The Best Restaurants in San Antonio

Pamela G. Knowles

The past 18 months have battered restaurants in ways the industry had never seen before, so we know the places that rose to the top have staying power. Here, we round up the 30 best restaurants in San Antonio right now, including 25 that have proven they have what it takes to succeed in the long run as well as five newer eateries that have already shown they know what is required to last. If the past year-and-a-half has taught us anything about the culinary scene, it’s that it needs our support to thrive. Get out and visit an old favorite from this list or try something new. You won’t be disappointed.

Dine with us! This month’s cover feature is coming to life during Best Restaurants Weekend, Aug. 13-14 at the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Reserve your seat here for a multi-course dinner by several of the winning chefs.

(Note: Restaurants are listed in alphabetical order with the five newer restaurants listed at the end)

2M Smokehouse

This is perhaps the city’s finest example of San Antonio barbecue. Pitmaster and co-owner Esaul Ramos, a James Beard Award Best Chef: Texas nominee, has received raves from Bon Appétit , Eater and Texas Monthly, which included it on its list of best barbecue in the state. Ramos and partner Joe Melig offer Central Texas barbecue through the Mexican American experience, making this Southeast Side spot a must-visit for any serious food lover. Enjoy the meltingly tender brisket with flaky South Texas-style flour tortillas plus sides of charro beans and Mexican street corn. And once a month, 2M offers barbacoa, elevating a South Texas tradition into transcendence.

2731 S. W.W. White Road, 210-885-9352, 2msmokehouse.com

Must order: Brisket, house made pork sausage with serranos and Oaxaca cheese, chicharoni macaroni

Battalion

Everybody knows meatballs are supposed to be round, right? At this renovated Southtown firehouse, they’re square, seared and delicious. They’re a highlight of this menu of regional Italian and Italian American classics that are served in an energetic, high-decibel and uber-stylish setting. Handmade pastas and a few red sauce favorites round out the offerings. The menu has simplified a bit since former partner Stefan Bowers stepped away from the restaurant to focus on Playland pizza parlor, but it’s still very much worth a visit.

604 S. Alamo St., 210-816-0088, battalionsa.com

Must order: Three cheese beef and pork “meatballs,” spinach dumplings, chicken Parmesan

Biga on the Banks

No appreciation of the city’s best restaurants is complete without paying tribute to San Antonio’s culinary OG, Bruce Auden. From the time he arrived in 1985 to helm the restaurant at the Fairmount Hotel, he launched a movement of chef-driven, intensely creative restaurants that looked to the ingredients, history and culture of the city for inspiration. Now, many of his dishes have become local classics and chefs who have passed through his kitchen stretch throughout the city and beyond.

203 S. St. Mary’s St., 210-225-0722, biga.com

Must order: Chicken-fried oysters, game packets, sticky toffee pudding

Bliss

Chef, partner and namesake Mark Bliss has been making San Antonians happy for decades, and his team works hard to make things look easy. Bliss, who runs the restaurant with his wife, Lisa, has a cooking résumé that goes back to working with Bruce Auden at the Fairmount Hotel, and he vaulted to local culinary stardom when he headed Silo Elevated Cuisine. Over his years of cooking and during a two-year hiatus, he honed his New American style that feels both contemporary and timeless.

926 S. Presa St., 210-248-9926, foodisbliss.com

Must order: Oyster sliders, Georges Bank scallops, whatever combination of duck and foie gras is on the menu

Bohanan’s

To the question of which is the best steakhouse in town, there is just one right answer: Bohanan’s. Chef/owner Mark Bohanan and his team turn out perfectly cooked steaks lightly perfumed with mesquite, decadent side dishes and elegant service in a charming old-school setting that overlooks Houston Street. The beef is the star here, but don’t overlook the well-prepared seafood dishes. Start downstairs with an impeccably made classic cocktail and move upstairs for a memorable experience.

219 E. Houston St., 210-472-2202, bohanans.com

Must order: French grilled oysters, rib-eye, chateaubriand

Botika

This has turned into the go-to spot at the Pearl for sushi, sashimi and poke. But if you’re going to get those, why not get some Peruvian tiradito, too? It’s like sashimi topped with a rich, tangy and usually spicy sauce. Executive chef/ partner Geronimo Lopez opened the restaurant in 2016 to focus on the Chinese and Japanese influences on Peruvian cuisine, and the restaurant has stayed packed ever since.

