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Sep 13, 2009 10:41 PM

the real San Antonio food junkie list.

I am a San Antonio native who has gotten great advice from this site when i travel and after reading the few threads for San Antonio, and being disappointed at the recommendations, i felt obligated to give a REAL list for those coming to the San Antonio area. I prefer mom and pop type local gems apposed to huge expensive chain type eateries, so thats what my list will mostly contain. Remember that in SA we eat Mexican food, burgers, mexican food, anything fried or covered with cheese and mexican food, don't come here looking for the best chinese or anything like that. I know i missed a bunch of gems, but this is a good start. You should be able to google most of these for location / more info. ENJOY!

***Tip Top Cafe- Onion Rings / Chicken Fried Steak / Pie
*-Lulu's cafe- country fried steak / BIG cinnamion rolls!
-Josephine's St Cafe- San Antonio's oldie but goodie, original local spot right downtown. they have it all
-Liberty Bar- same as above (Josephine's), and right next door to it.
-Casbeer's- local comfort foods. (enchiladas / burgers / more..)
**-The Gristmill- short drive to grueene, tx. good day trip for the family, lots of local antiques/boutiques/shops/reasturants and even a dance hall where you can find live music (sometimes big names)
-Bud Jones- only had the country fried steak, but they have a lot more
-Mr and Mrs G's- southern homecooking soulfood / pastries

**Chris Madrid's- burgers, nachos and... burgers! it is soo good i own a shirt.
*Sam's Burger Joint - burgers / live music
*Timbo's- burgers-closed weekends (yellow sub-burger stuffed w/jalepenos & cheese)
Chunky's burgers- actually never been here, but its got some really spicy burger that was on the food network or somthing.

--->Mexican Food:***(these are all good choices for Mexican food, this is San Antonio!)***
Los Barrios- mexican food. great choice indoor and outdoor dining. good stuff/clean place
Henry's Puffy Taco- "Tex-Mex".. puffy tacos
Mi Tierra- Mexican food downtown (touristy, but good fun)
Rosario's- Good Mexican food / Cool place.
Cha Cha's- Margarita's... oh and they have above average mexican food.
El Chaparral- Mexican Food
El Jarro- Mexican Food
El Rafa's Cafe-about as "local" as you can get.. its a house w/ good food
Pico de Gallo- Good Mexican food downtown. If Mi Tierra's wait is too long cross the Hwy.

*La Playa- semi-mexican style seafood (shrimp cocktail / fried fish and shrimp)-plain good fried seafood
*camaron pelado- real mexican seafood.. get the fish tacos (crunchy shell)!

Big Lou's- HUGE pizza slices. google it-
Capperilli's- family owned itallian, if i was itallian i'd say it tastes like grandma made it!
Chicago's Pizza- best deep dish style pizza in town. (although ive never been to chicago)
*Florio's pizzeria- Great NY style pizza/Italian sub
Rome's pizza- good "normal" pizza.
Dough Pizzeria- good stuff!

**Texas Pride BBQ- short drive, but definitely worth it.
Rudy's BBQ- good BBQ! (brisket / cream corn / anything!) it has become a texas chain, but original is just north of SA, trust me, its good.
bun and barrell- good smoked BBQ if your in the area.
*Black's BBQ- never actually been, but VERY highly recommended.

--->Steaks: (nothing fancy, just your local mom and pop steak houses)
*san francisco steakhouse
the barn door
the little red barn

**Magnolia Pancake Haus- breakfast. go here for breakfast
The Cove- Organic-ish food / fish tacos / good burgers (bison burger and such)
*Viet Nam restaurant- AWESOME spring rolls / jasmine tea, decent pho... dont get to crazy here, its San Antonio, but i'd definately reccommend going for a meal of their spring rolls.
Godai- only good place around for sushi / japannese
earl abel's- local diner cafe. san antonio classic, but a diner is a diner. you know?
jim's- some will hate me for this, but its a 24hour diner with the best tortilla soup in town.
Schilo's Deli- german deli / german potato salad

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  1. Interesting post. I've seen good suggestions but there are so few San Antonio locals on this forum so I'd appreciate some input on a couple other places that appear noteworthy. I'll be there in October, staying at the Crowne Plaza Riverwalk and will not have a car.

