Foodie Friday: Race to Fantastic Flavor at Landrace

by Dawn Robinette on September 15, 2023 in Food+Drink,

If taste buds could lace up their running shoes, they’d sprint their way to Landrace, where natural ingredients are celebrated – and served to perfection.

Lucky for us, no racing is required at Landrace, where six-time James Beard Award finalist Chef Steve McHugh has crafted a menu around landrace ingredients: plants and animals that have evolved and adapted over time to fit in and thrive where they live, even if they came from somewhere else. That means showcasing native Texas ingredients – and those that have adapted well to the Texas ecosystem.

Six-time James Beard Award finalist Chef Steve McHugh. Photo Josh Huskin.

McHugh – who grew up on a working farm in Wisconsin – respects the purity of natural ingredients and showcases them in seasonal dishes that celebrate regional Texas ingredients and heritage growers, working with 20 local producers and farmers to honor the earliest indigenous ingredients of the region. McHugh’s high standards in sourcing and commitment to respecting the environment means you’ll enjoy the best Texas has to offer. Marry that with open-flame cooking and you have Landrace.

Interior of Landrace. Photo KathyTran.

A hint of what’s to come flanks the restaurant’s street entrance. Neatly stacked piles of wood seem out of place against the sleek design of Landrace’s home, the Thompson Hotel San Antonio, but those split logs are an essential ingredient. Smoke plays a role in much of Landrace’s offerings, including its terrific cocktail menu.

Wagyu Beef Tartare. Photo KathyTran.

Not a fan of smoke? Give it a chance. Rather than overpower, it elevates everything at Landrace. Think smoked butter on fantastic bacon cheddar biscuits, smoked creme fraiche adding another layer of flavor to chicken soup and smoked paprika croutons atop a fantastic Caesar salad. At lunch, it’s a smoked ham and cheese Croque Madame sandwich. At breakfast, it flavors Wagyu steak and eggs.

Brussel Sprouts. Photo Courtesy Landrace.

Breakfast and lunch from a James Beard Award finalist? Yes. It’s a perk of having Landrace elegantly nestled inside the Thompson Hotel, with the perfect patio overlooking the River Walk to enjoy a meal or happy hour. Bar bites include crispy fried Brussel sprouts featuring a tasty trio of bacon, balsamic glaze, and a sweet pepita crunch.

Citrus Cured Tuna. Photo Courtesy Landrace.

But let’s focus on dinner. Start with citrus-cured tuna on a bed of avocado vinaigrette, with pickled jalapeño, crispy potato and red greens. Just don’t dawdle as your dinner companion may lick the plate clean before you know it. Those crispy fried Brussel sprouts are not to be missed, with the sweet pepita crunch setting them apart from other fried sprouts you may have tried.

Landrace Restaurant in San Antonio, Texas on Feb 3rd, 2021. (Josh Huskin)

“Mains” at Landrace offer seafood or land options. The scallops are exquisite, thick and flavorful and cooked to perfection, while the seasonal catch brings out the best of the featured fish (a divine Amberjack during our visit). McHugh is mindful to utilize underrated cuts of meat in unexpected ways, and the 16-ounce New York Strip stands out. And the filet? It deserves a place among San Antonio’s best.

Roasted Baby Carrots. Photo Courtesy Landrace.

The mains are paired with an array of side options, including baby carrots with a hint of sweetness thanks to cajeta. Along with grilled broccolini and house made fries featuring smoked black pepper, veggies have never tasted so good.

Cocktail Cart. Photo Courtesy Landrace.

Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a cocktail during your meal:  Landrace features a bar cart that provides cocktails made to order. The craft cocktail menu includes the “Sin and Smoke”, featuring Maker’s Mark that has been house-infused by Mesquite, perfectly paired with Angostura Bitters and Simple Syrup. Watching the cocktails come to life at your tableside is a great show.

Carrot Cake. Photo KathyTran.

Definitely don’t skip dessert. Enjoy carrot cake unlike any other, with icing flavored and brightened by prickly pears with butterscotch made in-house with single-malt scotch. And the afagato is custom-made for San Antonio:  it comes with a churro, making it a real treat.

Landrace is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday, with brunch available on the weekend. Happy hour is 3 – 6 p.m. daily in the bar and on the patio, with dinner served 5 – 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. on Friday through Sunday. Valet parking at the Thompson Hotel is included with your meal.


Cover photo courtesy Landrace

An award-winning writer and communications expert who runs Tale to Tell Communications, Dawn Robinette is a Certified Tourism Ambassador who loves to tell stories about her adopted hometown of San Antonio. You can read more of her work at Alamo City Moms, San Antonio Woman and Rio Magazine.