Beto's Alt-Mex/ Facebook

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.

Openings and closings

After serving locals for more than 25 years, a Broadway corridor mainstay has wrapped up business. In an Instagram statement, the owners of Beto's Alt-Mex announced that March 19 was the last day of service. Since 1997, the restaurant has offered an eclectic take on Pan-American street food, serving a variety of tacos and empanadas alongside sides like charro beans and Peruvian rice. In the post, the team struck a hopeful note by promising, "this is not a goodbye, but a see ya later."

A Northwest Side eatery only offered finality in its own closing note. Via Facebook, mom-and-pop joint Sarah's Barbacoa said its goodbyes on March 16. Though owner Sarah Hernandez explained the shutter was a tough decision, each member of the family management team decided to focus on emerging career opportunities.

In more playful news, schoolhouse-themed watering hole Home Roomwelcomed its first visitors on March 16. Owned by Marika Olmstead-Wright of Pacific Moon and Marc "Frenchy" Groleau of Charlie Brown's Neighborhood Bar, the watering hole has filled the former home of St. Peter Claver Academy with lawn games and primary colored furnishings. Still to come will be food trucks and a school bus patio bar.

A new project is brewing at 11015 Shaenfield Rd. A concept called Refuge Coffee and Beer has applied for a wine and malt beverage on-premise permit with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. According to corporate filings, the project is the work of Austinites. Although similarly named businesses exist in other states, this appears to be an original concept. An online presence seems to be still pending.

Other news and notes

Newish Pearl hot spot Ladino is putting a Mediterranean twist on the wine dinner. On March 27, the eatery will welcome Greek vintner Christos Zafeirakis of Domaine Zafeirakis Winery for a four-course feast paired with a whopping six wines. Tickets are $120 online and are limited to 24 guests.

River Walk restaurant Dorrego's is giving guests a little zazzle with made-to-order paella Monday through Friday, 11 am-2 pm. For $16.95, diners can customize a heaping helping of saffron rice with chicken, shrimp, scallops, sausage, mussels, and vegetables. Reservations can be booked online.

Speaking of paella, chef Johnny Hernandez's annual Paella Challenge will return to Mission County Park on March 26. As always, the shindig will feature more than 40 paellas prepared by some of San Antonio's culinary luminaries. Tickets start at $85 and benefit Hernandez's youth charity Kitchen Campus.

Rosario's/ Facebook

7 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Tex-Mex giant shutters North location


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.

Openings and closings

Mere weeks after it opened a glittering Southtown flagship, a chapter is closing for Rosario’s. In a statement, the eatery announced closing its 9715 San Pedro Ave. location to consolidate management and staff. There’s no word yet on what will happen to the building owned by Rosario’s founder Lisa Wong. The north location employees, however, were all offered jobs in Southtown.

A popular plant-based taquero has quietly cropped up downtown. Plantaqueria celebrated its soft opening at 124 Broadway on March 4. Known for its housemade vegan tortillas, the joint serves breakfast tacos, tortas, and aguas frescas.

One of the few concepts serving Eastern European cuisine is planting roots. Via Instagram, Ukrainian food truck European Dumplings Café announced the debut of Castle Hills brick-and-mortar at 2211 NW Military Hwy #131B. The grand opening celebration begins at noon on March 18.

The blizzard has ended at the Dairy Queen at 9222 S. Zarzamora St. After 45 years in business, the franchise owner has closed shop. In a Facebook post, the team stated that a lack of employees has made operations difficult, prompting a decision to retire. The last Hunger Busters were served on March 12.

Tex-Mex mainstay Nicha’s Comida Mexicana has opened a third outpost at 12403 West Ave near Churchill. The restaurant renews the mini- chain’s Northeast Side presence after losing its lot to Hawaiian Bros Island Grill. The new location includes some upgrades, like a very spacious patio.

Other news and notes

Pearl behemoth Carriqui is treating San Antonians with two promotions throughout March. Margarita Mondays encourages hookey Tuesdays with half-off deals on the Carriqui and traditional frozen margarita all day. Smokehouse Sundays invite guests to enjoy live music on the patio and enjoy the restaurant’s latest menu item, spare ribs with a dry chile rub.

South San Antonio food truck park Rancho 181 is rolling out its first annual Taco Fest March 17-19. The festivities will include a taco contest, open to home cooks and food trucks, with a $1,500 prize. Vendors and live music round out the event. Admission is free.

