There's a place in San Antonio where the menu cascades endlessly from crab to eel, the sake overflows into saucers, and the soy sauce will not assuage the cruel bite of the jalapeño roll. For all its terrifying scale, we know the heart of Sushi Zushi beats raw and true, for the restaurant promises "to preserve the total integrity and the quality of the sake, to fully appreciate its taste and texture." So delicately savor a few glasses of the chilled Zen sake. You won't attain nirvana, but here's to coming terribly close. BC
BEST PLACE TO TAKE A DATE:
Grey Moss Inn
19010 Scenic Loop, 695-8301
If you are willing to drive to the Hill Country, head to Grey Moss Inn in Helotes, our readers' numero uno pick, where nature is surely blooming and so will your palate over grilled steaks, fresh seafood, and surf and turf, for the hearty appetite. But hey, it's a date, so if you want to keep it light, order some champagne, an appetizer of wild game sausages and the famous olive twists, and relax al fresco with your sweetie. For those that prefer multi-tasking a date with other activities, like washing clothes or the car, make it a one-stop-shop sort of evening at The Cove, and sidle up to your honey over cervezas and tilapia grilled fish tacos.
| Best of SA 2005 |
Readers' picks - Best Food
Click here to see our readers' choices
Warning: If you are still in the impression stage of the relationship, save the Cove for later. Instead, book a reservation at Citrus. Located inside downtown's Valencia Hotel, Citrus boasts a menu of American cuisine in a sleek, River Walk setting that is sure to impress a date. I received my wedding proposal on the outside terrace, overlooking a lush landscape that truly set the evening, courting our senses as we courted each other. MSA
14250 Hwy. 281 N & 10060 IH-10 W, 495-4321
Alamo Café has been a San Antonio tradition for more than 20 years, serving everything from seafood flautas to sizzling fajitas in the Alamo City. This year the Current's readers gave Alamo Café the blue ribbon for its Tex-Mex selections.
| Rudy's, home of San Antonio's Best Barbeque. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)
Adults and kids alike are entertained by watching the tortilla press spin out homemade tortillas by the minute. Once seated, you'll get to sample these complimentary warm tortillas (as many as you want) with fresh chips and salsa.
If you're hungry, a good appetizer choice is the vegetable quesadillas, an array of fresh grilled vegetables layered with melted Chihuahua cheese and homemade pico de gallo, available in a half or full order. A notable Tex-Mex tradition is the chimichangas, charbroiled chicken breast and Montery Jack cheese stuffed inside crisp golden tortillas topped with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. Another great choice is the sizzling fajita skillet, which can be a single order or a dinner for two.
If there's room for dessert, there's a page of mouth-watering options, but the famous apple-cinnamon empanadas are all you need to put everyone over the top. Alamo Café is a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere with good food, big portions, and affordable prices. NC
| Best Indian Food: On a Saturday night, the line for India Palace's buffet line winds out the door and into the parking lot, a culinary conga line beckoning passers-by. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)
124 Broadway 354-1559,
6322 N. New Braunfels, 822-0761
Did your last cow cause a ruckus in your lower intestine? Do you tire of picking poultry from your teeth? Perhaps you've taken a vow to liberate all sentient beings. In any case, maybe its time to forgo the barbeque pit. While not as veggie-friendly as, say, Austin, San Antonio does offer a few choice spots to attain that veggie high. Twin Sisters, for one, offers a delicious vegetable sauté, a number of fine salads, and vegetable and tofu sandwichs. So shower yourself with sprouts and take a swim in the daily soup. BC
BEST WINE LIST:
Van's Chinese Seafood Restaurant
3214 Broadway, 828-8449
Best Wine List ought to be a strictly statistical exercise, but of course it's not; menu appropriateness and user friendliness also come into play. One thing we can say, gentle readers, is that y'all need to get out more: Candlelight, Ocean Star, and, yikes, Olive Garden, may have virtues - especially if you like Olive Garden's sangria and white zinfandel - but they don't hold a candle to the big boys, such as Fig Tree, Grey Moss Inn, and Ruth's Chris. On the other hand, Van's and The Melting Pot are worthy contenders. The Melting Pot's list is broad and deep, especially in the "Bold and Classic" red wine category. But, despite its almost total inappropriateness to the cuisine (there are no sparklers, few whites but chardonnay), Van's very personal selection gets my vote. The pricing is gentle, the selection of Bordeauxs - many not even listed - is staggering, and you gotta love the wine-as-decor approach to Van's recent makeover. RB
One thing's for sure, San Antonio loves its fiesta. With the festivities already underway, there'll be an abundance of food and drinks out on the town for a week. This year's readers' choice for best gorditas was the Fiesta vendors downtown. While seemingly plausible, this choice raises some questions as well. Is fiesta week the only time the Alamo City eats gorditas? Or maybe because we are so partied out during Fiesta, all the food downtown is enticing and tastes great. Either way, the case is made to get out there and try them this year.
