The restaurant scene in San Antonio is on the rise, with creative local chefs investing in the city’s revitalizing urban neighborhoods and turning old, historic buildings into exciting new spaces for culinary adventures. As with any large city, San Antonio is also full of upscale and midscale chain restaurants that serve foods from all over the world to the city’s diverse population. With such a dynamic market, the best restaurant architects and designers in San Antonio often take their cues from the chefs they work with, mixing together bits of the past, bits of the present, and bits of imagination to create something new and exciting. The following top 10 architects and designers are creating unique spaces for residents and visitors alike to find their next favorite talk-of-the-town restaurant.
Top Architects and Designers
Beaty Palmer Architects
AIA Honor Award,
SAMCA Golden Trowel Awards,
San Antonio Conservation Society Historic Preservation Award
110 Broadway, Suite 600, San Antonio, TX, 78205
About Beaty Palmer Architects
Since it was founded in 1993, Beaty Palmer Architects has developed a stellar reputation and earned a lot of praise for its civic, corporate, commercial, and residential projects. Apart from features in industry publications such as Texas Architect, the firm has also won several awards which include AIA San Antonio’s 2019 Community Impact Award and the San Antonio Conservation Society’s 2018 Historic Preservation Award. Alongside its talented team, Beaty Palmer Architects also has founding principal and highly experienced architect, Michael Beaty. A Texas Tech University graduate, Beaty has designed some $600 million in construction projects and has won more than 20 awards for his work on civic, corporate, community, commercial, and residential projects.
When visiting san Antonio, one great destination to walk through with friends and family is River Walk. This is where Beaty Palmer has left its mark, completely redesigning three popular restaurants along the famed urban riverscape. In a massive undertaking, the firm reworked the Lone Star Cafe, Michelino’s, and Cafe Ole & Agave Bar while the said restaurants remained open, completely transforming the three spaces, doubling the whole complex in size, refurbishing the facades, and constructing a new roof, dining rooms, and of, course kitchens.
Candid Rogers Architect
AIA National Small Projects Award,
AIA San Antonio Design Award,
San Antonio Conservation Award
215-1 Groveton Street, San Antonio, TX 78205
About Candid Rogers Architect
Candid Rogers is managed by founder Candid Rogers—an architect with an eye for the harmony between architecture and nature. Prior to establishing the firm, he worked for Lake|Flato—one of San Antonio’s leading and busiest architecture firms—for four years before going out on his own in 2005. While growing up on a ranch outside of San Antonio, Rogers developed an intimate and complex relationship with the land and the natural world, which has served as a kind of guiding light throughout his impressive architecture career. He has also traveled widely throughout the world, learning about the different cultures’ design traditions, innovations, and techniques—lessons he has brought to his work in San Antonio. Rogers graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in architecture, and he also works as a lecturer at the University of Texas at San Antonio. His work has won many local, state, and national awards and has been featured in numerous books and journals.
Candid Rogers Architect won a San Antonio Conservation Award for its design of Bliss Restaurant—the first solo project by longtime San Antonio chef, Mark Bliss. In the vibrant neighborhood of Southtown, a few blocks south of the city center, the firm created an elegant and welcoming restaurant out of an old service station building that was originally built in 1929. The complex historic renovation featured a new up-to-the-minute kitchen with a chef’s table that seats 10, as well as a sleek and cool main dining room featuring exposed brick walls and rafters and concrete floors. This New American restaurant with internationally inspired flavors was named one of the 100 best restaurants for Foodies by OpenTable.
Clayton & Little Architects
ULI Global Award for Excellence
429 N. St. Mary’s Street, San Antonio, TX 78205
About Clayton & Little Architects
A firm that has been featured in several publications including Texas Architect, The
Austin American Statesman and Vogue, Clayton & Little Architects have completed several high-profile projects in Austin and San Antonio. Well-rewarded for these projects, it has gathered several awards for design excellence seen in its historic renovation and restoration projects. The firm is led by Paul Clayton and Emily Little. Clayton has a master’s degree in architecture from Texas Tech University and is known for designing residential and commercial projects while managing the firm’s construction company. Little on the other hand is an AIA fellow and native of Austin. Thanks to Little’s experience, she has been named that city’s best architect by the Austin Chronicle and is a well-known expert in historical restoration.
