Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

Best Restaurants in San Antonio, TX

by Robin Barr Sussman

713 S. Alamo
Lunch and dinner
Nuevo Latino specialties by executive chef Rene Fernandez combines traditional Latin dishes with Caribbean contemporary touches. Oyster fans should try the specials when on tap, such as the “4x4,” sixteen oysters prepared four exciting ways. Colorful, noisy restaurant features Latin-inspired island flavors including a silky sea bass filet with a tangy stew of garlic and cherry tomatoes. Lunchtime fave: Bistec beef strip loin steak with spicy caramelized onions and chorizo mashers. Unique Latin wine list.

Biga On The Banks
203 South St. Mary's

Yes, Bruce Auden's award winning restaurant overlooks the romantic River Walk in downtown San Antonio. But this culinary temple of modern global cuisine is much more about the food, which has Texas roots. Asian-esque starters of scrumptious duck confit bao buns or tempura gulf shrimp with chile-lime noodles prime the palate. Main courses like seared red grouper with chipotle grits or griddled Angus beef ribeye with Shiner Bock O-rings have an irresistible Texas accent. Ditto for the 11-spice Texas Hill country Axis venison chops and grilled quail or smoke-roasted Buddy’s natural chicken with chayote squash.

Bistro Vatel
218 E. Olmos
Lunch and dinner
Here’s that neighborhood Parisian eatery you always dreamed of. Check out the oh-so-French chalkboard specials of fresh entrees draped in exceptional French sauces. Best bets: coq au vin; steamed mussels with white wine and cream sauce; Ruby trout with prize winning French fries. Homemade basil vinaigrette perks up the wonderfully fresh salads. Perfect portions of scrumptious dessert by the skilled pastry chef; check out her tiramisu.


Bob’s Smokehouse
3306 Roland Ave.
Lunch and dinner
Don’t mind the setting; great Texas barbecue doesn’t require ambience or fine china but do count on Texas friendly service. From the lamb ribs to the combination plates, it’s all impressive. Expect pinto beans with slow-simmering homemade flavor, perfectly seasoned potato salad and moist, tender brisket. Pour the tangy barbecue sauce on the crisp-crusty chicken and meaty sausage or take it home with all the fixings. No credit cards.


Boudro’s on the River Walk
421 E. Commerce
Lunch and dinner
For true San Antonio aura with consistent service and fine food, make reservations at Boudro’s. An eclectic mix of Cajun, old south, southwestern and border cuisines converge to create a dynamite menu that some consider the finest on the River Walk. Delectable choices include the chile seared Gulf shrimp with pineapple-serrano sauce and green apple slaw; blackened prime rib with rosemary potatoes or mesquite-grilled quail. Notable wine cellar heavy on California choices. Three private event rooms attached to the lovely New Orleans-style courtyard.

Casa Rio
430 East Commerce Street
Lunch and dinner
The oldest restaurant on the water, since1946, Casa Rio is still owned and operated by the same family. For over fifty years, they haven’t tampered with the Mexican food menu much in fear of threats from customers. Expect favorites such as “the regular” with an enchilada, rice, beans, a tamale and chili (made the classic way with pureed ancho chiles). The menu claims to have the “best in state” chili con carne, uniquely cooked over mesquite. Picturesque view from indoor-outdoor riverfront terrace with colorful umbrellas; riverboat parties for a minimum of 10 people.

5003 Broadway
Coffee and lunch
Hit this upscale neighborhood cafe/bar for light southwestern style noshing and cheer. Amazing grazing may include the wild mushroom pizza from the wood-fired oven, homemade potato chips with bacon and cheese, or the nachos topped with white bean chili. Other light menu items are available along with a wide variety of beers, single malt scotches, and cocktails. Enjoy the plant-filled patio.

Cappy’s Restaurant
5011 Broadway
Lunch, brunch and dinner
Locals still count on this lofty space serving American favorites of seafood, steaks and regional specialties. Salads, sandwiches, fresh catch of the day fried gulf shrimp, Heights burger, fried oyster burger. Sunday special of lemon pancakes is a winner.


Dough Pizzeria Napoletana
6989 Blanco Road
Blanco Junction Shopping Center
Dough is San Antonio’s only authentic Neapolitan pizzeria. Their crust is hand mixed, hand thrown and made with soft-grain flour, water, sea salt and natural yeast. Pizzas are baked on the wood burning oven's volcanic stone floor in 90 seconds at temperatures reaching 1000 degrees. Toppings vary from margherita to arugula & prosciutto to pork love. Appetizers, salads and desserts are also offered. Texas Monthly-approved, Dough has patio seating too. Lunch & Dinner.


