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San Antonio/ Riverwalk - Final Four Weekend help!

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We will be staying at a Riverwalk hotel. Looking for the BESTS around (steak, mexican, etc...) No chains please. Anything that is accessible from there - walk, cab, shuttle I guess.

Please recommend where we should eat, what we don't want to miss!
Lunch, Dinner, drinks, specialty food item places (anything that is noteworthy there)

Also, if a place needs a reservation I'd like to make it soon- I know there will be crowds!

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  1. All of the following are local. All are walk or take a cab.

    Steak: Bohanan's Prime Steaks & Seafood, A great fois gras starter and a wonderful room. On Houston St. Make reservations.

    Sandwiches: Schilo's Delicatessen on Commerce. You won't find the mile-high NY style deli sandwiches, but it's pretty good.

    Carib-infuenced: Azuca on S.Alamo. Good food, and good thing you're not trying to find a parking spot on the weekend.

    Continental: Le Frite Belgian Bistro on (? S Alamo ?)...great hanger steak and moulles frites.

    After dinner quiet time: Havana Riverwalk's Club Cohiba. Order your drinks at the bar, and then go up the steps to the right, take a left onto the quietest veranda on the river.

    Google any of these appended with "San Antonio," and you'll have no trouble finding addresses and phone numbers [i'm lazy, so sue me]

    1. I had two very good meals in San Antonio this weekend, but each restaurant is a cab ride from the Riverwalk area. The first was at Dough up at 6989 Blanco, near the airport. It was about a $20 cab ride to get up there but very much worth it -- great Neapolitan pizza. The polenta cake dessert was delicious. Dough's been open about three months. The other was at Liberty Bar at 328 East Josephine, about an $8 cab ride from my hotel. Had the lamb burger and a glass of pinot noir at the bar. Just what I needed. Good luck!

      4 Replies
      1. re: aoakes4

        "no chains please."

        I COMPLETELY understand. The problem? There aren't that many non-chains on the riverwalk anymore.

        As for steaks, downtown, there are the regulars... The Palm and Ruth's Chris. Bohanan's is the only local one worth going to.

        Mexican? Rosario's just south of downtown and El Mirador are your best bets in downtown.

        The most celebrated restaurants downtown are Biga on the Banks and Le Reve. Both require reservations. Both are VERY expensive. Concequently, I have not been to either. There are plenty of very good restaurants in town that don't require dealing with downtown traffic.

        For the final four, I'd suggest hanging around at the Hotel Valencia. Citrus is a darned good restaurant...and the hotel is usually where all the stars stay.

        The offical hotel for the final four is the grand hyatt... but it's still being built. I'm not about to trust a restaurant that just opened.

        The teams stay at the westin... usually. The rich alumni stay at the la mansion del rio. The celebs stay at the hotel valencia... or way out at the westin la cantera.

        Here's another plug for the liberty bar. No reservations needed. Great Food.

        1. re: radiowh0re

          thanks everyone- this is good info. Are there any specialty food items or places that are "known" as really good in San Antonio? (ie...in Philly the soft pretzels, Cappagiro gelato)--- Like any "not miss" places while visiting?

          1. re: radiowh0re

            Right by Rosario's is La Focaccia (Italian) which is very good. It's a short walk up Alamo from the Riverwalk.

            1. re: radiowh0re

              I second the El Mirado suggestion. Try to go on Saturday for the soupa azteca (before noon, or she will run out). Unfortunately, the riverwalk has been overtaken (but not totally surrendered to chains). Biga, Boudros, and Las Canarias are all excellent choices.

              San Antonio has become a chain restaurant town for the most part. Every intersection looks the same unless you go to the West side for the wonderful tacquerias. I recently moved to Dallas and have been enjoying the many individually owned restaurants which can be found all over the city!

          2. Bohanan's was the #2 rated steakhouse in Texas Monthly magazine, and they have Wagyu beef available. And it is a short walk down the river.

            1. can't go wrong w/ the suggestions already here, but for Mexican I would add Aldaco's at Sunset Station, right next to the Alamodome. Very good Mexican and w/i walking distance.

              1. I can agree with all the rec. listed, but want to add that you should plan to "trolley" to any of the places. Easy and cheap and goes everywhere. For breakfast trolley to the Gunther House for a real Texas treat...It's at the site of the orginal flour mill in San Antonio. Have a drink at the bar of the Menger Hotel and check out the pictures. The Tlapeno soup at Aldaco's should be at the top of your list for Mexican food! Enjoy our beautiful city while you ride the trolley.

