SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio is becoming one of the hottest culinary destinations in America. Both new and old restaurants are getting recognition as some of the best in the country - and rightfully so.
This year, I had the privilege of visiting over 85 restaurants to feature on Elder Eats. Every restaurant has something that makes it unique and delicious, but only ten can hold the title for best restaurants of 2018.
My top 10 list includes exotic tastes of the Caribbean, melt in your mouth bbq, Mexican-inspired hot dogs and food crammed with Hot Cheetos.
10. COCINA EL JIBARAZO - 1790 Austin Hwy, San Antonio, TX 78218
Cocina el Jibarazo is a San Antonio treasure - their food is comforting and delicious making the food truck a bright beacon displaying the diverse culture of our 300-year-old city. Owner Papote Rodriguez moved to the united states and opened up multiple Puerto Rican restaurants. Now that the food truck is his main focus - Rodriguez can spend time on other issues - like helping fund relief efforts in Puerto Rico after the devastation from hurricane Maria.
FAVORITE DISH - THE CUBAN SANDWICH
9. ZILY BITES - 2923 Thousand Oaks #5, San Antonio, TX 78247
Zily Bites is a new Brazilian deli & restaurant serving up decadent sweets - and savory sandwiches packed with meat - like their 1 pound behemoth seared mortadella sandwich. Zily Bites owner Hooman Mani opened the Brazilian joint to offer San Antonio a taste of his native cuisine in a fast casual way. From yucca fries with cheese and sweet treats to steak and cured pork sandwiches, Zily Bites is one of the best and unique food spots in San Antonio offering something for everyone.
FAVORITE DISH - WHOLE STEAK SANDWICH
8. THE DOGFATHER - 6211 San Pedro Ave, San Antonio, TX 78216
The Dogfather is San Antonio's premier spot to get a gourmet hot dog. With toppings ranging from barbacoa to carne guisada, this Alamo City hot dog joint embraces the local food culture by fusing their hot dogs with Mexican culinary classics. Don't like hot dogs? No problem. This hot dog spot is also serving up 44 Farms beef patty burgers. With vegan options and gluten-free bread, there is something here for the whole family.
FAVORITE DISH - THE GOTTI GUISADA DOG
7. POLLOS ASADOS - 4642 Rigsby Ave, San Antonio, TX 78222
There are many imitators but only one original. Pollos Asados Los Nortenos is back in business and customers couldn't be more excited. Their marinated chicken is cooked on large wood-fired grills to achieve crispy skin and tender meat. Beef fajitas and bacon wrapped sausage accompany the chicken on the grill - along with juicy burgers. The restaurant has gone through a rocky year, but the chicken shack is here to stay. Their chicken plate with rice, beans, and their locally famous green salsa is one of the best dishes you can eat in the 210.
FAVORITE DISH - HALF MARINATED CHICKEN WITH RICE & BEANS
6. BIG ALOHAS ALIʻI COVE RESTAURANT - 1210 Pat Booker Rd Suite H, Universal City, TX 78148
Big Aloha Ali'i Cove is San Antonio's newest Hawaiian restaurant featuring authentic island favorites - like their Kalbi short ribs and spicy pork combo plate lunch with mac salad and spam musubi. Owner Samson Kalani Kealoha Makanaokeakua Young and his wife opened the restaurant after working out of the food truck and catering for the last three years - with growing popularity Big Aloha now calls the Randolph Air Force Base area home. All of their food is phenomenal - even if you have never tried Hawaiian cuisine, you’ll find something to fall in love with.
FAVORITE DISH - SPICY PORK AND KALBI SHORT RIBS PLATE
5. BIG POPPAS TACOS - 2118 N PanAm Expy, San Antonio, TX 78208
If one food was trending in 2018, it had to be Hot Cheetos - and this place didn't hold back from embracing it. Big Poppa’s Tacos packs Hot Cheeto flavor into Mexican food classics - like the Big Poppa burrito. Owner Jacob Gomez has been creating his Hot Cheeto combinations years before it became popular on the foodie scene.
