English and European Tex-Mex Virgins Hoping to Go Wild in San Antonio!!!
Hey there. I'm looking for a little help.
Once a year I meet up with a bunch of French gastronomes in an American city; this year we're in San Antonio. I'm an Englishman living in New York; since in their eyes I am The American, it's up to me to find good places to eat.
All of us live in fantastic food cities; when we travel, we look more for an *authentic* local experience than an international class gourmet meal. For example, in New Orleans, the big hit was Uglesicht's, and not one of the nationally ranked New American joints. People have recommended Le Reve to me, but the website made the place seem stuffy, and the menu didn't seem too exhilarating; I have no doubt that it's excellent, but we won't go (unless people INSIST that we do).
I was hoping for places with good flavour - we'd really like to learn about Tex-Mex food and barbecue, Texas style. I've poked around a bit, but there's so much here! I'm definitely going to check out Willard's for jerk, and there was a restaurant an hour and a half away which sounded like an adventure.
What I'd like is to hear from you guys where we MUST go. We have five dinners, and four lunches (extra points if anyone knows of good finds near the damned convention center (the pretext for our visit)): every one of them has to count! As I say, we're willing to travel for good food.
To recap, for us it's about authentic, local, atmospheric dining; a little dirt and grime doesn't worry us. Indeed, the French love that kind of stuff - more real!
I'm counting on you: I know you'll deliver the goods...
Thanks in advance,
I'm sure you'll get some good answers to your post. But be sure to scroll down to check out recent threads about chow in San Antonio and barbecue in central Texas. And the search function is your friend, as someone posted recently. If you type in terms like Tex-Mex or Mexican and San Antonio, or brisket and best, then limit your response to the Texas board, you'll get several good hits.
Here are links to some recent threads that might be of interest:
That ought to get you started.
One thing you'll find a lot of in San Antonio and Texas period is good food.
Here are a few recommendations I can suggest.
Mexican Manhattan (cheap Breakfast/Lunch)
Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery or Margarita's (Both are in Market Square aka El Mercado)
Casa Rio - near the convention center.
*Cascabels Mexican Patio - Great Authentic Mexico style menu.
Off the River in town.
La Fogata on Vance Jackson between 410 and I-10
Jacala on West near Hildebrand.
Guajillo off 410 near Blanco
Cha-Cha's on Babcock or Bandera.
As far as BBQ, I've never really tried any downtown, but here are a few places that come to mind.
Harmon's Barbeque in Alamo Plaza
County Line on the Riverwalk
and King Willie's on S. Alamo
If you'll willing to drive about 45 minutes up I-35 to Buda (near Austin) hit up the Salt Lick. One price, many options, all you can eat, great atmosphere and flavor.
You can hit up this site too and look around www.SAEATS.COM
Hope your trip goes well.
re: Mr Zero
No, don't go to the Salt Lick. It's the Disneyland of barbecue. If your idea of fine French food is the French restaurant at Epcot, maybe it's your place. If not, the best barbecue you can get in an easy trip from San Antonio is straight East on I-10 to the City Market in Luling. It's first class, authentic Texas Barbecue. In my book, one of the top five in the state.
re: Greg Spence
A trip to Luling is a great idea. Lately I've also heard very good things about the Gonzales Meat Market, which you could get to from Luling by taking 183 south to Gonzales. [Note: I haven't yet checked it out myself, but there's a detailed post about it on this board.] Taking 183 north would get you to Lockhart, which is deservedly a barbecue mecca.
I like most of Mr Zero's suggestions for San Antonio, but I do feel that you can do better than Casa Rio (which owes its success to a prime location on the Riverwalk) or Mexican Manhattan's (better cheap options abound).
Second the rec for Cha-Cha's, they have the best margaritas, in any flavor you can think of!
You've come all the way to San Antonio, do venture to Lockhart/Luling for the best of Texas BBQ. Search for either one of those cities and you'll find lots of good information.
Sounds like fun trips. In san antonio there are a lot of good dives. For fun local burgers The Lord's Kitchen or Chris Madrid's. For good soul food and fried chicken, Mr. and Mrs. G's, I always feel like I had Thanksgiving dinner after I leave. For tex-mex, Guajillo's is awesome but beware when they say something is hot. I also like Rosario's in King William which is not too far from the convention center, a bit trendy though not a dive. One thing you should do is go to Taco Taco Cafe on McCollough and Hildebrand and get breakfast tacos, chorizo, potato and egg or my fave A la Mexicana. They are only open until 2pm and are very busy in the morning. Texas Monthly gave one of its tacos top ratings in their best tacos in texas article. Luling is a must, but the bar b q at harmon's across from the alamo, by the Fudrucker's, is really pretty good and close. I also like the specials at Schilo's Deli at Commerce and presa. They have awesome homemade rootbeer and german food.
In my opinion, you MUST go to the original Blanco Cafe, a little Tex-Mex diner on Blanco near downtown. I lived in San Antonio for two years, many years ago, and have since eaten a lot of Tex-Mex all over the state, but there is something about the flavor of the chili gravy on the cheese enchiladas at Blanco Cafe that just says, San Antonio. To me, it is quintessential Tex-Mex.
Chris Madrid's, which is just a block or two up Blanco from the Blanco Cafe, has--in addition to their great hamburgers--really superb nachos.