Photo curtesty of Fogo de Chao

Well, here's a twist: Fogo de Chão, the churrascuria-style restaurant concept from Brazil known for its dedication to meat, is expanding its menu in an unprecedented new direction: They're adding tofu.

Effective immediately, the restaurant will offer new plant-based and nutrient-dense dishes, alongside an enhanced Bar Fogo beverage list that has new non-alcoholic craft cocktails made with low-proof spirits (less than 0.5 percent alcohol).

Fogo CEO Barry McGowan says in a release that they're responding to demand from their younger, more health-conscious customers.

"Our young and dynamic guests consider themselves food explorers who seek new culinary discoveries with each visit,” McGowan says. “For nearly 45 years we’ve had nutrient-dense and plant-forward dining options for every occasion and dietary tribe throughour Market Table. With the rollout of our new dining choices and clean cocktails, we continue to offer our guests the variety and discoveries they crave while doing it in a wholesome and flavorful way.”

The Market Table is their famed salad bar, which has sated many a vegetarian diner or else those just not up for the whole skewered meat thing that is a trademark of Fogo and other churrascuria-style places.

Two new plant-based innovations will join Fogo's existing Vegetarian and Pescatarian dishes such as the Cauliflower Steak, and will be available on the main dining menu available for lunch, brunch, and dinner as an alternative to the Full Churrasco Experience, as follows:

  • Seared Tofu with Miso Black Bean Pasta - Chimichurri-marinated tofu served atop black bean pasta sautéed with green onion, Napa cabbage, pickled onions and carrot ginger-miso dressing. Vegan and gluten-free.
  • Roasted Power Vegetable Bowl - Roasted eggplant, marinated mushrooms, roasted zucchini, asparagus, and baby peppers served with chimichurri spinach rice. Vegan and gluten-free.

togo power bowlRoasted Power Vegetable Bowl at Fogo de Chao.Photo courtesy of Fogo de Chao

They're also rolling out new dishes on the Market Table which for the past 45 years has showcased nutrient-dense and flavorful choices including seasonal salads, micro greens, natural and plant-based proteins, imported charcuterie, and more.

New items on the Market Table are as follows:

  • Spring Hummus - Fresh hummus blended with herbs, roasted garlic and citrus, topped with radish, fresh mint, edamame, and olive oil.
  • Baby Kale & Mango Salad - Fresh baby kale, Napa cabbage, red radish and mango, tossed in a lime honey dressing.
  • Miso Black Bean Pasta - Gluten-free black bean pasta tossed with green onion, Napa cabbage, pickled onions and carrot ginger-miso dressing.
  • Apple Manchego Salad - Granny Smith apples and Manchego cheese tossed with honey, cracked pepper and black mission figs.
  • Power Greens - A seasonal mix of vitamin-rich greens, fresh herbs and micro-shoots

The Bar
The Bar Fogo menu now features five new cocktails, including three made with Clean Co’s non-alcoholic spirits with less than 0.5% alcohol, as follows:

  • Yellowbird - Desolas Mezcal, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, Cointreau, La Marca Prosecco
  • Espresso Martini - Diplomatico Reserva Rum, Caffe Borghetti and Licor 43
  • Clean Cosmo - CleanCo V (Vodka) Apple, Cranberry, Fresh Lemon
  • CleanR Sour - CleanCo R (Rum), Passionfruit, Pineapple, Aquafaba, Bitters
  • Clean Cucumber Martini - CleanCo V (Vodka) Apple, Cucumber, Basil, Lemon Twist

Founded in southern Brazil in 1979, Fogo has seven other locations across Texas: Addison, Uptown Dallas, Plano, Friendswood, Houston, Austin, and The Woodlands.

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.

Photo courtesy of The CO-OP SA.

New food truck park and food hall revs up in Northeast San Antonio


When StreetFare SA unexpectedly shuttered in November 2022, many local food trucks were left without a place to park. Stephen Paprocki, the owner of The CO-OP SA, saw an opportunity to build community.

The local chef quickly sprung to action to invite the displaced businesses to operate at the Northeast Side culinary incubator, a collection of warehouses at Wurzbach Parkway and Crosswinds Way. To combat San Antonio's often harsh heat, he converted the former home of Islla St. Brewing into The Club House, a family friendly space with plentiful seating and games.

