Photo by TXTroublemaker

When Steve Mahoney first relaunched Francis Bogside and sibling wine bar, Anne’s, in the former home of Smoke BBQ, rumors circulated on how he would use the expansive upstairs space. Now, San Antonio has its answer. In a surprise move, the veteran bar owner debuted his latest venture — honky-tonk concept Blayne’s — on September 22.

The name pays homage to the late Blayne Tucker, the former co-owner of the Mix and managing partner of Floore’s Country Store. A tireless advocate for the city’s musical scene, he helped usher in the Save Our Stages Act, assisting hundreds of venues to stay afloat nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[Blayne’s] impact in San Antonio is nothing short of extraordinary,” said Mahoney via a release. “We hope to continue his efforts and support live music in the city.”

Fittingly, music will be in the air at Blayne’s, starting with The Babylonz and DJ Guero Vaquero from 5 pm to 2 am on the soft opening night. A large dance floor, pool tables, and bar games complete the honky-tonk vibe.

Like many of Mahoney’s bars, Blayne’s has a solid food program. The Tex-Mex fusion menu features eclectic pub grub like red curry short rib mini tacos, southwest eggrolls, street corn bites, smoked barbacoa pizza, and customizable nachos. The initial press announcement didn’t deeply discuss the drink options but promised margaritas, house cocktails, and beer.

Though no official announcement has been made, Mahoney has another bar up his sleeve. The Francis Bogside website teases the January 2024 opening of Robert’s, named after Mahoney’s late business partner, Robert Darilek. Details, including the location, are slim, but the landing page touts “feature club-style seating, an extensive whiskey list, and a cigar menu.”

Following the September 22 sneak peek, Blayne’s will be open Wednesday through Saturday, 5 pm to 2 am.

Blayne's San Antonio

Photo by TXTroublemaker

Blayne's food menu includes red curry short rib mini tacos.

Photo courtesy of Mando Rayo

Taco expert's podcast crowns the best bean and cheese in San Antonio via 'battle royale'

essential listening

If there is one thing that Texans are guaranteed to be opinionated about, it’s tacos. But few have the fervor of Austin’s Mando Rayo. For almost two decades, he has chronicled the beloved food in obsessive detail, first as a blogger and now as a multimedia storyteller.

Now, through the third season of his Tacos of Texas podcast, he’s exploring the subject like never before.

The 13-episode arc hears from Latino voices across the state, including the Rio Grande Valley, Central Texas, and the Gulf Coast. With new episodes appropriately dropping every Taco Tuesday, the new season gives Rayo a chance to explore a wide variety of angles, from vegan taqueros to the process of archiving food history.

“One of the main reasons I think I’m so driven to engage people in this conversation around taco culture is to get people to know the stories and the people behind that are cooking the food,” shares Rayo. “Yes, it’s important that food taste great, but it’s equally important that people understand where the food comes from, whether it’s migrant workers, to new immigrants, to second generation Mexican chefs.”

Rayo incorporates pop culture into the conversation and more than a little food bit of fun. In one of the highlights of the third season, Rayo teams up with influencer Stephanie Guerra (Puro Pinche), Nydia Huizar and Richard Diaz from BarbacoApparel, and Jaime Macias from Jaime’s Place to determine the victor in a San Antonio Bean and Cheese Battle Royale. (We won't spoil the winner; The episode is out now.)

“If you know anything about San Antonio, you know they love their bean and cheese tacos. And I love how the San Antonio community comes together around something that is so unpretentious yet deep rooted in the culture,” explains Rayo of the idea.

Rayo is particularly interested in the multifold identities of taco culture. A late episode does a deep dive into Encuentro, an initiative of the Texas Indigenous Food Project exploring the Native American roots of Texas Mexican food. Rayo spends two installments tracing the foodways of Black Seminoles and Mexicans.

“I believe it’s important to know and understand the intersectionalities of people, whether it’s Mexicans, Indigenous, or Blacks, not only in Texas but in Mexico too,” says Rayo. “I think telling these kinds of stories and going deep into the storytelling is important to help people understand where we come from and where we’ve been."

The podcast strikes the same balance, making complex subjects easily digestible (no pun intended). Listen to it online at KUT and KUTX Studios — preferably while driving to a taqueria.

The Dooryard/ Facebook

Craft beer closures, a mystery sneaker bar, and taco troubles wrap 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 weekly roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

America's waning interest in craft beer has claimed another local casualty. Following three years in business, Northside self-serve taproom The Dooryard plans to shutter. In a social media statement, the owners painted the closure as a hiatus, promising an eventual return to the San Antonio scene. After a karaoke party and steak night, the team will bow out on August 26.

