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May 13, 2001 11:36 AM

San Antonio: Quest for the Best Mexican Food

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I am looking for the Best Mexican food in or around San Antonio, I have lived here for 30 years and find new places to eat all the time. I like "The Little House" next to the new court house and "Piedras Negras De Noche" off of South Laredo. There must be 100's of small out of the way places that serve fantastic Mexican food , any suggestions would be appreciated.Thanks


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  1. Try LaFogata's on Vance Jackson. You will love it. It is inside Loop 410 but outside downtown a couple miles.

    1 Reply
    1. re: T-daddy

      I have been to LaFogata and your absolutely on the money it is very very good. I remember eating there before they expanded. Thanks for the response.

    2. I disagree with the answers you got last spring. La Fogata doesn't hold a candle to my big three:

      El Mirador (St Mary's and Durango)
      Rosario's (S.Alamo near Durango)
      El Mira Sol (Blanco, south of 1604)

      No contest!

      Good eating,

      5 Replies
      1. re: Nat

        First of all, Iv heard so much about Rosario's so I finally went.... What a DIS-A-POINT-MENT!!! Really!!! This is what you call good mexican food? I give up. San Antonio just sucks when it comes to making mexican food. Right now, it seems that El Mirasol's is the only place worth going too. Im a very picky eater. After my trip to Mexico City and Morelia and experiencing REAL MEXICAN FOOD, I just cant settle for these types of places.

        El Mirasol
        13489 Blanco Rd, San Antonio, TX 78216

        Mexico City Cafe
        104 E 8th St, Cisco, TX 76437

        1. re: mann2108

          Try Ceilito Lindo or Guajillos. Both real mexican, not tex-mex. CL more upscale.

          1. re: mann2108

            Rosario's is very overrated and the service is terrible at El Mirador. Try Cascabel on S. St. Mary's, it flies way under the radar.

            El Mirador Restaurant
            722 S Saint Marys St, San Antonio, TX 78205

            1. re: bronwen

              I have to agree about the service at El Mirador; loved the food, but the staff kept us laughing at their almost wilful incompetence. For a place that's been around as long as this one, it's a complete mystery. Anyway, for a fine example of a somewhat retro greasy spoon Tex-Mex joint in the downtown area, try Mexican Manhatten.

            2. re: mann2108

              I couldn't agree with you more, mann2108.....SA sucks for Mexican food. I started a post similar to this one on Mexican food. I've been soooooo disappointed in the food in general in San Antonio. I love living here and love the vibe and the friendly people. But all the restaurants I've been to have been mediocre at best (including high end). I miss the food in San Diego

          2. Aldaco's at Sunset Station also flies under the radar. Best Tllapeno soup I've ever tried
            to eat (hotsy-totsy with peppers) but very tasty. The Gorditos are small but wonderfully prepared. The place on Stone Oak is much too mild and flat for my taste. It's a beautiful place and the food is maybe okay for the milquetoasts in that area, but not for my kind.
            Believe it or not, a friend from out of town and I had a delicious oyster cocktail at La
            Margarita's in the Mercado. I usually avoid the places there as tourist traps but maybe I've been wrong all these years.

            1. Let me start by saying that I like "Tex-Mex" just as much as "Real Mexican" or "New Mexico Mexican" food. It's all good, just different.

              My favorite restaurant in town has to be El Jarro de Arturo; if you are feeling Tex-Mex the El Jarro Numero Tres is great (be sure to sub the crispy taco for the puffy taco), if you want to eat more coastal Mexico get the Red Snapper a la Pepe, and if you really want more NorteƱo go for the cabrito (it is ALMOST as good as Rey de Cabrito in Monterrey, Mexico, the standard on cabrito).

              I also like Tito's on South Alamo a lot ( and probably eat there about once every week or two. I will say that their tortillas have been lacking recently as I don't think the same ladies are making them any more.

