Best Party on Wheels
La Gloria’s Margarita Truck
Chef Johnny Hernandez took his own advice about getting creative to bring his food to customers and came up with one of the best ideas of the past year: the margarita truck. If you have memories of an ice cream truck in your neighborhood, the thrill as an adult of seeing his pink truck roll up in front of your house is even better. Find out on La Gloria’s website or social media where one of two trucks will be for the day and place an order online if you’re in the delivery area. Just remember, Texas law says that you must order food when you get your drinks.
Best Coffee if…
You Want to Stay in Your Car: What’s Brewing
This longtime San Antonio coffee roaster met the pandemic with a new drive-through. Java junkies can’t miss the bright yellow building, where patrons can order their favorite coffee and top it off with their “sidecars and pastries” from local eateries such as the Bread Box and Scratch Kitchen.
You Also Want a Snack: Indy Coffee Club/Scorpion
Coffee and donuts is a given, but Indy makes a fine argument for coffee and homemade empanadas. Grab one of their buttery, flaky chicken or veggie empanadas offered at the flagship location, Indy Coffee Club, or Scorpion, housed under Temple of Offering.
You’re Making it at Home
Shotgun House Coffee Roasters
There are lots of local bean options we love but Shotgun House offers great local delivery options, consistent deals on blends crafted with their San Franciscan Roaster, free shipping and plenty of online instructions for brewing that perfect cup.
Best One-Stop Shop for Comfort
Dessert is an obvious choice—whether a six-pack of mini cupcakes so you can sample your way through the day’s flavor, a Monster cookie or a mini Southern pecan pie—but don’t forget comfort also can start with the main course. Try a pimento cheese popover or warmed-to-perfection oatmeal with brown sugar maple syrup for breakfast, or opt for a nostalgic grilled cheese and tomato basil soup or tarragon chicken salad with Havarti and toasted pecans at lunch.
Best New Delivery Option
We know drive-thru and curbside pickup are easy options, but it’s tough to pass up the convenience of delivery when you’re in the middle of work or simply don’t want to leave the comfort of home. Whataburger understands that and last May added a delivery option to its app so customers can have a No. 1, Whatachick’n Strips or other favorite dropped on the doorstep. Unnecessary? Probably. A perfect addition? For sure.
Best Bagel Sandwich
Wild Barley Kitchen Co.
The hand-built brick oven in this food truck regularly parked at Broadway News turns out wood-fired sourdough bagels so good you may need one for breakfast and lunch. Enjoy it with cream cheese or bacon and eggs or opt for a special, like the Sunday-only pastrami barbacoa. Its only drawback is the lack of a coffee menu, but Mila Coffee at Broadway News provides a quick solution. The oven also churns out pizzas on select days (and at special events at area breweries and elsewhere).
Best Culinary Inspiration
Mischief Box at Sichuan House
When bars and restaurants were trying to make the best of a bad situation, the folks at Sichuan House created a tasty and clever item: a subscription box known as the Mischief Box.
Owner Kristina Zhao (aka the Chief Mischief Officer) explains the idea came about through a partnership with the Asia Market, which her family also owns, and with the help of New York/Austin-based Table22. Each box contains a variety of snacks, spices, teas and other goodies.
For $25 a month, subscribers get a chance to enjoy items they very likely have never thought about trying before, such as a surprisingly tasty Korean instant coffee and a prawn-flavored snack that evokes memories of Chex Mix, albeit with a twist. The list of items includes descriptions so you’ll know what’s what. The concept gives the restaurant a fresh way to interact with customers, an opportunity to create new loyal patrons and a much-needed source of regular sales. Plus, when you’re a subscriber, you have an excuse to visit this place every month—as if you really need another reason. Additional box types (including one for home cooks) are in the works this year.
Best Gifts for Foodies
Cured at Pearl
Sometimes the accompaniments on one of Chef Steve McHugh’s charcuterie boards thrill just as much as the main attractions. Grab an assortment of jams, mustards, pickled vegetables, chicken liver mousse, pork rillettes, or a jerky from jars in the restaurant and bring the goodness home. The selection changes regularly but the quality never dips. Give a jar or an assortment to your friends with good taste, and make sure to grab a little something extra for your own kitchen, because you deserve a treat, too.
Photo courtesy Cured.