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission filings reveal an intriguing new concept. According to records, a concept called Kicking It has applied for a mixed beverage permit at a former Mattress Firm location at 842 NW Loop 410 #103. The ownership records link it with the Austin sneaker shop of the same name, a lifestyle brand known for Nikes, not Negronis.

Tex-Mex stapleBlanco Café is moving out of its longtime home at 419 N. Saint Mary's St., but it won't be out of the downtown scene for long. According to Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation records, the spot is renovating a space in the Dalkowitz Dry Goods Building at 201 W Commerce St. #105. The new café will dish out enchiladas by February 2024, barring any construction delays.

Broadway Veracruzian restaurant Fonda Nostra Bistró appears to have shuttered. The San Antonio Current first noticed that the restaurant had updated its Facebook page status to "permanently closed" in early August. It's unclear whether the former food truck will continue operating in a scaled-back capacity. No statement has been posted on social media, and CultureMap could not reach the owners via phone.

Other news and notes

The notable gastronomes at Real Estate Witch caused a citywide eye-roll on August 18 by ranking Austin as the best taco city in America. Furthering the indignity, the site ranked San Antonio as a paltry No. 4. To determine the results, the study crunched numbers from Yelp, Google Trends, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, assessing metrics such as average star ratings, the cost of making tacos once a week, and the "average price of an assortment of taco foods." Notably absent was any discussion about taste or quality, but the baby-rich diet of witches is hardly mainstream.

European Dumplings Cafe/ Facebook

Where to eat this semester in San Antonio: 7 new college-friendly restaurants

Dining Hall

Years ago, college dining used to be much simpler. Outfit a kid with a microwave and an electric kettle, and they could study into the night, noshing pizza rolls, chicken nuggets, and Cup Noodles. Then, Padma Lakshmi done messed it up.

Weaned on a regular diet of food television and TikToks — not to mention their parents' increasingly international tastes — today's generation isn't so satisfied stirring powdered blends in tepid water. The young palate is increasingly demanding, even if university life still dictates fast and cheap food.

For University of Texas at San Antonio students, add one more hurdle to cross. The Northwest Side may be the culinary hinterlands, but no one wants to brave traffic for a quick weekday meal.

Fortunately, a fresh pack of restaurants has graduated magna cum laude in these new economics. When it's midterms, undergrads will be glad to have a meal plan.

European Dumplings Café
College is an opportunity to expand horizons, something this Ukranian café has been doing since it was a food truck. Now settled in Castle Hills, it still impresses with Eastern European classics such as empanada-like chebureki and fluffy pierogi stuffed with mashed potatoes and onions.

Kabayan Kusina
This Filipino gem's menu goes well beyond lumpia. Wake up with to-silog (cured pork served with a fried egg and garlic fried rice), score a bargain with one of the lunch specials, or just go for dessert. Halo-halo is a classic study break for a reason. And the tiny, semi-hidden store front is sure to make a student look cool when saying, offhandedly, "I know a place."

McIntyres North Star
The second San Antonio location of a popular Houston sports bar has a sophisticated drink menu of classic cocktails and 14-year Scotch. However, collegians may still reach for the White Claw. Whatever's in that glass (or can), it's an essential place to hang out during Roadrunners game day.

Mr. Ramen
One can't expect students to give up their ramen habit entirely. At least this newcomer offers tonkatsu and vegetable broths and an array of toppings that are not freeze-dried. Noodle lovers will also appreciate Korean japchae loaded with bulgogi and udon soup brightened by kimchi.

Palomar Comida & Cantina
True, this colorful Northside eatery doesn't break any barriers, but comfort food is an undeniable anchor of the college diet. Students should schedule a visit during the daily happy hour, generously held from 2-6 pm and 9-10 pm. Nothing on the special menu is over $10, including warm weather essential mangonada flights.

Texas Dog Co.
Just ask Elle Woods. College is more fun if you have a pet. But even students not yet ready to commit to a furry companion will enjoy blowing off steam at this waggish bar. Plus, the joint is home to El Mitote, a food trailer dishing out affordable ceviche, mini tacos, and quesabirria.

Wok N' Fries
Located within earshot of campus, this food truck specializes in fries topped with everything from bacon and onion rings to chicken, mushrooms, and alfredo. While the calorie-dense piles and huge portions may not win Michelle Obama's admiration, finals are no time to fret about one meal.

European Dumplings Cafe San Antonio

Expand the college palate at European Dumplings Cafe.