| Coffee and cake at Candlelight Café, which took second place for Best Café. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)
Interestingly enough, the second place spot in the voting went to Chacho's. While I in no way diminish Chacho's product, it leads me to believe this just might be the choice of the 2 a.m. bleary-eyed crowd looking for an open spot to curb their huger. C'mon San Antonio! There's sure to be a gordita hot spot out there just waiting to be discovered. NC
And now, the nominee for Best Place in the Universe ...
| The Cove's co-owner Lisa Asvestas shows off one of her most popular dishes, the Lisa Special - two grilled tilapia tacos. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)
This year the readers' picks read like an ode to the Cove. It puts us in an odd position: Is something rotten in San Antonio or are we the very last to realize the all-inclusive greatness of the Cove? Last year, our critics sang sweet praises of the Cove for its versatility - Laundromat, carwash, eatery, and bar - variety and quality of food, and imports priced to please the thrifty. In the Best of 2004, the Cove took Best take out and eclectic, and made a strong showing in three other categories. Let no one cry BS without just cause, but this year the Cove is voted best in outdoor dining, eclectic dining, and vegetarian dining. It also took second in best restaurant to take a date and family restaurant, and was nominated for best place to buy art and kid-friendly park.
The Cove does indeed sell art, and at a reasonable price. We'll let someone else judge the quality, but we will offer this warning: Beware of buying art in the bat Cove, whose beer hall is dark even in the middle of the bright, shiny day. Best Place To Go Blind Trying To See Art? Not that there's anything wrong with a dimly lit bar, it certainly affords privacy - Best Place To Pick Your Nose And Stick It Under The Table While Looking At Art? We noticed a breath testing device hanging conveniently next to one of the objects d' art, and thought, aha, Best Place To Check Your Sobriety Before Buying Art!
Children visiting the Cove with their parents probably appreciate the wooden "playscape" out behind the bar, which features a tire swing and a slide. Yet, rather than the usual grass, wood chips, or rubber, the whole thing sits on a bed of small rocks. Best place to kneel in penance? We didn't see any ducks or train rides, but there was a sandbox, fodder for two new categories: Best After-Hour Scene For Feral Cats and Best Place To Find Hidden Treasure. And, with nary a tree or bush in sight, we considered Best Place To Hide From Nature. But best kid-friendly park? Naughty Cove!
We do not envy those who choose a vegetarian lifestyle in San Antonio, for the dining choices are somewhat slim, but it could be worse. What if the Cove really were the best vegetarian restaurant in San Antonio? In such a sad and unimaginative universe, the Cove would be culinary queen to king beef, offering only one alternative to flesh: "Let them eat fungus!" Of the six items offered under the vegetarian heading, the Cove menu lists only one that does not revolve around grilled portabella: a veggie burger with grilled mushrooms. Best place to get into a dietary rut? Best source of riboflavin?
We like the Cove for its friendly vibe - never a kinder greeting than from owners Sam and Lisa Asvestas - and their fish tacos have a special place in our collective hearts. Perhaps a crew of wholly contrite, psilocybin-loving customers with night vision voted the Cove best in these categories out of honest admiration. We wish they hadn't. A quirky Laundromat and carwash is certainly a part of what makes San Antonio a great city to live in, but voting it best place to buy art makes us all look a little silly.
— Susan Pagani