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Remember more than the Alamo in chili con carne’s birthplace
When it comes to food, San Antonio’s reputation used to be defined by Tex-Mex. But over the past decade, the south central Texas city has broadened its culinary appeal to challenge its more famous foodie neighbor Austin. Much of the credit goes to the Pearl, the former brewery that’s been developed by billionaire Christopher Goldsbury. The 22-acre location opened in 2008 and houses 19 food and beverage spots. Opening in January is Savor, a restaurant from the Culinary Institute of America that will be a training ground for aspiring chefs. “When we started with three culinary operators, even that felt risky,” says Elizabeth Fauerso, the Pearl’s chief marketing officer. “San Antonio did not have a reputation for supporting chef-driven restaurants.” Now it’s also home to Hotel Emma, a 146-room property with a grocery kiosk, Larder. “It’s still wide open here,” says native Charlie Biederharn, co-founder of Bakery Lorraine, which has five locations in San Antonio.
Bottling Dept Food Hall
Built on the original site of the Pearl brewery’s bottling department, San Antonio’s first food hall features local vendors such as Maybelle’s Donuts, the latest hit from the co-founders of the popular pastry shop Bakery Lorraine.
Opened in early 2018, this Castle Hills spot features updated Southern cooking. Try the country-fried quail with pickled peppers and spicy mayo.
Offering a “progressive culinaria” tasting menu, this Mexican restaurant is located in a converted rail car inside “the yard” in Olmos Park.
Alamo BBQ Co
A collaboration between the Two Bros. BBQ Market and the local empire-building chef Jason Dady. The specialty here is Texas-style barbecue in the form of smoked beef brisket and sausage.
Crunching the Numbers
● 37 million: Number of visitors to San Antonio in 2017; in 2015 it was 34.1 million, according to Visit San Antonio.
● 25: Percent of total expenditures that tourists spent on food in 2016, up from 21 percent in 2012, according to travel research company D.K. Shifflet & Associates Ltd.
● 2: Number of cities in the U.S. designated as Unesco Culinary Heritage sites. San Antonio is one; Tucson is the other.
● 2013: The year that Steve McHugh, an alum of John Besh’s restaurants in New Orleans, started the popular meat-centric restaurant Cured at the Pearl. He was one of a number of chefs who moved to San Antonio following Hurricane Katrina.