin area grant recipients, each winning $5,000, include Vista Farms at Vista Brewing, Jamaican family business Tierra Todun ATX, coffee roasters Rising Tide Roast Collaborative, culinary educator Chef Pascal Simon from Bake Austin, East Austin food truck Community Vegan, and Latinx pastry project Comadre Panaderia (who also just earned a James Beard nomination). All winners will be able to use their grants to improve efficiency and expand their businesses, or in Chef Pascal's case, further research and development for her upcoming cookbook for Gen-Z young adults.

After starting the program in Austin, grant co-chair and TFWA past president Cathy Cochran-Lewis says it was the Alliance’s dream to expand the grant statewide.

“We’re so humbled and thrilled to now not only support worthwhile projects across Texas but also to give more than a half million dollars in funding over the last decade to help dreams come true,” she says. “This is a tribute to the culinary talent and the community mindset we are lucky to have in our state.”

The winners in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas include:

For this year's Honorable Mention, the Alliance chose San Antonio eatery Tacos Cucuy, who will soon open a brick-and-mortar space with an expanded menu. Tacos Cucuy are currently looking for support to develop a Tex-Mex charcuterie program called La Cura Carnes Especiales.

More information about the 2022 grants and its recipients can be found on texasfoodandwinealliance.org.