In another major historic renovation at the praised Pearl Brewery mixed-use complex downtown, Clayton & Little Architects recently created the Bottling Department Food Hall—a big, city-style food court with five local restaurants housed in the old brewery complex’s former bottling building. The firm redesigned the historic structure with 13,000 square feet of new construction while keeping many of the Classical Revival elements thanks to old photographs and drawings. The firm also added windows to the roof to bring in natural light and built a shaded patio on the northside for outdoor dining. In the basement of Bottling House, Clayton & Little also designed a dance space and restaurant called Jazz, TX for the local bandleader, Doc Watkins. The firm describes the unique space as an upscale urban Jazz club with the “grit of a Texas dance hall.” It has a fantastic dance floor made from reclaimed wood and features lots of elegant, metal details and other reclaimed materials gathered from the Pearl’s renovation.
Kristin Wiese Hefty
Remodeling Magazine Grand Award,
Remodeling Magazine Merit Award
311 Sixth Street, San Antonio, TX 7821
About Clayton & Little Architects
One of the top design-build firms in San Antonio, the Dado Group has been active in the restaurant-design sector while also designing and constructing superior residential projects. The firm’s collection of awards includes the 2018 Gold Nugget Award of Merit and two of the Chrysalis Regional awards. Alongside such honors, the firm has also been featured in publications like the San Antonio Business Journal, San Antonio Current, Urban Home, and The Scout Guide. Kristin Wiese Hefty leads the firm as partner and project architect. She received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Texas at Austin and held internships at Leeser Architecture and Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates in New York. She later worked for Lake|Flato for five years before starting her own firm with her husband, Clay Hefty, a partner and construction manager who graduated from Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree in information systems and quantitative business analysis.
Signature, Inspired By Chef Andrew Weissman, has quickly become one of San Antonio’s favorite foodie destinations. The internationally known San Antonio chef has opened several restaurants in the city, but Signature is meant to sum up his long career. With its upscale, sumptuous, and tasteful design, the restaurant, like the food served within it, combines European elegance with Texas-inspired flavors. Dado Group also worked on The Granary ‘Cue and Brew, an upscale barbecue joint and brewpub that the firm created out of a historic home at the remodeled and revitalized Pearl Brewery development. The end result is a beautiful, wood-paneled interior with rustic-chic elements and an interesting mix of old and new.
Hospitality Design Group
Robert L. Herbage
4035 Naco Perrin Boulevard, Suite 2000, San Antonio, TX 78217
About Hospitality Design Group
The Hospitality Design Group specializes in restaurant design and operates on the philosophy that “all areas within a restaurant should be designed.” The firm has worked on projects in Texas and California and has gained several national restaurant chains as clients over the years. Principal architect Robert L. Herbage started the firm in 1984. He has more than 30 years of experience as a designer and has worked on a host of major restaurant and hospitality projects. He received his bachelor’s degree in architecture from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. The firm’s Director of Development Consulting is Chris Tripoli, another notable individual who has experience opening many restaurants during his 25 years in the industry and is the president of A’La Carte Foodservice Consulting Group.
Hospitality Design Group is the firm behind many of the popular chain eateries in San Antonio, often working on multiple locations. The firm designed 14 locations of the local family-style chain Jim’s Restaurants and is also known for its work on many custom restaurants as well. The firm has put its stamp on all different kinds of styles, from fine dining to food courts and mall kiosks. In the upscale Alamo Heights neighborhood, Hospitality Design Group worked on Osaka Japanese Steak & Sushi—a large restaurant with a warm interior, featuring hanging box lamps and fun communal tables for big parties to watch the chefs work and a wide-open main dining room with many seating options. The firm also worked on Paloma Blanca Mexican Cuisine, a favorite destination for high-end Mexican food in San Antonio, featuring sumptuous, leather-and-brick interiors, an upscale vibe, and an amazing patio.
311 Third Street #200, San Antonio, TX 78205
One of San Antonio’s top architecture firms, Lake|Flato has been influencing the city since 1984 with its concentration on sustainable design and urban revitalization. Founders Ted Flato and David Lake, both AIA Fellows, lead the 89-person firm which has won numerous awards including the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture and AIA’s Firm of Year award. Architect Magazine has placed the firm in the Top 10 of its annual Top 50 list, and Fast Company has called it one of the Top 10 most innovative architecture firms in the world. By 2019, the firm had once again been included in Architect Magazine’s Architect 50 list. Focused on designing energy and resource-saving buildings and finding new uses for old buildings with strong bones and historical significance, the Lake|Flato team has built up a reputation as a group of architects, teachers, environmental stewards, and community advocates.
