You Decide Which San Antonio Restaurants Are the Best!
By Kimberly Suta
San Antonio Local Expert
Deciding what the best restaurants are in San Antonio is becoming a difficult but delicious task! Are you ready to take it on? If so, here are a few fantastic choices to get you started.
New restaurants are popping up all around the city. One of the newest to open its doors is O'liva Healthy Local Cuisine & Tasting Room. Conveniently located downtown next to the historic Spanish Governor's Palace, it's an amazingly affordable farm-to-table restaurant to visit for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Their Chef's Table, which offers a wide variety of entrees, sides, salads and more, is a local's favorite.
For a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience, plan ahead by making reservations at Mixtli (which needs to be done at least a month in advance). This progressive Mexican restaurant is rescuing and preserving traditional Mexican flavors and presenting them in the most creative ways. They serve only one 12-top a night on a train boxcar. It's utterly delightful!
High-end restaurants abound, many of which source locally and understand the freshest, high-quality ingredients translate into the most incredible cuisine. Restaurants like Luke, Gwendolyn, and 20 Nine all make a huge effort to showcase local ingredients.
For steaks, you certainly can't go wrong at any of the steakhouses on this list. However, Chef Nedra Harris from Werner's Prime Steaks and Seafood may have a bit of a leg up, as she learned how to cook the perfect steak from Gordon Ramsey himself!
Bohanan's Prime Steak & Seafood
A graceful, mirrored dining room provides an elegant accompaniment to Bohanan's top-notch steaks and seafood. Noted for serving Akaushi beef, three grades above Prime, and dramatic flaming desserts, the restaurant has a loyal contingent of regulars and attracts new customers nightly. Try a juicy filet from the mesquite grill, or split a massive double center-cut pork chop with someone special. Unusual seafood dishes like fennel pollen-crusted blue fin tuna and Chilean sea bass au gratin provide a welcome change of pace. Make sure to start the evening early with a few cocktails at the bar. This is the kind of restaurant where you want to spend the entire evening. (210-472-2600, 210-472-2277)
Biga on the Banks
Biga on the Banks has earned a stellar reputation. Request table 31 when you make a reservation at Biga on the Banks, and you'll end up with the best view in the house. You won't be gazing at the river, but you will have an eye on chef Bruce Auden as he concocts lobster ravioli on arugula and guinea ham in guajillo sauce. Tasting menus are a draw, but the food is equally as interesting when ordered a la carte. The loft-inspired space is airy and light, but don't worry, you'll have plenty of elbow room when you dig in. (210-225-0722)
What's wonderful about Feast is their original perspective on food, not to mention their amazing execution of said perspective. They have divided their dishes into six categories, those being Oceanic, Heat, Chilled, Grilled, Crispy, Hearty. Feast opened their doors in September 2011 and have been offering spectacular New American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair in a variety of appetizers, entrees and "small plates" ever since. Chef Stefan Bowers culinary career developed its initial roots while growing up in Berkeley California during the early 1980's. Living in a city on the forefront of the organic movement gave him his first look at the now popular "sustainable" culinary food culture. ((210) 354-1024)
Starfish Global Seafood
Starfish is one of the newest restaurants to open its doors in San Antonio's popular arts district, Southtown, a bourgeoning foodie district as well. While it can sometimes be difficult finding fresh delicious seafood in the Alamo city, it doesn't seem to be a problem for Starfish, which is owned and operated by a father and son team. Starfish looks like it was plucked from the streets of New York City and the cuisine could easily compete with any of the seafood restaurants found in the Big Apple. The "boundless cuisine" of Starfish focuses on seasonal fresh ingredients, particularly seafood and ingredients unique to Texas. For those wanting something a bit heartier, Starfish makes sure to offer some excellent alternatives, such as their Pork Chop, Aged Flat Iron Steak and Duck Pot Pie. Although seafood lovers should most definitely explore the ocean's bounty, artfully prepared by Chef Diego and his stellar team. From the Steamed Halibut with toasted cous cous ratatouille to the Striped Bass with dirty rice, savory Bouillabaisse, or Sea Scallops with celery root and apple puree, beet gel and orange thyme veloute, each dish is an edible masterpiece. (210-375-4423)
Werner's Prime Steaks & Seafood
San Antonio's growing mecca of culinary excellence just gained another celebrity chef. Werner's Prime Steaks & Seafood, located in the Stone Oak area around 281 and 1604, is a new intimate, fine dining restaurant fortunate to have Corporate Executive Chef, Nedra Harris at the helm. You may remember her as the sassy, no-holds-barred woman from Season 11 of Hell's Kitchen. Everything she's doing at Werner's is seriously delicious, and proves that San Antonio has turned a corner. Nedra wanted to break out of the mold of traditional steakhouses and create a more contemporary menu that truly showcases the ingredients - superior quality and often seasonal. Steaks are served already cut, so you can see the temperature of the steak is perfect. If you order your steak medium rare, that's exactly how you'll get it. The menu includes ribeye, filet mignon, NY bone-in, Ossoc Buco short rib and a succulent 20 oz. porterhouse. Seafood lovers are not left in the dust. Nedra offers an unbelievable off-menu tempura fried lobster tail, fresh arctic char salmon, Chilean sea bass, tuna and a whole strpped bass with lemon caper sauce. Oh, and you can always add fried shrimp, shrimp scampi, scallops, jumbo lump crab or lobster to your order. ((210) 538-6701)