303 Pearl Pkwy., Ste. 111, 210-670-7684, botikapearl.com

Must order: Short rib noodles, steamed buns with pork belly, hamachi tiradito

Cappy’s

Perhaps the most underappreciated mainstay in the city, Cappy’s consistently delivers excellent dishes, along with its smooth, organized and professional service, making it an always satisfying experience. The menu hews to accessible, comfortable dishes, but there’s never a sense of coasting. Instead, there’s the feeling that the staff here is working very hard just for you. To maintain that level of focus and performance since 1977 marks a true achievement in hospitality and culinary performance.

5011 Broadway, 210-828-9669, cappysrestaurant.com

Must order: Rib-eye with bone marrow butter, Mustang chicken, Heights burger

Carnitas Lonja

Many places around town offer carnitas, but few do it truly well. So calibrate your palate with the offerings from James Beard Award nominee Alejandro Paredes at the place that grabbed this city when it opened in 2017 and hasn’t let go. Paredes grew up in Morelia, the capital city of Michoacán, known in Mexico as the capital of carnitas. Paredes’ arnitas—slow cooked pork with crisp, chicharrón-like edges—demonstrate his home region perfectly. Even inside Mexico, few places make them this good. Tuck some carnitas into a fresh corn tortilla and top with a squeeze of lime, a spoonful of pico de gallo and one of the memorable salsas. Pair it with an ice-cold Mexican lager and give thanks that you live here and can get these tacos often.

1107 Roosevelt, 210-455-2105, carnitaslonja.com

Must order: Carnitas (of course), chorizo, quesadilla de carnitas or chorizo

Chama Gaucha

Even with a lot more competition sprouting up throughout the city, San Antonio’s best churrascaria keeps churning out the hits, delighting customers and holding its position at the top. You know the routine: Start with a Caipirinha (the signature cocktail of Brazil), hit the overflowing salad bar (but not too hard), and then go to town on the seemingly endless parade of meats from strolling gauchos. When the dishes and service are this good, it’s easy to come back.

18318 Sonterra Place, 210-564-9400, chamagaucha.com

Must order: Apple salad, leg of lamb, chicken legs, beef ribs, rib-eye

Clementine

The name here comes from a clementine tree that chef/ owners John and Elise Russ saw fighting its way through a crack in a parking lot while they were scouting locations, and it’s a fitting image for their entrepreneurial spirit. Together, these hospitality veterans have created a destination in Castle Hills that draws delighted customers from all over the city for their upscale Southern menu that draws heavily from international inspirations. At some point, you will want to order the Feed Me option, which means turning your dining decisions over to the culinary power couple and letting them create a personalized menu for the night. Make sure to take advantage of their thoughtful and delicious wine selection, too.

2195 N.W. Military Hwy., 210-503-5121, clementine-sa.com

Must order: Hush puppies, ricotta cavatelli, Clementine crunch bar

Photo Courtesy Cured/Rick Cortez

Cured

This is the place that put chef/owner Steve McHugh on the national culinary map and it still feels as fresh as when it opened in late 2013. The glass-walled charcuterie case stops visitors and starts conversations in the seemingly always crowded dining room, while the attentive, knowledgeable and very professional servers keep the action humming smoothly. McHugh’s crew continues to deliver dishes that show why he has received multiple James Beard nominations over the years, whether it’s a longtime menu favorite or the always changing menu specials. Already known for its excellent happy hour, word is getting out about the Sunday Suppers, and the Sunday-only order of fried chicken with collard greens, cornbread and grits.

306 Pearl Pkwy., Ste. 101, 210-314-3929, curedatpearl.com

Must order: Charcuterie plate, beer can mussels, Blue Ribbon burger

Dough Pizzeria

Sure, we love this place, but if you want another vote of approval, look to the mayor of Flavortown. Yes, Guy Fieri loves this place and raves about the attention to detail that owners Doug and Lori Horn pay to the pizzas, dishes and service. Fieri has featured Dough on three separate occasions. From the beautifully rendered Neapolitan style pizzas to the house-pulled burrata, to the all-Italian wine list, there’s a lot to love, whether at its original eatery or its newer digs at Hemisfair.

