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