Best Place to Find Your Next Favorite Read
Named for that feeling you get when you’ve lost in a great read, Nowhere Bookshop is a haven for book lovers like its founder, author Jenny Lawson. Take your time wandering through the store on Broadway and keep an eye out for “Staff Favorite” cards sprinkled throughout the shelves. On each, employees detail why a title landed among their faves and provide an idea for what to read next if you (like them) already love the book in question. A bar with coffee, wine and beer is planned for the future, and the quirky decor throughout is just another reason to find your next book recommendation in person.
The Twig Book Shop
A San Antonio mainstay since 1972, The Twig is a must-visit for author events, children’s story time and shopping, whether looking for new releases, historical reads or Texana titles.
Best Growing Trend: Sustainable Fashion
Best Getaway for Relaxation
Loma de Vida
Named for its stunning panoramic views of San Antonio, Loma de Vida (“hill of life”) offers a full spa menu plus indulgent amenities (like the Himalayan salt sauna, herbal steam room and infinity pool) that make it worth staying all day.
Best Barbershop for the ‘Puro’ Experience
Puro Handsome Barbershop
‘Puro San Antonio’ is an often-heard phrase in the Alamo City, and no barbershop exudes it more than Puro Handsome. Helmed by Tommie Gonzalez and located next to the Majestic Theater, Puro is part old-school barbershop, part self-styled business casula and part New York street punk — all with a touch of that San Antonio vibe. Gonzalez hails from Brownsville and is a former TV broadcast engineer and indie music label owner. After frustrations with the entertainment industry, he sought a “more caring” profession and now offers standard cuts, shaves, beard trims and more — often while the customer enjoys a beer or whiskey.
Best Reinvention: Belle & Union Co.
Best Place to Work From Home — Away From Home
When the walls of the home office start closing in, Pearl is the place to recharge and refocus. Grab a cup of coffee from Local Coffee Founders plus breakfast from the Bottling Dept. (bonus: the lines are short on weekdays) and relax at a table outside or on a blanket on the faux lawn. When outside temps are too extreme, sip on coffee or Mexican hot chocolate from Larder at Hotel Emma and nestle into a chair in the hotel’s lobby. When you need a real break, there’s the Twig Book Shop, Rancho Diaz and others stores for browsing, and Hiatus Spa + Retreat offers an excuse for some self-care if you’re taking some extended me time.
Best Convenience We Can’t Live Without
Someone else does the shopping and it’s free? HEB makes it tough to buy groceries anywhere else with its app that allows for easy ordering and (almost always) free curbside pickup.
Best New Style Concept: The SJ
Best Place for Unique Snacks
A snacker’s dream, Jefferson Bodega has tough-to-find salty and sweet treats and drinks that you did not know you were missing from your life. Wendy’s Frosty – flavored cereal? Fried pickles with ranch Lays? Pumpkin spice ramen and sweet and sour plums beer? Do not knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
Best New Designer
Technically speaking, Nicola Bathie isn’t “new.” The San Antonio native has made a name for herself in the jewelry industry with her classic, feminine and slightly whimsical collections. What’s new is her collaboration with Antonio Melani that has her branching out into fashion — and into Dillard’s department stores. The Nicola Bathie for Antonio Melani limited-edition capsule collection hit the retailer’s website and select stores in September 2021. A reflection of her own impeccable, personal style, the collection of apparel, shoes, jewelry and hair accessories is a study in romance, calling to mind something out of a Brontë novel. Characterized by rich fabrics, dazzling sequins, flirty feathers and Bathie’s signature sparkly stones and pearls, the feminine pieces are proof that timeless beauty never goes out of style.