                1. You have to go to Dicks! Its a unique fun experience where the waiters are literally "dicks" to the customers. not too harsh but its fun and hours will go by there. Republic of TX has karaoke, theres a european bar, the stage where they shot Miss. Congeniality is also on the Riverwalk as well as the little ferry ride. The clubs aren't so hot downtown. Enjoy the city!! I love SA I'll be on eof the host helpers for the final four party downtown.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tnathu

                    "No chains please"
                    Dick's is most definatly a chain. they're owned by landry's... which owns a ton of different places.

                    Dick's is a place to take out of town guests... if they're former frat boys on the hunt.

                  2. A friendly word of warning about cabs:

                    Keep in mind that most Texas cities are not swimming in cabs. If you need a cab, you will need to call ahead and plan on waiting even if you schedule a time. The concept of stepping outside and hailing a cab is virtually unheard of. I'm sure they'll have every cab they can on duty, but every time I need a cab in Texas it's really a nightmare to get one.

                    1. I agree with Rosario's. Voted best place to take out of town guests for mexican food by locals & best salsa. It's not a chain- they have latin bands w/salsa dancing on the weekends- and that's usually what I find everyone wants when they come to town- Mexican food- in terms of something that San Antonio is known for. Another Mex. spot not mentioned that I like for fajitas & oysters is La Margarita- strolling mariachi bands supersized margaritas- outdoor seating in the heart of Mexican marketplace. Both of these choices are pretty reasonable compared to other locations. La Pesca at the watermark hotel- also has an oyster menu= with over 15? different types of oysters as well as a host of other offerings-with an emphasis on fish- hence the name, La Pesca.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Tamra

                        Voted best place to take out-of-town guests by whom? Are you talking about the Reader's Choice survey from the San Antonio Express-News? The same poll that concludes that the best fried chicken in town is available at Church's? Newspaper polls reward brands or concepts with name recognition, thus resulting in lowest-common-denominator "findings" that are often of little use to us chowhounds. Plus, in 2007, Mi Tierra was voted the best place to take out-of-town guests, with La Margarita and La Fogata in second and third place, respectively (http://www2.mysanantonio.com/specials... ).

                        I'll agree that Rosario's can be good—and loud. It's well known, has a large advertising budget, and is covered extensively by the MSM and generic travel guides. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's "the best" Mexican food in town. Personally, I prefer El Mirador for many of the same dishes. I also would second many of the suggestions made in the first three responses in this thread.

                        1. re: MPH

                          Understood about the "best" lists. However, I for once agree with this recommendation and like Rosarios. I am not crazy about Mi Tierra's as this is REALLY crowded- and I have found the staff rude- and the food just OK, but I don't like the ambiance at all. Rosario's is Loud as stated, but that's part of the charm here- it's a bar/nightclub feel if you go later and there is a band= Mi Tierra's is definately not clubby-it always reminds me of a Mexican Lubys. If all you want is to chow on a great enchilda- and don't care where or how its served, go here. I always want both- great ambiance and great food. I haven't been to El Mirador for many years so can't speak to this restaurant- is that the one that claims to serve both Mexican & Seafood?

                          1. re: Tamra

                            I agree completely with Tamra about Rosarios. Having recently been to Mi Tierra with out of town guests who insisted on it, I can vouch that not much had changed since I last was there 8 years ago. Food and service are marginal at best, definately not worth a 45" wait. If seafood is your choice and you're willing to stray a couple blocks off the riverwalk, I would heartilly recommend Sandbar. Owned by chef Weisman of La Reve, it is by far the best seafood in SA(dinner only T-Sat, no reservations taken).

                            1. re: Sam Spade

                              Point of clarification: I wasn't recommending Mi Tierra over Rosario's. I was suggesting that the reader's poll that Tamra cited as proof that Rosario's is the "best place to take out-of-town guests" (or to assert that their restaurant has the "best salsa") is completely useless. The fact that a restaurant feels like a bar/nightclub does not recommend its food. Take, for example, the overrated chow at the similar Ácenar (co-owned by one of the owners of Rosario's):


                              I've seen very few details on this board about what's "great" at Rosario's, and fewer opinions on why the same dishes are better there than at lesser-known spots in town. I've seen the hype (aka advertising). I've read assertions of greatness. What I'd like to see are some detailed chow reports. Does anyone care to offer one on a recent meal?

                              As for the claim that "great" ambience is necessary to enjoy a delicious meal, to each his or her own. To me, however, an insistence on this rule is contrary to the the spirit of chowhounding. You can't find intense deliciousness in unexpected places if you don't get off the beaten, familiar track.

                              Lastly, I'm fairly sure that El Mirador is not "the one that claims to serve both Mexican & Seafood." I don't quite understand the implication of this question, though, since seafood is part of many regional Mexican cuisines. El Mirador has been talked up in other posts on this board, so I suggest doing a search of this board for more information.

