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Nov 6, 2012 02:05 PM

San Antonio Riverwalk

Just arrived in San Antonio for 3 days with my wife and 2 young children. Went to Lulu's for lunch (amazing!) and have just strolled up and down the Riverwalk looking for somewhere for dinner tonight. Could have stopped at 15 places! Looking for great local food in a family friendly atmosphere, happy for steak, BBQ, seafood, anything really. Does anyone have recommendations to help narrow it down??

Many thanks ....

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  1. danburke, although, in my opinion, the majority of RW restaurants are "meh" at best there is some great chow in SA.
    County Line BBQ is on the RW. They have a strong following in Austin (2 locations) and my experience at the RW location was good.
    Biga on Banks, just off the RW is excellent.

    1 Reply
    1. re: qbdave

      Ended up eating at Saltgrass Steakhouse. Had a really excellent meal.

    2. Thanks for your post. We will be there in a little over a week. Staying in San Antonio and driving back and forth to Austin for the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Looking for inexpensive but good food and want to have at least one meal at the Riverwalk. Thank you for the recommend of the Saltgrass. Can you say what you ate there? Did the family enjoy it too?

      16 Replies
      1. re: dimsumgirl

        Had the Ribeye steak which was superb (did not need any condiments anywhere near it!). Also had the ribs and fried shrimp combo which was also excellent. Nice sized portions, super friendly staff and everyone really made a fuss of the kids. Would definitely recommend. Also just got back from Chris Madrids for burgers which was excellent as well.

        1. re: dimsumgirl

          Dimsumgirl - on one of your drives "back and forth to Austin" you definitely should take I-10 east to Luling for City Market, and then 183 north to Austin through Lockhart.

          I do know this ain't your first rodeo when it comes to Texas barbecue but thought a timely reminder might be in order. Just in case.

          1. re: Jaymes

            Thank you Jaymes! City Market is on my list of must visit places! Thank you-- is brisket the dish to order there or ???

            1. re: dimsumgirl

              Yes to the brisket, but my favorite are the ribs. Throw in some sausage and all the bases are covered. Remember, in central Texas brisket can be ordered by the pound, as well as ribs. A short jog to the north is Lockhart, and Smitty's with all the above plus prime rib. It's very close and since you're in the neighborhood !!!!!!

              1. re: James Cristinian

                I am "Brisket Girl." Lots of other places in the US do a great job with other cuts of meat, but for brisket, there's only one place, and when you're in Central Texas, you're in it.

                So I never pass up the brisket. Never. Never ever. Never ever are brisket and I not getting together.

                We always get some moist and a little bit lean, if somebody in our group wants it. At City Market, the ribs are great, too, as JC says, and we get some. I'd say we usually order about 1/4 lb of brisket per person, 2 ribs (at least) per person, and 1 sausage link for each 2 people.

                That's if we've only gone one place for a meal.

                But often, we're on a "sampling tour," so we get much less, so that we have plenty of room to have some nibbles and bites at each place without filling up. We order just enough for a few bites of brisket, one rib, and a few bites of sausage per person. I'd strongly recommend you consider that "tasting menu" approach if you're planning on stopping at Luling City Market, and at two or three places in Lockhart.

                And, we always take a cooler, and bring home some barbecue. The ribs travel okay and heat up just fine. Once it's sliced (as in leftovers from your meal) the brisket doesn't do quite so well, but it's still really tasty and worth it and better, even after the trip, than anything I've been able to find thus far here in Houston. So, when we decide to bring some brisket home, we just order however much we want - say 5 pounds or whatever - unsliced. The unsliced brisket travels and reheats great.

                But the smoked sausage - that always travels great no matter what, and we always bring home a lot of it for the freezer.

                I realize you're traveling, so long-term freezer storage might seem unworkable but, whenever I fly out to San Jose to see my kids/grandkids, I always haul along several pounds of sausage. That cooked/smoked sausage seems to make the trip just fine.

                Especially since you're going to be staying in hotel rooms during your visit, I'd sure plan to take a bit of 'cue back to the room with me to nosh on if I were you. Some crackers and good cheese and City Market (or Smitty's or Black's) sausage make pretty great eating.

                And, speaking of CenTex sausage, try to find a kolache joint nearby you that sells sausage rolls (or sausage kolaches - they go by a lot of names) to take back to the hotel and heat up in the microwave.

                Also, not only is Lockhart a "short jog to the north" and "very close" to Luling, it's directly on the route from San Antonio to Austin, once you've decided to go through Luling.

                1. re: Jaymes

                  Great tip! Thanks JC and Jaymes. We are staying at a hotel that has a fridge and microwave in the room. After the Formula 1 event, we will spend an extra day since we've never been to San Antonio and then we fly to Houston for a few days-- we can freeze sausage there! I've been wondering what to bring back for the friend who is driving us to the airport so this is a great solution.

                  We've enjoyed kolaches before so that's another great idea. Thank you!