Best Antiques: Rose Vintage SATX
Best Advocates for Pets
San Antonio has a vast array of dedicated, hard-working and impressive pet nonprofits but SNIPSA stands out from the crowd. It puts a high priority on rescuing animals at risk of euthanization in other shelters and relies on its well-curated social media feeds, volunteer network, partnerships and fun events to help find pets new homes. (For example, it held a Betty White – themed adoption event, “Betty’s Final Bow Wow,” earlier this year at Adelante Boutique, which donated a portion of its profits that day to SNIPSA). It also works to prevent overpopulation with free spay and neuter surgeries (it’s performed 16,500 since it was founded in 2006 by a group that included several veterinarians).
Best New Shop for Home
Fans of the gift shops Felíz Modern and Felíz Modern Pop were thrilled with the opening of this boutique at Pearl. Filled with vintage and modern pieces from Texas, Mexico and around the world, the shop reflects the style of owners Ginger and Mario Diaz and is a look at what they would use if stocking their own dream home. Search for handmade pottery, kitchen gifts, textiles and more.
Best Boutique Studios for Cardio and Strength
Best Store for Classic Menswear
With more than 100 years in business, Penner’s has garnered a loyal following for a reason. The downtown store stocks its racks with clothing appropriate for the South Texas heat (including made-to-measure custom shirts and authentic guayaberas crafted just for Penner’s customers in Mexico, Panama and Colombia). They have boys and “big and tall” sizes, so you’ll find something for everyone, and tailoring is offered on purchases at no additional charge.
Best Reasons to Get to the Airport Early
Local Eats + Art
San Antonio International Airport has been intentional about stepping up its game when it comes to making sure travelers know they’re in the Alamo City. Andrew Weissman’s Sip Brew Bar & Eatery greets guests who need a cup of coffee before going through security while San Antonio staples like Merit Coffee, Smoke Shack, La Gloria, Rosario’s and Boss Bagels offer local bites, libations and caffeine in the terminals. Airport walls feature curated local art exhibits throughout the year so guests can view photos, paintings and more when trekking to baggage claim, the ticket counter or their gate. The best news? These additions are just the start.
Best Farmers Market for a Quiet Saturday Morning
Huebner Oaks Farmers Market
When you’re looking for a destination market where you can spend a full morning or take out-of-town guests, Pearl is the go-to (as proven by it earning the most reader votes for Best Farmers Market). But when you’re in it simply for the shopping or only have 30 minutes to spare, Huebner Oaks Farmers Market provides the perfect escape. Not nearly as large as Pearl, the market managed by Four Seasons Market has plenty of local artisans, food vendors and produce, parking is plentiful and the crowd is friendly.
Best Pop-up Market for Meeting Makers
SA Local Market
Makers Cristina Martinez (of Very That) and Cat Contreras-Sanchez (of BarbacoApparel) hosted their first “Brickmas” market several years ago at Blue Star and have since grown to host pop-up shopping events at Pearl Stable, Main Plaza, Brick at Blue Star and elsewhere. They always curate a list of vendors that offer a variety of goods rooted in South Texas, prioritizing Latinx and female-owned businesses. It’s tough to browse a market and not walk away with at least a few purchases, so go when you’re looking for that perfect gift — or just a reason to treat yourself.
Best Antiques: Rose Vintage SATX
Best Baby / Kids: Crib & Kids
Best Barbershop: Traveler Barbershop
Best Books: The Twig Book Shop
Best Farmers Market: Pearl Farmers Market
Best Fitness / Activewear / Outdoors: Smart Barre & Pilates
Best Florist: The Flower Guy
Best Furniture: Office Furniture Liquidations
Best Gifts: Sunset & Co. | Home & Decor
Best Gym or Fitness Studio: Camp Gladiator
Best Home Decor: Belle & Union Co.
Best Men’s Clothing: Bexar Goods
Best Museum Gift Shop: White Museum
Best Pet Store: SouthPaw Waggery
Best Pet Grooming / Boarding: Lucy’s Doggy Daycare
Best Salon: Lucent Salon
Best Secondhand Clothing: Gray Moon Vintage
Best Spa: Hiatus Spa + Retreat
Best Women’s: La Casa Frida