              Lastly, my random Mexican Cafe that I like is Maria's on South Nogalitos (; that is some good and cheap food right there.

              14 Replies
              1. re: pinojo

                What a relief to read an intelligent post here about Mexican food. "It's all good, just different," indeed. Brilliant and insightful. And true.

                When I read some post that has phrases IN ALL CAPS talking about HOW TERRIBLE some place is, usually after the poster has made ONE VISIT to the restaurant and is comparing whatever they had to the WONDERFUL WHATEVER that they USED TO GET somewhere else, I always know NOT TO PAY ANY ATTENTION.

                This last weekend, I visited San Antonio with a friend that is an expert on Mexican food by anyone's standards. He visits various locations all over Mexico every few months in connection with his business importing and selling Mexican foods, ingredients, clay pottery, etc. He's personal friends with the likes of Diana Kennedy, Rick Bayless, etc., and has traveled through Mexico with them, and with other celebrity chefs whose names you'd all know. He's written two books and is working on his third.

                We went to Rosario's and, rather than finding it to be a DIS-A-POINT-MENT!!!, we found it delightful, if a bit noisy. I had the chile relleno stuffed with picadillo, and it was the best I've had since I left Morelia, where I lived for a time. My friend spends considerable time in Puebla and he had a bite of my chile and said it was as good as that in Puebla, where Chiles en Nogada Stuffed with Picadillo were originally invented by nuns back in the 1800s. For his main, he had sweetbreads prepared in a traditional Mexican manner, and they were so tender and tasty that they were ambrosial.

                For breakfast, we went to Piedras Negras De Noche. Twice. Terrific. No mention of it here.

                Here's something that obviously many of you know, but that is easy to forget. Mexico is a huge country, and what you had in one region might be completely unheard of in another. We understand that about the US, of course, but sometimes don't realize the same thing applies in Mexico. We'd never go to Iowa for good smoked salmon, or Boston for barbecue, or Cleveland for ham and grits and red-eye gravy and sweet potato pie, but we think that if we've eaten some "REAL MEXICAN FOOD" somewhere in Mexico, that's the exact way it should taste all over Mexico, and that's also the way it should taste here, and that just doesn't happen. Not in Mexico and not in the US. I spent a great deal of time in Sonora and Chihuahua and my favorite soup there, a soup that absolutely everybody there makes and loves, was unheard of in Guadalajara, not that far south.

                So if you've tried your fave dish here that you used to love somewhere else and didn't find it as appealing to your personal taste, then TRY SOMETHING ELSE.

                Since you've come here and asked for suggestions, that's mine. In your new locale, if you've tried a "Mexican" restaurant that has gotten good reviews, and you've gone, and you've ordered whatever it was that you liked in your old locale, and you don't care for it in the new one, but other people keep telling you that the restaurant is good, go back at least once or twice more and order something you've never had before.

                If you still don't like it, well, at least you've given it a good and reasonable chance before you come here and trash it out IN ALL CAPS.

                And that's all anyone can ask..

                1. re: Jaymes

                  Loved your comments, Jaymes. You made a very good point about the diversity of Mexican cuisines. The poster who'd visited Mexico City and Morelia (two cities I don't find particularly interesting for Mexican food with some exceptions in Mexico City) and considered himself an expert doesn't offer very helpful advice for this board.

                  1. re: bronwen


                    And I really loved pinojo's comment to at least try not to succumb to the easy and lazy temptation of thinking in terms of "best" and "worst" and "San Antonio sucks."

                    And try instead to concentrate on "different."

                    The chiles rellenos I mentioned above are a perfect example. I cannot even begin to count how many norteamericanos I've heard complain about the chiles when they're stuffed with picadillo: "OMG, there are raisins in here! And nuts! Whoever heard of that? Everyone knows chiles rellenos are stuffed with cheese or chicken or hamburger meat! This sucks!"

                    When, of course, the "whoever" that "heard of that" are the nuns that invented the dish.