"I read about StreetFare closing in the paper and felt really bad for all those businesses," explains Paproki via a release. "My wife and business partner, Elizabeth Bolger Paprocki, suggested I reach out to them. I've been wanting to do something with the former microbrewery space we had on property, so I thought, hey, let's make something of this."

The food truck lineup offers diverse options for both omnivores and vegans. The current offerings include Bob & Timmys on Wheels (grilled pizzas and salads); Go Vegan San Antonio (plant-based eats), Crispy (fried chicken), Sauce's Southern Kitchen (Cajun and Creole cuisine), Malongdo Thai Food, Malik's Phillys Phamous Cheesesteaks, and Lumpia Hut Express (Filipino cuisine).

"Stephen really saved our lives!" says Chelsea Sanchez, co-owner of Bob & Timmys on Wheels, in the release. "It really means a lot to us that he came to our rescue, and we're very excited about our new home on the northside at The CO-OP."

To add to the fun, Brian Conaway of Powered By Plants, a maker of hemp-infused soft drinks and nonalcoholic spirits, decided to get in on the action with weekend bar pop-ups. The Margarita-style mocktails are made plain or with a choice of CBD tequila, rum, or gin.

Locals can visit The Club House Wednesday through Sunday, noon-8 pm. Still, they should check each truck's social media accounts for individual hours. The zero-proof bar runs Friday and Saturday, 5-8 pm.

Photo courtesy of Earth Burger

Pioneering San Antonio vegan fast-food chain poised for national expansion

Down to Earth

Despite the seeming uniformity of fast food, tides of public opinion about it are constantly changing. From the initial innovation, to commodification, to general mistrust, ironic obsession, and a genuine desire to enjoy something simple and ubiquitous, vegans have mostly been watching from the sidelines.

Earth Burger, the small San Antonio restaurant chain founded in 2014 that claims to have been the United States’ “first-ever plant-based fast food restaurant,” has placed a bid on the greater fast-food economy with a national expansion. The burger joint will move through the franchising process with help from Sinelli Concepts International, a Dallas group which operates and shares a founder with Which Wich Superior Sandwiches.

Sinelli Concepts and its investee Earth Burger know the market is there for franchises after receiving “hundreds of inquiries” from individuals and companies, many of whom have demonstrated experience in restaurants. A launch party on November 10 in San Antonio will invite others interested in franchising to gather information and get to know the business, from the food to the team. Attendees can also win prizes, from free Earth Burger for a year, to a full franchising fee ($30,000).

“Sinelli Concepts is proud to partner with a Texas-based brand that takes pride in offering customers accessible plant-based options,“ said founder Jeff Sinelli in a press release. “We’ve seen a trajectory of demand for plant-based food and more sustainable options. The future of fast food is here, and we know plant-based lovers and novices alike will enjoy Earth Burger’s flavorful offerings.”

The partnership initiated a complete rebranding, including unspecified changes to the menu, but the idea remains the same. The menu is meant to be very convenient — initially for co-founder Mike Behrend and his vegan collaborators’ kids — while remaining environmentally sustainable. And because Behrend, who used to be known for his chicken-fried steak, knows firsthand that none of this is useful if it doesn’t taste good, the restaurant places a heavy emphasis on flavor.

“As a Texan, I can strongly confirm meat is a central part of Texas food culture – but believe me when I tell you these burgers are just as tasty,” said Behrend in the release. “You’re not settling for an average bland fast food meal at Earth Burger. Our completely meatless menu features bold recipes and sauces we create in-house, bringing out the best flavor in our dishes. We want to provide a really delicious meal that just happens to be plant-based.”

Earth Burger makes it sustainability choices public on its website, with a list of sustainable products that it prefers to use when supply is available, including recycled and biodegradable materials. It also donates “a portion of sales from select menu items” to its Peach on Earth Project, according to a press release, although information about this foundation does not seem to be publicly accessible.

Space at the franchising event is limited. RSVP at earthburger.com, and have some info on hand to fill out the form.