20 Nine Restaurant and Wine Bar
20 Nine's new Chef, Jerry Toomey, came on board in June of 2014 and has, in just months, transformed it into one of the best farm-to-table restaurants in San Antonio. Toomey, a San Antonio native who resided in Seattle for a time, has brought along his sensibilities and passion for fresh, local ingredients and innovative cuisine. Practically everything you get here is made in-house, from the roasted chili oil which perfectly accompanies the Jumbo Scallop and Plantain appetizer to the fresh tomato sauce, hand-pulled mozzarella and dough that make their fantastic pizzas, such as the Pig and Pear. Much of the meat is also locally-procured and is ground in-house to make up delicacies such as 20 Nine's signature "Dork" Burger, which comes with a duck and pork patty, apple fennel jelly and crispy fried duck skin! You can also expect the freshest daily seafood specials, knowledgeable staff and an atmosphere that's elegant yet cozy. The ultimate pleasure! (210-798-9463)
Luke is celebrity Chef John Besh's first restaurant outside of Louisiana and is run by locally-renowned chef, John Russ. Luke is truly one of the best restaurant's on San Antonio's famed riverwalk. The menu features authentic Old World cuisine, combining classic German and French cooking techniques with a New Orleans touch. Locals love their happy hour which features amazing drinks for half-off and some of the most incredible oysters you'll find in Texas or even beyond - you can get them raw, charred or fried. The restaurant is quite large with an old-timey feel. You wouldn't be surprised to see gentlemen lounging in their linen suits, smoking cigars. The menu is always changing and Chef Russ likes to feature the freshest local ingredients whenever possible, but you can always find delicious seafood dishes such as Jumbo Shrimp with jalapeno cheese grits the always classic Mussels with Fries. ((210) 227-5853)
Gwendolyn, located downtown along the Riverwalk, is a fine-dining American restaurant that, like the Grandmother it's named for, inspires deep love and devotion. A cozy, romantic venue, Gwendolyn is an ideal place for a first date, anniversary or if you're simply a foodie who appreciates impeccable food. Gwendolyn is committed to serving handmade food made from local ingredients. Chef Michael is a devotee of the Slow Food Movement which emphasizes eco-awareness. Even more impressive, Gwendolyn refuses to use all the modern gadgetry that most restaurants can't seem to live without. The menu is small, offering a three course or five course pre-fix menu with two options for each course that changes daily. You can check the website to see what the current day's menu will be, and you'll want to call ahead to book your reservation. (210-222-1849)
Mixtli is so much more than just a satisfying meal, it's truly a journey of the spirit and senses. Owners Diego Galicia and Rico Torres, also chefs, have developed a unique dining experience they're calling progressive Mexican culinaria, which is unlike anything in San Antonio, perhaps even in the U.S. Torres and Galicia know how to make great food, that's a fact, but what's more enticing is they know how to entertain you. If food were live theater, Mixtli would be a hit Broadway show. Everything is made from scratch, and they source many of their ingredients locally, mostly from farmer's markets, although some ingredients are imported from Mexico and South America, such as their cocoa beans. Mixtli, which means cloud in the Aztec language of Nahuatl, represents the ever-changing cuisine. While the emphasis is on Mexican food that celebrates traditional ingredients and cuisine, just like their ranching grandmothers used to make, they present each one of the dishes on their pre-fixe tasting menu with a fascinating explanation and such artful presentation that you may, if you're a serious foodie, shed a tear. (832.520.8928)
O'liva Healthy Local Cuisine & Tasting Room
O'liva is a new downtown restaurant offering unbelievably affordable, contemporary farm-to-table cuisine in a beautiful, relaxed atmosphere with a true open kitchen. They are working to revive the local food movement in a part of San Antonio that hasn't seen it for over a century, and doing it with an unrivaled pinache. Chef Chuck Hernandez, owner of O'liva, has accomplished an amazing feat with his new restaurant, located in the Plaza de Armas City Center building, just down the block from the historic Spanish Governor's Palace. Hernadez, who also owns Arugula Catering, practically invented the slow food movement. He's been sourcing locally and working with nearby farmers, ranchers and artisan food makers going on 30 years. It's nearly impossible to pin down the type of cuisine you'll find at O'liva, but it's always flavorful and creative. Hernandez describes it as country food, but in fact, the cuisine is quite international and features dishes from an array of countries, including Lebanon, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, India, the list goes on.Hernandez, also known as the Pesto King with a published book of recipes under his belt, is a traveler and lover of diverse cultures and cuisines. He's spent his entire career developing pestos with flavors that traverse the globe. Go for breakfast, lunch and dinner! ((210) 229-2638)
About Kimberly Suta
Kimberly A. Suta is a professional freelance writer, filmmaker and entrepreneur with a background in marketing, advertising and social media. Her first business, Midnight Sun Innovations, involved a partnership with Regal Cinemas, the largest theatre chain in the world. Kimberly has written, directed and produced several films that have screened at Texas film festivals and she produces an annual film competition at the popular Alamo Drafthouse theatre. She recently published her second novel, The Rain Queen, which can be found on Amazon.com. Kimberly currently lives and works in San Antonio, Texas, a place of much inspiration to her.
Read more about Kimberly Suta here.