Burger Boy/Facebook

University of Texas students in San Antonio have lots of choices to make when it comes to where to eat. Sometimes, a burger is all that's needed to narrow things down.

Burger Boy, a growing San Antonio chain that melds the simplicity of a fast food chain with the satisfaction of supporting a local business, announced on November 3 that it is opening its ninth location, this time on UTSA Boulevard near its intersection with Interstate 10.

A press release established that this is a "long-awaited and highly requested" addition to the Burger Boy lineup.

Poised across from Costco and next to Dutch Bros Coffee, this could be a routine checkpoint for students grocery shopping with mom's membership card. The release does not mention a drive-thru, but it is safe to assume it will have one, like every other location.

San Antonians likely need no introduction to the chain, which has amassed more than 17,000 Google reviews across its six existing locations — almost all very favorable. In addition to its can't-go-wrong, straightforward American menu of sandwiches, fries, and shakes, the chain has a reputation for especially friendly service.

Among the numerous awards the chain boasts on its website is a designation in 2017 by Business Insider as the third-best burger joint in America. Austin's Hopdoddy Burger Bar, which has two San Antonio locations, made No. 1 on the list.

According to the release, there are two Burger Boy locations coming before the spot at 5622 UTSA Blvd.: first across from the South Park Mall, and another on the Far West Side. The arrival of the former may soothe some San Antonians in the wake of TJ's Hamburgers' closure, about two miles away.

All three forthcoming locations so far are expected to open in 2024.

Courtesy UTSA

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.

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.

Courtesy photo

UT San Antonio co-hosts centennial celebration for renowned Mexican cuisine expert Diana Kennedy

Diana Kennedy

A historic Austin restaurant is teaming up with the University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections to host a memorable fundraising party for his dear friend and renowned Mexican cuisine expert, the late Diana Kennedy.

Taking place at Fonda San Miguel on Sunday, March 5 — just two days after what would have been Kennedy's 100th birthday — the special event will benefit the Diana Kennedy Cookbook Endowment, which will ensure items from this priceless collection are preserved and available for future generations of students, researchers, and chefs.

A respected world-famous authority of Mexican food, Kennedy spent most of her life traveling to every region of Mexico meeting people, learning cooking techniques, visiting markets, and studying all foods native to Mexico. She dedicated her life to preserving and promoting every aspect of Mexican cuisine and sharing her vast culinary knowledge with others.

Kennedy was close friends of Fonda San Miguel owner, Tom Gilliland, and the restaurant’s co-founder and executive chef, the late Miguel Ravago. She passed away last summer at the age of 99 on July 24, 2022.

“Many recipes at Fonda San Miguel are inspired by our dear friend Diana Kennedy," says Gilliland in a release. "Our co-chefs Blanca Zesati and Carlos Monroy, constantly pay tribute to her by offering special menu items taken from the nine cookbooks she authored. Yet, what many people may not know is that during her life’s travels to every region of Mexico, Diana also accumulated her own collection of 600 cookbooks, including eleven, rare Mexican cookbooks dating back to the mid-nineteenth century.”

Tickets for the event are $45 per person and include a welcome cocktail and appetizers, as well as the chance to hear from Kennedy's close associates and friends. Guests will also have the opportunity to view a variety of items from the author's personal collection, including research papers and correspondence, in addition to her cookbooks. The collection is part of the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Special Collections renowned Mexican Cookbook Collection, which is the largest in the nation.

The event will take place from 4 to 6 pm on Sunday, March 5, and tickets are available under 'Reservations' at fondasanmiguel.com.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

New holiday pop-up shop tops this week's 5 hottest San Antonio headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From a holiday pop-up shop to twinkling Hill Country towns, here are the five most-read stories over the past seven days.

1. Holiday pop-up store lights up with 3 San Antonio makers. For San Antonians looking to shop small this holiday season — while still finding unique gifts — a new type of retail store downtown offers both. The Holidays on Houston Street Pop-up is a retail store that sells products from local small businesses and artisans, who run the shop themselves.

2. This is the average holiday shopping budget for a San Antonio household. Santa and his elves get busier with every passing year, but sometimes even Kris Kringle has to use his black card to get the job done. And according to a new study by Wallethub, Santa's gonna be working overtime to fulfill the orders for residents of San Antonio and New Braunfels this holiday season.

3. 'The twinkliest town in Texas' and 6 other Hill Country locales become Christmas wonderlands. Throughout December, the Hill Country rolls out the twinkle lights and garlands to give city slickers some Christmas razzle-dazzle. Unpack a cozy sweater, cue a playlist, and fire up the sleigh.

4. What’s brewing in San Antonio: Vista Brewing and Growler Exchange launch new locations.Here's our latest roundup of everything that's brewing in San Antonio, including a second Growler Exchange and a new home for Vista Brewing San Antonio.

5. Hill Country's famous Salt Lick BBQ smokes out new location in Fredericksburg. A storied Central Texas barbecue joint is heading for the hills. Driftwood institution the Salt Lick BBQ is set to open a new outpost in Fredericksburg along the Highway 290 Wine Trail.

