Some of San Antonio’s most intriguing 2020 restaurant openings include Kumo (pictured) and Curry Boys BBQ, both of which offer cultural fusions.
Nationwide, thousands of restaurants closed this year amid pandemic stay-at-home orders. Those that survived have been forced to navigate a tricky new regulatory environment and shift much of their focus to takeout and delivery.
Despite those challenges, San Antonio food-service entrepreneurs forged ahead in 2020.
Many braved the risk, took a leap of faith in the community and opened new restaurants. What’s more, some of those ventures turned out to be inventive, thoughtful and soulful enough that they’re likely to shake up the local culinary scene for some time to come.
The unique, innovative approaches taken by these 11 newly opened Alamo City establishments make them the most exciting additions to the local food scene this year.
From the minds that brought us modern-Mexican icon Mixtli comes Kumo, a seasonal Mexican restaurant with a strong Japanese influence. Kumo dinners feature up to 10 courses of chef-selected dishes — all served in a sexy, date night-friendly atmosphere. The pair of oft-awarded chefs bill the spot as an omakase, which in Japanese means “I leave it up to you.” That allows the kitchen to tailor the dinner based on the availability of fresh seasonal ingredients. Real talk: if there’s one culinary team we’d want to guide us through that kind of dining experience, it’d be this one. 5251 McCullough Ave., (210) 338-0746, restaurantmixtli.com/kumo.
The menu at this Tobin Hill-area neighborhood star is chock-full of comforting Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes just like your abuela used to make. The monster-sized servings and bold flavors honor the legacy of co-owner Ismael J. Roldan, a 40-year veteran of the restaurant business. Roldan’s daughter Paola operates the business day to day, serving up savory stuffed poblano peppers, chicken mole and parrilladas along with equally delightful SA-approved lunchtime staples such as enchiladas and tortilla soup. 1626 McCullough Ave., (210) 507-2202, agaveazulsa.com.
Curry Boys BBQ
Curry Boys’ “Southeast Asian curry and classic Texas BBQ” tag may leave you scratching your head. However, dive into the eatery’s brisket curry bowl — smoked Texas brisket with complex green curry, jasmine rice, cilantro and fried shallots — and the fusion suddenly makes delicious sense. The new concept from the boys behind Pinch Boil House and South BBQ is a harmony of fresh ingredients, fun attitudes, casual atmosphere and, yes, expertly prepared brisket. 2334 N. St. Mary’s St., (210) 320-0555, curryboysbbq.com.
This neighborhood bistro brings pasta and Korean-influenced plates to San Antonio’s East Side with a thoughtful focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients thanks to chef Jungsuk “Sue” Kim. The Magpie now offers boxed lunches and Sunday Brunch, but remains a special weeknight dinner destination.While the draw here is the comforting and sometimes fiery Korean influence, don’t miss the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich with crispy pork belly, house-made pâté, pickled radish and carrot, chile and cilantro. 1602 E. Houston St., Suite 106, (210) 389-1584, magpie.us.
Instagram / miroti210
Mi Roti is owner Nicola Blaque’s second San Antonio spot serving bold Caribbean flavors.
Owner Nicola Blaque made a splash in 2018 with local Jamaican food stalwart The Jerk Shack, and her newest venture the Pearl Bottling Department is drawing similar praise for its Caribbean flavors. Named for roti, a West Indian flatbread used to cradle savory street foods, Mi Roti takes customization to a new level, offering sophisticated wraps stuffed with components including jerk chicken, curry goat, rice, mango chutney, shredded kale and spinach. Don’t sleep on the hot sauces, which range from “slight heat” to “mouth on fire.” 312 Pearl Parkway, Building 6, facebook.com/miroti210.
Bunz Handcrafted Burgers
After two years of blood, sweat and renovations, Bunz Handcrafted Burgers has finally brought life to a long-vacant deli space on Houston Street downtown. Operated by partners Thierry Burkle of long-gone Alamo Heights French restaurant L’Etoile and local chef Edwin Salazar, diners can expect this spot to sate the cravings for freshly baked brioche buns (or should that be “bunz”?) and prime beef patties that are ground in-house. 122 E. Houston St., (210) 354-3555, tastybunz.com.
Southerleigh Haute South
The team behind lauded Pearl eatery Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery introduced the city’s far North Side to its approach to Southern-style food this summer, offering the original eatery’s signature fried chicken plus fresh and expertly prepared seafood and a full oyster bar. The brewery’s inventive and well-crafted beers provide a fine accompaniment to the vittles, whether you’re posted up at the bar or on the sprawling patio. 5822 Worth Parkway, Unit 112, (210) 236-8556, southerleighhautesouth.com.
This 3,500-square-foot puro San Antonio neighborhood pub opened in early October, offering indoor and outdoor areas to enjoy food, drinks and live music on the city’s West Side. Jaime’s Place boasts tons of room to enjoy the night air and dance with your plus-one after one, or more, of its signature wine-based margaritas. The super-approachable spot offers plenty of space to social distance while enjoying classic SA music, craft beer and antojitos for days. 1514 W. Commerce St., (210) 564-9083, jaimesplace.pub.
Brasserie Mon Chou Chou
Sure, the food at new French dining spot Brasserie Mon Chou Chou is tasty, but what really helps it excel are the stellar service and a comfortable atmosphere that feels like a magic portal to Paris. Enjoy a full meal or an afternoon snack of wine and oysters in the gilded dining room or on the patio. Either way, the air carries the scent of melted French cheese on crisp baguette with smoked paprika aioli and cornichons. Did we mention the food was tasty? 312 Pearl Parkway, Building 2, (210) 469-3743, brasseriemonchouchou.com.
Europa Restaurant and Bar
This new Fredericksburg Road destination, voted Best New Restaurant by Current readers, takes inspiration from countries spanning Europe, from the Greek isles to the Balkan Peninsula. Such expansive geographical aims can lead to stumbles for restaurant kitchens. Not so at Europa, where the dishes are generally note-perfect. The spaghetti pescatore, for example — a delightful combination of mussels, shrimp, calamari and baby clams tossed in a spicy tomato-basil sauce — is evocative of a summer afternoon on the Mediterranean. Europa’s cocktails are also fresh and bright, and the wine list has something for everyone. 8811 Fredericksburg Road, (210) 558-3323, europarestaurantandbar.com.
Best Quality Daughter
Chefs Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin and Quealy Watson, who began their culinary partnership at The Monterey, Hot Joy and — most recently — Tenko Ramen at the Pearl, bring an irreverent approach to food through their work at Best Quality Daughter. The “New Asian-American” restaurant serves up umami-filled bites and surprising sips in a positively gorgeous atmosphere, reminding diners that it’s perfectly acceptable to just sit back and find joy in eating. Snag a seat at the bar and order the mochi-cheddar hush puppies with Thai chili jam and the sticky rice-and- shiitake egg rolls. The truth is in the name here: the culinary experience will indeed be of the best quality. 602 Avenue A, (210) 819-4236, bestqualitydaughter.com.
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