6989 Blanco Road, 210-979-6565; 518 S. Alamo St., 210-227-2900, doughpizzeria.com

Must order: Truffle burrata, pork love pizza, polenta cake

The Jerk Shack

Perhaps GQ magazine said it best when it described The Jerk Shack as “the finest Caribbean fare in the Lone Star State—maybe anywhere.” Chef Nicola Blaque and her husband Cornelius Massey created a sensation at the original restaurant near Our Lady of the Lake University in 2018, quickly amassing fans and accolades. It was named a Top 16 New Restaurant in America by Eater and one of both San Antonio Magazine’s and GQ’s Best New Restaurants. From that original location, they expanded and opened Caribbean street food outlet Mi Roti in the Bottling Department at Pearl. Now, they’re adding a larger Jerk Shack on the Far West Side that will include wine, beer and craft cocktails plus a third Jerk Shack at Hemisfair next year.

117 Matyear St., 210-776-7780, thejerkshacksatx.com

Must order: Jerk chicken, braised oxtail, mac and cheese, jerk tacos

Maverick

True to its name, Maverick doesn’t follow the usual restaurant script, encouraging guests to create their own dining combinations from the a la carte menu of deliciousness. Dishes from chef/partner Chris Carlson evoke the spirit of a French brasserie, with a grounding in the traditions of South Texas. Here, the comfort foods are grilled over a wood fire, hospitality flows like its outstanding wines and an all-star team makes the high level of performance look easy. If you don’t want to create your own menu, consider one of the best dining values around—the $25 three-course daily plat du jour. Make sure to get a wine recommendation from manager/partner Joshua Thomas, an award-winning sommelier.

710 S. St. Mary’s St., 210-973-6050, mavericktexas.com

Must order: Calamari and octopus, gougères, duroc pork chop

Meadow

Of course, you can’t go wrong by ordering the terrific fried chicken and excellent shrimp and grits from La Vernia native PJ Edwards, who heads this restaurant with his wife, Lindsey. With a menu they call Seasonal Texas Southern, the classics are in good hands. But try the English pea hummus, a seasonal salad like the peach salad with watercress, pecans and peach vinegar, or a brunch specialty of steak and eggs. No matter the dish, the South Texas and worldly sensibilities of Edwards shine through for delicious effect.

555 W. Bitters Road, Ste. 110, 210-481-4214, meadowsanantonio.com

Must order: Fried chicken, whichever seasonal salad is on the menu, burger (half price on Thursdays during happy hour)

Nonna Osteria

Showcasing the talents of chef Luca Della Casa, this dining destination owned by the Silo Group elevates Northern Italian comfort food with a high-level culinary technique. These are the flavors from an Italian grandmother’s kitchen reimagined by a talented chef. Although Della Casa gained national recognition in 2014 as runner-up on Food Network Star, the restaurant is perhaps best known now for its luxurious and high-priced tagliatelle and crab, tossed tableside in a giant wheel of Grana Padano cheese and topped with shaved black truffle. Other dishes might not be as well-known but are equally satisfying. Pair your selections with a bottle from the beautifully curated nearly all-Italian wine list.

401 S. Alamo St., 210-224-8800, nonnasa.com

Must order: Papardelle al cinghiale (wild boar with house- made pappardelle), arancini ai gamberi, lobster ravioli

Rebelle

Walk through the stately lobby of The St. Anthony and into the violet glow and pulsating nightclub soundtrack of the city’s finest seafood restaurant. That delightful juxtaposition sets the stage for an array of delightful dishes, from raw East Coast oysters to char-broiled lobster or Gulf oysters to a chilled tower of happiness in the form of poached shrimp, tuna tartare and more. The helpful and professional service balances friendliness and attentiveness with strong knowledge of the menu that only enhances the experience. If you can’t swing a dinner visit, try visiting during happy hour or book a spot for Sunday brunch, which often fills up weeks in advance. One delightful surprise: Lamb and steaks thrill, too.