“In my food truck, that was all we did was put Hot Cheetos in every single item,” said Gomez.
Both Gomez’s taco truck and restaurant have delicious options for Hot Cheeto lovers - like their cheesy Hot Cheeto quesadilla. Other favorites include the hood rat burger, enchiladas and barbacoa tortas. Come out and get your hands on these insanely cheesy Hot Cheeto burritos today and make all of your friends jealous.
FAVORITE DISH - THE BIG POPPA BURRITO
4. WAYNE’S WINGS - 2427 Austin Hwy, San Antonio, TX 78218
Wayne’s Wings has been cranking out killer wings and delicious food since 2016. Owner Dwayne Price opened the wing joint back in 2016 after years of running a food truck and cooking at a small bar. Dwayne’s recipes and consistent execution have earned him multiple awards - including the award for the best wings in Texas by the website delish.com. Their Texas honey wings are sweet and spicy, the funnel cake wings are savory, crunchy and sweet and their garlic parmesan wings are the best I've ever had. Not only do they make amazing wings, but Wayne's Wings also serves up top-notch Philly cheesesteaks.
FAVORITE DISH - THE FUNNEL CAKE WINGS
3. MR. C’S CHICKEN & WAFFLES - 7907 W Loop 1604 N #102, San Antonio, TX 78254
Mr. C’s Fried Chicken & Waffles is a new southern style restaurant in San Antonio specializing in all things sinfully delicious - like their homemade chicken & waffles.
“Here we chose to do a thin waffle because we want the chicken to be the star of the plate,” said general manager Andre Trabue.
Mr. C’s is serving up hot out the pot mac & cheese, a Philly-style cheesesteak sandwich and southern favorites like collard greens and chicken-fried steak. Also on the menu is meatloaf, homemade sweet potato fries, fried catfish and to wash it all down, purple and red Kool-aid.
One item that is unique, tasty and fun to eat - deep-fried chicken skins.
Mr. C’s is a southern-style foodie gem waiting for you to explore the menu - and yes, they have desserts.
FAVORITE DISH - CHICKEN & WAFFLES
2. MESQUITE SHACK BBQ - Food Truck
Mesquite Shack BBQ is one of, if not the best barbecue joints to come out of San Antonio in 2018. Owner Vincent Cervantes travels around San Antonio and surrounding cities daily serving up spare pork ribs, dino beef ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, and the juiciest, most flavorful brisket in San Antonio. If you love barbecue, do yourself a favor, follow Mesquite Shack on social media and try everything, including their creamed corn.
FAVORITE DISH - BRISKET
1. THE JERK SHACK - 117 Matyear St, San Antonio, TX 78237
The Jerk Shack takes the number one spot for 2018 because their fusion of classic Jamaican flavors with southern and Asian culinary favorites is unlike anything else in the city. Their food sticks to your ribs and even though I didn't grow up in Jamaica, their food still resonates a memory and comfort of home cooking.
The Jerk Shack is San Antonio’s newest Jamaican cuisine destination packed with tons of island favorites, like their fried jerk wings with mac & cheese.
Their mac & cheese is made-to-order with a bechamel base and loads of cheese. The wings are brined overnight in their house-made jerk seasoning and buttermilk - then coated in cornstarch and more jerk seasoning.
Then, they get deep fried to golden perfection. The mac & cheese gets served in a skillet, and the wings come on the side with three different house-made island-style sauces.
Owner and military veteran, Chef Nicola Blaque, was born in Jamaica and moved to the states when she was four years old. After serving in the military, Chef Nicola graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and fulfilled her dream of bringing authentic food to the U.S.
If you have been looking for an authentic taste of Jamaica - look no further - the jerk shack brings the island flavor to the Alamo City.
FAVORITE DISH - FRIED JERK WINGS & MAC