    Have you been to Druther's Cafe?
    It's 2 blocks south of my hotel, so I'm curious about how good they are. Very little information and if anything, I may just take a chance.

    Would rather stay away from Rudy's. Have you been to Augie's Barbed Wire Smokehouse?

    I had read they're opening another location near the new Marriott downtown (located where?). Also, Black's is in Lockhart, it's quite a drive from San Antonio.

    As much as I'd like to avoid anything touristy (Mi Tierra), it's inevitable I'll end up there at some point since I'm in town with folks travelling to San Antonio from all across the country for a work conference. Sadly they're into that sorta thing but at least it sounds like they still have enough local flair.

    7 Replies
    1. re: air

      Forget about decent BBQ if you don't have a car. I have not been to Augie's though. My current favorites are 3-Bros and Willards Jamaican BBQ. Willards isn't far from downtown, but there's really no place to eat there, other than one picnic table outside.
      Haven't been to Druther's.

      1. re: saeyedoc

        Glad you like Willard's that much :-) BTW ... he has 2 picnic tables with umbrellas & a small table inside. (Yeah ... I know ... not a big distinction). BUT, may I recommend, getting your BBQ at Willard's & walking the 2 blocks to San Antonio Homebrew ... they know Willard & welcome folks w/ a sack of his BBQ to sit at the bar or the hogshead table & have their beers with it. For those of you who don't know SA Homebrew, they sell beer & winemaking supplies & other things. But, being fond of good beers, they put in 6 taps & have maybe 6-8 barstools. And ... they only server 'beer-lovers' beers ... Miller ... Corona ... Bud are all anathema there. They have limited hours, the last I looked it was Th-Sa 12-21, but it's not as though Willard keeps unvarying hours :-)

        Oh ... and for beginners ... or for folks who don't like HOT spicy ... ask for the sauce on the side. If he asks if you want it hot ... he's not asking about temperature.

        AIR: Wish I could expound on the places you mentioned, but except for Black's, you've found some places I've never tried. Well ... Mi Tierra ... it's ok ... WiFi, endless coffee ... good but unremarkable breakfast ... open 24 hrs ... it has it's good points. And it would probably be good for a breakfast conference. I'd order the cabrito myself :-) See if you can't drag a few folks from there over to Los Antojitos ... for some real Mx cooking (we're talking lard here!) Greasy but very tasty and authentic (by my limited experience). OR even Rafa's ... or heck ... TacoTaco will give you a 1 taco filling meal if you get their big taco!

        Also ... maybe you can drag 'em over to Bruno's after the conference for some beers & pretty decent Puerto Rican/Cuban food ... 527 W Hildebrand Av - 1 blk W of San Pedro HRS: W-Sa 11-20 / Su-Tu closed / Bar open Th-Sa 08-02? I've only had their Mofongo relleno de camarones but was impressed. I plan on the Cuban Sandwich next time ... though other things look good on the menu. (such as empanadillas con guayaba y queso)

        Hope the conference goes well

        Oh yeah ... Willard caters! Work: 210-736-5375 Mobile: 210-639-5375 I'm sure all the catering has been arranged for your to do .. but you could do much worse! All of his meats are good ... and the sides are pretty bland ... which is not bad if you are eating lots of scotch bonnet in the sauce! When there, I get whatever just came off the smoker ... but my go-to order is 1/2# of his ribs w/ the hot sauce on the side.

        1. re: EdLagniappe

          Good suggestions, also call Willard to make sure he is actually open. Everytime I've been in there, the table inside wasn't very accessible. I guess it was two tables put together outside.

