Bottles of red and white wine line floor-to-ceiling racks in each room of Luce Ristorante e Enoteca. The restaurant's selection is so voluminous and varied that it has earned the Notable Wine List Diners’ Choice Award from OpenTable. The Zagat-rated restaurant holds very good to excellent ratings across the board, and has picked up other awards from OpenTable, including Best Ambiance, Neighborhood Gem, and Outdoor Dining. That ambiance includes stone columns inset with glowing lights that flank vibrant paintings in the main dining room, where waiters deliver housemade potato gnocchi in a gorgonzola-cream sauce, or wild mushrooms scattered across housemade pizza dough. Outside, cement pillars hold up a wooden-lattice roof on the patio, and a fireplace proffers a nice place to warm hands before patty-cake marathons.
Texas Harbor Seafood's chefs hand bread fresh catches and assemble both individual platters and family-size portions of seafood and comfort fare. After perusing the menu, diners can declare their allegiance in surf vs. turf skirmishes, choosing from a roster of palatable options that includes a half-pound of crab legs ($8.99) or chicken-fried steak ($6.29). Twenty catfish nuggets perform original choreography from A Chorus Line before simultaneously splashing through tangy tartar sauce ($11.99). Families can feed every Tom, Dick, and Popeye with a 13-piece order of Alaskan pollock ($18.89), and individuals can keep an order of grilled salmon all to themselves ($8.99).
The Grill at Leon Springs is the answer to a hypothetical—what would you get if you mixed downhome Texas charm with European class? Chef Thierry Burkle took on this equation by crafting a menu full of international flair inside a glowing, rustic space. His Parisian roots and frequent travels to France inform much of the cuisine, from the escargot to the baked brie. Yet italian thin-crust pizzas emerge from the kitchen's brick oven, spanish chorizo dapples housemade pastas, and asian slaw adorns the crab cakes. The global nature of the food—and the catalog of wines that stretch across two cellars—foretells the grill's fondness for from-scratch cooking, variety, and accessibility. Alongside manager Armand Obadia, Chef Burkle aims to satisfy devoted foodies and simply hungry diners alike, a practice that helped win the 2010 award for Best Neighborhood Restaurant/Northwest from the San Antonio Express-News.
A unified atmosphere of community and charisma offsets the restaurant's eclectic offerings. On Thursday through Saturday, guests flock to the Hill Country Terrace for dance breaks, drawn by live music and the survival instinct that makes us look bigger when conga-lining. Parties mingle in one of three rooms—the Alamo Room, the Candle Room, or the Fireplace Room—as the staff prepares their meals in a separate catering kitchen, devoted solely to private events. The public dining room's rustic rock walls might contain gatherings and fundraisers, as well. For example, during a benefit for the San Antonio Food Bank, the San Antonio Spurs donned aprons and waited on grill patrons, raising $180,000.
Housemade accents add pops of fresh flavor to Tejacienda’s selection of Tex-Mex recipes. The chefs craft Tex-Mex standbys such as enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, and chile rellenos, as well as steaks and signature dishes including stuffed chicken breast and stuffed, roasted Texas quail. Inside the dining room, lights dangle from exposed wooden rafters illuminating diners and earthen-hued walls so guests can express their satisfaction through shadow-puppet shows.