Paloma Blanca/ Facebook

13 San Antonio spots shaking up National Margarita Day


It’s a cruel coincidence that National Margarita Day falls on February 22, smack dab in the middle of San Antonio’s second coldest month. But even a winter chill won’t stop locals from enjoying the city’s favorite refresher. From upscale restaurants to dive bars, margs are served everywhere. The only tricky part is knowing who does them best.

The Bar at Mixtli
Everything at this modern Mexican Southtown restaurant is considered, so its no bombshell that its margaritas should follow suit. But the Overproof Spice Margarita really pulls out all the stops, both for its octane and it’s one-two punch of serrano and arbol salt.

El Camino
Although this downtown hangout has a traditional marg for the purists, the vibrant outdoor space calls for something with a little more color. The Mission Rita does just that, adding the crimson zing of prickly pear.

El Mirasol
This long-running Alamo City restaurant is the place to go for those who like a little flavor in their tequila. There’s 17 of them to choose from, ranging from mainstays like blue curaçao and strawberry to surprises like amaretto or apple pucker.

Hands Down
This artsy Southtown bar has been one of the most unanticipated recent additions to Alamo City nightlife, so it’s fitting that its margarita would be just as remarkable. Though based on the classic build, it has a woodsy kick courtesy of palo santo bitters.

La Fonda on Main
La Fonda has been at it since 1932, which has given it more than enough time to get the formula right. Its cucumber jalapeño take is especially zippy when paired with a platter of bacon-wrapped Diablitos.

La Ruina
OK, this rum bar’s El Tamarindo isn’t a margarita per se. But it has tequila, lime juice, and a touch of sweetness from ancho pepper liqueur. We say that’s close enough.

This perennially chic River Walk eatery is a top spot for those who like a little sweetness in their margarita without an instant cavity. Ranch Water — that kissing cousin of the marg — is well represented too, made here with earthy sotol.

Paloma Blanca
Few local libations are as famous as this Alamo Heights favorite’s vivacious ’09. But be warned! Don't expect to get anything else accomplished if you down a couple of these at lunch.

There’s no better excuse to visit Rosario’s new Southtown digs than National Margarita Day. The San Antonio staple has several varieties from a refreshing variety spiked with mint and watermelon to the Cocorita, a frozen marg mixed with a piña colada.

The La Babia margarita at Hotel Emma’s resident bar is as minimal as a Luis Barragan building. Blanco tequila, orange liqueur, and freshly squeezed lime juice slide into a shaker before landing in a turquoise etched glass.

When San Antonians rave about the mythical powers of the chispa, they are probably thinking about this spot. Order them with the traditional tequila or shake things up with mezcal. There’s even a $40 ultra-premium option for impressing the in-laws.

Summer Camp Bar
Have your own wet hot American summer (or winter) at this poppy Grayson Street newcomer. The Hot Pants Margarita is particularly steamy with jalapeños and a spicy rim.

Tony’s Siesta
This neighborhood haunt is celebrating the holiday with a vintage night market — and of course margarita specials. Shop around with a classic mango marg on the rocks or an intriguing mezcal and tequila frozen with hibiscus and cherry.


6 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Chicken spot roosts in Alta Vista

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 and closings

Lucas Bradbury, the Shark Tank-featured founder of plant-based fast food joint Project Pollo, has some meaty news. The entrepreneur has openedSide Chicks at 303 San Pedro Ave. Although the concept will have plant-based sandwiches, salads, and oat milkshakes, the new project is omnivorous. Real chicken options include a Nashville hot sandwich, nuggets, wings, and a Caesar wrap.

The long-awaited reincarnation of Rosario's finally opened on February 10 at 722 S Saint Mary's Street in Southtown. The sparkly new space has a much more contemporary look than the original, with low leather furniture, poppy art, and looming fringe chandeliers. The team also added al fresco dining, courtesy of a large rooftop patio cooled by ceiling fans.

While a host of national chains race to fuel San Antonio's daily grind, one local coffee shop has entered the fray. On February 5, Press Coffeeannounced via Facebook that it had debuted its second location at 11103 West Ave. in Castle Hills. Although it serves the same espresso drinks as the Broadway corridor original, the new shop has an additional perk — a spacious outdoor patio for enjoying early spring.

Other news and notes

Knock one back for the Alamo City Winners of this year's Texas Craft Brewers Cup. The annual event, organized by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, awarded six local favorites medals, including four golds. The big San Antonio winner was Freetail Brewing Co., earning golds for its Image 14 Years and La Muerta brews and four medals total. Alamo Beer, Dorćol Distilling and Brewing, Kuenstler Brewing, Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling, and Roadmap Brewing Co. also went home with bragging rights. See the full results here.