                    I mean, there are a hell of a lot of Mexicans in San Antonio, after all. A hell of a lot.

                    Way too many for anyone to condemn all the Mexican food in the whole town.

                    Not if they wish to be taken seriously, anyway.

                  2. re: Jaymes

                    Very good post Jaymes...Thank you for your insights. However, I would like to live in a city where I can pretty much go to any restaurant and not be disappointed. I've been disappointed in just about every restaurant I've been to in San Antonio (Mexican and others). I love San Antonio and the wonderful people here, but it doesn't seem like much of a "foodie" place. Also, most people can't afford to keep going to a restaurant in hopes that they will finally have a good meal

                    1. re: lindasant

                      There's no denying that San Diego is a great city. I used to live a few miles up the highway from there, and we visited often. And clearly that is the type of Mexican food that you are accustomed to. And that's most-likely why you prefer it. That probably won't change in so far as the exact preparation of various favorite dishes go. If you really love the chicken enchiladas as prepared at your favorite restaurants in San Diego, it's likely that no other chicken enchiladas are ever going to do it for you. But there are undoubtedly hundreds, if not thousands, of other dishes that you have never tried (or even heard of, for that matter) that you might love. And what I'm suggesting to you is that you stop ordering whatever those favorite dishes are in an effort to continue having whatever it was that you used to have in San Diego; I repeat, stop ordering your traditional favorites, and try some things that are completely new to you.

                      For me, though, I'll admit that "Cali/Mex" is pretty far down my personal list of favorites, with Mex/Mex first, and New Mex/Mex a very close second. And I'm speaking here of "overall" favorites, with each US regional interpretation of various Mexican regional cuisines having individual dishes that I particularly like, or particularly dislike. It's quite common, for example, in the far northern Mexican states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, etc., to stir cottage cheese into their guacamole. As many times as I had it, I never did like it, and am sure I never will, no matter how many times I gamely "gave it a chance." In Southern California, sorry, but I still can't stand bean sprouts in my fish tacos, something that I saw a lot there, along with other similar annoying California attempts to "healthify" traditional Mexican food. I also had a damn hard time getting charro/borracho beans there, which I absolutely love. Most of the time, it was refried or nothing.

                      But let me be clear. I'm not saying that you are ever going to find places in San Antonio that prepare your favorite dishes in a manner that you find "better," or even "as good as," San Diego. In fact, I'd bet a lot of money that that's not going to happen, no matter how long you stay here and how much you "give it a chance." That's part of the fun of going back, you know. You'll always look forward to having whatever it is when you visit. I'll tell you, when I'm driving I-10 back to California to visit friends and family, I never fail to drive 120 miles (round-trip) out of my way to get to Nogales to have that chicken mole at La Roca. I've had a lot of chicken mole in my life, but nothing quite hits the spot like theirs.

                      That said, however, as pinojo wisely pointed out, rather than thinking in terms of "better" and "worse," my advice, as an old gal that's been around this world, and more than once, is that you make an effort to think "different."

                      So focus on something different.

                      As an example, despite being told hundreds of times that "Kansas City Barbecue" in San Diego was fabulous, and that Top Gun was filmed there, I never got a single barbecue dinner there that I could even manage to finish.

                      As opposed to driving about 45 minutes or so from San Antonio to Luling.

                      And finding myself in barbecue heaven.

                      In the immortal words of the Isley Brothers: If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.

                      You can do it.

                      I think the place for you to start is to stop saying that "San Antonio sucks." For one thing, allowing your attitude to be that negative becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And it just pisses people off - the exact same people that you'd like to have help you in your search for good food. And that you might enjoy meeting and getting to know one day.

                      And, it makes you look peevish. You probably think it makes you look superior, like you're from a place with superior food and therefore have developed superior taste and knowledge. But you're wrong. It doesn't make you look superior. It makes you look peevish. And foolish. San Antonio is a city of over two-million people and it's impossible for there to be nothing worth eating in a city that large.