El Mirador
722 S. St. Mary’s
Lunch and dinner
Nestled on the edge of the King Williams district, this family-run operation is one of the best-kept secrets of the locals. El Mirador is famous for its chile con carne, a myriad of soft taco choices on homemade flour tortillas, and some of the best enchiladas in the area. At dinner, experience contemporary southwestern specialties like lobster and crabmeat nachos, wild boar and other exotic meats, cumin-rubbed pork loin and other ambitious menu choices. Homemade Azteca chicken soup on Saturdays.

2559 Jackson Keller
Lunch and dinner
The trio of French, Mexican and Acapulco seafood specialties makes Ernesto Torres’s eatery quite unique. You can’t go wrong with the mix-and-match fresh seafood and sauces. Don’t miss the rich crab and shrimp crepes. Mexican dinners include steak San Antonio with an enchilada. Soothing tearoom ambiance with charming service; full bar. Weekend reservations only.


Fig Tree
515 Villita
This fashionable upper-crust establishment ideally situated on the River Walk features fine dining and Continental cuisine. The always-fresh salmon, fork tender filet mignon, Bob White quail, mint-crusted lamb rack, and chateaubriand are sure to please the most discriminating diner. Serene dining room with many romantic tables.

7701 W. Nottingham
Lunch and dinner
Owner Frederick Costa and chef Francis Perin have created a cozy venue with a distinctive Asian-French focus. Starters tantalize the tastebuds: Go for the sweet smoky spare ribs with a tangy soy glaze. Seafood entrees shine: Mussels and massive shrimp co-mingle to beautiful effect in a slightly sweet soy-Thai basil sauce. Unusual deserts, like green-tea panno cotta, leave a memorable impression.


Guenther House
205 E. Guenther St.
Breakfast and lunch

Now a museum, the King William home of the German family responsible for San Antonio’s oldest functioning mill also serves some of the city’s best traditional American breakfasts. Count on scrumptious homemade biscuits and gravy, fancy pastries, fluffy pancakes and Belgian waffles. Lunches lean toward soups and sandwiches with an outstanding spinach salad boasting warm bacon dressing. Upstairs ballroom with adjoining terrace for private parties overlooking San Antonio’s lazy river.


Hsiu Yu Chinese Restaurant
8338 Broadway St.
Lunch and dinner
This casual, inexpensive Chinese restaurant is popular for good reason. You may have to wait for a table, but not for long and the service is prompt. Chef Chung Lien Yu features a traditional, extensive menu that even makes chicken seem special -- try the fiery Kung Pao chicken, fragrant and bursting with vibrant whole dried chiles; milder cashew chicken, succulent and crisp with whole cashews; or lightly fried sesame chicken. Beef lovers will relish the potato beef with onion and cayenne pepper; seafood specialties also rate a try. Great for take-out.

Koi Kawa
4051 Broadway St.
Lunch and dinner
Seeking sushi with a view? Here, you’ll get a view of pretty Brackenridge Park and the San Antonio river. In addition to the exceptionally fresh tuna or yellowtail sashimi, you’ll find overstuffed giant sushi rolls and sukiyaki—steaming broths filled with thinly sliced vegetables, meat and rice noodles. Don’t leave without trying the artfully arranged Devil Roll; go ahead and be bad!


La Fogata
2427 Vance Jackson
Lunch and dinner
Many consider this to be the loveliest San Antonio restaurant not on the River Walk. Always crowded because of its reliability and charming hacienda style setting, come at off-hours or be prepared to wait. Simple yet sublime menu items keep guests returning: rustic, handmade flour tortillas; remarkable homemade salsa with crispy red-orange chips; emerald-green margaritas. Heartier must-haves: fabulous enchiladas; renowned queso flameado; savory Pollo Loco; Quesadilla de Hongos with mushrooms and white cheese. The No.14 plate is justly famous with red corn tortillas smothered in meaty chili, queso blanco and minced sweet onions.

La Fonda

2415 N. Main
Lunch and dinner
Come hungry for famous puffy tacos and the many other Mexican food delicacies with a contemporary twist: avocado poblano soup; garlicky grilled shrimp; zesty chiles rellenos, and spinach enchiladas. Small, important details like the red table salsa and guacamole are also first rate. Ask about weekly lunch specials prepared in the style of old Mexico cuisine. A favorite for locals, the cheerful, gleaming white dining room goes semi-romantic when the lights are lowered at night.  Dine on the relaxing outdoor patio that includes a water fountain or party in the private party rooms in the back of the restaurant.

La Frite Belgian Bistro

728 S. Alamo St.
Lunch and dinner
At this utterly informal storefront, the theme is classic Belgian. Owner-chef Damien Vatel also owns Bistro Vatel in San Antonio (see summary above). His ancestor was Francois Vatel, who was a French chef at a famous chateau during Louis XIV’s lifetime. Menu winners include smoked duck crepes; terrific pencil-thin frites; steak tartare; and the decadent Turtle Tart, a caramel tart paved in a satiny dark chocolate with a cookie crust.


