San Antonio's Mexican Restaurants Range from High-End to Hole in the Wall
By Kimberly Suta
San Antonio Local Expert
There's certainly no shortage of Mexican fare to be found in San Antonio. In fact, it could be said that the city is overrun by it, particularly taco trucks and Jaliscos, which seem to sit on every corner of the city. However, if you're looking for the best of the best (and of course you are!), then read on to track down this city's finest!
Cappy Lawton, owner of La Fonda on Main, is well known for his superior cuisine, Mexican and otherwise. He's currently being lauded for the recent release of his Mexican cookbook, along with co-writer, Chris Waters Dunn. The title of the book is Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex. You can sample some of these amazing recipes first by visiting the restaurant.
For a completely avant garde Mexican cuisine experience, Mixtli's progressive Mexican cuisine should be at the top of your list. They manage to seamlessly incorporate exciting aesthetics and entertainment into their extraordinary dishes. They only serve one 12-top a night in a train boxcar, so reservations are required.
If fancy's not your thing, head on down to Southtown for some local Tex-Mex and authentic grub that will satisfy your cravings. For that hole-in-the-wall delight, try Tito's. Their Creamy Cilantro Chicken Enchiladas are hard to beat. Cascabel is another treat. They offer affordable, scratch-made cuisine from the Mexican interior. Expect black beans, not pinto, and corn instead of flour, but it's all delicious!
Mi Tierra Cafe Y Panaderia
Mi Tierra is unique in that it never closes. Open 24/7, it offers a variety of menu options for all different times of the day. When you are looking for breakfast, this is one of the best places to go! Breakfast in San Antonio isn't breakfast without breakfast tacos! Mi Tierra knows this and delivers amazing fare to delight your taste buds. Whether you are looking for papa con huevo or carne asada breakfast tacos, Mi Tierra has it. You can also choose from other great San Antonio breakfast choices 24 hours a day. So if you are in the mood for menudo or Machacado (Mexican omelet), it is going to be available. (210-225-1262)
Tito's is your classic hole in the wall restaurant, but it's most definitely worth a visit. Located in San Antonio's acclaimed arts district, Southtown, Tito's is the place the locals go again and again and again. They put the T in Tex-Mex with some of their signature dishes, such as the Chipotle Cream Chicken Enchiladas or their delightfully juicy Crispy Beef Tacos. This is one of the best tasting and inexpensive places you'll find in San Antonio or, possibly, even in Texas. All of the plates come with rice, beans and tortillas. It's practically guaranteed you'll leave Tito's both full and happy! ((210) 212-8226)
Packed houses attest to El Mirador's popularity with locals, and its traditional cuisine ventures beyond the standards to include grilled goat, wild boar, and tongue. Its soups are especially lauded, particularly the much-requested sopa Azteca. Fruit tacos are similarly favored. Sunday brunch draws a crowd, and eager folks come early to stake out a table and leisurely enjoy the bounty. The menu features filling breakfast fare and a handful of even heartier main-course options. Dinner here is equally as popular, with affordable classic Tex-Mex such as enchiladas and fajitas. They also have a great outdoor patio. If you're staying downtown, it's not that far of a walk. (210-225-9444, 210- 271-3236)
Acenar, located downtown on the Riverwalk, is a spectacularly innovative and contemporary Tex-Mex restaurant that Zagat has noted for their "killer food." Lisa Wong (who also owns Rosario's) and her partners took special care with this restaurant to ensure it could compete in style and taste with just about any other restaurant in any metropolitan city, and they did not disappoint. If you just want to check it out, they offer a Houston street-level bar called Atomar and a Happy Hour menu that's worth the walk. Although the regular menu is similar to Rosario's with a boost in price, Acenar offers items that are unique to it, such as the Buttermilk Fried Oysters, the Young Texas Goat served with Ancho Salsa Ranchera and the Duck Crepes. Looking for Tex-Mex with a twist? This is it! (210-222-2362)
Rosario's, which has been around now for over 20 years, has transported itself from a local favorite to a critically-acclaimed restaurant. They have been featured in Southern Living, Texas Monthly and The New York Times, and have been listed as one of the "Top 50 Restaurants in the U.S." by Hispanic Magazine. From their Chile Relleno de Pescado (shrimp and fish stuffed poblano pepper) to their fajitas and enchiladas, there is not one thing on the menu you won't be wanting to return for again and again. They offer live music on the weekends and specialize in gigantic margaritas that are almost a meal by itself! (210-223-1806)
Cascabel Mexican Patio
Cascabel's is one of the best-kept secrets in San Antonio and sports a wonderful outdoor patio with umbrella-covered tables. It's different than every other Mexican food restaurant in the city because it features regional specialties from interior Mexico. You won't find the ubiquitous refried pinto beans here or even flour tortillas. Cascabel's serves everything with thick yet soft homemade corn tortillas and refried black beans that have an exceptional amount of flavor. If you want to try something unique, order the Birria, which is a rustic goat stew. If you want to play it safe, order the Huaraches, which are corn tortillas smothered in refried black beans, shredded cabbage, your choice of meat, a spicy red chile sauce and sour cream. Cascabel's will stimulate your palette without over-stimulating your bank account! ((210) 212-6456)
Paloma Blanca Mexican Cuisine
Paloma Blanca is conveniently located in Alamo Heights and is something of an oasis, particularly on a hot summer day, with its flowering landscape and tropical palm trees. They offer much more than just an exceptional meal, they offer a relaxed, soothing environment where you can truly savor the conversation with your friends and family. Beyond the typical Tex-Mex fare, they offer dishes such as the Enchiladas San Miguel - enchiladas filled with mushrooms in a Salsa Guajillo, covered with queso fresco and served with poblano corn, white rice and Ensalada Esmeralda. Paloma Blanca is also leading the way in culinary awareness by offering a Paleo menu, complete with Paleo Tacos served on iceberg lettuce. Who says Tex-Mex can't be healthy?! ((210) 822-6151 or)
Enesto's is an old-school spot with refined Mexican fare, seafood, an array of signature sauces, as well as a respectable wine list. They offer dependable food and reliable service, considered Ernesto's mainstays and two of the main reasons that locals keep coming back. Behind the modest, strip-mall exterior, items like crab and shrimp crepes are favorites. A casual yet romantic atmosphere makes Ernesto's a popular choice for anniversaries and birthdays, and Ernesto himself might even offer a few recommendations. In fact this charming restaurateur is famous for his kind, thoughtful demeanor and talent for good food. A little out of the way, but worth it! (210-344-1248)
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)
La Fonda on Main
La Fonda is the oldest Mexican restaurant in San Antonio. Established in 1932, the restaurant has served at least two American presidents (Teddy Roosevelt and Lyndon B Johnson). However, their primary focus is on serving the city of San Antonio and the locals love this place! The restaurant serves Tex-Mex as well as interior Mexican foods. In a casual atmosphere with colorful decorations, diners relax and enjoy themselves. From the Espinaca Omelet to Migas La Fonda, you will find the perfect Tex-Mex brunch here. You'll also find traditional sides in the form of hashbrowns and a fruit cup available. However, make sure to ask to sit outside on their patio and don't forget to order a margarita! (210-733-0621)
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.