Three San Antonio restaurants have landed on Yelp's annual list of the most romantic places to eat in Texas. The review giant analyzed its trove of customer feedback, plucking out spots frequently mentioning words and phrases like romantic," "date night," and "valentine." The picks were then weighted by total ratings and volume of reviews. Bliss came out tops of the local spots, landing the No. 3 ranking. Also placed were Biga on the Banks and Toro Kitchen + Bar, nabbing the No. 13 and 16 spots, respectively.

What's better than Girl Scout Cookies? Girl Scout Cookies turned into edible and drinkable creations by some of the city's top chefs and mixologists. Girl Scouts of South Texas is bringing back its annual Girl Scout Cookie Flavor Fest on February 17-26 with 25 featured creations. Among the highlights are a cookie beer flight at Black Laboratory Brewing, a chocolate caramel brownie at Clementine, and a spiked coconut hot chocolate at Hops & Hounds. See the complete list of offerings here.

San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo/ Facebook

10 spots to rustle up a meal during the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo

Stock Up

And we’re off. San Antonians have barely had the chance to catch up on post-holiday emails before filling up the calendar again with annual traditions. The first, of course, is the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, the nearly month-long celebration of mutton bustin’, live music, and fried food.

The latter holds a particular fascination — and it’s sacrilege to suggest that rodeo revelers shouldn’t sample a rattlesnake corndog, bacon bomber, or a deep-fried Snickers. But let’s face it, giving a little bit of uh uh during the Nelly set takes more than empty carbs.

What to do? Build a foundation by eating a proper meal at a nearby or on-premise restaurant. Consider this a pregame plan for putting more yeehaw into your visit. Fuel up for a long day of fun, then let’r buck.

Cherrity Bar
Take advantage of this eatery’s rambling patio on sunny days to share Japanese street food like gyoza, yakitori, and crunchy karaage. Snuggle up inside during a cold snap with a bountiful bowl of ramen. The tonkotsu always hits with a generous slice of pork belly. Then there’s the umami slap of the tantanmen. Whichever way you go, start with an Old Fashioned for that preshow oomph.

Con Huevos
It’s almost impossible for newcomers to break into the local taco pantheon. However, owner Hugo Garcia was more than fit for the task (yes, 2019 still counts as "new" in the city’s taco game). Traditional fillings like picadillo and carne guisada have uncommon zip, and the flour tortillas perfectly seesaw between the fluff and chef. And should one down too many Bud Lights during a rodeo jaunt, there’s no better restorative than fideo loco.

The Dakota
Food aside, this East Side icehouse is as snug as an old sweatshirt. That alone makes it a welcome respite before being dazzled by carnival lights. But it also dishes out solid comfort food like pizza, tacos, and loaded fries. Yes, that’s the type of bar food one craves with a pint. The Dakota does it one better, mixing shishito peppers with kielbasa and spooning Wagyu chili on a Frito pie.

Dignowity Meats
This is Texas, dagnabbit, and we like our burnt ends. Perhaps that’s why this East Side shack throws them in any dish imaginable. The beefy bits crown a baked potato loaded with sharp mac ‘n’ cheese and anchor a melt with the unexpected crunch of sliced pear. They festoon corn chips and potato rolls and can be munched alone by purists. That’s probably enough, but we haven’t gotten to the must-try hot chicken.

The Frontier Club
Don’t miss a minute of the action by grabbing a bite at this on-site restaurant, conveniently located in the Hall of Fame breezeway. Though it is open to the public for weekday lunch, spring for a membership to enjoy the raucous honky-tonk nights. It’s $100 and benefits the Junior Livestock Auction and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Scholarship Fund. Three real ones can be invited as guests.

The Magpie
The little bistro that could paused in January for a refresh, so there’s no word yet on what menu chef Jŭngsūk “Sue” Kim has dreamed up for its return. Past hits have included luscious lamb ragu, chili-flecked pork belly, and airy milk bread. Expect the same mix of European and Asian flavors served during the February bookings — paired with one of the city’s most captivating wine lists.

Surtierra Cantina
There’s not much information available about this new food court attraction. But it will serve Surtierra Tequila, the San Antonio Rodeo’s official libation. That’s good enough.

Sweet Yams
Bring a little balance to your rodeo diet by lunching at this health-minded spot. From veggie po’boys to blackened salmon, the menu has plenty of giddy up — though it is hard to resist the gooey three-cheese mac. Even that is gluten-free, and the sides are both decadent and vegan. A little lightness is a blessing before a spin on the Zipper.

