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With a witty, extensive, and generally spot-on seafood menu, restaurateurs from Monterrey and Mazatlán have brought Mexico’s west coast to the north side of San Antonio. After you grab a seat at a sidewalk-cafe table or the sleek bar, explore the raw side of the menu (oysters on the half shell, a salmon-topped tostada, a sea scallop aguachile) or sample street-style antojitos (like tiny tacos of achiote fish or battered shrimp with cabbage and tomato). Then get serious with one of chef Jesús Vargas’s innumerable seafood specialties, from coconut shrimp to a whole octopus marinated in soy and chipotle. Bar. Ventura Plaza, 434 N. Loop 1604 West (210-491-1378). Open Mon & Tue 11–11, Wed–Sat 11–2 a.m., Sun 11–10. $$–$$$ W+
El Gran Malo
If you agree that creative cocktails are among the best culinary trends of the millennium so far, you’ll find this Heights neighborhood gastro-cantina worth checking out. We relished a cool cucumber-mint margarita and a livelier blueberry, cilantro, and jalapeño version as we eyed the almost-thirty-foot mural, the shrine to tequila, and the Magritte-like painting of a man wearing, por supuesto, a black sombrero in lieu of a bowler hat. We’d readily order the diablos a caballo again, jalapeños stuffed with goat cheese, Gorgonzola, and bacon, as well as the empanadas filled with plantains, poblanos, cotija cheese, and crab. Tacos ranged from fine (succulent pork carnitas and chicken tinga) to disappointing (gelatinous pork belly). Bar. 2307 Ella Blvd (832-767-3405). Dinner Sun–Thur 4–midnight, Fri & Sat 4–2 a.m. $$ W+