San Antonio restaurants present a world of choice and flavours thanks to a diverse mix of culinary traditions. The local branch of the Culinary Institute of America is a big reason why there are so many creative chefs working in the city. Locals are spoilt for choice with their city's great eats, and San Antonio has even been recognized as a culinary star destination by UNESCO, which named it a Creative City of Gastronomy.

    Whether you're in the mood for some cheap Tex-Mex takeaway, a decadent Texas beef barbecue feast or an evening of fine wine and dining, you can't go wrong checking out these top places to eat that are loved by San Antonio locals.

    1

    Schilo’s

    A downtown deli that’s stood the test of time

    • Food

    Schilo’s has been a favourite lunch spot in the San Antonio dining scene for more than 100 years. While Schilo’s is well known for its German comfort dishes like meatloaf, pea soup, bratwurst, and wiener schnitzel, the deli sandwiches here really stand out, with an assortment of meats and cheeses to choose from.

    Built in a former mercantile exchange building, the restaurant has a soothing vintage theme, with old family photos and postcards lining the walls. Though it’s located downtown where some restaurants have tourist prices, the Schilo family keeps serving up large portions at great prices.

    Location: 424 E Commerce Street, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA

    Open: Daily from 7.30 am to 2.30 pm

    Phone: +1 210-223-6692

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    photo by Eden, Janine and Jim (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    Burgerteca

    Burgers with a Tex-Mex twist

    • Food

    Burgerteca was founded by Chef Johnny Hernandez, who made his mark on the San Antonio dining scene by opening such beloved Mexican restaurants as La Gloria. This burger haven set just south of downtown pays homage to the chef’s Mexican roots with toppings like black beans and salsa verde.

    Among the favourites here is the Chile con Queso burger slathered with refried beans, corn chips and melted white cheese. If you're craving a margarita to wash down the burger, try to visit during the restaurant's happy hour – actually a generous 4 hours – from 3 pm to 7 pm, Monday to Thursday, to enjoy discounted drink prices.

    Location: 403 Blue Star #105, San Antonio, TX 78204, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 9 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 210-635-0016

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    3

    Botika

    A hot spot for brunch

    • Food

    Botika was created by Chef Geronimo Lopez, whose travels through Asia and Latin America inspired him to create a unique menu of South America-meets-Asia dishes. Here you’ll be able to sample some surprising taste combinations like duck confit and potato empanadas, or loma saltado, a beef stir-fry with soy and yellow chile pepper paste. You could also just go for the sushi, paired with some cocktails and enjoyed on the patio.

    Though its reputation is starting to attract visitors from outside San Antonio, Botika is still firmly on the map as a local favourite for dining. Its location in the trendy Pearl district adds to its foodie-friendly vibe.

    Location: The Pearl, 303 Pearl Pkwy #111, San Antonio, TX 78215, USA

    Open: Sunday–Wednesday from 11 am to 9 pm, Thursday–Saturday from 11 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 210-670-7684

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    4

    Dignowity Meats

    Belt-busting smoked meat sandwiches

    • Food

    Dignowity Meats is celebrated by hungry San Antonians for its delicious smoked meat sandwiches and barbecue dishes. There’s a different menu for lunch and dinner, and while many stop by for takeaway, you could also dine at the outdoor patio.

    Nobody comes here for a light meal. Get your fill of meaty, cheesy and carb-heavy creations such as the Burnt end Melt with smoked brisket burnt ends and cheddar macaroni on ciabatta, or the San-Anto Style Pie with Flamin' Hot Cheetos, sharp cheddar macaroni, pulled pork, cheddar cheese, and jalapenos. Leave a bit of space to enjoy a craft beer along with your meal.

    Location: 1701 E Houston St, San Antonio, TX 78202, USA

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 3 pm and 5 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 210-462-1496

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    5

    Ray’s Drive Inn

    San Antonio’s puffy taco pioneer

    • History
    • Food

    Going to Ray’s Drive Inn is like stepping back in time, with its classic carhop service and tasty no-frills meals. Ray’s was the creator of San Antonio’s most famous dish: the puffy taco. And it’s still serving these up daily along with a selection of Tex-Mex favourites.