San Antonio sparkles and shines as No. 5 most festive city in the U.S. for 2023

on the nice list

San Antonio homes, businesses, and special events that go all out to deck their halls for the holidays have not gone unnoticed. San Antonio has been named No. 5 most festive city in the United States.

A new study by home services provider Thumbtack puts San Antonio at the top of the nice list this year. The report compiled data from millions of Christmas-related home projects across all 50 states between October 2022 to November 2023 to reveal their list of the most festive cities in the nation.

San Antonio is on the rise, after the city previously ranked No. 10 in the 2022 report. And while Thumbtack specifically focuses on home holiday projects, San Antonio residents certainly can glean inspiration from the city's many festive displays, and several surrounding Hill Country winter wonderlands.

Texas cities dominated the top 10, with Austin (No. 1), Dallas-Fort Worth (No. 2), and Houston (No. 3) ranking just ahead of San Antonio to claim the top three most festive U.S. cities. Rounding out the top five is Seattle, Washington in the No. 4 spot.

The average cost to hire a holiday lighting specialist, Thumbtack says, is between $168-$300, with other requests like wrapping outdoor trees tacking on an additional cost. If San Antonians are looking to outsource their exterior home decorating to a specialist, they're already past the peak time to hire one, Thumbtack says. Americans most frequently hang their holiday lights and Christmas decorations during the Thanksgiving weekend, according to the report.

"Whether you’re looking to make your home a brightly lit winter wonderland or simply looking to add a few festive touches to your home’s exterior — sprucing up your home’s exterior with lights is an exciting part of getting into the holiday spirit," said Thumbtack design expert Morgan Olsen in the report. "Hiring a holiday lighting specialist can help you avoid stress (and unwanted injuries) so you can focus on enjoying the season."

Thumbtack's top 10 most festive cities in the U.S. for 2023 are:

  • No. 1 – Austin, Texas
  • No. 2 – Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • No. 3 – Houston, Texas
  • No. 4 – Seattle, Washington
  • No. 5 – San Antonio, Texas
  • No. 6 – Atlanta, Georgia
  • No. 7 – Phoenix, Arizona
  • No. 8 – Tampa, Florida
  • No. 9 – Denver, Colorado
  • No. 10 – Orlando, Florida

Director Todd Haynes tackles inappropriate relationships in May December

Movie Review

Director Todd Haynes has pushed buttons throughout his career, starting with his acclaimed short film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which used Barbie dolls to illustrate the late singer’s anorexia battle. He’s at it again with his latest, May December, which tackles the idea of highly inappropriate relationships through a lens that itself has the potential to be upsetting.

Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), an acclaimed actress, has traveled to Savannah, Georgia to shadow Gracie (Julianne Moore) in preparation for a movie in which Elizabeth will play Gracie. That movie tackles the beginnings of Gracie’s relationship with Joe (Charles Melton), when he was a 13-year-old seventh grader and she was a 36-year-old pet shop worker. The shocking tryst resulted in much controversy, a child, and a jail stint for Gracie, but the couple professed their love for each other through it all.

Twenty years later, they’re still together, having added two more kids to their family, children who happen to be the same age as Gracie’s grandkids from her previous relationship. Elizabeth wants to experience it all, bouncing from person to person to try to understand exactly who Gracie is and was. Striving for authenticity in her performance, however, soon takes her down a Method acting rabbit hole.

Directed by Haynes from a script by Samy Burch, and loosely based on the story of teacher Mary Kay Letourneau and her 12-year-old student, Vili Fualaau, the film treats Gracie and Joe’s relationship in a relatively straightforward manner. It details a benign life in which they have the love of their kids and some neighbors, even if they occasionally get a box full of poop on their doorstep.

It’s the arrival of Elizabeth that sends things spiraling, as her various conversations trigger responses from both Gracie and Joe that they seem not to expect. Haynes alternates between being serious and being campy, with not enough of each for either for them to seem to be the goal. The score gives off a less-than-serious vibe, and an early scene in which a mundane thing is treated as if it were happening in a soap opera points in the campy direction, but those type of moments are few and far between.

In casting Portman as the obsessive actor, Haynes may have been trying to offer up echoes of her Oscar-winning role in Black Swan. It’s no small irony that the person who comes off as the most craven in such a sordid story is the actor who everybody wants to be around, not the woman who became a pariah because she is a sex offender. In that and other ways, Haynes upends expectations, keeping the film interesting even through its slower moments.

Portman and Moore are ideal for their respective roles, Portman because she has a knack for portraying confidence and guile, and Moore due to her ability to manipulate at will. Melton, best known for playing Reggie on Riverdale, pales in comparison due to his less showy role, but he complements the story well. Special notice goes to Elizabeth Yu as Gracie and Joe’s daughter Mary, who shines in her limited scenes.

The story of May December contains elements that will creep certain viewers out, whether it’s the subject matter itself or the performances of the two great lead actors. Haynes has a way of getting under the skin with his storytelling, and this film is yet another great example.


May December is now available on Netflix.

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in May December

Photo by François Duhamel / Courtesy of Netflix

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in May December.