In the last few years, San Antonio has shed its reputation as a city with little more to do than visit the Alamo or take a stroll on the Riverwalk. Artists from Austin have started pouring into San Antonio, hip cafes are popping up all over the place, and a vibrant dining scene has emerged to make the city a culinary destination in its own right. Among those leading the culinary revolution is award-winning chef Andrew Weissman.
Weissman was born and raised in San Antonio. Growing up, he was inspired by the area’s gastronomic diversity, and after honing his skills at the Culinary Institute of America, and later restaurants in Connecticut, France and Manhattan (including beloved Le Circque), he returned to his hometown and opened the bistro, Le Reve, to rave reviews.
Today, he runs a collection of local restaurants, including The Luxury, Sip Brew Bar & Eatery, Big’z Burger Joint, Moshe’s Golden Falafel and, his newest restaurant – the recently opened Signature, Inspired by Chef Andrew Weissman. With an eclectic, custom design showcasing rare and bespoke culinary artifacts from across the globe, this fine dining establishment features an artsy-yet-elegant ambiance, open kitchen and unique cuisine that blends French cooking techniques with the flavors of the Texas countryside.
“When I first came back to San Antonio from New York and opened my first restaurant, there were maybe two notable high-end restaurants,” Weissman says. “Today, there has been an incredible growth of brick and mortar restaurants, multi-cultural restaurants and even food trucks.”
Weissman says that San Antonio’s chefs are reinventing traditional cuisine. “We’ve seen an explosion of new restaurants…and a lot of these operated by locals who express the diversity of the city through the food…Also, with our ties to the border and proximity to Mexico, the Hispanic influence is prevalent – and shows up in all the great cuisine coming to the surface in San Antonio.”
These are some of Weissman’s go-to restaurants in San Antonio:
Pinch Boil House and Bia Bar
This casual and lively downtown Southeast Asian street food BYOB specializes in sumptuous seafood boils with an abundance of shrimp, crawfish, snow crab legs and mussels. Guests choose their favorite fish and accompanying sides. “It comes in a plastic bag with a knot tied at the top, so you open it and you get all the aromas,” Weissman says. “You can customize your bag with sauces and their heat levels. I’m a sucker for basic crawfish…I get it with the ‘Spice God’ – the highest level of heat. You’ll require a really cold beer with.” The chef also warned: “My best tip is to wear clothes you would be happy painting in. They offer plastic gloves, but I like to eat with my bare hands.”
The Granary ‘Cue and Brew
With a reputation as a next generation Texas barbecue joint, the Granary ‘Cue and Brew is low-key Texas eatery by day that transforms into an innovative, modern barbecue-inspired destination by night. Chef and owner Tim Rattray, an ex-Weissman protege – cooks up a variety of smoked brisket, pulled pork and St. Louis ribs. Weissman suggests going on Tuesdays for the pastrami rib special or Wednesdays for the beef clod.
Walking into this old-school establishment is like stepping back in time. Owner Michael Sohocki, another alum of Weissman’s kitchen, named the restaurant after his grandmother, because everything is prepared without any machinery. With a menu that changes daily, the food is simple, sourced from a 150-mile radius and plated elegantly. “Some of my most memorable meals here were quail, fish and chips, fish and grits and the vichyssoise,” Weissman says. “They also do an elaborate charcuterie, and use the whole animal. He started “charc week” – a clever play on Shark Week.”
Authenticity abounds at Carnitas Lonja. Specializing in house-made carnitas and corn tortillas, this traditional taqueria is a friendly, no-frills neighborhood BYOB with a small number of menu items written on a chalkboard behind the counter. It’s popular among locals and visitors alike, and there’s usually a line of hungry regulars. “Be sure to order the beans, homemade guacamole and lots of limes to create the perfect, mouth-watering pork taco,” Weissman says.
Offering a casual new twist on Tex-Mex, Chisme – only open Wednesday through Sunday – is known for its inventive chicken, pork and seafood dishes – and an array of one-of-a-kind tacos, such as jackfruit tinga, brisket burnt ends and Mexican cheeseburger. Weissman recommends the tres leches pancake with condensed milk and caramel poured over.
Owners Pieter and Susan Sypesteyn are New Orleans natives with a talent for serving up seasonal Cajun and creole delicacies at their Tobin Hill neighborhood restaurant – including charbroiled oysters, gumbo, fried boudin balls, house pickles and inventive renditions of favorites like shrimp and grits. Weissman recommends the New Orleans barbecue shrimp and the bread pudding. “It’s hands down the best Cajun restaurant in San Antonio,” he says.
Zitos Deli and Sandwich Shoppe
Although the menu includes a variety of casual items, this understated sandwich shop with two locations is known far and wide for its famously crispy “Serious” sandwich, which has been a best-seller since 1974. Featuring flat bread, chopped olives, spicy salami, ham, cheese, tomatoes, onions and lettuce, the sandwich is placed on a conveyor belt oven for toasting. “This sandwich rocks. I’ve been going there for 15 years and haven’t had one other thing there – I can’t not get it,” Weissman says. “They have 17 different sandwiches to choose from, but I can’t stray from this one.”
Moshe’s Golden Falafel
Say Shalom to the best falafel in town, Moshe's Golden Falafel! Hats off to Chef Andrew Weissman. From the taste and cook of the falafel, to the pita, pickled veggies, and perfected sides (fried eggplant, french fries!), at Moshe's it is all Golden! The menu is easy to follow, you order at the counter, choose between a pita or a plate (or both), original or spicy falafel, your veggie sides and any extra sides you would like to order. Remember, that everything is fresh, made to order, so please be patient when ordering. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. @saritalauren thank you for sharing this delicious picture with us and showing us what Moshe's has to offer! Hours are Monday – Friday and Sunday, 11-3 for lunch. Posted by 🍴 @s.a.vory #myfab5 #satx #sanantonio #moshes #moshesgoldenfalafel
Full disclosure: Moshe’s is Weismann’s restaurant – and he’s his own biggest fan. Featuring freshly made Israeli falafel and pita, Moshe’s offers an array of delights, like the falafel and shawarma combo (with shaved, roasted lamb). It’s served with labneh (a thick yogurt sauce), jalapeños, chickpeas and hot sauces. “We make the falafel and pita to order, and you get a choice of 23 different salads that rotate,” Weissman says. “We’re about to expand to do an Israeli breakfast, which will be new to our city. I eat here seven days a week – food is super craveable.”