Though known for many different kinds of projects, Lake|Flato helped design the major downtown redevelopment of the Pearl Brewery complex which has been a gift to San Antonio’s restaurant scene. Within the Pearl complex itself, Lake|Flato designed Il Sogno Osteria, a “culinary destination” for internationally known San Antonio chef Andrew Weissman. The brick trattoria has two floors, a spacious, inviting patio, vaulted ceilings, and rustic details that mix European-country atmosphere with a contemporary steel-and-stone aesthetic. Lake|Flato also won the AIA San Antonio Design Award for its design of a new 18,000 square-foot brewery and tasting room complex for Alamo Beer near San Antonio’s Historic Hays Street Bridge. The rust-colored, pre-fab, corrugated metal buildings nod to the old bridge and the industrial past of the neighborhood. The buildings also feature large front windows and glass doors facing a spacious outdoor patio for beer-tasting and live music.
MSA Architecture + Interiors
George Klein Jr.
GSABA Best Product Design Awards,
GSABA Best Rural Product Awards,
Texas Star Best Custom Product Awards
16719 Huebner Road, Building 3, Suite 301, San Antonio, TX, 78248
About MSA Architecture + Interiors
MSA Architecture + Interiors is an active designer of restaurants, from local neighborhood eateries to national chains. The firm also has experience working on a variety of office, healthcare, industrial, and residential projects. Since its establishment in 2004, it has worked with highly skilled and knowledgeable professionals who have helped the MSA team hone its skills. So far, the firm has been recognized with several awards from the Greater San Antonio Builders Association and the Texas Association of Builders, and its work has been featured on HGTV, as well as in Urban Home Magazine and Architectural Photographers, among many other publications. Before opening the firm, Principal Architect and CEO Brent Anderson worked for Marmon Mok and other San Antonio studios. He received his master’s degree in architecture from Texas A&M University. The firm’s current president, George Klein Jr., received his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Texas A&M University. Along with a skilled team, MSA Architecture + Interiors is affiliated with numerous industry organizations such as the AIA, the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), and the Greater San Antonio Builders Association (GSABA).
With the help of local artists, MSA Architecture + Interiors designed a colorful, eye-catching, and playful Southwestern look for Habanero’s—a burrito restaurant with two locations in San Antonio. The interiors feature bold Southwestern colors and regionally inspired murals and designs that turn this casual eatery into something of a cultural statement. The firm also created the cool, sleek interiors for the upscale Godai Bistro and designed the city’s first Mellow Mushroom Pizza, an Atlanta-based chain. Each of the nationally expanding chain’s restaurants is individually owned and feature a design specific to the location. For the first San Antonio location, MSA Architecture + Interiors used locally reclaimed materials to introduce a Texas hill country edge into the psychedelic-themed pizza joint.
Global Award for Sustainable Architecture,
AIA Firm of the Year,
AIA San Antonio Design Award
311 Third Street #200, San Antonio, TX 78205
One of San Antonio’s top architecture firms, Lake|Flato has been influencing the city since 1984 with its concentration on sustainable design and urban revitalization. Founders Ted Flato and David Lake, both American Institute of Architects (AIA) Fellows, lead the 89-person firm, which has won numerous awards, including the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture and AIA’s Firm of Year award. Architect Magazine has placed the firm in the Top 10 of its annual Top 50 list, and Fast Company has called it one the Top 10 most innovative architecture firms in the world. Focused on designing energy- and resource-saving buildings and finding new uses for old buildings with strong bones and historical significance, Lake|Flato also has an office in nearby Austin.
Though known for many different kinds of projects, Lake|Flato helped design the major downtown redevelopment of the Pearl Brewery complex, which has been a gift to San Antonio’s restaurant scene. Within the Pearl complex itself, Lake|Flato designed Il Sogno Osteria, a “culinary destination” for internationally known San Antonio chef Andrew Weissman. The brick trattoria has two floors; a spacious, inviting patio; vaulted ceilings; and rustic details that mix European-country atmosphere with a contemporary steel-and-stone aesthetic. Lake|Flato als won the AIA San Antonio Design Award for its design of a new 18k-square-foot brewery and tasting room complex for Alamo Beer near San Antonio’s Historic Hays Street Bridge. The rust-colored, pre-fab, corrugated metal buildings nod to the old bridge and the industrial past of the neighborhood, and the buildings feature large front windows and glass doors and face a spacious outdoor patio for beer-tasting and live music.