                          2. re: MPH

                            Know what you mean about Reader's Choice Awards. Years ago Jim's Restaurant was voted best for Continental Cusine.We all laughed our heads off.
                            Tomatillo's on Broadway is good,not a chain,but you do have to take a bus or cab. It's near the Witte Museum. Harmon's BBQ out in Cibolo is good,and I had a really fine smoked catfish filet there.But you have to get a rent-a-car,and go out FM 78 through,Kirby,Converse,past RandolphAFB and continue onwards to Cibolo.Then you turn to your left on Loop 536 .You go down into the town,and turn left on Main Street at the blinking light by St.Paul's Church of Christ,and it will be on your right hand side next to the railroad tracks.Cross the tracks and you can go to Catelano's Pizza,they serve other stuff,and they are right next door.
                            I have enjoyed the luches I have gotten in the past at the Schertz VFW.
                            Bangkok Cuisine in Live Oak is very good I have heard. You can go I-35 North towards Austin,and get off at the Live Oak,Pat Booker Road exit.Pat Booker is also called Texas 218. It will be on your right hand side in the plaza ,right next to the Check N Go,which is across from the Live Oak Civic Center.
                            There is Casa Rio on the river Walk.Not a chain and been there a long time.
                            Ate years ago at Biga's when it was in a two story house near San Antonio College.Yeah ate at the County Line a long time ago downtown ,not impressed.
                            There is a new BBQ place on Randolph Blvd. and Weidner road named Dinky's BBQ I'd like to try.
                            The Malt House on Zazamora has gotten some good reviews in the past in the paper. And there's Mr.And Mrs.G's on S.W.W.White Road,which serves home cooking like pork chops and greens,etc. They don't have a website.
                            The trouble with downtown , is they cater to tourists.You have to get a rental car to try places like Acalda on N.W.Braunfels and Bress,which is mexican food but with a twist so even vegetatians can eat there.

                        2. I enjoy Biga on the Banks. It is moderately expensive but worth it. I am not sure if Boudros is a chain but it is consistently good, service and food. If you are looking for BBQ about the only place on the river is County Line BBQ. If you get a chance have a drink at the Menger Bar. Teddy Roosevelt recruited some of the rough riders there. If you would like some good old fashion jazz try Jim Cullums on the river inside the Hyatt.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: JMark

                            I had brisket at County Line, and it doesn't even rate as BBQ in my book. Tough and flavorless. No smoke ring.

                            1. re: JMark

                              No other BBQ choices? Also visiting for final 4. Not sure we'll have time for a trip to Luling or Lockhart (trying to squeeze in 5 rounds of golf in 5 days too!), so a couple recs around SA would be great. Dive or expensive (if worth it) is fine.

                              1. re: pharmnerd

                                Your best bet around San Antonio is Rudy's. They have several locations. The original is on i-10, off boerne stage road.

                                The bbq snobs on this board like to slam Rudy's, but i've always enjoyed the brisket and sauce.

                                If you're playing at la cantera, it's further up i-ten.

                                And I know it doesn't get a lot of play on this board either, but I have no porblem with the bbq station on 410 and wurzbach. The bbq 1./2 chicken and the sausage are my favs.

                                but, like i said, the bbq snobs here think the only true bbq can be found in luling and lockhart.

                                bah. get over it.

                                The problem is that there is a lot of bad bbq in san antonio.

                                  1. re: pharmnerd

                                    Well, I'm in SA right now. Been golfing a lot and lamenting my team's loss. Went to Rudy's in Leon Springs (north-ish SA?) per your suggestion and loved it (and so did my golfing buddies, as their post meal distended belly comparisons can attest).

                                    Of course, as a first-time TX BBQer, I wanted a taste of everything, so ordered 1/2 rack of baby back ribs, sausage, 1/2 lb brisket, peach cobbler & creamed corn. What struck me was the spice, salt and pepperiness of the rub on the ribs. I'm used to the often overly sweet offerings in Los Angeles. Sausage had a nice snap to 'em & were what I expected (that is, very good). The brisket was my favorite. Sliced about 1/8-1/4" thin, nicely marbled goodness. The peach cobbler and creamed corn filled out the meal nicely. Overall, our foursome was more than happy with Rudy's.

                                    Where else I've dined in SA:

                                    Casa Rio (on Riverwalk): I'd give it a 5/10, esp if you're from a town with significant amounts of Mexican food available. Nothing special to me. Nice people watching location on the Riverwalk though (but what restaurant on the Riverwalk doesn't?).