          1. re: saeyedoc

            :-) Good point ... Willard keeps Willard's hours. Since he's a 1 man band ... when he's catering, he's gone. When he's out of bread ... he goes to the store. Calling ahead is always prudent. (and catching Willard AND SA Homebrew open at the same time is a rarity indeed! :-)

            And, if you get there & there's a customer ahead of you, you've hit rush hour! ... you'll wait 15-20 min to be served. But, don't be put off ... Willard is just very much a perfectionist ... and you'll get that in your food.

          2. re: EdLagniappe

            Ideally I'd like to hit up Freetail's brewpub but I won't have a car. San Antonio homebrew sounds exactly like my kind of place, I'll look into it.

            And I guess I'll be your guinea pig for Druther's and Augie's (that is if I could figure out where it is). Will report back.

            1. re: air

              Frankly, Freetail hasn't bowled me over yet. The braumeister escaped from BlueStar/Joey's Brewpub & folks there told me he's fully capable of turning out 10 quality brews. I tried & tried to get in there when they opened, but it kept getting pushed back (the worst of the economy bit his ass hard). And when they finally did open ... they were selling bottled beers from other companies. Ok ... then I came back months later after they were finally up & rolling. The beers were palatable but non-descript. Perhaps I just picked the wrong brews, but I'd research his brews online so you know what you want before you get there.

              I referred a local banker new here from Seattle & he was pleased w/ the beer & pizza.

              So ... guess I'll try again ... but now only if I happen to be driving by.

              In addition to SA Homebrew, IF YOU HAVE A CAR ... I could recommend Hills & Dale's Ice House 15403 White Fawn Dr @ 1604 westbound feeder just W of Babcock exit ... Wed night is biker night if that matters. Quite a selection of beers on tap, as well as lots of designer beers in bottles. But not nearly as intimate as SA Homebrew. But they do have 2 pool tables if that makes a difference.

              And then there's The Flying Saucer ( which is a bit of a meat market. I avoid it Th, F & Sa ... Su afternoons are ok ... cheaper beers & less crowded. They probably have the largest # of taps with a good selection of Tx beers. They seem to be leaning more towards Belgian beers lately (I've more of a German taste). FS has some munchies but I've had some problems w/ the service & quality there. But staff is quite knowledgeable ... and though not dressed like Hooter's ... they won't hurt your eyes.

              1. re: EdLagniappe

                I really enjoyed Freetail. I remember the Interloper Stout and Double Rye Wit being very good. Not too far from Freetail is Gabriel's Wine & Spirits‎. It is at the NW corner of loop 1604 and Blanco road. Great beer selection. I was impressed. The Pale Ale, maibock (probably no longer there) , and homemade orange cream soda were good at Blue Star. I didn't care for their stout or barleywine. They serve breakfast now.
                I don't care for Mi Terra at all. I definitely don't get that place. The tostada burger at Chris Madrid's is one of the best if not best burger I have ever had.

      2. GREAT compilation Jrawk! But I've just gotta add my 2 bits.

        Lulu's does make a giant CFS (I haven't tried it) ... but the GIANT cinnamon roll is a bit of a disappointment. It truly is big enough to satisfy 4 folks w/ big cups of coffee BUT it's a pretty dry beast and precious little cinnamon or frosting on the inside. I think of it as a large loaf of 2 day old bread w/ a speck or 2 of cinnamon surprise inside. I doesn't hold a candle to Ruby's in Portland OR!

        To the Mex-Mex food (as opposed to Tex-Mex) I'll add El Siete Mares for Mexican seafood.
        I agree on Rafa's ... very good.
        I'll add Los Antojito's ... a tiny hole in the wall ... and if you speak English, you'll be the only one there! 3330 Culebra, W of Memorial, M-Sa 07-15 a different lunch special each weekday. Go between meal rushes if you want to find parking.