Courtesy of Project Pollo

San Antonio's popular vegan fast-food chain announces 15th location

Tastes like Pollo

Project Pollo is really spreading its wings: The popular plant-based chicken chain announced its 15th location in Texas, coming soon to 9390 Huebner St. in San Antonio.

Opening in August, the medical district spot will be the sixth San Antonio location for the growing chain, which celebrates its two-year anniversary this fall.

A ribbon cutting on August 18 will commemorate the official opening with the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, while a grand opening will take place on August 20. The lucky first 50 guests will win gift cards granting free Project Pollo for a whole year.

Can't wait that long? A soft opening will commence at the new location on August 9, showcasing the new full menu, including the famous crispy, plant-based "chickn" sandwiches, popcorn chikn, loaded fries, oat-based macaroni and cheese, creamy milkshakes, and much more.

Named one of the top 15 vegan fast-food chains in the U.S. by VegNews, Project Pollo is the brainchild of Lucas Bradbury, who appeared on Shark Tank earlier this year.

The company has been ruffling industry feathers with its unprecedented growth since it first launched, and is no doubt part of the reason San Antonio made a recent list of the top 20 vegan cities in the U.S.

With a combination of plant-based affordability, convenience, and sustainability, the company markets itself as one that "gives a cluck," with a motto of people over profits (though with 12 locations already, they seem to be doing just fine on the latter, too).

Photo courtesy of Cinnaholic

7 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Gourmet cinnamon roll shop rises in Alamo Ranch

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
Berkley, California-based chain Cinnaholic is rolling out a second Alamo City location on the Northwest Side. Via a newly created Facebook page, the bakery franchise announced it was setting up shop at 5519 W. Loop 1604 N. #104 in the Alamo Ranch shopping center. Known for its vegan, made-to-order treats — and for impressing investor Robert Herjavec on Shark Tank — Cinnaholic opened its first local operation in 2020 at 812 S. Alamo St. in Southtown.

After more than 32 years in business, one of San Antonio’s essential restaurants is calling it a day. In a lengthy Facebook statement, a rep for Mr. & Mrs. G’s Home Cooking said the East Side staple would serve its last meal on July 30, citing “the impact of COVID 19 and other factors.” The soul food destination will adjust hours to Wednesday through Friday, 11 am-5 pm, and Saturday, 11am-3 pm until the final day. The menu will also be tweaked as stocks dwindle.

Plans for Dave’s Hot Chicken’s San Antonio expansion appear to be warming up. In March, franchisees John Hotchkiss, Jason Hotchkiss, and Paul Gormanshared their plans to bring eight outposts of the buzzy Los Angeles chain to the area but gave scant details. Now, a filing with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation reveals the first Dave’s will hatch at Highway 151 and Hunt Lane. Construction is set to finish by February 2022, according to state records.

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation records also divulge that Phoenix’s Postino Wine Café is eyeing two locations in town. The casual eatery serves a variety of vino-friendly small plates and boards along with bruschetta, soup, salad, and paninis. Guests can clink glasses at both 17627 La Cantera Pkwy in the Rim and 2600 Broadway by spring if the builds go as planned.

Those not yet old enough to indulge in Pinot can run amok at San Antonio’s latest Peter Piper Pizza. On July 18, a monster 12,000-square-foot location opened at 12475 Interstate Highway 10 West at De Zavala Road, according to a release. Operated by franchisee Kirk Robison, the new outpost is the 10th area location for the company.

Other news and notes
Southeast Asian stalwart Thai Dee is emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic. Following a two-year hiatus, the restaurant took to social media to celebrate the reopening of its dining room. Hours are noon-8 pm, Monday through Thursday, and noon-9 pm Friday and Saturday. Those who prefer to eat banana spring rolls in pajamas can still take advantage of delivery and take-out with online ordering noon-7:45 pm.

A global heatwave notwithstanding, restaurant reservation platform OpenTable has announced its list of the nation’s top 100 restaurants for outdoor dining. The list considered views, the overall experience, and the quality of cuisine to compile the rankings. Only one San Antonio eatery made the cut, Pearl hot spot Brasserie Mon Chou Chou.

