The kitchensmiths at Sely's Mexican Restaurant forge a mountain of tasty Mexican fare to fuel hungry trekkers within the colorful eatery. Pull up a chair and dig into a bowl of menudo, a traditional Mexican soup ($5.75), to activate taste buds before tackling platefuls of steak ranchero served with rice, beans, and guacamole salad ($8.95).
More than 40 years ago, Charlie and Mary Garcia founded El Chaparral Mexican Restaurant to share their culinary heritage with the local community. Though the business has now been passed down to the next generation of the family, the restaurant adheres to the made-fresh recipes of its early days, delighting diners with hearty enchiladas, fresh seafood dishes, and its signature bean soup.
Ever since it first opened in 1975, El Jarro de Arturo has steadily pushed the boundaries of traditional Tex-Mex cuisine by introducing new flavors and ingredients. These continental inclinations heavily influence dishes such as the bowtie pasta with grilled shrimp and cilantro-pesto sauce, and the grilled salmon with chipotle-spiked mushrooms and mashed potatoes. At the same time, the chefs stay true to their Tex-Mex roots by creating hand-patted corn tortillas and whisking each and every order of guacamole. A selection of enchiladas stuffed with everything from chicken to portobello mushrooms appears alongside other familiar classics, such as beef fajitas in a sputtering iron skillet and chicken glazed with a decadently rich mole sauce.
Although El Jarro de Arturo's menu experiments with Tex-Mex cuisine, the decor stays completely faithful to the source of its inspiration. Earthenware tiles line the floor, Mexican artwork and crafts adorn the walls, and leafy potted plants add a splash of green to the room's warm tones. For a view of even more foliage, the restaurant also seats guests on an outdoor patio section that remains open all year long. The spirited energy of the indoor space grows on Friday and Saturday evenings as a live band performs in front of a dance floor.
The folks at Zagat-rated Paloma Blanca Mexican Cuisine view the restaurant as a family endeavor—not only because many of them have been there since the restaurant opened in 1997, but because of the homelike atmosphere. The staff and patrons are even spending 2012 celebrating the restaurant's quinceañera, or 15-year anniversary. The fiesta feeling is found in the housemade Mexican and Tex-Mex entrees forged from fresh produce, corn tortillas, and spicy salsas. To welcome those with celiac disease, the chefs also provide modified versions of their standard fare with a gluten-free menu. The hacienda-inspired restaurant encompasses several distinct dining areas, each with its own decor, color scheme, and astrological sign. Diners can enjoy their meals on an outdoor patio surrounded by floral landscapes and sparkling fountains or in a brick-walled room permeated with light from hanging sconces and a wall of windows. At the onsite cantina, bartenders pour specialty margaritas, dozens of tequilas, and imported beers.
Sandra Arias was only 12 years old when her family first arrived on American soil. Her parents opened Tink-A-Tako to serve authentic tacos, enchiladas, and Mexican specialties, establishing a legacy that would grow across two decades to 11 locations throughout San Antonio. Today, Sandra, her brothers, and her sister still oversee the kitchens, directing culinary crews as they stuff savory meats into homemade tortillas, adorn enchiladas with a selection of different sauces, and simmer up the chilaquiles. Out in the dining areas, colorful Mexican artwork, ornamental chili peppers, and an absence of Canadian flags give off an authentic Mexican feel. Many locations also boast full bars, outdoor patios, and drive-thru windows.
The cooks at Orderup focus on the classics: burgers, fries, and shakes. Wielding hand-pressed patties, they craft signature burgers such as the La Bomba, which comes with cheddar, bacon, and a fried egg on a buttered bun, or versions with chicken, pork, and fish. The menu also showcases more than 10 shake flavors, including Mexican vanilla, banana, and nutella. Sides of honey-coconut sweet potato fries or serrano cheese fries round out a meal.