Dining at Pharm Table

Inside Dining Pharm Table

 

By Janis Turk  |  Photography by Marty Morris

 

It’s often said that laughter is the best medicine, and local chef Elizabeth Johnson agrees that good humor is great for the spirit. However, she maintains food is actually the best medicine for good health and nutrition, and she’s devoted her career to that fresh, forward-looking concept.

 

Chef Johnson introduced San Antonio to her philosophy of nourishing the body through delicious, globally inspired dishes with her first Pharm Table, a popular counter-service restaurant and food delivery operation she opened in 2014. Its success led her to reintroduce Pharm Table as a full-service restaurant with an elevated bar program in Southtown in 2021. Here, she could more fully express her approach to food as medicine. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary in San Antonio, Pharm Table has placed healthful food at the heart of the city’s exciting, ever-evolving culinary scene and given locals a new place to love.

 

Health Food with Bold Flavors

 

Pharm Table offers a unique epicurean experience, blending healthful cuisine with vibrant flavors and an inviting ambiance.

 

Tucked away on South Presa Street, the restaurant features two vine-covered outdoor patios and a high-ceiling interior space home to an industrial-chic dining room with a wall of clear casement windows and a long, gleaming, tile-clad bar. Above the kitchen window, a retablo depicting San Pasqual (patron saint of the kitchen) and a drawing of a Mayan grandmother pay tribute to the spirit of the multi-cultural culinary concepts at play. Wood-block Mexican Catrina prints also ground the space with other reminders of San Antonio’s Mexican heritage.

 

Perfect for an afternoon happy hour, weekend brunch, or date-night dinner, Pharm Table is not your average health-food restaurant. It’s a friendly, accessible, something-for-everyone spot in an intimate setting. Want Wagyu beef short ribs? Dreaming of a vegan, gluten-free Pad Thai noodle bowl? Craving a cold, top-shelf margarita on a hot afternoon? Wishing for a tasty, non-alcoholic “mocktail”? Love fine natural wines from across the globe? Pharm Table has all this and more.

 

Food photographed at Pharm Table, June 2021. (Josh Huskin for Pharm Table)

 

Culinary Legacy and Global Inspiration

 

Chef Johnson honed her skills at Le Cordon Bleu in Mexico City and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México before traveling throughout Latin America to learn about its cuisine. Upon returning to San Antonio, Johnson became a chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of America at Pearl and a leading force in the city’s culinary scene. She even worked to secure San Antonio’s designation as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Recognized by the James Beard Foundation, Johnson champions an anti-inflammatory approach to food, drawing inspiration from Ayurveda and Blue Zones research. From all that experience grew Johnson’s concept of a culinary apothecary kitchen, unlike anything South Texas has ever seen.

 

jhuskin pharmtable owner

 

The Pillars of Pharm Table

 

Pharm Table’s philosophy rests on five key principles: Ayurveda, fusion of cultures and flavors, commitment to quality, community engagement, and sustainability. Chef Johnson uses Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, as a guiding principle. Her menu reflects seasonal cycles and incorporates ingredients that promote balance within the body.

 

Likewise, San Antonio’s rich heritage blends with flavors from around the world at Pharm Table. The restaurant draws from a world-class spice library, a testament to Johnson’s passion for exploring different culinary traditions. These influences, from macrobiotics to traditional Chinese medicine, create an innovative and satisfying menu.

 

Everything at Pharm Table is gluten-free and dairy-free, and each menu offers enticing vegan options. However, meat-eaters and pescatarians can enjoy dishes like chicken and waffles, salmon tacos, and Peruvian leche de tigre ceviche.

 

Sustainability in all aspects—economic, ethical, and environmental—is a priority here. Chef Johnson values sourcing ingredients locally, minimizing food waste, and responsibly managing waste, and Pharm Table holds the distinction of being San Antonio’s first commercial restaurant composter.

 

“We anaerobically compost all organic waste and support regenerative farming through our vendors. By supporting Pharm Table, you are supporting our mission to heal people and the planet through food,” says Johnson.

 

Pharm Table extends its philosophy of nourishment beyond its walls. Chef Johnson actively partners with organizations like the San Antonio Food Bank, Office of World Heritage, and Por Vida to promote healthy eating in San Antonio.

 

Zucchini Noodle Salad

 

Nourishing the Body and Soul

 

Pharm Table offers more than just a delicious meal and an inviting space to dine. It’s about nurturing the body, fostering a healthy gut biome, and strengthening the immune system. By offering delightful, globally inspired dishes from a place of deep respect for tradition and sustainability, all in a bright, welcoming setting, Pharm Table has become a local favorite. With an exciting seasonal menu and a brilliant bar program, Pharm Table has become a beloved Southtown destination where health and flavor go hand-in-hand.

 

Janis Turk is a longtime contributor to San Antonio WOMAN magazine and is its former managing editor, as well as the former editor of Country Lifestyle, San Antonio Fitness & Health magazine, San Antonio AT HOME, and travel editor for Today’s Groom. She’s also been a contributor to Chile Pepper magazine, Louisiana Cooking, and more, as well as a travel writer for the Chicago Tribune, The Houston Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, the San Antonio Express-News, and other newspapers and magazines.

 

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