300 E. Travis St., 210-352-3171, rebellesa.com

Must order: Char-broiled oysters or lobster, roasted rack of lamb

Restaurant Gwendolyn

Chef/owner Michael Sohocki and his intense band of kitchen warriors continue to find inspiration in the self-imposed restrictions of a menu that eschews electric-powered tools, draws from Victorian-era recipes and focuses on ingredients that come from within a 150-mile radius of the restaurant. This approach felt radical when it opened in 2011, and it continues to dazzle a happy and well-fed clientele. The dishes have broadened in their outlook from those initial years and now include influences from China, India and West Africa. But the basic approach still holds. For example, this crew obtains whole animals, butchers them in-house and uses every part, whether in main dishes, as stock or as ingredients in a cured sausage.

152 E. Pecan St., Ste. 100, 210-222-1849, restaurantgwendolyn.com

Must order: Charcuterie board, five- or seven-course tasting menu

Rocotos Grill

So what if this small family-run place in a strip mall near Sea- World San Antonio doesn’t get the Instagram love it deserves? For more than 10 years, this bastion of Peruvian home cooking has been offering classics such as papa a la huancaina (boiled potatoes in a creamy, spicy yellow chile sauce), outstanding rotisserie chicken and delightful pisco sours. Sometimes, the simple approach is best.

10555 Culebra Road, 210-521-4367, rocotosgrill.com

Must order: Fish ceviche, pollo a la brasa, lomo saltado

Sichuan House

One of the best descriptions of this restaurant came from a local business executive who called it “San Francisco quality Chinese food in San Antonio.” The dishes here are just terrific. The location near Ingram Park Mall doesn’t scream luxurious, but a silky braised pork belly sure does. Sichuan peppercorns and dried red chiles throughout the menu are used skillfully and add heat and citrus notes. Monthly specials show even more of what this kitchen can do.

3505 Wurzbach Road, Ste. 102, 210-509-9999, sichuaneats.com

Must order: Don Bo underbelly pork, cucumber smash’d, spicy cumin lamb

Signature

The crown jewel at La Cantera Resort & Spa highlights the work of Andrew Weissman, who helped transform San Antonio into a culinary destination long before the culinary spotlight moved on to younger chefs. In the early 2000s, Weissman gained national fame for the fondly remembered Le Rêve, named one of the best in the country. The resort owners designed this restaurant around Weissman, who is the consulting chef, and shares a menu he describes as grounded in his upbringing in San Antonio, his training in Europe and simply what he likes to eat. Fortunately, we get to enjoy the results.

16401 La Cantera Pkwy., 210-247-0176, signaturerestaurant.com

Must order: Roasted pheasant, gold leaf risotto, brunch breakfast burger

Silo Terrace Oyster Bar

Although just about any restaurant in the Silo Group could hold a spot on this list, we decided to focus on this seafood temple near The Dominion for its rooftop ambiance, knowl- edgeable and helpful service, contemporary design and the array of consistently satisfying dishes throughout the menu. You can’t go wrong with the longtime Silo favorite chicken-fried oysters, though plenty of other thrills await throughout the menu.

22211 I-10 W., 210-698-2002, siloelevatedcuisine.com

Must order: Lobster roll, grilled oysters Rockefeller, lobster ravioli, oak grilled tuna

Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery

Who would have guessed that diners would clamor to nibble around fish bones to get at some succulent collar meat? Now, chef/ partner Jeff Balfour’s fried snapper throats have become a signature dish, and a San Antonio favorite. Balfour draws upon his childhood in Galveston to create a modern Gulf Coast cuisine with delicious items throughout the menu. Start with some chilled seafood, move on to one of Balfour’s signature creations, pair it with one of the many craft beers brewed in house and you have a party.

136 E. Grayson St., Ste. 120, 210-455-5701, southerleigh.com

Must order: Snapper throats, Galveston Bay shrimp boil, pressure fried chicken

Supper

If you want to start your day right, zip over to Hotel Emma and try a green chorizo scotch egg, which features house- ground pork with herbs, a bed of lightly dressed sprouts, jalapeno cornbread and a tomato Provençal. It’s a dish that expresses the care, creativity and talent of executive chef Jaime Gonzalez and culinary director John Brand, who heads up the dining offerings for the entire hotel. Whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a cocktail, the items at this restaurant sparkle with intriguing combinations.