Ceviche 210/ Facebook

6 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Wave of restaurant closures rocks city


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

In what felt like the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones, several food and beverage concepts called it quits this week. The bloodletting began on July 24; Ceviche 210took to Facebook to share it had ended its 10-year run. The popular seafood joint didn't offer a reason for the sudden move but thanked its customer for "support, loyalty, and love."

On the same day, Northeast barbecue and beer joint Windmill Ice House posted that it was closed until further notice. Again, management did not explain the reasoning, instead writing a glib "It's been real, San Antonio. Stay tuned for updates."

Then, vibrant bar Chismosas Cantina y Comida announced its impending closure on July 25. The concept reposted a message from owner Danielle Braman, explaining that she was "happy to move forward in this journey." Though catering will occasionally be on the menu, the weekend of July 29 will be the brick-and-mortar's last.

Take a deep breath; light a candle. On July 26, the New Braunfels location of Big Hopsannounced it, too, had shuttered. The news wasn't altogether surprising. The beer bar held a fundraiser in June as a last-ditch effort to remain open.

More bad news from this week: On July 23, lauded Chinese restaurants Sichuan House shuttered after vandals stripped copper from its building. In a social media statement, the team said, "It is so disheartening that people make such selfish decisions at the expense of so many others." Thankfully, the closing is only temporary until the power is restored.

Need some cheeriness to even out the gloom? It looks like Gonzales barbecue joint Fire City Grill is moving to San Antonio. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission filings indicate that a location at 4419 E Evans Rd #109 is in the works. The original outpost does not look to be in danger of closure — it reopened on July 20 after undergoing a few updates.

Bubby's Jewish Soul Food/ Facebook

7 things to know about San Antonio food right now: Beloved Jewish deli calls it quits


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

One of San Antonio's few spots for Jewish cuisine will "power down [its] ovens on July 23". Via social media, Bubby's Jewish Soul Foodannounced its sudden shutter, stating the move "will make way for another innovator to also realize their dream of offering you next-level Jew-foods." Married owners Jason and Charlie Nuttall-Fiskeopened the Northwest Military Highway spot in November 2021, wowing guests with New York-style deli offerings and baked goods. The team did not elaborate on why they chose to close the doors.

In other closing news, a local plant-based trailblazer is also hanging up the hat. In a heartfelt Instagram post, Rooted Vegan Cuisine announced July 21 would be its last day of business. "Closing this chapter hurts," owners Naomi and Mike Oyegoke wrote. "The love we poured into creating and building RVC was immense. The love poured into RVC from the community was equally so." While this chapter of the business has closed, Rooted did offer some hope for the future, stating the brand would continue to live on in some form.

West Side Brewery Vista Brewing is taking a break. In an Instagram post, the business said it is shuttering its Warehouse 5 space immediately to prepare for a move to an unnamed new location. The outfit played it coy on the details but did remind fans that its beers were still available at several local haunts, including Carriqui, Reese Bros BBQ, Double Standard, and Dog & Pony.

San Antonio Mexican staple El Mirasol is heading to Boerne to open its third area location. The restaurant took to Facebook to offer a sneak peek of the new digs, a contemporary steel structure between Ralph Fair Road and Fair Oaks Parkway in the Napa Oaks subdivision. There's no word yet on the opening date, but the group shared it was currently hiring.

Popular pupuseria El Buen Paladar has leaped from food truck to brick-and-mortar. The Central American restaurant cut the ribbon at 15082 Potranco Rd. #101 on July 13, serving a wide-ranging menu focused on antojitos and breakfast. Within those categories, guests will find a primer on Latin American cuisine ranging from Salvadorean pan con pollo and Nicaraguan chancho asado to Honduran baleadas and Mexican gorditas. The hours are 6:30 am-4:30 pm Sunday through Thursday, with extended hours until 7 pm on Friday and Saturday.

Brooks will soon be scoring a location of Utah-based cookie franchise (and Dirty Dougharchenemy) Crumbl. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation filings indicate that construction of the new site will begin in August and wrap up in early October. Although the San Antonio area has several locations, this will be the brand's first presence on the South Side and only the second shop inside the loop.

Other news and notes

One of River City's most unique food festivals is back. Organizers have divulged details on the second annual Adobo Throwdown Cooking Competition and Food Expo, held August 5-6 at the Schertz Civic Center. The event celebrated Filipino cuisine through various activations, including the centerpiece challenge. This year's participating chefs include Angelica Guzman of Kain Na - Filipino Cuisine, David Ritualo of Rock-N-Rolls TX, Dan Castro of EverSoul Culinary, Belle Stoker of Patriot Grill, David Gamez of Sari-Sari Supper Club, and Arbie Fruto of Mahal's Kitchen.

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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.