San Antonio, in recent years, has drawn attention for its increasingly impressive culinary scene. Once correlated only with the Alamo and expansive riverwalk, this up and coming gastronomical city offers much more than what one might expect. Outlined in this guide, are our very top 10 recommended San Antonio restaurants, selected specifically to provide readers a true taste of this South Texas city.
10. Tex Mex: La Fonda on Main
Tucked away in the midtown Monte Vista neighborhood, is La Fonda on Main – a homely, adobe-style restaurant from 1932, serving some of San Antonio’s finest, elevated Tex-Mex and interior Mexican cuisine. With vibrant tiled tables lining a shaded patio, La Fonda on Main is one of our favorite San Antonio restaurants for its large and diverse menu, and colorful, inviting atmosphere. One of our favorite items is the tacos de pato, which features slow-roasted shredded duck stuffed between dense homemade corn tortillas, with a refreshing mango and avocado spinach side salad. Unsure about duck? Trust us- it’s crisp on the outside, tender to the bite, and delivers a flavor so rich, you may not be able to go back to typical tacos. P.S. They have brunch on Saturday and Sunday too!
9. Barbecue: Smoke Shack BBQ
With so many BBQ places to try, we definitely included Smoke Shack on our list of best restaurants in San Antonio. It’s been a staple of San Antonio restaurants for years. The smoke, meatiness, tenderness, and sauciness are all spot on here which means zero disappointment. Their sides are simple and so so good from the mac & cheese to the collard greens to the spicy cream corn. It’s everything we love about good food; uncomplicated, balanced, well crafted and hits all the sweet spots.
8. New American: Cured
Housed in the historic 1904 administrative office to the Pearl Brewery, sits Cured, appealing in its rustic decor, Southern flair, and innovative offerings. Host to four year consecutive James Beard Foundation nominee for Best Chef: Southwest Steve McHugh, Cured was one of the first San Antonio restaurants to pave the way to a future of culinary creativity within the Alamo City. The menu is small, but not simple, with classics elevated two or three tiers, so prepare to indulge in more adventurous eats. A perfect example, and one of our personal favorites, is the award-winning blue ribbon burger – a single, double, or triple stacked bacon and beef blend burger, with onion jam, blue ribbon American cheese, and a soft potato bun. Drool.
7. Italian: Battalion
High-quality Italian food with one of the most unique atmospheres puts Battalion on our list of best restaurants in San Antonio. They have a careful and well-balanced menu that is ideal for sharing and gives you a wide variety of fresh, creative small plates like the tomato-watermelon salad and larger, rich entrees like the milk braised pork shank. They have solid classic Italian-American fair perfectly balanced with more creative dishes like their spinach dumplings, a must try. All of this taking place in a renovated firehouse downtown makes this one of my favorite San Antonio restaurants to bring friends and family.
6. Farm To Table: Periphery
If you’ve ever felt the feeling of finding a true neighborhood gem, somehow kept secret, though serving a seriously standout menu, you’ll understand how we feel towards Periphery. This locally owned Monte Vista eatery sources fresh ingredients to create simple, honest plates, which rotate with the season, and maintain classic, wholesome flavor. The most popular menu item and our most highly recommended is the smoke roasted chicken, drenched in a how-did-they-do-it style lemon/honey jus. Order the dish to share, with one or two more items (like the burrata side with roasted broccoli, kalamata olives, and sourdough) for a well-rounded lunch or dinner, to understand why Periphery landed on our list of the best restaurants in San Antonio. P.S. it’s a few doors down from La Fonda on Main!
5. Pizza: Dough Pizzeria
Another one of our absolute favorite San Antonio restaurants is Dough Pizzeria. The dough has outstanding flavor and chew and the toppings are fresh, complementary and well balanced. Their menu changes with the seasons, but their dough, sausage, mozzarella, and sauces are all house-made and always set a perfect tone for whatever combinations they offer. Dough is a member of the Association of Neapolitan Pizzaioli or VPN (the Italian governing body that teaches the art of Neapolitan pizza making and certifies adherence to authentic procedures) so they get it right here and make Dough not just one of the best places for pizza but one of the best restaurants in San Antonio.
4. Southern: Southerleigh
Among many other San Antonio restaurants, this culinary jewel is tucked in the Pearl and shares the same building with Hotel Emma. Southerleigh is housed in a still operating, revitalized brewing house. Their food is meant to share, so grab a couple of sides to fill the table gaps in-between entrees, we recommend the chicken cracklins, wood-fired pretzel and jalapeño white cheddar grits.Their menu changes often but you can usually find the snapper and their famous fried chicken on there and both are excellent. Southerleigh is a perfect nod to creole-American cuisine and one of the best restaurants in San Antonio.
3. Upscale American: Clementine
Clementine is newer to the scene of San Antonio restaurants, but still absolutely deserving of a spot on our list of best restaurants in San Antonio. The food is upscale American but unintimidating and dynamic. There are great variations to favorites like chicken and dumplings and steak frites with really creative additions like their beet salad with herbs, no grain-ola, and cocoa nibs. The strawberry shortcake has three different layers of delicious ice cream and the best torched meringue topping all resting on a beautiful buttermilk biscuit… it’s anything but short. The whole restaurant and staff are delightful, laidback and welcoming making this one of our favorite restaurants in San Antonio and one of our new favorite spots to take family and friends.
2. French American: Maverick Texas Brasserie
Sitting along S. St. Mary’s St., on the edge of San Antonio’s Southtown neighborhood, lies Maverick, a chic Euro-Texan eatery offering wholesome, French-inspired eats in a warm, contemporary space (think velvet banquette seating and exposed brick walls). A newcomer to the Alamo City, Maverick quickly climbed its way onto our list of the best restaurants in San Antonio for its ambiance, service, and diverse menu. Bring a date for an intimate, candlelit evening, and order the crispy duck to share (seriously incredible), or book a patio table for brunch, and try something new, like the citrusy brown buttered pork schnitzel. We could not pass up an order of the ‘fried sweet dough’ and suggest you don’t either. These miniature doughnuts are coated in cinnamon sugar, and served with homemade seasonal jam – a MUST for those with a sweet tooth!
1. Innovative: Restaurant Gwendolyn
A must-have on the list of best restaurants in San Antonio and our top pick is Restaurant Gwendolyn. Not only are the ingredients above reproach, but they’re handled most impressively. They’re never dropped off, always picked up from the farm or ranch and prepared using pre-1850’s tech. The lunch options are unassuming and so well done and dinner is a memorable fine dining experience. We always check out the prix fixe menu online before dining and are always intrigued, excited and hungry after perusing it. Restaurant Gwendolyn is situated downtown on the Riverwalk, and a gem among San Antonio restaurants.