Acenar vs Biga on the Banks vs NAO
I haven't tried Biga yet but I have recently been to both Acenar and NAO. Both were, quite frankly, disapointing. NAO has better food and the menu is definitely more "foodie" but the service, when I went, was akward, the portions really small and most of the dishes were pretty average.
Acenar was really disapointing. It was loud, crowded, slow service, a little dirty (probably due to the rush but there was a lot of stuff on the floor) and the food is no better or different than what you can get at any number of other mexican restaurants - mostly cheaper and with better service. And, unforgivably, the margaritas were weak.
So, out of those 3, I would choose Biga. I have heard good things and want to try it. On the other hand, I have tried Bruce Audens other restaurant, Auden's Kitchen a few times and was mostly disapointed.
For a San Antonio foodie, I recommend Austin. This is not to say that I don't love the food here in SA . .I really, really, do . .but in my experience it's just not a "foodie" town and trying such places leads to disapointment upon disapointment.
In the last year, I have tried Sustenio, Bliss, The Monterey, Feast, Rosario's and Bin 555 in addition to Acenar and NAO. Can't say a single one of them is worth a second visit. If pressed, I would say Feast was my favorite - mostly because they have nice cocktails and I got pretty drunk . .the food could've been awful, I guess. I would also consider giving Bliss another shot - especially if I could get 6 people together and do the Chef's Table. If I went back to Sustenio, I would try to sit at the Ceviche bar (although you can get way better ceviche at any number of places, NAO not being one of them).
Other than Biga, I would for sure go to South Town instead. My personal choice would be Tito's but my wife looks at my like she wants to slap me when I recommend it. It's basically a bar and not remotely fancy or nice inside . .but they make strong margaritas and the food is pretty good.
I also second the rec to try Gwendolyn . .haven't tried it yet but I definitely plan to. My favorite "nice" restaruant in San Antonio is, by far, Cappy's in Alamo Heights. The menu is pretty traditional but the food and service are excellent.
Have fun in SA whatever you choose to eat!
re: San Antonio Sam
Excellent. I actually live in Chicago but visit my family once or twice a year. Yes, you're right - the term foodie and San Antonio don't always fit, but then again you never know. I adore Austin (what's Austin doing in Texas anyway???)and, regarding your comment about Tito's not being fancy or nice, have found that regardless of where I am, from San Francisco, to NOLA, to Miami, I seek out the holes in the ground and am almost always happy that I did. Fancy is typically over rated. I'm not familiar with "South Town," Tito's, or Gwendolyn but sounds like my mission when I'm down there in 2 weeks. In the interim, I made reservations at Biga so at least I have something. A million thank you's for the come back
If you're looking for some hole-in-the-wall, real deal, "essence of San Antonio" type places and are willing to venture from the River Walk. .I recommend trying out:
Rubens Tamales (or Tellez, you're choice)
El Folklor - The taco shop in the La Fiesta Supermarket on Ingram Rd
Some breakfast tacos from just about anywhere.
And, then, if you're tired of Mexican (I don't see how you could be) - you might want to have breakfast at Magnolia Pancake House, have a chicken fried steak at Grumpys Mexican Cafe (not actually a mexican place) or Richter's Antler Cafe, have some BBQ at Home of Da Smoke, the best chicken fingers you ever, ever had at Speedy's Chicken. A burger at Longhorn Cafe would round all that out nicely and send you waddling home happy, with fond memories of the Alamo City and some loose sweatpants, lol.
Also - A few fun places to check out within a mile or 2 from the RW - The Friendly Spot, La Tuna Ice House, Alamo Eat Street (food trucks). If you like dive bars, the Texas T pub, just off the riverwalk is one where I've managed to have some enjoyable times.
Just landed and the first place we went was Tito's (thank you S.A.Sam). I figure any place that would warrant a slap from your wife needed to be checked out, especially because our concierge was pushing Rosarios so much. Of course I didn't tell MY wife that because she'd slap me. Excellent choice-my hay's off. The tortillas were outstanding; fish taco special delightful and the tortilla soup also 1st rate but perhaps just a teenie bit too much lime. Everybody insists on Boudros tonight so Gwendolyns will have to wait. Biga's tomorrow. Thank you again.
If you need to keep it walkable, and want a RW view...Biga without question (specify you want a window table in your res). Acenar was a disappointment on our last visit (and you'd have to sit outdoors for the RW view). Nao is at the Pearl complex, you can stroll up there (~one mile) before dark and get cab back. Menu is pan-latin tapas style, we love it- but you will not have RW view. Great cocktail lounge next door (sit upstairs!!) at Blue Box. You might also look at Restaurant Gwendolyn if you want the locavore experience and a nice RW location.