                      I said above that my friend and I had breakfast at Piedras Negras de Noche last weekend. We were the only gringos in the place, and it was packed. It was very clear by looking around at all of the Mexicans enjoying their meals that they didn't think it was "sucky," and I'm pretty sure that they'd laugh to hear you say that they're all wrong.

                      And you're right.

                      1. re: Jaymes

                        Jaymes - I am impressed not only by your patience but ability to write such heartfelt responses. Thanks for your insight and balanced view. You're welcome to guest post on my SA Food blog ( anytime you feel like it.

                        1. re: Jaymes

                          Thank you for your comments, Jaymes.

                          I've NEVER seen a bean sprout in a fish taco...UGH. Kansas City Barbeque is not very good. and, no, SA doesn't suck...I've just not had a good meal in a restaurant here (Mexican or otherwise) in the 18 months I've lived here. I have traveled extensively in Mexico, Carribbean, Central and South America, and Europe and have eaten and cooked some fabulous food. I continue to cook fabulous food but am very wary of spending more money on San Antonio restaurants. Crosby, Stills, and Nash said "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with" Thanks again and Salut!

                          1. re: lindasant

                            Well, rather silly nitpicking, especially for a food board, but actually Billy Preston was the first to use that "love" line. Stephen Stills copied it (with permission). But the Isley Brothers had the most memorable cover, at least in my opinion (I always did have a whole lotta soul).

                            So I guess in this instance, we're both right.

                            Good luck with your food quest.

                            1. re: lindasant

                              You've never had a good meal? Have you been to Il Sogno, Dough, Sustenio, Ceilito Lindo, Guajillos, Sandbar, Sichuan Cuisine, Tre Trattoria, 2 Bros BBQ?

                              1. re: saeyedoc

                                I had been wanting to try Guajillos for a long time and finally got there last week. It doesn't get any more authentic than that - even in Mexico.

                                One time about 15 years ago a friend of mine and I went to Tijuana but instead of the usual stuff we did, instead we got into a Taxi and told him to take us to the best restaraunt he knew of "where the real mexicans eat". He drove us for about 25 minutes to a suburb - to this day I have no idea where it was. He dropped us off at this place that was moderately nice, pretty large and full to the brim with locals eating at long tables. I had one of the best meals and experiences of my life that night - nothing fancy - just amazingly tasty food.

                                As soon as I stepped into Guajillos I was instantly reminded of that place.

                                1. re: San Antonio Sam

                                  Glad you enjoyed it, what did you have?
                                  Was there Wednesday night, had the Milanesa and my wife had the Mahi-mahi. Hadn't been there for like a week lol.

                                  1. re: saeyedoc

                                    I had the tacos de chuleta and also a bowl of fideo. Now, fideo I never had in Mexico so I can't say much about it .. but the flavor of the pork and the corn tortillas they use was so remniscent of tacos I've eaten in Mexico that it was almost eerie. I kept expecting to walk out of there and get in line to cross the border back into the US, lol.

                                    1. re: San Antonio Sam

                                      If you liked those tacos, try the Alambre with cheese and the Pastor. Closest I've found to Mexican street tacos.
                                      The tortilla soup is the best I've had.

                          2. re: lindasant

                            Lindasant - I used to feel exactly like you do when I first moved here 5 years ago but I've found that as you look around there are amazing restaurants right here in San Antonio. Everything is what you make it.

                      2. The relatively new La Gloria in the old-but-being-renewed Pearl Brewery complex is a nice offering in the Mexican "street food" category. Super-fresh, authentic flavors, but very approachable for the newbie. Park free in the shade under the highway and photograph the stable building on the way by.

                        La Gloria Mexican Restaurant
                        500 N Zarzamora St, San Antonio, TX 78207

                        La Gloria
                        1001 37th St, Snyder, TX 79549

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: tgordo49

                            I was totally going to say La Gloria also. LOVE it there.