San Antonio may not claim the title of largest city in the enormous state of Texas (that honor goes to Houston), but it’s still the top-notch center of a vibrant and thriving multi-cultural scene, with art, music, theater, history, three amusement parks in the area and a fabulous, throbbing nightlife. It’s the home of the infamous Alamo, where American legend Davy Crockett was killed, as well as the ornate Majestic Theater, the first air-conditioned theater in the state. With such close proximity to Mexico, San Antonio also boasts a fluid bicultural population and an enormous annual Mexican heritage festival, attended by over three million people each year.
There’s no shortage of things to do while you are in San Antonio, TX, but thanks to its southern location, it’s a spectacular city for Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, so you should be sure to bring a Texas-sized appetite!
Casa Rio Mexican Restaurant
Casa Rio was the first restaurant to open on the River Walk all the way back in 1946 and it’s one of the most popular spots for Mexican and Tex-Mex food in San Antonio today. It’s not just the nostalgia that keeps people coming back, though – the food is simple but delicious, just the way it should be. If you’re visiting and would like a truly special evening, book reservations on the restaurant’s riverboat, which glides along the San Antonio River.
El Mirador Restaurant
El Mirador Restaurant is known for its scrumptious Saturday soups (which have something of a following among locals), classic Tex-Mex and Nuevo Mexican fare. Quick service and big portions are also the name of the game, with breakfast dishes like huevos a la Mexicana (scrambled eggs mixed with sautéed pico de gallo), lunch features that are truly value-priced, a well-rounded dinner menu and special Sunday menu.
La Margarita Restaurant and Oyster Bar
Make your reservations ahead of time, because this place fills up fast. Owned by the Cortez family, who also owns and operates two sister restaurants, the La Margarita was designed after the grand New Orleans style and offers music, outdoor seating and a great location among the shops and dining of the Market Square in downtown San Antonio. The best components of La Margarita, visitors and locals agree, are the service, quality and freshness of the food and, of course, the margaritas.
Rosario’s Mexican Café y Cantina
Saved from the brink of bankruptcy some 20 years ago, Rosario’s has gone on to become a mainstay among native San Antonians, who take to heart the excellent service and even more incredible food. The salsa at-table, served up with warm tortilla chips upon arrival, is the stuff of legends; the recipe is a secret and takes up to two hours to complete. Vegetarians will also be pleased to discover that Rosario’s is happy to accommodate your dietary restrictions wherever possible.
Located on Medical Drive and staffed by some of the friendliest Texans you will meet, Taqueria Datapoint gets sky-high marks for what is ultimately simple Mexican cuisine done so very right. Breakfast items are served all day long (the tacos are fantastic) and emphasis for all menus is on authenticity and deliciosity (is that a word?). Don’t be overwhelmed by the sometimes chaotic atmosphere!
The food is scratch-made, just like any grandmother worth her salt would have it, and there’s seating both indoors and outdoors. Make sure you try an award-winning margarita, unless of course you’d rather sip something less potent while watching your kids play on the large outdoor playground thoughtfully provided. There’s also live music four nights a week to complement your dinner.
Here’s something really special: Paloma Blanca, on Broadway Street, offers a full gluten-free menu that has received rave reviews all around. It’s an upscale, diet-sensitive place set in the beautiful heart of San Antonio.
Guajillo’s The Shortcut to Mexico
The name’s a mouthful and so is the food, another simple but spectacular restaurant (serving up the cuisine of Central Mexico) with good portions and excellent prices. If you’re looking for the Tex-Mex flavors that are so prevalent in this city, skip this joint; if you’re open to the taste of authentic Mexican food without the grease, you’ve found your new favorite restaurant.
Image from Flickr’s Creative Commons
Andrea Brayer is a contributing writer and New England native who moved to San Antonio 10 years ago and fell in love with both the beauty of the area as well as the food. In six months, she went from a foodie’s nightmare (she considered Taco Bell to be Mexican cuisine) to an eager proponent of the Mexican and Tex-Mex fare of the city.
This post was sponsored by Expedia.