                  1. re: dimsumgirl

                    If you happen to be in the mood for a burger while driving up I35 - you should check out CBQ Eatery in Shertz.

                    As for Riverwalk restaurants - The recs in this thread are solid but Southtown is less than a mile away and has a lot more good places to eat.

                    1. re: San Antonio Sam

                      Thank you for the req for CBQ--sounds like a fun place. I just emailed them to find out if they will cook a burger to order. I like mine rare to medium rare and many places insist on medium to well done which ruins a burger for me.

                    2. re: dimsumgirl

                      dimsumgirl, I know this is not practical for you and I think Jaymes has commented on it, but the wife and I tote along a toaster oven to our San Antonio hotel for leftover bbq from Luling/Lockhart. Take a trip to the Alamo, it's free but drop what you feel is appropriate in the donation box. As a plaque says, it is a shrine, men died here, good men on both sides, and holds a special place in this Texan's heart, with my wife's parents being from Mexico, even more so. If in Luling, you can name drop and say you know of a guy who lives in Houston, and had an uncle named Dayton that had a used car lot on the main drag back in the 60's. They might ask about my cousin Tommy, like they did last time, but I poltely said I hadn't heard from him in years. Did I get better bbq for this?????

                1. re: dimsumgirl

                  The Salt Lick. Sigh...

                  Well, I suppose I'd say anyone interested in Texas barbecue should go there at least once. The ambiance is still a lot of fun, and, since it's probably the most-famous BBQ joint in the state, when you tell out-of-staters that you had barbecue in Central Texas, you will often be asked if you went there. And, I'll admit that when we lived right up the road from there, we would take out-of-town guests there.

                  But even then, I would never have stopped in there just to buy some 'cue to take home. Without the ambiance, it's nothing.

                  I would go into the whole thing again, but I'm in sort of a hurry right now, so I'll just link you to this previous thread, which tells the whole story, at least the whole story from my personal perspective:


                  1. re: Jaymes

                    Haven't been there in years, but it was great in the late 1870's. Then again, could have been the 1970's, I just can't remember.

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      Ah yes, the late 1870's. Them were good days, right James? The smoke rising from the pits, the parking lot full of wagons, the Texicans arguing about who had the best barbecue...

                      That was when the Salt Lick deserved its reputation as best smoked meats in the territory.

                      Back before the tourist motorcoaches and tee shirts and coozies and weddings and bar mitzvahs were the most important thing.

              2. re: dimsumgirl

                I was just In town for conference at convention center and we stumbled into the "Alamo street eat bar" a few blocks south of the riverwalk (609 S Alamo) It was super, basically a big carport with a bar and several foodtrucks parked around the perimeter. Takoriya had great Korean tacos and Kim chi to accompany the 2.50 lone star drafts. At least 4 trucks every night and big screen projector showing the evenings games.

                1. re: dimsumgirl

                  I like Paesano's on the RW, and in particular, the Shrimp Paesano. It has a large patio for al fresco dining also. Last time we were there, we ate at Boudro's Texas Bistro on the River Walk, which was good, but we were seated at a table abutting the very hot kitchen and it was a little uncomfortable on that summer evening. Whatever you do, avoid the tourist trap known as Casa Rio.

                  We always end up for breakfast at the Pioneer Flour Mill in historic SA. It's not far from the River Walk, but you will need a car or cab. It has a lovely outdoor patio behind a historic building and simple, fresh breakfast plates.

                  1. re: Lambowner

                    Yes to Paesono's and Boudro's. We usually hit San Antonio in the fall and get a table at Boudro's a couple of feet from the river outside. Casa Rio, We've never been but I've checked out the plates of food walking by, and will never, ever eat there, or any TexMex place on the river.

                2. The best Riverwalk restaurants are: Boudro's/Acenar/Bella on the River/Las Canarias/Ostra/The Fig Tree/Biga on the Banks/Citrus. More casual, Paesano's and Landry's are pretty good.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: bronwen

                    I agree with those I've been to, Boudro's, Acenar, Paesono's, Las Canaria's, but avoid the chain Landry's. A casual, fun place on a far end of the river is Waxy's Irish Pub.


                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      Waxy's has excellent corned beef and cabbage. The fish and chips at Mad Dogs is good too if you want a pub lunch.

                  2. I haven't been to SA in several years, but on the Riverwalk, I really liked Boudro's.

                    Some local sent me to County Line for BBQ. I learned what BBQ fans already know -- that is not real BBQ. Take the advice on this thread and do the Lockhart/Luling run -- it's worth it.

                    1. On our most recent visit to San Antonio we once again had a great meal at Acenar.. It tends to be one of our go to places in the city.

                      Also enjoyed a fantastic meal at La Frite Belgian Bistro. It is a small place with great atmosphere. The Steak au Poivre was perfectly prepared. My traveling companion raved about the mussels.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: swamp

                        If you liked La Frite next time try Bistro Vatel.