Le Reve
152 E. Pecan St.
For the finest in dining and contemporary French cuisine, foodies and discriminating guests pick Le Reve. Dine early in this chic jewel box setting to enjoy the natural light pouring in the windows and a glimpse of the River Walk. The always-changing menu created from scratch by artistic chef Andrew Weissman guarantees that every visit will be a sensual delight. Memorable dishes include haricot vert salad with Marcona almonds and crème fraiche; diver scallops with kaffir lime leaf and coconut broth; jumbo black bass with artichokes and oven dried tomatoes. Chef’s tasting menu available along with a vast food-friendly wine list.  Finish with the artisanal cheese course or the delightful raspberry and lemon curd roulade. Wednesday nights enjoy a “no corkage fee” policy when you bring your own wine. Reservations required; and jackets required for men.


6106 Broadway
Lunch and dinner
Come to this time-honored upscale restaurant for classic precisely cooked French food in a refined setting. The constantly changing menu features French onion soup, escargot, crab cakes, roasted rack of lamb, calf’s liver with caramelized onions, and juicy beef tenderloin smothered in green peppercorn sauce. Luxurious seafood specials might include poached lobster, Shrimp Toulouse with jasmine rice, blackened redfish, or linguini with jumbo lump crabmeat. There’s also an irresistible walnut and blue cheese salad. Finish with the ethereal layered white and dark chocolate mousse. Pricey wine list sparkles with rare vintages.


Liberty Bar
1111 South Alamo Street
Lunch and dinner
Don’t let the name fool you. This quirky landmark is not just a bar but also an unpretentious eatery that has never waned in popularity. From the mesquite grill comes everything from lamb sausage to center-cut pork chops to peppered tenderloin. Among the appetizers, the chile relleno en nogada is a winner. Ditto for the creamy eggplant puree on garlicky toast. Indulge in Virginia Green’s chocolate sheet cake for dessert.


Little Rhein Steak House
231 S. Alamo St.
Lunch and dinner

This pricey downtown meat palace is set in a fabulous 1847 landmark building with a charming artifact-filled interior and a garden patio overlooking the River Walk. Regulars like the tender, juicy prime steaks and the broad wine list, in addition to the attentive staff. Known as a “special occasion” place.


Los Patios
2015 N.E. Loop 410
Lunch and dinner
Los Patios is located in an upscale complex nestled among large oak trees and a scenic creek. The Gazebo serves lighter American fare, southwestern and Mexican food plus a popular Sunday brunch. Choose from freshly prepared entree salads like shrimp or chicken; sizzling fajitas; cocktail chalupas; gazpacho or tortilla soup. Children’s menu available; dine indoors or on the patio.


Los Barrios
4223 Blanco Rd.
Lunch and dinner
Mofofo, the mixed grill, and the zesty chimichurri sauce are reasons enough to locate Los Barrios. Expect many excellent, earthy Mexican food choices and complex South American specialties. From grilled pork chops to fried fish, tacos, substantial quesadillas and tart green enchiladas, it’s all worthy. This affordable neighborhood restaurant offers family fun and live music on the weekends.

Mi Tierra Cafe and Bakery
218 Produce Row
Mariachis entertain all night long at this 24-hour sprawling Mexican restaurant and bakery in Market Square, a tourist favorite. The huevos rancheros with a fresh spicy tomato sauce, creamy refried beans, and homemade tortillas are a soulful way to begin any day. Peruse the famous bakery counter for fresh Mexican breads, pastries, candies, candied fruits and cookies. Top-notch homemade soups such as chicken, tortilla or Caldo del Mercado, chile rellenos and bountiful chalupas.


555 East Basse Road
111 West Crockett
Lunch and dinner
These lively Italian institutions at both Alamo Quarry Market and the River Walk remain family favorites for locals and tourists alike. Standout off-the-menu-specials: lamb shanks and polenta; shrimp en brochette with white beans; rustic osso bucco. Shrimp Paesano hasn’t changed a bit, still rich and succulent for those who stick with the tried and true. Paesano’s attracts movers and shakers and can get noisy at peak hours. Private dining in the wine room on Basse, which seats about 35 people.

Po-Po Family Restaurant
435 N.E. 1-10 Access Road
Boerne, Texas 78006
Lunch and dinner
This Texas Hill Country restaurant sounds hokey but it’s a worthy drive for those seeking down-home American food. West of San Antonio about 30 miles sits Po-Pos, known for its fried chicken, mashed potatoes and biscuits. The structure was built in 1929 as a dance hall but today serves 200 people outdoors in the patio/dance area and 120 guests inside seated for meals. A plate collection numbering 1,500 adorns the walls. Angus beef, fried seafood, hamburgers, old-fashioned meatloaf, and ribs round out the menu. Go early and reserve your table--closed Monday.