                                    Bohanons (just North of Riverwalk): OMG! I've been to all the main chains (Mortons, Ruths Chris, etc), Ringside (?) in Oregon and others, but this was clearly the best I've had. I bit the bullet and ordered the Akaushi cut of ribeye ($95 for either fillet, ribeye or ny strip) which they say is a couple grades above prime. Had no regrets. The flavor and juiciness of the beef was spot-on what I expected for that kinda money. No pool of butter, just perfectly medium-rare goodness. Next time though, although good, I'd cut back on the sides (I ordered tortilla soup, creamed spinach and truffle oil steak fries) as I was bursting at the seams & had a hard time finishing the steak. Had the perfect manly atmosphere we look for during our yearly golf trips.

                                    Other than that, been squeezing-in fast food (first time to Sonic!)between rounds & basketball games

                                    Thanks for all the advice from the responses to this thread and the posted links. I'm still hoping to make it to Luling or Lockhart our last day. :)

                            2. Bohanan's vs. Boudras...which one should we choose?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: pamd

                                When I was in San Antonio last year, we stayed at the Hotel Valencia. What a great place. Anyway, we walked to the Iron Cactus. I loved the Lobster Tacos on the appetizer menu and I thoroughly enjoyed the enchilada dinner. Are they a chain? I've only been in Texas for three years and I'm always looking for great Mexican food.

                                1. Pamd,
                                  totally jealous your going to the final four! enjoy, I am from Boston but do business in San Antonio many times throughout the year.
                                  Biga on the Banks- great resturant,, ambiance, unique wine list ( one of the few places that has Fiddlestix Pinot Noir from Fiddlehead winery ) 210-225-0722
                                  La Reve- very high end, reservations are hard to get, but if you get in you will not be disapointed. French Very romantic!
                                  Zinc Bar- Can smoke cigars here, has an extensive list of wine by the glass which are very good. If you are into dessert wine, they serve Tojkai from Hungry for $15 a glass which is half the price you pay in Boston!

                                  enjoy the game


                                  1. We just finished a splendid meal at Bigas on the Bank....three of us with a bottle of wine deserts and ports with tip was $300.....couldn;t have been better. We ate outside and it was jammed and still had excellent service. The night before we ate ate Citrus ate the Hotel Valencia and it was also excellent.... I had the duck breast but other notables were the steaks and quail...good wine list and rather reasonable considering all that we got. Two bottles of wine, six people with tip was $360.

                                    Noone has mentioned Little Rhein Steak House on the Riverwalk which again is good, very pricey and a limited menu but not bad if you can't get in anywhere else. The steaks aren;t quite on par with Bohannon's but they are Prime. Have fun we really enjoyed our time here.

                                    1. I have to put in a plug again for Cascabel, on St. Mary's, just down from Rosario's in King William. Interior Mexican cuisine-homemade moles, huitlacoche, achiote paste, agua de jamaica. And nothing on the menu more than $6.50 or so. Pound-for-pound, the best dining deal in San Antonio.

                                      1. We love to take out of town guests to Tomatillo's on Broadway, but know this is a bit of a cab ride. Anyone agree with me?

                                        1. The info has been helpful-thanks!

                                          Is there anything note worthy at Market Square/El Mercado- looks like a neat place?

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: pamd

                                            neat place to walk around/shop for trinkets. the new museo alameda is very well done. as for food? no. mi tierra his overcrowded and not that good. I would reccomend walking around the mercado and eating elsewhere.

                                            1. re: pamd

                                              Absolutely try la Jaiba, at the Santa Rosa street end of the market and order seafood. I had the caldo (soup) de los siete mares, it was awesome, FRESH oysters, shrimp, octopus, crab, fish, in a really good broth, with tortillas it's a full meal, must be a quart, I had to take half of it home. Best mexican soup I've ever had, and it was only about nine bucks, the service was great. I've never seen it crowded, there are a couple of more popular places that get all the traffic that I haven't tried, but I can't imagine they are much better.

                                              1. re: pamd

                                                the best thing to eat at El Mercado {IMO} is when the street vendors are there! asada and gorditas are my favorites. I don't care for Mi Tierra and La Margarita...but then I prefer the hole in the wall places in the neighborhoods! Last months Southern Living did a San Antonio review and they mentioned Mi Tierra if you are going for the tourist stuff...but a little place - I wish I could remember the name but we go there all the time in the summer - it started out as a little fruit cup stand [YUM, fresh mangoes pineapple, coconut, strawberries etc, sprinkled with lime juice, salt, and a little chili and fresh aqua fresca - melon, cantaloupe, or pineapple; one side of the building is the fruit stand and the other side has tacos and plates - we make the trip at least twice a month from Cibolo for the fruit and aquas -
                                                HA! I found my Southern LIving....Los Valles Fruits and Foods at 3915 Nogalitos