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Restaurants in San Antonio

If you were asked to name the best foodie cities in America, what would you say? The chic high-end eateries and old-school delis of New York would certainly flood your mind, as would the deep-dish pizza emporiums of Chicago and the slow-food staples of California’s Napa Valley, but would San Antonio restaurants even make the first round cut? If not, then it’s time to rethink everything you know about this city, which some have called the Most Underrated Food City in America. In San Antonio restaurants, you won’t just find the classic Tex-Mex dishes that have made the town famous (though you’d be a fool to skip over them); you’ll also find inventive international cuisine from James Beard nominees and veteran chefs who never tire of pushing the culinary envelope (and racking up awards while they’re at it.)

Top-Selling Deals for San Antonio RestaurantsView All

Searching for a romantic spot with a riverwalk view? Or maybe a budget-conscious eatery the kids will love? Or maybe you’re from out of town and want to experience some mouth-watering Mexican cuisine that rivals the stuff found just over the border? Whatever you’re searching for, San Antonio restaurants can deliver, figuratively and sometimes literally.

Mexican Restaurants in San AntonioView All

Considering its location in south central Texas, it should come as no surprise that many San Antonio restaurants serve excellent authentic Mexican food, as well as some of the best Tex-Mex food in the country. In terms of the latter, one dish that shouldn’t be missed is puffy tacos. Widely considered one of San Antonio’s signature dishes, these tacos feature a deep-fried tortilla shell that puffs up, lending an airy crispness to every bite.

Spotlight On: Tex-Mex vs. Mexican Food

San Antonio is a wonderful place to sample both authentic Mexican food and Tex-Mex food (a style of cooking that blends American and Mexican cooking traditions), but many visitors often confuse these two types of cuisine. In fact, many people might be surprised to discover that to so-called “Mexican” dishes they’re eating were actually invented in the states! Dishes like queso, fajitas, and chili con carne, for example, are all American foods that incorporate Mexican flavors, but you’re unlikely to find very many of them south of the border. You will, however, find great versions of them in San Antonio restaurants, so come hungry!

Here are a few ways to tell if you’re eating Tex-Mex food vs. Mexican food:

  • Beef—Tex-Mex recipes tend to call for beef quite a bit, owing to the ranching culture in Texas. While beef isn’t totally absent from authentic Mexican cooking, it’s used far less.
  • Yellow cheese—As a general rule of thumb, if your tacos or tostadas are covered with yellow cheese, you’re eating at a Tex-Mex spot.
  • Anything but a soft, corn tortilla—soft, flour tortilla? Crunchy, hard taco shell? Delicious, yes, but not authentic Mexican.

Interested in learning more about what makes Tex-Mex cuisine unique? Read our guide “What is Tex-Mex?” for a comprehensive breakdown.

 

Family-Friendly San Antonio RestaurantsView All

Parents, breathe easy: you’ll find no shortage of great places to eat with kids in San Antonio. The city is well-known for its puffy tacos, barbecue, and burgers, which are all fairly kid-friendly foods. And outdoor patios are plentiful around town so you don’t have to worry about anxious tots staying in their seats.

Editor’s Pick: San Antonio’s Incredible Pizza Company

On days when a quiet, sit-down dinner with the family just isn’t in the cards, San Antonio’s Incredible Pizza Company comes to the rescue. Here, parents and kids enjoy a buffet-style meal of pizza, pasta, salads, soups, desserts, and more, which serves as fuel for hours of all-ages amusements, including mini bowling, arcade games, go-karts, and bumper cars. The menu even caters to those with food sensitivities by including gluten-free pizza options, not to mention serving pizzas with more than 30 topping variations to ensure everyone gets what they want.

Barbecue Restaurants in San AntonioView All

The entire state of Texas is barbecue country, and the city of San Antonio is no exception. In fact, locals here are often fiercely loyal to their favorite spots and will have plenty of suggestions on where to find the best beef brisket, sausage, smoked chicken, or ribs.

Did You Know?

Everyone’s heard of Texas-style barbecue, but did you know that the state actually has four distinct styles of barbecue? And San Antonio happens to be smack dab in-between two of these said regions, meaning its unique style of barbecue borrows from both. Here’s a quick breakdown of each of these four unique barbecue styles:

  • East Texas Barbecue: Chefs here sling a saucier style of barbecue here than in the rest of the state, and also prefer hickory smoke.
  • West Texas Barbecue: Expect to find more meats cooked over an open flame than on the grill.
  • Central Texas Barbecue: Boasts an emphasis on smoking and sausage-making, thanks in part to the large numbers of German immigrants who settled there.
  • South Texas Barbecue: Unsurprisingly borrows a lot from the Mexican barbacoa tradition, with chefs cooking whole cows’ heads in authentic pits layered with agave leaves.

 

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Cheap Eats in San AntonioView All

Though you can definitely find Michelin-star-rated restaurants and celebrity-chef-driven eateries throughout San Antonio, there’s no doubt that the kitchens here truly excel at dishing up tasty, comforting, budget-friendly grub. And we aren’t talking about fast food either—we mean brisket that’s been slow-smoked for hours, tacos stuffed with al pastor made using a closely-guarded family recipe, and even vegetarian bites that have been crafted with the utmost care.

Try it: Menudo

One of the most popular cheap eats in San Antonio is an authentic Mexican dish known as menudo. Similar to pozole, menudo is a spicy Mexican soup made with hominy and beef tripe, plus a unique blend of dried chiles. The recipe will vary from restaurant to restaurant, but all will likely serve the dish with cooling garnishes such as sliced radishes, sliced limes, and cilantro. Look for it at family owned Mexican restaurants, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays (it’s reputed to be a great hangover cure).

Learn more about menudo and why it makes a great hangover cure by clicking here.

Romantic Restaurants in San AntonioView All

With its downtown situated along a famously lovely riverwalk, San Antonio is certainly not lacking for excellent date-night spots. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt your reputation as a romantic city when you’re also home to a plethora of prime steakhouses and wineries either.

Opinion: Who Picks Up the Check on a First Date?

Many a perfectly planned romantic date has gone off the rails once the check comes. After all, with the so-called rules of dating changing all the time, how do you know who the heck is supposed to pay, anyway? Do you have a discussion about it before the first course, or is the safe bet just to assume that you’ll be splitting the check?

To get down to the bottom of it, we asked Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and owner-founder of The Protocol School of Texas. Here’s her take on the situation:

The rule of thumb is: if you invite, you pay [and] you tip. The person that invited is also going to be the one to pick up the check and leave the tip. If you notice that the other person isn’t going for their wallet, however, use your best judgment. Don’t show up with zero money.”

Steakhouses in San Antonio

No list of San Antonio restaurants would be complete without mention of the city’s excellent steakhouses—we are in southern Texas, after all! Cattle is definitely as king in San Antonio as it is in the rest of the state, and steak-lovers will find no shortage of prime steakhouses that deliver in both food and atmosphere. Expect leather booths, white tablecloths, and very dry martinis.

Did You Know?

A T-bone steak is one of the most popular cuts you’ll find on a steakhouse menu. But did you know this cut of meat is actually comprised of two different steaks? The larger half is a strip steak (also known as a New York strip or Kansas City steak) and is separated by a t-shaped bone from the smaller portion, which is a tenderloin. A strip steak is traditionally cooked longer than a tenderloin, so you’ll want to consider this when ordering. An excellent steakhouse chef, however, will know to position the tenderloin side on the cooler part of the grill to ensure the entire cut is cooked as evenly as possible.

Read our Guide to Steak Cuts for more tips on ordering at San Antonio steakhouses.