245 E. Commerce
Lunch and dinner
Treat yourself to “New World Mediterranean” cuisine in the spacious indoor dining room or riverside under the limestone portals. Pastas impress: Try the mesquite grilled proscuitto-wrapped shrimp on angel hair pasta or the Italian sausage with peppers on linguine. More familiar fare for the many tourists includes southwestern prime rib quesadillas; roasted corn-poblano chowder; or Cajun Shrimp. Take comfort in the homemade bread pudding for dessert. Notable contemporary decor with display of work by local artists. Reservations recommended; river barge dining available.

Rio Rio Cantina
421 E. Commerce
Lunch and dinner
It may be considered touristy, but the regulars still compete with visitors for the great modern Mexican food that’s maintained high popularity. This colorful cantina is known for its California-fresh salads, lighter chiles rellenos; giant signature Botanos dinners and hefty enchiladas filled with moist, tender shredded beef. Chill out in the bright, vibrant dining room or riverside, with a signature margarita, for sure!


Sandbar Fish House and Market
152 E. Pecan St.
Celebrated chef Andrew Weissman (of La Reve next door) brings San Antonio this informal seafood emporium. Like his other restaurant, it’s a bit pricey, but worth every penny for the freshest seafood available in the city. Silky lobster bisque, New England clam chowder, pristine sashimi, and house-cured salmon make exquisite appetizers. Main courses are similar to the seafood dishes at La Reve, like the scallops over spinach with dried apricot and fig. Well crafted all white varietal wine list.


Silo Elevated Cuisine
1133 Austin Highway
Lunch and dinner
Stylish ambience and fusion cuisine dominate this hot spot tucked away on the second floor of a gourmet market. Talented chef Mark Bliss offers an eclectic menu that makes choosing difficult. Must orders: tuna steak on corn risotto with sublime wine-arugula sauce, mussels with chile and tomatilla, blue crab spring rolls; ethereal signature chicken-fried oysters. Concise, moderately priced wine list and professional service. Note: Tightly clustered tables make for less than private dinner conversation.

Simi's Indian Cuisine
4535 Fredericksburg Road # 109
(across from Crosswords Mall)
Lunch and dinner 7 days a week with a generous—and affordable—buffet lunch is the draw at this North Indian restaurant. The tandoor Indian oven in the kitchen turns out specialty naan breads, seafood and meats. The seafood and meats are marinated 12 hours in a blend of spices and yogurt and broiled over charcoal in the tandoor for incredible flavor. The full menu offers 10 varieties of breads, many vegetable dishes as well as curries, thalis and mango lassis. Notable saag panir and tender lamb curry. Outside catering is a specialty.


19903 Stone Oak Parkway
SoGo is a market, a cafe, and a gourmet takeout restaurant. Salads and sandwiches are made right in front of you by their experienced culinary team, customized to your liking. The daily chalkboard menu features a fresh array of hot meals—soups, pastas, pizzas, and customized full meals. The deli cases feature ready-made meals available by the piece or pound, which can be packaged to take home. SoGo uses locally grown, organic and/or sustainable foods whenever possible, focusing on fresh, seasonal ingredients. Every sauce, soup, entrée and dessert is hand made by Chef Mark Arriola and the SoGo culinary team.



The Barn Door
8400 N. New Braunfels
Lunch and dinner
This half-century-old moderately priced steak house attracts crowds from all over town. Why? Mesquite-grilled chops from its own butcher shop and great housemade desserts are the highlights. Solid menu basics include club steaks cooked to order; sizzling crisp hash browns with onions; fresh crab Louie; traditional oyster cocktail. Prepare for down-home retro décor, including checked tablecloths and faux hams hanging from the ceiling. Brisk and attentive service—the old fashioned way.


Tre Trattoria
4003 Broadway Street
Executive Chef and Owner Jason Dady offers a wide range of Italian offerings at both lunch and dinner. Think plates of antipasti vegetables to share, salumi, fresh pastas, "cast iron" griddled pizza and wonderful desserts.



Zuni Grill
223 Losoya St.
Lunch and dinner
Grab a riverside table at this informal and noisy southwestern favorite. Expect some fusion influences on the creative menu: deep fried potstickers with hints of chile, smoked duck quesadillas, Shrimp Jose with chipotle chiles, and enchiladas with a New Mexican twist. Sip a signature fuchsia-hued frozen “cactus rita” in the popular open-air (but air-conditioned) dining room and make a toast to the fine city of San Antonio, the hub of Tex-Mex cuisine!



Robin Barr Sussman is a freelance food and travel writer.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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