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Jun 7, 2009 03:48 PM

San Antonio--can't misses?

I will be in San Antonio for 5 nights in mid August. Staying at the Hotel Menger downtown. I have a car and will be driving to the CIA for cooking classes each evening. I'm up for almost anything, except tripe. I'm a San Diego native so Baja border Mexican food is familiar. I'm hoping for different Mexican, southern, BBQ or just San Antonio traditions. I'd love a splurge dinner for Sunday night and breakfast/lunches M-Th. I will be eating alone, so if the neighborhood is rough, let me know.

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  1. For your big night out, I'd recommend Le Reve. Expensive, but so worth it... here's the link. make a reservation asap.

    Rosario's is one of my favorite Mexican restaurants. The salsa is the best and the fish veracruz is yummy.

    Liberty Bar is very SA. and they have a fig appetizer that rocks. Chris Madrids for burgers, Tip Top Cafe for Chicken Fried Steak. Tre Trattoria is a new favorite... tuscan inspired rustic Italian.
    Breakfast tacos at Taco, Taco Cafe on Hildebrand...

    Lastly the ultimate touristy late, late night SA tradition.... Mi Tierra. Open 365 24/7. The queso flameado will take a year off your life but wow. It's a great place to hit at 1AM before the bar closes.

    Hope this helps... Lots more.... have fun!

    3 Replies
    1. re: 22foodfan

      Into Korean? Ilsong Garden ( is the only Korean that made Zagat's best list in the country. Dragon's Eggs are marvelous. The Shrimp Pancake is good (it's greasy ... needs a tad of soy sauce on top ... and lotsa cold beer. The Hite beer from Korea is just another copy of Budweiser ... I prefer the Bass Ale ... YMMV). I wasn't blown away by the BiBimBap ... but betcha the Bulgagi would be dependable. If you aren't used to Korean BBQ, most dishes come w/ several side dishes ... it's easy to over-order. I was also eyeing the Sweet & Sour Fish. They have lunch specials. Dessert is either Green Tea Ice Cream or Fried Ice Cream ... do 1 or the other, not both. The Green tea's subtlety is lost next to the Fried ice cream.

      For Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch, try Los Antojitos 3330 Culebra (W of Memorial) on the S side of the street ... teensy parking lot. If you find someone there who speaks English, it won't be staff :-) Hrs: M-Sa 0700-1500 VERY Mexican (can be greasy), different daily specials. NOT TexMex.

      Re: the BBQ tour ... I know folks who live in Luling who go straight to Lockhart for their BBQ ... and I've compared the 3 majors in Lockhart ... Kreuz's failed miserably in a blind taste test w/ friends. Of course, it mighta just been that day. I'd recommend & ... for me ... Smitty's was best for sausage ... Blacks for the Brisket. DO NOT LEAVE there just w/ it in a "to go" pkg. You've GOTTA have some on the site ... it can be great heated at home ... but there's no comparison to having it hot off the smoker.

      BBQ inside SA ... the best I know is at Willard's Jamaican Jerk BBQ ... just a butcher's shop w/ a couple of tables out front. (AVOID Bill Miller, Rudy's & Grady's & all the other chains) All of Willard's meat is great straight off the smoker ... but he doesn't do fatty brisket as well as Lockhart (I wish!) ... but his ribs are to die for ... and if you happen by when he's pulling off the smoker ... order that! IF Willard asks you if you want it hot ... he's not asking if you want the meat heated up ... he's asking if you want the hot jerk seasoning. I recommend getting that on the side so you can dip or not. He's at 726 E Mistletoe (just W of the N end of St Mary's near the 281 freeway). 736-5375.

      Fond of a good beer? Take some Willard's 2 blocks S to San Antonio Homebrew. Only 6 taps ... but ONLY "beer drinkers beers" ... Corona, Bud, etc are not allowed on the premises. 210-737-6604 ... call to make sure they are open ... I think it's only Th-Sa 1200-2100 at 2809 St Mary's

      How about Mexican Seafood? I recommend El Siete Mares ... 2 locations ... I've only been to the Northern location ... but it was excellent.

      Want to take a tour of Tx beers? Best variety would probably be at The Flying Saucer ...

      As to Mi Tierra ... I recommend the Cabrito.

      I second Taco Taco ... the El Norteno for $4.59 is a full meal 0700-1400 7days a week

      For Nachos & Fajitas, you don't have to spend a bundle. I think the largest variety & decent top-shelf margaritas are at Chachos ... several in town ... I go to 7870 Callaghan just a stone's throw W of IH-10 in the NW side of town (just a cpl miles S of Flying Saucer
      )Make sure you load up on condiments to tweak your nachos.