Timothy B. Blonkvist
Robert L. Shemwell
Richard M. Archer
Texas Society of Architects Firm of the Year,
AIA Design Citation of Honor,
Texas Downtown Associations Best New Construction Award
104 E. Jones Avenue #104, San Antonio, TX 78215
About Overland Partners
Opened in 1987, Overland Partners has built unique and important structures not just in Texas, but all over the world. These projects include museums, university buildings, visitors centers, corporate headquarters, and private homes. The firm also had a hand in designing several distinctive restaurants in the greater San Antonio area. Because of its long list of complex and beautiful projects, Overland Partners has won more than 200 local, national, and international design awards. In 2018, the firm was included in Architect Magazine’s Architect 50 list for Design and was included in the list of Top 50 Sustainable design firms. Overland Partners is led by Founding Principal and Chairman of the Board Timothy B. Blonkvist, an AIA Fellow. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in architecture, Blonkvist also held a fellowship in urban planning at the Royal Danish Academy. Principal Robert L. Shemwell is also an AIA Fellow and has a sustainable design focus and earned his Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin.
With the design for the 7,500 square foot restaurant El Monumento in Georgetown, Texas—about two hours northeast of San Antonio—Overland Partners created an alluring riverside establishment in a small town on the San Gabriel River. The restaurant was designed to be a center point of the town’s historic downtown and to draw the riverscape and the commercial area together, similar to San Antonio’s famed River Walk. The design recreates the hacienda atmosphere of central Texas history with rustic but elegant and warm interiors and a deck that extends over the river. The project won a Best New Construction Award from the Texas Downtown Associations. Overland Partners also designed an innovative and welcoming new 4,600 square foot building for the popular farm-to-table restaurant Leaning Pear, located in Wimberley, Texas, about an hour north of San Antonio in beautiful hill country. With the open design, the firm focused on increasing space while holding on to the intimate shared table philosophy of the chefs. Overland Partners also created a series of terraces along the Blanco River, with a relaxing bar closest to the river. The firm made the new structure big enough so the popular destination-restaurant has room to expand again in the future.
Stephen J. Kramer Architecture + Design
Stephen J. Kramer
4733 Shavano Oak Drive, Suite 103, San Antonio, TX 78249
About Stephen J. Kramer Architecture + Design
Stephen J. Kramer Architecture + Design works on commercial projects all over Texas. Though the firm is relatively small, it has worked on projects throughout Texas, including in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, and Houston. Over the years, the firm has expanded its reach to Arizona, Oklahoma, and Illinois. President and owner Stephen Kramer founded the firm in 1988 and has worked on a variety of large-scale projects, including offices, corporate headquarters, retail stores, medical, dental, and veterinary facilities, and restaurants for national, regional, and local chains. Kramer worked for several architectural firms in San Antonio and Austin before establishing Stephen J. Kramer Architecture + Design and is a member of industry organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) San Antonio and the Texas Society of Architects (TSA).
The Mission Cafe at San Antonio is one of the firm’s most notable works. 4,000 square feet wide, the restaurant includes a façade that takes on the use of traditional materials—stucco walls with wrought iron and cantera stone accents at the windows—to highlight its Mission theme. In addition to the use of these traditional materials, the project also uses traditional forms and elements such as domed bell towers with actual bronze bells and a parapet that draws on the California Mission style. This roof parapet and shade cover above the window uses traditional terra cotta clay tile roofing material while the exposed wood on the building is a stained rough cedar. The firm has also designed restaurants in San Antonio for Panera, including a rare stand-alone location with a drive-through. The location features a covered patio with a metal roof and a contemporary style that brings in a lot of natural light.
Urbano Design & Build
Texas Monthly Best New Local Restaurant
744 Broadway #103, San Antonio, TX 78209
About Urbano Design & Build
With nearly 20 years of experience designing and building commercial and residential projects in San Antonio, Urban Design & Build has worked on many high-profile and lasting projects, including many of the city’s favorite restaurants. The firm has also been recognized for crafting some of the most intriguing architectural designs and detailed finishes on some of San Antonio’s most prestigious homes. The firm is led by Lori Urbano, who started the company in 2009 and has since worked on more than 50 projects. Urbano grew up in her father’s construction business in Laredo, Texas where she learned about building and design before going out on her own. Her first commercial job was remodeling a former Bennigan’s Restaurant, and since then she has been involved in many restaurant projects in San Antonio, including designing a bar on the River Walk and several stylish eateries for local restaurateur Andrew Goodman.
Urbano Design & Build has worked on numerous restaurant projects in San Antonio with restaurateur Andrew Goodman. These projects include Rebelle Restaurant in the historic St. Anthony Hotel which underwent a $24 million renovation in recent years. Ravelle was awarded Best New Local Restaurant by Texas Monthly. The firm brought a contemporary style to its redesign of the hotel’s historic, 200-person dining room, which was originally built in the 1920s. The firm’s most recent project is the unique and wonderful Battalion, a high-style Italian eatery created in an old fire station, another distinctive old space to which Urbano and her team added a contemporary style while saving many of the elegant historic details.