The State of Texas has so many beautiful things to see and do. Not to mention there's amazing food to try throughout the State. However, there are no Michelin Star restaurants in San Antonio, or anywhere within the great state of Texas. While the Michelin Guide is one of the more famous culinary awards, it does not cover the state of Texas. There are, in fact, very specific areas that the Michelin Guide awards stars. Though Michelin does provide reviews for certain hotels with restaurants in areas where they don’t award. There are other culinary awards that can set a certain San Antonio restaurant apart.
The James Beard Award, for instance, has a much broader reach in terms of its awards system. Named after the Oregonian chef, author, and educator, James Beard, the foundation nominates chefs, restauranteurs, and restaurants in multiple categories. There are two rounds of judging. To even make it into the semifinals for one of the categories is a big deal. These categories are judged by previous winners, food writers, educators, and all kinds of experts from the world of food. The judges consider the mission, values, and inclusivity of a chef and their kitchen. They also look at the presentation and personality of the food. Let’s learn a bit more about some of the close-to Michelin Star restaurants in San Antonio, Texas. Two restaurants on this list are, in fact, reviewed on the Michelin website!
111 Lexington Avenue, San Antonio, TX 78205
Landrace is housed in the Thompson San Antonio Hotel, and its Chef, Steve McHugh will appear a couple of times on this list. This restaurant is mentioned on the Michelin website, which is different than any kind of Michelin rating, but it still holds some weight in terms of recommendation. McHugh has been nominated multiple times for James Beard awards for his other restaurant, also on this list, Cured. He became the chef of Landrace in 2021 and has curated a culinary experience of seasonal offerings with a focus on the celebration of local Texan cuisine and its inspirations (via San Antonio Magazine).
The menu is centered around the categories of starter plates, soups and salads, main dishes, and sweet offerings. Begin your Landrace experience with citrus-cured tuna or beef tartare with crème fraîche, quail egg, and caviar. There's fried duck confit in an apricot, habañero glaze, deviled eggs, fried Brussels sprouts, and bacon cheddar biscuits. Enjoy a fresh salad with seasonal greens, and fruit, or their current chicken soup with roasted poblano peppers with a smoky crème fraîche topping.
Kitchen mains include scallops in a roasted carrot pureé with blackberry coulis, and seasonal fish with green mole, on a bed of greens with fennel pollen. Heartier mains feature bacon-wrapped Angus steak with fried crab fingers and a chimichurri bearnaise sauce, chipotle lime pork chops, and roasted chicken with habanero yogurt and blue corn tortillas. Get some sides of roasted carrots, raclette cheese, mac n' cheese with brisket, and grilled broccoli. And finally, take your pick of seasonal gelato offerings, vanilla buttermilk panna cotta, and carrot cake with butterscotch and prickly pear icing.
115 Lexington Avenue, San Antonio, TX 78205
Moon's Daughters is another restaurant housed in the Thompson San Antonio Hotel. This rooftop lounge and small-bite eatery offers great views of the city from the 20th floor. They offer small bites for sharing or enjoying all on your own. They specialize in aesthetic and delicious cocktails. Moon's Daughters offers brunch pairings, a build-your-own mezze platter, and dessert options as well. Texas Monthly recommends their calamari dish, as well as the potato croquettes in a spicy pesto sauce. For entrees, this reviewer enjoyed the boneless chicken with a harissa honey glaze, on a bed of labneh, roasted veggies, grilled shrimp in chile oil, and lovely bread to soak it all up. From Landrace to Moon's Daughters, this hotel in San Antonio provides some great culinary experiences with a view of the city to boot!
306 Pearl Parkway, Unit 101, San Antonio, TX 78215
Back again to Chef Steve McHugh, Cured is one of the close-to Michelin Star restaurants in San Antonio, Texas. This New American restaurant has gotten Chef McHugh a total of 6 nominations for the James Beard regional “best chef” category. They are also a Smart Catch leader, another James Beard recognition, for their dedication to sustainable seafood. This restaurant made it on the list of Good Food's 100 Good Restaurants in 2021. Cured opened in 2012, named after McHugh's battle with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, as well as a nod to the cured meat they make in-house (via Forbes). Overall, their menu features local ingredients, and their own line of canned, cured, and pickled items. Nestled in the historic Pearl’s Administration Building, this San Antonio gem is well worth a visit.
The menu features shared options, warm appetizers, main dishes, and some delicious dessert offerings. Try their cheese platters and pick from local cows' milk cheeses, goat chèvre, and a fantastic redneck cheddar. Charcuterie includes pork rillettes, with a combination butter, and pork pate. Add in some salami, smoked pork belly, pork loin, mussels in olive oil, and 4-month aged jamón. Salads include a local kale with orzo and fresh veggies, or a seasonal watermelon with tequila lime balsamic. They have fried chicken liver in lemon aioli with apricot and pepper jelly, empañadas with a smoky tomato ranch, pork belly tacos, and pork poutine. The main dishes feature mesquite smoked chicken, beer-battered mussels, king salmon with garlic scapes, and a steak & frites dish with a bordelaise sauce. Save room for the doughnut bread pudding, or organic soft serve that can be paired with plum wine or sweet cream.
812 S Alamo St., Suite 103, San Antonio, TX 78210
Mixtili is a creative tasting menu experience that draws inspiration from traditional Mexican recipes. In 2022 it was short-listed for the James Beard category of “outstanding restaurant.” Their menu changes according to themes and different seasonal celebrations, for instance, the current menu honors Women in Mexican gastronomy. This menu is called “Recetas: 1879-Present day“. For this unique event, Mixtili partnered with The University of Texas at San Antonio, to provide an experience that explores influential female chefs of Mexico throughout the tasting menu. Overall, the goal of Mixtili is to represent the diversity of regional produce and ingredients from Mexico and to help you to fall in love with the culinary offerings. The tasting menu costs $140 per person.
The current menu features a sampling of both educational and experiential cuisine, all inspired by influential female chefs of Mexico. It starts off with oyster and smoked salmon canapes, and a purslane salad with chayote, tomatillos, avocado, and chile de agua. Next comes a cod escabeche with pickled chiles, potatoes, and cashew, golden raisin mole. Entrees feature beef cheeks in a tamarind mole, a rack of lamb with smoked carrots, and an olive chile tapenade. Finally, the featured dessert for Mixtili is a peach and cognac pairing with bleu cheese, optional coffee, and cinnamon donuts.
2M Smokehouse, Esaul Ramos Jr. – Best Chefs 2022, 2020 JB
2731 S WW White Rd, San Antonio, TX 78222
Chef Esaul Ramos Jr. of 2M Smokehouse, has been nominated multiple times for the James Beard regional “best chef” award. Ramos and his partner Joe Melig, brought their smokehouse dreams to life when they opened the location in 2016. Named for their grandparents, the smokehouse is centered around the values of family and sharing time while smoking meats and preparing food. The menu items are made daily in-house, and there are dining tables as well as take out options for enjoying the wonderful meats offered at this San Antonio establishment.
Pick from menu items like meats by the pound, including brisket, smoked turkey, pulled pork, and pork ribs. There's also house-made sausage, meat sandwiches, and family packs for picnics and dinners. Get a steaming side of chicharron macaroni, maria's beans which can be made gluten-free, or vegan, sweet coleslaw, or Mexican street corn, which is also gluten-free.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©cheng cheng/Shutterstock.com.