The Good, The Bad and the Yuck: 22 Bars and Restaurants We Reviewed in 2016 

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Here's a look back on everything we ate in 2016.
OF 22
Sichuan House
3505 Wurzbach Rd #102, (210) 509-9999
"At first glance, the tiny strip the restaurant is in isn't compelling unless you're into anime, need to rent a tuxedo, print a few signs or get a touch up on your Shellac. Not quite in the corner lot of this string of random shops sits Sichuan House, inside the former 4 Star Chinese Cuisine. Once inside, Sichuan is a whole other story. Instead of tossing red lanterns every which way, Sichuan chooses demure décor and lets the food handle the rest. And boy does it." — Jessica Elizarraras
Full review: You’ll Want to Try the Dumplings at Sichuan House
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Viva Villa Taqueria
905 Dolorosa St.,(210) 987-8482
"Green chile con queso comes to you in a clay cup flanked by a raft of chips. The name suggests that chile will dominate — or at least participate equally. You will now have guessed that it doesn't. There are just a few strands on top of the melted cheese mixture. That mixture, however, is an unexpectedly rewarding blend of sharp cheddar and avocado — smooth, creamy and in need only of a little more thermal heat and the zing of a few more rajitas de chile. This could easily become the perfect bar snack with one of Viva Villa's craft or Mexican beers on tap or in bottles or cans. (The drink list is otherwise confined to wine and wine-based margaritas.)" — Ron Bechtol
Full review:Don’t Miss Viva Villa’s Cazuelitas
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300 E. Travis St., (210) 352-3171
"Lunch is a different animal at Rebelle. The setting that is sexy and sultry by night is not quite as successful in the light of day. Red-lamped sconces and suspended fixtures seem especially out of place. At 12:30 on a Thursday, the place was hardly bustling. And at first glance, the more-casual noonday menu seems like less of a fit than it does at dinner." — Ron Bechtol
Full review: Your Next Night Out Should Be at Rebelle
Photo by David Rangel
200 W. Jones Ave., (210) 896-6161
"Housed inside the Hops Building behind the museum, the tiny café has used its interiors expertly. Because there isn't an honest-to-god kitchen inside the building, the eatery is instead outfitted with small appliances that handle the bulk of the menu. Baked goods, of the French variety, naturally, are created off-site." — Jessica Elizarraras
Full review:Going Parisian at Sketch
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The Bread Box
555 W. Bitters Road, Suite 115 (210) 277-8612
"There's something to be said about a place that knows its target audience. At The Bread Box, which opened last November, owners Tina and Lucas Kent know what their customers want and they're delivering it." — Jessica Elizarraras
Full review: Spot On Flavors and Baked Goods at The Bread Box
Photo by Jessica Elizarraras
521 E Grayson St., (210) 481-8776
"The menu tries for some of the same and occasionally scores as well. Take the Cheeks n Buns, in which the name and the product come together perfectly in the form of just greasy enough barbacoa cradled in a sturdy slider bun with cilantro ginger slaw and kewpie mayo for crunchy/tangy contrast. At happy hour, one of these puppies is three bucks. Run, don't walk." — Ron Bechtol
Full review: Grayze Nails Casual and Tasty on Grayson
Photo by David Rangel
Burleson Yard Beer Garden
430 Austin St.,(210) 354-3001
"The outdoor patio is the size of an Olympic pool and is split into three areas, each with their own distinct décor. The hive of the beer garden is front and center, waiting to greet you once you walk under the wooden frame — and mind your step — into the central drinking headquarters. Metal chairs and tables of pastel greens, blues, pinks and yellows dot this district, which due to its adjacency to the bar within the pavilion, is packed with people waiting in line and buzzing around tables." — Mark Stenberg
Full review:New East Side Watering Hole Defined by Patio and Pavilion
Photo by Jessica Elizarraras
Juniper Tar
244 W Houston St., (210) 229-1833
"I began with big, boozy and spicy. Burning in Effigy ($13) is composed of blanco tequila with Chartreuse, lemon, crème de cacao and Ancho Reyes, and it reconciles these type-A personalities with the deftness of a high-priced analyst. (Chartreuse can easily get overbearing in my experience, spicy-sweet Ancho can also be a bully and crème de cacao calls to mind bad chocolate martinis — all in lesser hands.) Equally as impressive is El Tule ($13), balancing the smokiness of mezcal with the raisin-y sweetness of Madeira, the floral bitterness of Amaro Montenegro and the dark heartbeat of xocolatl mole bitters." — Ron Bechtol
