Restaurant dishes

The 25 Best San Antonio Restaurant Dishes of 2020, From an Enchilada-puffed Taco Hybrid to Roasted Octopus

For more than 40 days from March, dining rooms in San Antonio restaurants sat empty as COVID-19 forced closures at the start of the pandemic. So when Aldo’s Ristorante Italiano and hundreds of other restaurants opened their dining rooms at 25% capacity on May 1, it wasn’t just dinner; it was deliverance – albeit on the razor’s edge of uncertainty.

With take-out, the sidewalk, delivery and slow in-person dining, restaurants have kept the faith. And through them we have found solace and comfort food.

So here are, even in this year of precarious life, the 25 best restaurant dishes I have had this year. Because although we have suspended restaurant reviews until the dining halls fully reopen, we should still be celebrating those things worth celebrating.

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Mike Sutter / Staff Photo

Aldo’s Ristorante Italiano: Veal chop

With a majestic bone towering above the plate as a tribute, this perfectly seared chop reminded me that the ritual and spectacle of food is always important. 22211 Interstate 10 W., Suite 1101, 210-696-2536, aldossa.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Angel’s Mexican Restaurant: Huevos Rancheros Pork Chop

The best way to taste a golden pork chop as big as your hand is to pair it with sunny huevos rancheros with warm flour tortillas. 2302 E. Commerce St., 210-224-4500, Facebook: The paradise of Mexican angels. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Birotes Tortas Ahogadas: Stew from Birria

Birria tacos attract all the attention. But the complex and aromatic beef stew that made them famous is even better on its own. 3004 W. Martin St., 210-375-5230, Facebook: @birotestortas. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Blanco Café: Cheese Enchiladas

These enchiladas correspond to the Tex-Mex model: red corn tortillas, processed cheese and chili con carne. Blanco Cafe has had over 45 years to get it right. And it is on. 1720, chemin Blanco, 210-732-6480, Facebook: @ BlancoCaféSA. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff Photo

Felicity: Mediterranean Branzino

Citrus, quinoa and pumpkin seeds bring elegance and depth to the grilled fish of this elegant Southtown favorite. 926, rue S. Presa, 210-225-2547, foodisbliss.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff Photo

Botika: Chicken teriyaki chaufa

Chef Geronimo Lopez takes fried rice to another level with robust Rocoto pepper mayonnaise and Peruvian corn chalaca. 303 Pearl Parkway, Suite 111 at Pearl, 210-670-7684, botikapearl.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff Photo

Brasserie Mon Chou Chou: Raclette Cheese Sandwich

At this sophisticated new French bistro at the Pearl, they carve a raclette wheel on a crispy baguette right at your table. Because today more than ever, we need grilled cheese. 312 Pearl Parkway, Building 2, Suite 2104 at the Pearl, brasseriemonchouchou.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Chris Madrid’s: Cheezy Cheddar Burger

In person or in a Styrofoam takeout box, this burger with cheddar cheese flowing around it like a Fiesta dress makes it clear why Chris Madrid is being built – and rebuilt – to last. 900 Blanco Road, 210-735-3552, chrismadrids.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

BBQ Curry Boys: Bowl of Smoked Chicken Curry

Pinch Boil House and South BBQ & Kitchen have teamed up for this little curry stand on St. Mary’s Strip, and their bowl of smoked chicken gives off a sun-yellow curry flavor. 2334 N. St. Mary’s St., 210-320-0555, curryboysbbq.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

El Pastor es Mi Señor: tacos al pastor

The name is a play about “the Lord is my Shepherd”. Except that here, al pastor is the only true god, shaved directly from the trompo for tacos with a big roucou twang. 16615, chemin Huebner, 210-479-3474, elpastoresmisenor.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Fairmount Rooftop Oyster Bar: Fresh Clams

It’s not just oysters on this chic new terrace overlooking an eagle’s nest on the skyline. There are also raw clams on the half shell with great ocean brine and bite. 401 S. Alamo St. at the Fairmount Hotel, 210-224-8800, siloelevatedcuisine.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff Photo