        BURGERS: Can't disagree w/ Chris Madrid's ... IF your definition of a great burger today is big, sloppy & dripping w/ grease. And I certainly have those days. AND it's a great place to have a non-descript beer w/ your burger.
        Equivalent if not identical would be:
        Bobby J's 13247 Bandera, 1.5 mi N of 1604 in Helotes. M-F 11-15 & 17-21, Sa 11-21?

        If you want to be able to identify the contents of the burger & toppings,
        Brenda's Burgers @ 3837 SW Military @ Carmel makes delicious burgers that don't run grease down your arm M-Tu-W 10-17, Th 10-20, F 10-21, Su 11-20 I like the "Barry's Dbl Meat w/ cheese & japs" for $4.15 ... and that's about their most expensive burger!

        If you want a designer beer w/ your burger, I'd recommend any of several Chester's Burgers ... they have a nice selection & the burgers are respectable.

        BBQ: I've NEVER been able to catch Texas Pride when they were open! I drive by on every trip to Houston & my timing is always wrong!
        Rudy's BBQ ... it was the dogfood when compared to Black's & Smitty's from Lockhart. Rudy's needs lotsa red sauce to hide the quality of their meat. It came out #4 out of 4 in blind taste tests w/ 3 places from Lockhart. BTW: I notice in another thread that Kreuz's in Lockhart is dropping in quality (something I pointed out 5 yrs ago).

        Bun-n-Barrel: never had their BBQ ... in fact, don't recall ever eating there ... but it's also the place where the local antique cars & car collectors meet on Wed nights. I preferred to eat at the Thai place a few buildings to the West (forgot the name)

        Steaks: Olde SF Steakhouse is good for the prime rib ... haven't tried their steaks. Correct me if I'm wrong ... but I thought they'd close in S.A.?!

        Other: Agree w/ Magnolia Pancake Haus. Get there before 0900 or you'll wait 30 min for a table (esp on Sunday)

        Jim's for tortilla soup? Nice to know ... that's one of my favorite soups. The best I'd found in town so far was the cafeteria at Christus Santa Rosa Hospital downtown :-) (Mainly because there was nothing more palatable on the cafeteria line! So I was sure there was better around.)

        Agree on Godai ... I'm far from a sushi expert, but an aficionado took me around & Godai is certainly high on the list if not the best.

        And when on the Riverwalk, Schilo's is a decent place for a sausage, rotkohl & bier :-)

        Thanks for your pizza suggestions ... I just divorced my old favorite pizza place (Naple's) ... their large maxed out pizza went from a high $22 to a ridiculous $32 ... I can stick to my diet for that price! :-)

        3 Replies
        1. re: EdLagniappe

          Hit it dead on why I'd rather stay away from Rudy's. To me they are no better than Sonny Bryan's, there's nothing special about either. Hate to hear that SA suffers from the same lack of BBQ like Dallas does.

          1. re: EdLagniappe

            Wow, hadn't heard that Naples raised their prices. If you're talking about the one on Huebner, my current favorite for that style of pizza on that side of town is Julians. I hear a cousin of the guy who owns Naples is the owner of Sorrento, can anyone verify that?

            1. re: saeyedoc

              I admit ... what I wanted was everything on the pizza that wasn't still moving ... so the higher price reflects "additional toppings" that aren't in their garbage pizza. But, previously there were no extra charges for all the extra stuff.

              So, if you are ok w/ what's standard ... then it's just a pricey pizza. (Oh ... I could be off by $1.00 or so ... but my numbers are in the ballpark). I don't want to be unfair.

          2. I find it interesting that you perfer Mom and Pop type places, yet I feel that most of the places you list are Tourist-type or chain.

            No mention of McBee's. Snoga's, Mr. and Mrs. G's, Patty's Taco house, Bud Jones', Ruben's, El Mirrador, or Hung Fong's.

            5 Replies
            1. re: SAguy

              If you're referring to the OP, he does mention Mr and Mrs G's and Bud Jones.