Full review:Juniper Tar Reheeled
Photo by Koby Melton
Edera Osteria - Enoteca
1903 San Pedro Ave., (210) 530-1111
"The team behind Edera is certainly capable of only blossoming roses. Partner Cesar Amadore, formerly of Andrew Weissman's operations at the Pearl, has brought with him several servers. And, though he had a brief stopover at Brigid, top chef Chris Carlson, previously at Sandbar, is also on board." — Ron Bechtol
Full review: Edera Shows Potential with Simple Hits, Few Misses
Photo by Dan Payton
Il Forno
122 Nogalitos St., (210) 616-2198
"There's very little to remind pizza lovers that this was once a dive bar. That's not to say that the joint mimics Kimura's sleekness or Gwendolyn's Victorian charm, but Il Forno's bare bones, thoroughly rustic and DIY efficiency is evident once you step inside. A patio is still to come, but the open dining room features wooden benches (formerly pews from an area church), and light fixtures made by chef himself using foraged pallets." — Jessica Elizarraras
Full reivew: An Early Look at Michael Sohocki’s Il Forno
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Little Woodreow's Stone Oak
606 W. Afton Oaks Blvd.,(210) 403-2340
"Little Woodrow’s Stone Oak location is nearly unrecognizable from its Medical Center cousin. A sprawling outdoors area takes up nearly half the total acreage, where a verdant plume of Astroturf plays host to dozens of aggressively pastel lawn chairs. Games galore abound, including four cornhole stages and two ring toss arenas outside, as well as pool tables, electronic dartboards and weekly trivia nights inside. Several friends and I recently visited the bar with the sole intention of playing cornhole and found ourselves wholly satisfied." — Mark Stenberg
Full review: Yes, It’s a Chain, but Little Woodrow’s Second SA Location Gets the Job Done
Photo by Mark Stenberg
5 Points Local
1017 N. Flores St., (210) 267-2652
"A far cry from its old digs, 5 Points Local takes its home to a new level with the addition of an upstairs yoga studio, and plenty of seating on the patio. You won't make it that far considering the communal table, open kitchen bar seating and a spacious back room with rustic tables." — Jessica Elizarraras
Full review: Good Karma and Clean Eating at 5 Points Local
Photo by Jessica Elizarraras
8811 Patio Bar
8811 Fredericksburg Road, (210) 690-8811
"Beer-wise, 8811 has reason to boast as well. While their draft selection is somewhat modest, no beer runs more than $4.50, and that includes craft beers like Freetail's Bat Outta Helles, Karbach's Hopadillo IPA and Busted Sandal's 210 Ale. Of course, creature comforts such as Miller Lite, Shiner and Dos Equis are even more affordable, and are, by and large, the most popular choices. 8811 also has an even larger arsenal of canned and bottled beer, all as happily affordable as their draft counterparts." — Mark Stenberg
Full review: Bombay Ranch Gets a Facelift, New Identity as 8811
Photo by Mark Stenberg
Baan Esaan
"At the head of Baan Esaan’s menu is somtum, the spunky-spicy salad of green papaya that is an Esaan specialty. (There are eight varieties of it on the menu at Somtum Der, a well-reviewed Isan restaurant in NYC.) As served here, the salad – laced with shredded carrot and presented with romaine leaves that accompany many dishes – is a marvel of limey, fish-sauce flavors played against the papaya’s clean crunch. Smith also offers an all-carrot version, which can be skipped, but the rendition with slivered Granny Smith apple is, surprisingly, a more-than-worthy alternative." — Ron Bechtol
Full review: Baan Esaan’s Doing Things Their Own Way to Impressive Results
Photo by Sarah Flood-Baumann
Franky Diablo's
1301 Roosevelt Ave., (210) 436-9763
"Despite the bar's laudable alcohol variety, the real breadwinners are clearly their inventive mixed drinks and shots. Though the Chancla and Mexican Candy are two of their most popular concoctions, they're merely the tip of the inebriating iceberg. If Russian Roulette were a list of signature drinks, it would read like Franky Diablo's creations. On two weeknights, the bar featured items such as the Midget Mansion ($5), Donkey Lady ($5), La Lechuza ($4.75) and a Two-for-$10 Dance with the Devil." — Mark Stenberg
Full review: Frankly, Franky Diablo’s Nails San Anto’s Creepy Urban Legends in Shot-form
Photo by Mark Stenberg
1150 S. Alamo St., (210) 265-5292