    Ray’s first opened in the 1950s and the restaurant has kept its retro look, with vintage pictures and advertisements lining the walls, and an old jukebox in the corner. The restaurant is found about 4 miles west of downtown, but worth the trip for its authentic San Antonio character.

    Location: 822 SW 19th St, San Antonio, TX 78207, USA

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11 am to midnight

    Phone: +1 210-432-7171

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    6

    Maria’s Cafe

    Cheap and creative Tex-Mex eats

    • Food

    Maria’s Café and Shop has been a fixture on Nogalitos Street for over 30 years. Diners flock to the family-run Maria’s not only for the well-priced meals but also for the dash of personal care that’s put into each dish. Maria’s has a menu of tempting tacos and Tex-Mex offerings, but savvy locals have also learned that they’re happy to take custom orders, too. If you’re extra hungry, try the El Hugo taco which has a generous slice of brisket and an egg.

    It’s also a great spot for breakfast, whether you’re wanting something with a bit of spice or some classic American pancakes. Maria’s Café is found about 6 km south of downtown, about 15 minutes away by bus.

    Location: 1105 Nogalitos Street, San Antonio, TX 78204, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 7 am to 2 pm

    Phone: +1 210-227-7005

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    7

    2M Smokehouse

    A top spot for barbecues in San Antonio

    • Food

    The main thing to know about 2M Smokehouse is that you’ve got to get there early and be prepared to queue up to avoid missing out on its beloved barbecue specialities. It opens at 11 am but on weekends especially, you’ll see people lining up as early as 9.30 am. The family serves up brisket, ribs, pulled port and sausages, all prepared in their gigantic custom-made barbecue pit called El Mexicano.

    Don’t expect any frills here… or wait service – you simply order at the counter and hope to find a place to squeeze in at the few tables provided. No alcohol is served, either. Indeed, they encourage diners who want to eat there to bring their own chairs and drinks and make a picnic of it.

    Location: 2731 S WW White Rd, San Antonio, TX 78222, USA

    Open: Thursday–Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +1 210-885-9352

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    8

    Bliss

    A great San Antonio restaurant for a special night out

    • Food

    Bliss restaurant is a small, intimate place in Southtown with a contemporary American menu that changes with the seasons. It’s the kind of place to dress up a bit and make a night of it, and best enjoyed as a multi-course experience. Try such flavourful starters as oyster sliders with candied bacon or hamachi sashimi tostadas. Among the favourite mains here are braised beef short ribs, pork shank and seared scallops.  

    Bliss has also become known for its warm and attentive service, with its expert suggestions on wines and cocktails to go with the meal. Reservations are essential.

    Location: 926 S Presa St, San Antonio, TX 78210, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday from 5.30 pm to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday from 5.30 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 210-225-2547

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    9

    Bottling Dept Food Hall at The Pearl

    Diverse eats with indoor and courtyard seating

    • Food

    Pearl has become a go-to area for local food lovers since it was transformed from an old brewery into a vibrant residential district. Not only is there a branch of the Culinary Institute of America at the Pearl, but there are also several restaurants, a farmer’s market, and an upscale food hall known as the Bottling Dept.

    Enjoy a range of tastes and experiences from takeaway pastries to ramen noodles to sipping wine in the sunny courtyard. Go for some New Orleans influenced meals at Bud’s Southern Rotisserie, or have a taste of true Texas grass-fed beef at Fletcher’s Hamburgers. The Pearl is found just a 5-minute drive from downtown on the Northern reach of the San Antonio River.

    Location: 312 Pearl Pkwy Building 6, San Antonio, TX 78215, USA

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 11 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday open from 11 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 210-564-9140

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    10

    Down on Grayson

    Check out their daily frozen cocktail of the day

    • Food

    Down on Grayson has become a popular spot for a date night, with its modern-American fare, good wine list, and romantic setting. The restaurant has an airy interior with brasserie-style seating and spacious outdoor seating on the patio.

    Shared plate selections like nachos or crispy brussels sprouts cater to couples or groups of friends, while there’s a tempting choice of mains like the char king burger or fish tacos. Down on Grayson is found near the Pearl Brewery area in Tobin Hill, about a 10-minute bus ride north of downtown.

    Location: 303 E Grayson St, San Antonio, TX 78215, USA

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 210-248-9244

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    Lana Willocks | Contributing Writer

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