Having deviated from the Culinary Institute of America’s original plan—a different Latin cuisine every six months or so—Nao now presents itself as a “Latin Gastro Bar,” dishing up an assortment of small plates and entrées inspired by mostly South American cuisines, all with a contemporary twist. For example, a recent trio of ceviches, each in a little ramekin, gave us rojo (with toasted corn nuts, shrimp, and roasted tomatoes), Ecuadoran-inspired verde (with olives and enoki mushrooms), and blanco (with Gulf fish and leche de tigre). Then we tried the plantains, served topped with a mild crab salad and a jolt of coconut-lime gel that reminded us, appropriately, of ocean breezes. Finally, arepas, tiny gordita-like masa balls stuffed with marinated goat meat—best of all. You get the picture. Staffed and run by students and faculty, the dining room is a stunning array of textures and form, and the experience is uniquely adventurous. Cocktails here are among the city’s best.
City: San Antonio
Cuisine: Latin American