136 E. Grayson St., 210-448-8351, supperatemma.com

Must order: Scotch egg at breakfast, crispy cauliflower and sprouts with caramel popcorn, chili honey and muzquiz nuts at lunch or dinner

Tre Trattoria

Although chef and acclaimed restaurateur Jason Dady has launched several hot spots over his 20-some years in San Antonio, Tre has stood as a beacon of quality, consistency and typically filled dining rooms. His Tuscan-inspired menu quickly gained regulars when it first opened on Broadway in 2008 and its fans gladly came along a decade later when it moved to the San Antonio Museum of Art. Dishes such as the Nutella Three Ways dessert have grown into local favorites, while the cast iron pizzas and housemade pastas keep fans coming back for more.

200 W. Jones Ave., 210-805-0333, tretrattoria.com

Must order: Hand-pulled mozzarella, roasted golden beets with orange and mint, goat cheese pizza with pistachios

 

The New Best in Class

Best Quality Daughter

Chefs and owners Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin and Quealy Watson offer consistently clever, creative and delicious dishes that not only delight but also make diners think. The restaurant name refers to a line in The Joy Luck Club and nods to the complex relationships between Chinese American women, like Dobbertin, and their Chinese-born mothers. The flavors, décor and atmosphere all examine the identity that comes from navigating different cultures and degrees of assimilation. There’s a lot to think about here, and a lot to simply enjoy.

602 Avenue A., 210-819-4236, bestqualitydaughter.com

Must order: Impossible potstickers, fat noodle short rib

Brasserie Mon Chou Chou

Are the steak frites here better than in Paris? Ponder that question while you sip on a glass of fruity Beaujolais in a beautiful Belle Epoque setting. The three French natives who created this dining sensation aimed to marry the best of South Texas hospitality with the finest of bistro and brasserie classics—and they’ve succeeded brilliantly. The attentive and helpful service elevates the dishes while the magical combination of the cuisine and Pearl atmosphere creates memorable experiences.

312 Pearl Pkwy., 210-469-3743, brasseriemonchouchou.com

Must order: Raclette, steak frites, escargot, a margarita (known as the marguerite)

Frida

The energy that comes from this modern Mexican destination crowds out memories of the previous incarnations of this Stone Oak space. Former Mexican national soccer team player turned chef Sofía Sada scores gol after gol on her menu, combining the flavors of Mexican comfort food with the techniques of her classical French culinary training. Throughout the restaurant, the sounds of conversations in English and Spanish, corks popping on wine bottles and sizzling from platters of meat create a sophisticated, lively atmosphere that feels like a rarefied space of cultural connection.

18740 Stone Oak Pkwy., 210-463-9173, fridarestaurantsa.com

Must order: Coliflor asada (roasted cauliflower), Oysters Oaxaca-feller, Costilla de rib eye (beef rib), taco tasting

Landrace

The owners of the Thompson San Antonio hotel shrewdly placed their signature restaurant in the expert hands of Cured chef Steve McHugh and have created a place that showcases the best of San Antonio by focusing on the ingredients of South Texas. Action in the kitchen centers around a gleaming steel grill, which infuses smoke, char and a love of this area into the dishes.

111 Lexington Ave., 210-942-6026, landracetx.com

Must order: Red snapper crudo, baked spinach lasagna, lamb (in whatever form they’re serving)

Mixtli

The little restaurant that could has grown up. From its beginnings in 2014 with one communal table in a renovated railroad car, it garnered national accolades for chef/owners Diego Galicia and Rico Torres and their modernist vision of often ancient Mexican dishes. This summer, it moved into a much bigger space in Southtown that allows for more guests, and a separate bar. The restaurant still requires guests to purchase dinner tickets in advance. But seats at the bar do not require a reservation. As for the menu, it still changes regularly, featuring dishes from different regions in Mexico, or highlighting a concept, such as retracing the path of conquistador Hernán Cortéz. Torres often visits the Mexican Cookbook Collection at UTSA Libraries for inspiration, and the dishes here are brainy and delicious.

812 S. Alamo St., Ste. 103, 210-338-0746, restaurantmixtli.com

Must order: The menu changes regularly here, but whatever they’re serving is worth your time

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