      Someone mentioned Chris Madrids (bad part of town ... guarded parking lot ... probably best to go there in daylight. A line forms quickly for lunch. If your idea of a good burger is grease running down your arm ... it's great. Otherwise you can do better. But you can get burgers anywhere.

      Beto's Comida Latina has some pretty decent fish tacos & empanadas. 210-930-9393 @ 8142 Broadway

      I believe you'll be studying very near Central Market ... ... a great cheese section ... talk to Jen for her recommendations. (or ask me for my favorites there) The olive selection is great, but sometimes they don't take as much care of the olives as they could. Great selection of fresh breads.

      Broadway Daily Bread is a great bakery ... The chocolate covered chocolate brownie should only be eaten w/ 3 cups of coffee ... and 80 units of Insulin. But they have some great scones, muffins, and marvelous breads (even better than Central Market).

      For Indian, I like a place recommended by a vegetarian Indian friend:

      What types of food are you into? What are you learning to cook? Maybe we can lean you that direction.


      1. re: EdLagniappe

        Went to Willards for lunch today around 11:45, place was still closed. I called and he said they don't open until 11, when I told him what time it was he sounded completly surprised! Guess I'll try to get some to take home for dinner tonight, I love me some jerk chicken, spicy mon!

        1. re: saeyedoc

          Went back at about 4:30, Willard was outside his shop, immediately had me pegged as the guy who called earlier. He opened up for me, gave me tastes of all of his sauces and his brisket. I got a whole chicken with hot sauce, some mild BBQ sauce on side and 1/2 pint of slaw, beans and potato salad.
          I thought the chicken was really good, although not as spicy as I like (he told me he has a hotter sauce he makes for himself, didn't have any yesterday). I was pleasantly surprised that all of the sides were really good with a fresh, homemade taste. Will definitely go back! Thanks for the reco

    2. Splurge on some night other than Sunday and go to Le Reve.

      1 Reply
      1. I'd very strongly suggest that you get into your car one morning and take the quick scoot east on I10 to Luling, and get some barbecue at City Market. Be sure to try the hot links, too. As far as brisket goes, I usually get a little of the moist and a little of the lean, and you might try that to do a comparison and see which you prefer. If you've got the day, and you've started early enough, take another half-hour or so and drive north on 183 to Lockhart - home of Smitty's, Black's and Kreuz. The traditional Central Texas "Barbecue Tour" requires that you just eat samples at all of these places to determine your favorite, which you can then visit at a later time.

        Then cut west through the back farm roads to San Marcos for a little tubing. New Braunfels is a few miles southwest down I35 toward San Antonio, and you can get some German food there.

        All in all, would make for a pretty terrific Saturday.

        But remember that most of these famous Central Texas barbecue joints began life as German meat markets, not restaurants, and they can sell out of the most popular things early. So don't plan on doing dinner at them.

        1. Bistro Vatel in Olmos Park (not too far from Downtown) is always a good bet. Tre Trattoria on Broadway (just north of Downtown) is a sure thing as well. For Mex, La Fogata is a bit of a drive but the food is great (more interior mexican than tex mex) and the Margaritas are famous. You might also consider Fredericks which is farther north on Broadway. Le Reve is a pretty big splurge and I am not sure how great an experience it will be eating there alone. If you order the tasting menu prepare to be there for at least 3 hours!

          1. Go to La Tuna. Very San Antonio. Just south of Blue Star (king william/southtown area) Outdoor place, picnic tables and the like, mostly beer, some vino. Cash only at bar (but very inexpensive). Then off to one side is La Tuna Grill. Most amazing burgers. Buttery and cheesy and so very delicious.

            The Cove (near the intersection of Cypress and San Pedro, just north of downtown), offers you a car wash, laundromat, music venue, bar and restaurant all in one. Organic and local food. Grilled mushroom and sweet potato tacos with a bit of goat cheese.....very yummy.

            Dough Pizzeria. People rave about this one. Have not been myself, but do hear it can get really crowded/busy at night. Lunch is faster if you are able.

            3 Replies
            1. re: deelindsay

              Dough Pizzeria is excellent but is very small and gets really crowded in the summer when no one wants to sit outside. Their pizza is certainly worth the trip to 410 and Blanco. I recently ate again at Silo Restaurant on Austin Hwy and it was great (as usual). I haven't tried the new addition (Nosh) but it got a very good write up in the paper recently.

              1. re: san antonio eater

                For home cooking--Tip Top Cafe is awesome. There is always a line. Order your pie when you sit down! On Fredericksburg Road.

                1. re: san antonio eater

                  I'm not sure if they still do it, but you may be able to reserve a table for 6 or more on weekdays.