Tucker’s Kozy Korner
Nudie suits, patchwork poly shirts, and fuchsia Rocky Mountain jeans. This East Side staple has probably seen it all. Trapped in midcentury amber and with an impeccably curated jukebox, it’s the perfect time warp hangout before seeing a nostalgia act like Bret Michaels or Ronnie Milsap. Pan-Asian treats like brisket eggrolls, pork dumplings, and bún bowls are relatively new but take nothing away from the retro glamor.

Van de Wall Fajita Corral
Hundreds of volunteers dish out tons of steak, chicken, and brisket tacos at this long-running attraction adjacent to the food court, all in service of the San Antonio Livestock Exposition Inc. Scholarship Fund. Plus, there's ribs! Yes, Belinda Carlisle, heaven is a place on earth.

Santa Diabla San Antonio

6 things to know about San Antonio food right now: Wicked cafe and cantina debuts near Pearl


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 devilish concept has hopped into the former home of the short-lived Cervecería Chapultepec. Santa Diabla, the first Texas restaurant from Mexico-based hospitality group Grupo Orraca Restauranteros, debuted January 26 at 906 E. Elmira St. The menu traverses both Tex-Mex and interior Mexican cuisine, dishing out favorites like nachos, tuna carnitas, aguachile, and birria flautas.

Stinson Municipal Airport cleared a new restaurant for takeoff on January 25. Owned by Stephanie and Joshua Smith, the Trailblazer Café serves AM classics like breakfast tacos, salads, gourmet burgers, sandwiches, and a dizzying array of beverages. The unique eatery also commits to nourishing the community through its partnership with Ready to Work SA, teaching clients marketable skills that extend past food service.

The continued construction on the St. Mary's strip isn't harshing the vibe of the district's newest occupant. Vibrasflipped the open sign on January 20, reimagining the former space of long-running café Candlelight Coffee at 3011 N. St. Mary's St. The hybrid concept thumps at night as a Latin nightclub illuminated by LED lights and washes of hot pink. The previous night's hangover can be nursed at the same spot with smoked Bourbon lattes from Sad Hrs.

Meanwhile, the race to fill Alamo City with out-of-town franchises continues with the announcement that Utah's Beans & Brews Coffeehouse is eyeing San Antonio as part of a six-state expansion. The release did not specify when or where the locations would crop up, but the deal with Brame Holdings would include 40 outposts split with Austin.

In still more caffeine news, a combo coffeehouse and beer garden is brewing at 11011 Shaenfield Rd. in northwest San Antonio. In addition to the titular beverages, Refuge Coffee + Beer will serve Texas wine and run a food program. However, as of press time the website is still being built with lorem ipsum text and no contact information or social media presence. A countdown clock does promise that the joint will be open by April 1, and permits have been filed with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Details about the latest haunt settling into the booming Southtown neighborhood are also slim. Located in the former Jokesters 22 space at 713 S Alamo St., Blush has thus far offered three concrete clues: it will serve baked goods, brunch, and cocktails. Otherwise, the project flexes an Italianate atmosphere, scoring one post with the White Lotus theme song and another showcasing a pair of Testa di Moro-style planters. No word yet on whether Tanya McQuoid will actively be in danger there.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Shiner Beer crafts new barbecue joint at iconic Texas brewery

Lewis and Clark, Sonny and Cher, SpongeBob and Patrick. Duos float in and out of pop culture at hummingbird speed. But few have quite as much staying power as beer and barbecue. So, it’s only natural that one of Texas’ most iconic breweries would want to break out the smoker.

According to a release, Shiner Beer is untapping a new market with the April 1 grand opening of K. Spoetzl BBQ Co. Housed at the newly expanded Spoetzl Brewery, the eatery will welcome carnivores seven days a week.

Pitmaster Tommy Schuette, the former proprietor of the Shiner Barbeque Co., will lead the charge with the state’s holy trinity of smoked meats, including brisket, sausage, and ribs. Other favorites like pulled pork and chicken will be served alongside a meaty assortment of salads, loaded potatoes, and sandwiches.

Of course, no Texas barbecue joint can get away with skimping on the sides. Potato salad and pinto beans are served throughout the week, but weekend guests get a little extra. Diners can also opt for green beans, coleslaw, creamed corn, and giblet rice from Thursday through Saturday.

In celebration of K. Spoetzl BBQ’s debut, samples will be passed out between 10:30 am-6 pm on April 1. QR codes will also be scattered across the grounds giving visitors a chance to win gift cards, shirts, hats, and more. Diners will also be given a free beer token for every $25 spent at the restaurant that day.

