Think San Antonio, Texas serves only chicken fried steak, barbeque, and Tex-Mex? Think again! This UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy has great food! Here are 11 unexpectedly cool places to eat in San Antonio.
If you’re heading to San Antonio, Texas, let me help you plan where you will eat. If you aren’t already thinking of San Antonio as a foodie’s paradise, we have some catching up to do. Did you picture the San Antonio food scene as all about chicken fried steak, barbeque, and Tex-Mex? You’re only partially right—there’s more. San Antonio was designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy twice, in 2015 and 2017. Home to many world cultures, the dishes you’ll find in San Antonio’s many restaurants reflect Mexican, German, and French influences. Here are 11 unexpectedly cool places to eat in San Antonio.
Unless you’re planning an extended stay in San Antonio, you won’t get to all of these, but there’s enough variety on this list to make narrowing things down a very tough choice. Bon appétit, y’all.
1. Camp Outpost
Location: 118 S. Alamo Street
Camp Outpost offers a unique dining atmosphere reminiscent of meals enjoyed around the campfire. This isn’t a throwback to your summer camp’s kitchen, hot dogs, or marshmallows on a stick. It’s good food roasted over an open flame inspired by campfire cooking with interesting twists. The atmosphere is casual, but the layers of flavor suggest real culinary art at work.
Rotisserie Driven Comfort Food
This is good, hearty food with a creative presentation. Carnivores rejoice: the menu stars are the rotisserie chicken, beef, pork roast, and sausage cooked to perfection over an open flame. If you can’t decide, get the shareable Camp Plate for Two, which has all the meats plus smashed Yukon gold potatoes, corn, bell peppers, and onion served with tangy horseradish cream sauce. Can you handle a bit of heat? The spicier sausage is where you want to be.
If you’re looking for something more vegetable-forward, the roasted carrots with orange cumin cream and the crispy Brussels sprouts with honey mustard are delicious, and yes, the sauces make both of these dishes. Still, you can feel good about getting those veggies in. For those who want to keep things light, the grain salad with house-made sherry dressing is a solid choice. Camp also serves a variety of burgers and sandwiches.
From the backyard space with an airstream bar to the casual, welcoming dining room with a full view of the open kitchen, Camp Outpost is a winner all the way around. Most visitors to San Antonio stick close to the Riverwalk, but Camp is just a five-minute Uber or Lyft ride from the heart of downtown.
Location: 150 E Houston St
Located inside the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, Dorrego’s is the only Argentinian-inspired restaurant in San Antonio. The Argentinian fare has touches of influence from Spain, Italy, France, and other cultures, and the dining environment is both inviting and upscale.
The standard menu offers a variety of steaks and seafood. There’s always a chef’s special and a market catch of the day. If you’re a red meat lover, Dorrego’s is a great place to get a steak that feels like a splurge at a moderate price ($40-$50 with accompaniments.) All steaks are served with sweet and spicy garlic demi-glace, blue cheese, and red pesto sauce.
The don’t-miss menu item is the Proveleta appetizer. This cast iron skillet of flaming cheeses and pesto is a must for cheese lovers.
Dorrego’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Select menu items are available in the bar area. Make reservations through Open Table. The space is on the small side and fills up quickly. Extend your evening with a trip across the lobby to Naranja, the Riverwalk’s only tequila bar.
3. Kindling Texas Kitchen
Location: 209 N. Main Street, Cibolo
If you’re up for a bit of a drive, head north to the small community of Cibolo (25 miles from downtown and an easy Uber ride) to Kindling Texas Kitchen.
Kindling is in a converted historic home on Cibolo’s up-and-coming main street. The makings for your casually elegant dinner prepared in full view of the dining room over an open wood fire are sourced from Texas farms and ranches. There’s a fun, inventive cocktail menu plus a respectable list of wines and craft beers to round out the food offerings.
The menu is best described as “A little bit of everything.” Don’t miss appetizers are the crispy pork belly mac n’ cheese and the sourdough service. You might balk at paying for bread service, but this one will make you glad you shelled out the extra $15.
If you want heartier fare, the double-cut pork chops accompanied by drunken apples and sour cream mashed potatoes or the ribeye are prime contenders. Other solid choices are seafood pasta, meatloaf (comfort food, anyone?), and braised beef risotto.
Pro-tip: Skip dessert and go across the street to The Mill to get a scoop or two of Fredericksburg Texas-made ice cream.
Make reservations through Resy.
4. Julian’s Italian Pizzeria and Kitchen
Location: 6462 N New Braunfels Ave*
While San Antonio isn’t on the map as a “pizza town,” Julian Solis would say otherwise, and maybe you will, too, after eating pizza at one of the three family-owned locations. Read more of the backstory here.
The menu features made-from-scratch pizza and other Italian favorites like pasta dishes, fresh salads, stromboli, and calzones. Fun fact: stromboli and calzones differ in shape and how the dough is folded. Stromboli usually has the sauce baked in the dough, and the calzones are usually served with sauce on the side.
Julian’s also has lunch specials, a kid’s menu, and a dedicated gluten-sensitive menu.
*Julian’s also has two other San Antonio locations. Check their website for details.
5. For the Best Burgers, Go to Chris Madrid’s
Location: 1900 Blanco Rd
There’s nothing more comforting than pizza, except maybe a good burger. Ask a San Antonian where to get the best burger; the answer will likely be Chris Madrid’s.