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3 San Antonio-area chefs named James Beard Award finalists

James Beard Finalists 2023

Three San Antonio-area chefs are in the running for one of the food world’s most prestigious prizes. The James Beard Foundation has selected them as finalists for their annual Restaurant and Chef Awards.

Considered the Oscars of the food world, the awards recognize chefs and other culinary professionals in a wide range of categories ranging from Outstanding Chef to Best New Restaurant. Texas is considered its own region and one person will earn Best Chef: Texas.

The finalists for Best Chef: Texas are:

  • John Russ, Clementine, San Antonio
  • Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland, Burnt Bean Co., Seguin
  • Reyna Duong, Sandwich Hag, Dallas
  • Benchawan Jabthong Painter, Street to Kitchen, Houston
  • Emiliano Marentes, ELEMI, El Paso

Other Texan restaurants and chefs in the running for national awards include:

  • Outstanding Bar: Las Ramblas, Brownsville
  • Outstanding Bakery: Kuluntu Bakery, Dallas
  • Outstanding Bakery: La Casita Bakeshop, Dallas
  • Outstanding Restaurant: Lucia, Dallas
  • Best New Restaurant: Restaurant Beatrice, Dallas
  • Best New Restaurant: Don Artemio Mexican Heritage, Fort Worth
  • Best New Restaurant: Tatemó, Houston
  • Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program: Nancy’s Hustle, Houston

    Notably, all of this year’s finalists for both the national categories and Best Chef: Texas are new. None of them received nominations in 2022.

    The finalists are drawn from a pool of semifinalists that included 10 nominations each for Houston and Dallas, seven for San Antonio, six for Austin, and two for Fort Worth.

    Last year, Texans did well in the awards, with Houston cocktail bar Julep winning Outstanding Bar Program, Austin chef Edgar Rico (Nixta Taqueria) winning Emerging Chef, and Austin chef Iliana de la Vega (El Naranjo) winning the first ever Best Chef: Texas. In addition, two Texans won media awards — Austin chef Jesse Griffiths (Dai Due) for his cookbook, The Hog Book: A Chef’s Guide to Hunting, Butchering and Cooking Wild Pigs and Texas Monthly taco editor Jose Ralat for his Tex-Mexplainer columns.

    The Foundation will reveal its Restaurant and Chef Award winners at an awards ceremony on Monday, June 5, 2023, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Media Award winners will be announced on June 3.

    6 things to know about San Antonio food right now: Stone Oak catches new Latin seafood spot


    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 owners of local mainstay Sabor! Cocina Mexicana have dived into seafood. According to social media posts, Arenas Marisqueria Lounge held its grand opening at 9903 Stone Oak Pkwy #202 on March 16. Led by executive chef Luis Vazquez Sr., the eatery serves Latin coastal favorites such as ceviche, aguachile, poké tostadas, and fish tacos. The atmosphere follows suit with oceanic mood lighting and an imposing octopus mural.

    According to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation records, the popular Chinese eatery Ming's is planning a new thing. Project details filed with the state reveal that a new location is in the works at 10772 Fiesta Texas Dr., Bldg 400 #106in La Cantera Heights. Construction on the 4000-square-foot eatery is set to begin in early April and wrap up in July.

    The race to fill the San Antonio area with chain coffee shops continues with Scooter's Coffee. The Nebraska-based franchise has submitted paperwork with the state for a drive-thru location at 2606 FM 1103 in Cibolo. The brand is best known for its maple waffle sandwiches filled with egg, Cheddar, and "just-enough-spice sausage. Take that last descriptor with a grain of salt. The Midwest is hardly known as a hotbed of bold flavors.

    An Austin-based chain is hoping to make a splash near Sea World. A sixth outpost of Torchy's Tacos debuted March 29 at 602 Hwy 151 #101. Like the other locations, the spot will serve fusion tacos alongside salads, burritos, cocktails, and the brand's signature queso.

    Other news and notes

    Food site Mashed has named local taquería Little Taco Factory its pick for the best taco in the state. According to the write-up, the site factored in "reviews, recommendations, awards, and other forms of recognition" to determine the winners, which must have been a daunting task. Particular kudos were given to the chorizo and egg breakfast taco, evocatively described as "an absolute fiesta in your mouth."