In addition, budding influencers can post a picture of Schuette to social media to get a coupon for 10 percent off. (As a rule, pitmasters do not need a yassify filter.)

After the grand opening celebration, K. Spoetzl BBQ will be open daily. Hours are 10 am-4 pm, so plan accordingly.

Texas rises through the ranks of most innovative states, says new report


The Lone Star State has again taken a step up on an annual report that ranks the most and least innovative states in the country — this time cracking the top 15.

Texas ranked No. 15 in personal finance site WalletHub's 2023’s Most and Least Innovative States ranking. It's a steady improvement for the state, which ranked No. 16 in 2022 and No. 17 in 2021.

The report analyzed the 50 states and the District of Columbia and how each performed across 22 key metrics, including population of STEM professionals, venture capital investment activity, number of technology companies, patents per capita, and more. The data was pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Science Foundation, National Center for Education Statistics, United States Patent and Trademark Office, and other records.

Here's how Texas performed at a glance:

  • No. 18 – for share of STEM professionals
  • No. 16 – for projected STEM job demand by 2030
  • No. 25 – for eighth grade math and science performance
  • No. 21 – for share of science and engineering graduates aged 25 or older
  • No. 13 – for share of technology companies
  • No. 31 – for R&D spending per capita
  • No. 18 – venture capital funding per capita

For the 11th year, Texas won Site Selection Magazine's Governor's Cup, the governor's office announced earlier this year. The award, which Texas has won 19 times since its inception in 1978, recognizes the nation’s top-performing state for job-creating business relocations and expansions.

"Texas truly is America’s economic engine, and we stand apart as a model for the nation. When choosing where to relocate or expand their businesses, more and more innovative industry leaders find themselves at home in our state," Governor Greg Abbott says in a news release about the award.

"I congratulate the exceptional economic development teams at the local, regional, and state level who have worked so diligently to attract and retain these growing businesses and the jobs they create in diverse communities across this great state," he continues.

The most innovative states included the District of Columbia, which ranked at No. 1, followed by Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, and California, respectively. The least innovative state was identified as Mississippi, followed by Louisiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Arkansas, respectively.

Source: WalletHub

Access to quality education is a significant contributor to each state's innovation economy, the experts say in the report.

"Investing in education, particularly K-12 but also at the University level, it is no accident that innovative ecosystems develop in states with strong education systems and research universities," says David L. Deeds, professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. "These institutions build strong capable modern workforces that attract capital, and jobs and create innovations. The benefits do not happen overnight, in fact, they take years if not decades, but consider what The UC’s or the University of Texas at Austin have meant for the development of premier innovative ecosystems."

San Antonio reels in big names for South Side poetry festival


From Dr. Carmen Tafolla's This River Here to Miss Congeniality, San Antonio has long provided fodder for poets and moviemakers alike. Now, the two art forms are coming together during a spectacular cultural event at the Mission Marquee Plaza.

The City of San Antonio World Heritage Office will once again salute rhythm and rhyme during Viva Poesía: Palabras, Música, y Cultura on April 1, 6-10 pm. The annual bash, made possible in part by the City's Department of Arts and Culture, kicks off National Poetry Month by honoring the artistic influence of local poets.

In honor of the Mission Drive-In's 75th anniversary, this year's theme will be "For Reels! A Poetic Tribute to the Movies." Guests can hear original works from a star-studded lineup, including San Antonio's past Poet Laureates Tafolla, Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson, Jenny Brown, and Dr. Octavio Quintanilla. Local spoken word artists Eddie Vega, Rooster Martinez, Arrie Porter, Isabel Brown, and Ollie McCrary will also perform pieces created especially for the event, celebrating the magic and nostalgia of films.

During the event, Department of Arts and Culture Director, Krystal Jones, will introduce San Antonio's new Poet Laureate, Nephtali De León, to San Antonio's literati. Emceed by Anthony "The Poet" Flores, Viva Poesía will also feature live performances by local comedians, the Wonder Theatre, the San Antonio Philharmonic Brass Ensemble, Como Las Movies, and more.

The family friendly event will also offer engaging activities for the younger set, like make-and-take art activities and interactive workshops led by local artists and poets. Plus, pop-up vendors will serve grub and drinks throughout the evening.

The event is free and open to the public, with free on-site parking. More info about Mission Marquee Plaza and its jam-packed 2023 season can be found online.

"Vast artistry, rich culture, and vibrant traditions make San Antonio a city filled with diverse creativity," said District 3 Councilwoman Phyllis Viagran via a release." The entire family is invited to experience the sights, sounds, and festivities of Viva Poesía…."