              1. re: saeyedoc

                Haven't eaten at Hung Fong's in years. I think DingHow on Loop 410 had better chinese food.i recall eating there at Hung Fong's once with my dad and sister, and we weren't impressed. Eaten at too many chinese and even japanese places over the years when my dad was in the AirForce.
                Bejing out on Northwest Military and I forgot the other street is good or was good.
                There is a McBee's in New Braunfels and also now one out in Marion ,about 6 or so miles from me, but I haven't tried it yet.
                Forgetting Rolando's Super Tacos, there's one I think on Broadway or was, and one on Walzam.
                I've heard The Malt House on Zazamora and S.W.Military? was good.
                Harmon's out in Cibolo by me has good smoked catfish.
                Black's was good,ate there last year with my sister and her fiance when they came down for Thanksgiving from New York.
                Want to try Mr.and Mrs.G's.I work two jobs.Not only do I work TJMAXX during the week,but also Saturday and Sunday.Makes it hard for me to go explore places like Home of Da Smoke out near Adkins and Lone Oak on US Hwy 87.
                Texas Pride has a website where you can check for hours. I remember when they built the place back in the 1980s or early 90s,that's when my dad was still alive.
                Friday's they have a fish fry and music.I have off Friday from TJMAXX, but not sure if I'll go there. Might try someplace new for dinner.
                El Jalisco in Schertz by Papa John's on FM 3009 is good.
                At at Las Hacienda Los Barrios on Redland Road.It's owned by the same family that owns Los Barrios. It has a great atmosphere and it's nice to watch the cows in the field across the road, but I really wasn't that impressed with their food.

                1. re: HollyDolly

                  I made a special trip to The Malt House on Zarzamora ... it wasn't bad ... but not worth a trip 1/2 way across town.

                  In descending order, I'd prefer:

                  Brenda's ... If I'm willing to drive for a good burger

                  Chester's ... and a designer beer

                  I gotta admit, Cheesy Jane's does put out a tasty burger with identifiable, fresh ingredients. But it's pricey for what you get.

                  Or if I just need to grease my pipes, then I'd do Chris Madrids
                  then Bobby J's.

                  The Malt House doesn't make my list of favorites ... I'd hit Jack in the Box or BurgerKing locally before driving to the Malt House.

                  1. re: EdLagniappe

                    Haven't tried Brenda's .I usually go to Chester's on Pat Booker Road in Universal City.I wish Chester's would bring back their poppy seed buns.I mentioned The Malt House since I was trying to think of places that weren't chains.
                    I usually just make my own burgers at home or just grab something a cheap burger for a buck at Jack in the Box or Wendy's.Chester's when I go is maybe after I get off from TJMAXX on Saturday or maybe during the week when I'm not working there after my other job.

                    1. re: HollyDolly

                      I really like the burgers at Big'z.

            2. Burgers: I love Longhorn for their burgers, the rings are always flour-y or something; Big'z is delicious too, if a bit more upscale and GBG at 1604/281 is fabulous for unusual- 'chef-created' burgers. Love the sweet potato fries, too.

              BBQ: Harmon's in Cibolo is my favorite, Texas Pride is good and Two Brothers is great and only 2miles from my house, wuhoo!

              Mexican food: Guajillo's for interior mexican cuisine; Los Robertos is hole in the wall, reasonable, 24hrs and the carnitas are >swoon<; Gorditas Dona Tota is delicious and a good price (although not as cheap as originally); La Fogata for atmosphere, margaritas and I enjoy the food, too- definitely someplace I bring visitors

              Middle-eastern: Jerusalem Grill across from Ingram Park Mall

              Vietnamese: total hole in the wall, but I love Lien Hung off of IH-35 and Eisenhower (?)

              Standard (but good) breakfast: Karina's Cafe

              Fast Food w/ great ice cream: (okay, frozen custard) Culver's rocks