San Antonio

Chef Mark Bliss, back from a sabbatical in California, has opened up shop in a refurbished service station just south of downtown. The frequently changing menu is contemporary but doesn’t abandon Texan tastes. Charcuterie made a fine appetizer (prosciutto, Spanish chorizo), but also impressive were oyster sliders made with silver dollar–size biscuits and sweet bacon. A roast duck breast with risotto was the table favorite, thanks in part to a cider sauce spiked with black pepper. The redfish ranked a notch lower, as it seemed to lack the promised shrimp and clam accents. A deconstructed dessert of pecans, a bit of ice cream, and a long, thin cookie was cleverly called a “pecan pie,” but no one was fooled. In short, this classy yet informal restaurant is a bright spot in Southtown. Beer & wine. 926 S. Presa (210-225-2547). Dinner Tue–Thur 5–10, Fri & Sat 5–11. Closed Sun & Mon. $$–$$$ W+

Olive & June


Everyone wondered how such a big, energy-gulping space—albeit one with fabulous fifties decor and an unparalleled patio—could succeed. And sure enough, El Arbol didn’t have the mojo. But Shawn “Parkside” Cirkiel thinks he has the right plan: regional Italian. He could well be right—it’s already hard to get a table. Things that went perfectly on a maiden visit included sybaritic mezzaluna pasta filled with butternut squash purée and a heavenly polenta studded with wild mushrooms. But the kitchen needs to get younger artichoke hearts for the popular appetizer, because half of ours were fibrous and chewy, and the eggplant balls the place is so proud of are a tad boring, even if nicely fried. Bar. 3411 Glenview Ave (512-467-9898). Dinner Tue–Thur 5–10, Fri & Sat 5–11. Closed Sun & Mon. $$$ W+