Best Excuse to have a Breakfast Taco for Lunch
As one reviewer aptly wrote online, it requires restraint not to place an order here every time one of its breakfast tacos wrapped in a homemade flour tortilla shows up in our Instagram stories. Chef Hugo Garcia makes tortillas in the style of his grandmother in Valle Hermoso, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and fills them with well-cooked favorites—bacon, bean and cheese, carne guisada, chorizo, potatoes, avocado and eggs. We know there’s no shortage of breakfast taco options in SA, but when there’s one that beckons us back for lunch, that means it’s a standout.
Best Return Pop-Up
Chef Chris Cullum brought back the satisfying flavors of his outstanding burgers for this Monday-only pop-up inside his cozy Tobin Hill hangout, Cullum’s Attagirl. The burgers themselves are slightly different than those he originally thrilled us with a decade ago at the Attaboy truck, with a thinner, more caramelized patty and a sweeter bun than before, and the fries don’t have that slightly battered crunch. But Cullum and his crew know their way around a burger (which explains the often long curbside pickup lines). Consider this burger as a reason to go out for dinner on a Monday.
Cullum’s Attaboy. Photo by Jason Chetwood.
Best Chocolate Chip Cookie
The CH2 cookies at OrderUp are so good they have their own Instagram account. The housemade dough is packed onto a cookie sheet via a generously sized ice cream scoop and then baked to perfection—crispy on the outside, just soft enough through the middle and so tall you may have to take a break halfway through so you don’t get a sugar rush. Pick one up in Lincoln Heights, send a boxed dozen anywhere in the U.S. or ask them to wrap up one or two so you can deliver it as a gift.
Best Food Collaboration
Pinch Boil + South BBQ’s Curry Boys
It sounds like a drunken mashup or a chef’s wild dream, but the mixture of South/Central Texas–style smoked meats from Andrew Samia and his South BBQ & Kitchen and Southeast Asian curries from Pinch Boil House’s Sean Wen and Andrew Ho works wonderfully. If you want to try a bowl, should you start with brisket, chicken or sausage? Take whatever is available because it all sells out fast.
Best Healthy Meal Delivery
When the will for eating well is there but the time and planning required to cook those meals is tough to find, Pharm Table delivers—literally. Chef Elizabeth Johnson believes food is medicine, and she transforms nutrient-packed, real food ingredients into anti-inflammatory dishes that don’t taste like you’re eating “healthy.” The new enhanced customized meal plan allows you to choose from a rotating variety of soups, salads, bowls and beverages, with optional animal proteins. Order 24 hours in advance for pickup or delivery six days a week—or sample single dishes at its new Southtown eatery, where brunch, lunch and cocktails beckon.
Black + White Modern Creamery
Co-owner Mary Collazo describes her and her husband Frank’s newest venture—located a stone’s throw from their Chocollazo shop on Broadway—as “just a badass place to be.” We couldn’t agree more. A black and white mural highlighting quirky items and San Antonio icons like the Tower of the Americas covers one long wall and sets the tone for funky flavors that surprise and delight, from honey cornbread to Big Red sorbet. “Our goal is to do things with ice cream that have never been done before while also offering a variety of gluten free, dairy free and vegan options,” Collazo says. We expected a lot from the couple’s second verse, and they didn’t let us down.
Photo courtesy Black + White Creamery.
Reader’s Choice Winners
Best American + Best French Fries: Down on Grayson
Best Asian: Ming’s
Best Bakery: La Panadería
Best Barbecue: Smoke Shack
Best Breakfast/Brunch: Magnolia Pancake Haus
Best Breakfast Taco: Naco Mexican Eatery
Best Brewery: Freetail Brewing Co.
Best Burger: Mr. Juicy
Best Coffee Shop: Medina River Coffee
Best Distillery: Rebecca Creek Distillery
Best Donuts: The Original Donut Shop
Best Food Truck: El Remedio SA
Best Global Eats: The Jerk Shack
Best Greek/Mediterranean: Demo’s Greek Food
Best Italian: Volare Italian Restaurant
Best Juice Bar/Acai Bowl: Rise Up
Best Margarita: La Gloria
Best Mexican/Tex-Mex: Paloma Blanca
Best Outdoor Dining: The Cove
Best Pizza: Dough Pizzeria Napoletana
Best Seafood + Best Takeout: Sea Island Shrimp House
Best Steakhouse: Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood
Best Tacos: Mister Diablo Taco Truck
Best Vegetarian/Vegan-Friendly: Green Vegetarian Cuisine