Frutería Chavez: Guayaba raspa

Eduardo Chavez brings fruit from Mexico for a rainbow of mangonadas, fruit cups and new things, but the best is a simple raspa with sweet cream and freshly chopped guava. 3505, chemin Blanco, 210-625-1662, Facebook: Fruteria Chavez. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Full belly cafe and bar: carbonara spaetzle

Tight spirals of handmade German-style noodles incorporate bites of bacon and Parmesan topped with a poached egg for something rich, smoky, and filling at this stylish restaurant. 427 N. Loop 1604, office 202, Sonterra Village shopping center, 210-236-5374, fullbellysa.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

The Hayden: Beet Salted Salmon Potato Latke

The artisanal touch of this new Jewish-style deli extends to smoked salmon, salted with beets for a brilliant color and endearing sweetness, served on a crispy, waffle-pressed potato latke. 4025 Broadway, 210-437-4306, thehaydensa.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Garden: Roasted octopus

Chef Jason Dady has taken over the Sullivan Carriage House at the San Antonio Botanical Garden to create the Mediterranean-inspired Jardín, where he showcases a perfectly roasted octopus with a herbal mash that evokes chimichurri and salsa. 555 Funston Place, 210-338-5100 sabot.org. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Kuriya @ Cherrity Bar: Tonkotsu ramen

Even before Kuriya reopened, his take-out game was fueled by a bowl of tonkotsu ramen with rich pork bone broth, pork belly, ajitama roe, and shiitake mushrooms. 302, rue Montana, 210-598-0496, kuriyasa.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

La Sorrentine: Lasagna

Not much larger than a family dining room, La Sorrentina makes lasagna with the complex and generous flavors of beef, sausage and a trio of Italian cheeses. 3330 Culebra Road, 210-549-0889, lasorrentinasa.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

La Pie: Poultry liver mousse

This little Korean café refuses to be cataloged, with an ever-changing menu that frequently touches on rich, copper-colored chicken liver mousse on homemade bread. 1602 E. Houston St., Suite 106, 210-389-1584, magpie.us. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff Photo

Maria’s Coffee: Puffchilada

Half puffed up taco, half cheese enchilada: discover the puffchilada foldable, cheesy and comforting puzzle machine, proof that no idea is too big for this little Tex-Mex café. 1105 Nogalitos St., 210-227-7005, no web presence. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Ming’s: bowl of Osaka curry

Chef Ming Qian has fallen in love with Osaka curry bowls overseas, and the rich curry sauce, rice, and fried kabocha squash will also make you fall in love. 914 E. Elmira Street, 210-600-4083, mingsthing.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Mr. A Ok’s Kitchen: Meatloaf

Stretching across the board, this soulful meatloaf comes from a recipe chef Steven Harris received from his mother, topped off with a peppery brown sauce. 4403, chemin Rittiman, 210-642-4181, Facebook: @Mraokskitchen. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Richter’s Antler Cafe: Chicken Fried Steak

In this country cafe, the breading is knotty and irregular like only a good hand-breaded chicken fried steak can be, dressed in a cowboy jacket of pepper and cream sauce. 1 Sun Valley Drive, Spring Branch, 830-885-6328, antlercafe.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Sichuan House: cold garlic noodles

Sichuan House is my favorite Chinese restaurant in San Antonio, and they proved it again with noodles layered with grilled chili peppers, chili oil, and Sichuan peppercorns for fire and flavor. 505, chemin Wurzbach, office 102, 210-509-9999, sichuaneats.com. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Tony G’s Soul Food: Fried Chicken

The batter on this fried chicken fits in thin, well-salted sheets, keeping the meat moist and tender to separate, while sides like yams and greens threaten to steal the show. 915 S. Hackberry St., 210-451-1234, Facebook: @TonyGsSoulFood. Read the story here.

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Mike Sutter / Staff File Photo

Vegan Avenue: Brekkie Tacos

This cafe from Monte Vista proves Mexican food can be vegan, especially with this trio of corn tortillas stuffed with scrambled tofu, soy chorizo, and a garden of toppings. 2512 N. Main Ave., 210-332-9284, Facebook: @VeganAvenueSA. Read the story here.

Mike Sutter is a food and beverage reporter and restaurant critic in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. To learn more about Mike, become a subscriber. [email protected] | Twitter: @fedmanwalking | Instagram: @fedmanwalking



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