    Need a little liquid courage to conquer a fear of heights? The Tower of the Americas is hosting Wine Fest on April 15 from 2-5 pm. The $50-$90 tickets include tastings from 24 Sonoma Valley wineries paired with light bites. VIP passes add early entry and access to an exclusive lounge.

    Where to find the most iconic — and best — meals in all of Texas

    Hit the Road

    Texans don't need much of a reason to hit the open road. Our state is brimming with natural beauty and charming small towns, but nothing motivates us to fill up the tank like a bonanza of regional foods.

    There are renowned Texas flavors to be found throughout the entire state, from small towns like Round Top to the far west end in El Paso. And with meals ranging from Tex-Mex and barbecue to Frito Pie and kolaches, the Lone Star State is known for some of the most iconic foods in America.

    When you hit the open road to explore (and taste) it all, know that a Hilton Hotel is nearby for a good night's rest. Whether you're traveling with family, friends, or as a couple, the right room is waiting with a warm welcome.

    Hope you're hungry, because here is but a small slice of some of the best.

    Goldee's BBQ, Fort Worth
    Few barbecue joints in Texas can make a name without serving the holy trinity of brisket, sausage, and ribs. Still, the young chefs and pitmasters at this Fort Worth stop one-up the competition with unexpected sides like chicken rice and collard greens and crowd-pleasers like fish and chips.

    Chicken Fried Steak
    Babe's Chicken Dinner House, Carrollton
    All Texans take their chicken fried steak with some degree of seriousness. We dare say this eatery — which originated in Carrollton and has locations all over North Texas — takes it the most seriously of all, with plenty of family-style sides to round out the table.

    La Cocina, McAllen
    Former oil worker Evin Garcia combines tradition and innovation at this McAllen haunt. Enjoy everything from birria tacos dipped in a luscious consommé to an octopus version served with traditional al pastor fixings like onion, cilantro, and grilled pineapple.

    Elotes Fanny, Austin + North Texas
    With locations in Austin, Fort Worth, and Garland, this snack shop mini-chain knows everything about corn. Get it by the cob or in a cup, and make sure to douse it in the fiery homemade Atomic Salsa.

    Fried Chicken
    Dolli's Diner, Nacogdoches
    This diner does just about everything right, but the crowning jewel of the menu is undoubtedly the chicken fried chicken. It's served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and fresh veggies for color and is best enjoyed with funnel cake fries for dessert.

    Frito Pie
    RD's Burger, Cibolo
    This casual stop does its namesake dish with aplomb, but found pure magic in its Frito Pie. It's served with no muss or fuss and occasionally on the insanely delicious burger.

    Slovacek’s, West
    When it comes to kolaches, any bakery in West will serve the real deal. Relative newcomer Slovacek's gets the vote for its dozens of fruit flavors and creative klobasnek (the meaty cousin of kolaches) filled with boudin, pepperoni, or kraut.

    Royer's Round Top Cafe, Round Top
    No trip to Round Top's famous antique fair is complete without a stop at this darling cafe. "Pie Man" Bud Royer makes every visit sweet with pies like buttermilk, pecan, and the multi-fruit Troy's Junk Berry.

    L & J Cafe, El Paso
    This El Paso tradition is by a graveyard, sure, but don't let that deter you from enjoying its queso. The miraculous concoction made with roasted green chile, tomatoes, and onions is served with just-fried tostadas.

    Leal's Tamale Factory, Lubbock
    A Lubbock classic, this mainstay doesn't go for newfangled tamale flavors like sweet potato. Order pork, chicken, or cheese and rediscover the fundamentals.

    Viet-Cajun crawfish boils
    Crawfish & Noodles, Houston
    Who knows what James Beard-nominated chef Trong Nguyen puts in his secret sauce. What we do know is that it's one of the most intensely flavorful experiences in all of Houston.

    Texas knows no bounds when it comes to to where you can go (and eat). No matter where your next foodie adventure takes you, a Hilton hotel is waiting for you.

    With over 550 Hilton hotels spanning across the state of Texas, the possibilities to earn more while exploring the Lone Star State are endless.