San Antonio is huge as far as mid-sized cities go, yet it's an under-the-radar foodie destination.
Most people don't know the Culinary Institute of America has a campus here. Nor are they aware that the Alamo City is a UNESCO-designated global Creative City of Gastronomy for its multicultural legacy.
In fact, San Antonio protects its heritage while catering to diverse modern palates. Yes, there are tacos, empanadas, and Tex-Mex specialties, but beyond the Latin American flair, you'll find a thriving coffee culture, an annual Fiesta, and an ever-growing assortment of sensational eateries.
Amble along the River Walk downtown or two miles further at the Pearl Brewery, and you'll get the gist.
An immersive fine dining experience at Mixtli is like a whistlestop tour of Mexico. The prix fixe tasting menus celebrate Yucatan cuisine and leave a lingering impression, and it's all served from a converted boxcar.
Chefs Diego Galicia and Rico Torres are putting out creative spins on food like beggars' purses with duck and Sierra Nevadan coffee mayo with sweetbreads.
The menu changes every few months, patrons learn the story and influences behind each dish, and the food is presented with finesse.
Cured is one of the best restaurants at the Pearl, brought to you by chef Steve McHugh. A James Beard Award finalist a few times over, Mr. McHugh's proficiency is clearly on display at this cornucopia for carnivores.
Cured is a smorgasbord of protein, and if you're a fan of charcuterie, you'll be shouting about this place from the rooftops. The meats are flavorful and arrive looking inviting—this is Southern food, but fancy.
Try the Wurst Cast Scenario or the cheeseburger with Pabst Blue Ribbon.
This gastropub in a historical building is another cross-cultural gem at the Pearl. Chef Jeff Balfour will make your mouth water with Gulf Coast dishes and comfort foods like pressure-fried chicken, crab mac & cheese, and golden biscuits.
The fried snapper throats are a highlight on the menu, as are the briny oysters, antelope tartare, and Galveston Bay shrimp broil. If you're feeling adventurous, the fried frog legs should do the trick.
Go hungry because the portions are Texas-sized and very filling, and the extensive list of beers is full of calories too.
Venezuelan chef Geronimo Lopez cooks Peruvian fusion food with Japanese and Chinese influences. You'll get ceviche, poke, sushi, and sashimi, and you'll also find super satisfying lomo saltado with steak, gravy, and eggs.
Botika has been a Pearl district establishment and a firm fav ever since it opened in 2016. Try the hamachi tiradito, steamed buns, or short rib noodles.
If you're hungry a little earlier in the day, don't fret. Botika is also a great brunch spot.
In the artsy neighborhood of Southtown slash King William, you'll come across an osteria in what was once an old firehouse. Thankfully, the wait staff rarely have to put out fires here.
The handmade pasta menu is molto bella, and that's just the taste. There's value for money as well, and you'll be pretty chuffed with the price-to-sophistication ratio. You must sample the square meatballs, grilled mackerel, spinach dumplings, and bucatini.
In 2021, the New York Times listed Fish Lonja as one of the 50 most exciting restaurants in the nation. That sounds promising, and we're glad to inform you that eating at this simple hole-in-the-wall spot lives up to the high bar set.
Opened in the Southside in 2017, Carnitas Lonja has been making to-die-for tacos for a little while. In 2019, chef Alejandro Paredes tacked on an excellent seafood joint with impressively fresh ocean hauls for a city that's not on the coast.
This Michoacán taquería offers you corn tortillas, pico de gallo, and salsa that's as good as it comes. The shrimp and cucumber in the aguachile are packed with flavor and are a must-try.
Esquire Tavern is 80 years old and only acquired a kitchen in 2011 when Chef Brooke Smith entered the picture. She puts a premium on quality, and you can look forward to comforting pub grub and classics with a difference.
The 100ft-long wooden bar, wallpaper, and tin ceilings are memorable, and there are loads of late-night weekend specials at this Brooklyn-esque space too.
Try the po' boy-style shrimp sandwiches, the chicken-fried ribeye, the chili salt fries and pickles, and the apple pie for dessert.
Your eyes will need to adjust to the dimness, but it only adds to the cozy ambiance.
San Antonio restaurants love their homages to the past. Brought to you by the Bliss family, upscale Bliss is in a restored filling station and will fill your belly with gourmet salads, small plates, and fabulous New American fare.
Refuel with Georges Bank scallops, branzino, duck and foie gras, and delicious off-menu veggie platters for vegans.
Reserve this superior Southtown spot for special occasions.
After the success of The Jerk Shack, Chef Nicola Blaque and her husband Cornelius Massey opened Mi Roti at the Pearl District with Lionel "Butch" Blache, which offers Caribbean street food with Indian influences and spiciness.
Try the braised oxtail, the curried chickpeas, the jerk chicken wrap with masala fries, and the mango chutney for dipping your rotis or flatbreads. There's a DIY approach to the food, and you can tailor your lunch to your preferences.
San Antonio's food scene is growing at a fast clip, and tried and tested places sometimes close their doors.
Often, where you eat is dictated by luck. You won't go wrong at any of these restaurants if you come across them, and indeed, some may argue that they're better than the listed establishments.
Boudro's, Hot Joy, Sandbar Fish House, La Gloria, Signature, Biga on the Banks, and Supper are all great options, and there's more where they come from.