This is a very casual place, and the menu isn’t extensive, so if you’re not craving something with a bun served in a plastic basket or some hearty nachos, this one might not be your cup of tea, but if you want to sink your teeth into a burger you need to hold with both hands, this is 100 percent worth the short drive from downtown San Antonio.
Chris Madrid’s specialty is the Tostada Burger, combining the best of burgers and Tex-Mex. The toppings for this epic burger include homemade refried beans, chips, onions, cheddar, and fresh-made salsa.
6. Pollos Asados Los Norteños
Location: 4642 Rigsby Ave
If you want to eat where the locals eat, grab lunch at Pollos Asados Los Norteños and try their delicious Mexican chicken and sides.
This local favorite started as a food truck to raise funds to construct a church in the Mexican town of Nueva Rosita, Coahuila. Today, it’s a favorite of San Antonio locals. The owners just opened a second location in Northeast San Antonio. Their original Rigsby Avenue location is a short drive from downtown San Antonio.
The most popular dish is the half chicken plate, which comes with a grilled onion, a grilled jalapeño pepper, corn tortillas, and salsa. Add charro beans for an extra charge. They also serve a variety of burgers and hamburgesas—burgers with a Mexican twist—steaks, and fajitas, but the chicken is what most people come for.
Location: 125 Houston Street
On the Riverwalk at the Embassy Suites Downtown, Range brings a bit of Tuscany to South Texas. Specialty dishes include a shrimp appetizer with pan-seared crispy shrimp with rose burre blanc, preserved lemon and calabrese oil, hand-pulled mozzarella, house-made pasta dishes, and more.
Do you love elevated comfort food? This is your place. Grab the Waygu meatloaf or deviled eggs carbonara.
Pro-tip: Pay the extra $3.25 for the bread service. It’s worth it.
Reservations are recommended. Book through Tock.
8. Brasserie Mon Chou Chou
Location: 312 Pearl Pkwy
In a city where barbecue and tacos reign supreme, the classic dishes of France have found a home among local diners that appreciate the classics along with more creative dishes with a Southern flair. Located at Pearl in the heart of San Antonio, Brasserie Mon Chou Chou is known for serving laid-back French comfort fare in an unexpectedly beautiful setting.
The menu includes classics such as crisp duck confit, steak tartare, and a mouthwatering selection of cheeses and desserts. Brasserie Mon Chou Chou also has a Sunday brunch menu, including baguette French toast, omelets, and quiche.
Make reservations through Open Table.
9. Best Quality Daughter
Location: 602 Avenue A
At first glance, Chinese might not seem classic San Antonio, but Best Quality Daughter is no ordinary Chinese restaurant. Open since 2020, the dishes here are rooted in founding chef Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin’s Chinese heritage and infused with flavors and worldwide influences of today’s San Antonio.
Best Quality Daughter’s menu boasts inventive delights such as egg rolls filled with crab meat, Cajun boudin, and gooey queso, mochi cheddar hush puppies, beef short ribs served with pickled chilis, curry mayo, and fries, plus a selection of unique ice cream sandwiches.
The drink menu features a variety of cocktails, nonalcoholic drinks, and boozy bobas with inventive names like Are you there God, it’s Me, Margarita, and other whimsical titles that will make you want to order a drink based on name only.
Chef’s top picks include salt and pepper shrimp, Brussels sprouts, and cashew chicken.
10. Southerleigh Fine Foods and Brewery
Location: 136 E Grayson St Suite 120
Southerleigh Fine Foods and Brewery showcases the bounty of Texas’s Gulf Coast with a menu from Galveston native Chef Jeff Balfour that features adventurous dishes like Fried Snapper Throats alongside favorites like Pressure Fried Chicken.
Housed in the historic Pearl Brewhouse, the sprawling restaurant also makes nearly two dozen craft beers on tap in its on-site custom-manufactured brewery. The restaurant’s unique Silo Room (literally a private dining space inside the former malt silo from the original brewery) can accommodate up to 14 people.
Go for a full dinner, or grab a brewed-onsite beer.
11. 18 Oaks
Location: 23808 Resort Pkwy
18 Oaks is the signature dining experience at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa, an easy driving distance from downtown San Antonio. I 10/10 recommend staying at this luxury property in Northeast San Antonio is a place to visit when you want to luxuriate in all the onsite amenities offered. However, if you’re staying elsewhere, this is still a solid choice for dinner.
18 Oaks, which overlooks the golf course, serves fresh, locally sourced cuisine, including delights like seared scallops with jalapeño honey and a pork chop porterhouse encrusted with smoked blueberry bourbon glaze. They also have a killer bread service.
Make reservations through Open Table or by contacting the resort directly.
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Prefer BBQ, Chicken Fried Steak, and Tex-Mex?
That’s okay. You can’t go wrong in San Antonio. Even the touristy places have good food.
Wanna get to know a local? Say, “I’m not from around here; what do you recommend?” and let the convo go from there. Be willing to listen and expect passionate discussions about where (and where not to go) to get the best brisket or tacos.
Let Wander With Wonder be your guide when planning a trip to San Antonio or elsewhere in Texas. We also have some great restaurant recommendations wherever your travels might take you.