"arly visits for this diner were often hit or miss – though the hits were consistent to be fair. The waffle fries (order the Reuben version, trust me) were hot and crisp and sturdy vessels to the mounds of sauerkraut, Thousand Island, Swiss and corned beef they’re tasked with carrying. Another early hit was the ginger cherry limeade, an addicting and light blend of vodka, cherry cider, ginger, lime and Main Root natural lemon lime soda. The pretzel — a massive beast of a baked good easily shared between four — was crisp and chewy both times we’ve tackled one (it comes with a steak knife, that’s how serious this pretzel is)." — Jessica Elizarraras
Full review:
After Rocky Start, Frank Is Finding Solid Footing
Photo by Bartholomew S. Taylor
Burnt Ends
1725 Blanco Road, (210) 660-7970
"At most traditional BBQ joints, if green beans are available, they have been cooked to a fare-thee-well with perhaps a little tomato. Not here. These still have a toothiness to ‘em. They’ve been sizzled with onion and maybe some burnt-end bits from chopped brisket sammiches, and they are worth ordering in the large size. Also worth a bigger portion than what comes as a cap to the smoked spud, is the ginger slaw; it’s the perfect, punchy sidekick to an otherwise lonesome brisket, especially in the meat’s fattier form." — Ron Bechtol
Full review: Lots of Hits, Few Misses at Burnt Ends Photo by Sarah Flood-Baumann
Michin Mexican Kitchen
427 N. Loop 1604 W., Suite 202, (210) 277-7222
"Michin's got an open air vibe to it, and it’s very sleek and modern. It seems like the type of place that could have the potential to be loud if packed with a lot of people, though it wasn't this evening. Instead, Michin ended up giving it more of an intimate vibe, somewhere you could go for late night snacks and drinks with a date or a friend. There is live music on Fridays, but that’s also on the patio (the patio gets everything!). " — Erin Winch
Full review: Michin's Social Hour Brings Cheap Drinks to an Intimate Setting
Photo by Erin Winch
Hawx Burger Bar
2603 Vance Jackson Road, (210) 320-4299
"Set in an unassuming beer-garden style establishment about a mile inside Loop 410, Hawx’s place, during the day, appears to be your typical, quiet (sometimes empty — hey, they’re still relatively new) wood-paneled burger joint and sports bar. However, on weekend nights, the DJs and lasers come out, tables are removed for dancing and heavy bass beats blast through the summer night’s breeze. " — Charlie Smith
Full review: Hawx Brings Great Burgers, DJs and Strobe Lights to the Table
Photo by Charlie Smith
303 Pearl Pkwy., Suite 1111, (210) 670-7684
"Venezuelan-born Lopez, the former executive chef at the C.I.A.’s NAO, has an impressive international résumé, and he is clearly familiar with the hybrid cuisines that form the core of the menu at Botika, recently opened in the remodeled, and much improved, Arcade space at Pearl. (Check out the red metal bar stools from Blu Dot; they remind me of origami.) Most of us, however, have much to learn, and here’s a case in point: “chaufa” is a chifa term for fried rice." — Ron Bechtol
Full review: New Terms and Expectations for Botika

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Bok Choy
5130 Broadway, (210) 437-2200
"Opened in May of this year, Bok Choy is the Cece’s stir-fry manifested into a restaurant: by no means authentic, but bearing enough veggies that you’ll leave feeling less guilty than if you’d opted for a burger and fries. The space is utilitarian and kitschy without dipping into eye-roll territory. You’re there for the quick-service fare (no doubt the systems have been perfected through its predecessors), but do notice the massive chopstick wrapper that serves as anchor for the restaurant. It’s just plain fun." — Jessica Elizarraras
Full review: Comfort Fare Done Well at Bok Choy
Photo by Dan Payton
Royal Cuisine
8931 Wurzbach Road, (210) 265-5463
"Royal Cuisine bills itself as an Indo-Pakistani restaurant, but the menu doesn’t make any distinctions; rather, dishes seem to range from south to north in India with a number of offerings from the Punjabi state that sits on the border between the two countries. Toss a dart? My first one landed on the masala uttapam (southern, BTW), and it was a bullseye. " — Ron Bechtol
Full review: Several Flavors to Explore at Royal Cuisine
Photo by Dan Payton
Sichuan House
3505 Wurzbach Rd #102, (210) 509-9999
"At first glance, the tiny strip the restaurant is in isn't compelling unless you're into anime, need to rent a tuxedo, print a few signs or get a touch up on your Shellac. Not quite in the corner lot of this string of random shops sits Sichuan House, inside the former 4 Star Chinese Cuisine. Once inside, Sichuan is a whole other story. Instead of tossing red lanterns every which way, Sichuan chooses demure décor and lets the food handle the rest. And boy does it." — Jessica Elizarraras
Full review: You’ll Want to Try the Dumplings at Sichuan House
Courtesy photo

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