San Antonio's Tex-Mex Satisfies Appetites for Best Food in the South
By Kimberly Suta
San Antonio Local Expert
Folks in San Antonio like to think that they have the best Tex-Mex in all of Texas, and frankly, they may be right! While Tex-Mex restaurants are literally a stone's throw away, no matter what part of town you're in, you don't want to eat at just any Jalisco or taco truck. To do so would go against the holy trinity of Tacos, Tortillas and Guacamole.
Las Kekas is one of the most scrumptious restaurants in town. They offer some superb lunch specials, and everything is made from scratch with an eye for keeping the recipes as true to Mexican (and Mayan!) as possible. If you're staying downtown, they are a bit of a drive, but worth every mile!
If you are downtown and looking for a fun place to grab a bite and a few margaritas, you can't go wrong at Acenar, located next to the Valencia Hotel. They have a fantastic patio, perfect for wiling away the evening with new friends and old.
If you're all about the experience, tourists also love Mi Tierra Cafe. They have a Mexican bakery as well as Mariachis around the clock. Panchitos is also known for their Mariachis and their love of the golden cheese!
Head just a little south of downtown into Southtown and you'll find more Tex-Mex than you'll know what to do with. Undulay!
Mi Tierra Cafe Y Panaderia
Mi Tierra might indeed be a tourist destination, but it's earned that reputation for a reason. This family-owned restaurant has been in business since 1941. It's located downtown near the Mercado, a great place to do a little shopping and pick up some trinkets for friends and family back home. They might not have the best food in town but for ambience, this is it! They're also open 24 hours a day and provide an incomparably festive atmosphere with roving Mariachi singers and Christmas lights all year long. Have we mentioned they also have a bakery? We recommend you pop in for a visit, even if it's only for some cinnamon-laced Mexican hot chocolate and a fresh pan (210-225-1262)
Whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner this delectable Tex-Mex restaurant is a San Antonio favorite. You can expect to find all of your classics here and then some. The Nachos are amazing, as well as the Puffy Beef Tacos, Brisket and the Chicken Mole Enchiladas, for starters. If you're in a daring, mood, try the Menudo. Their breakfast plates are a great way to start your day, and if you go for dinner, you'll be sure to enjoy Mariachi's singing soulful and lively tunes. This family-owned restaurant has been around for over 30 years and you'll find out why once you take that first bite! ((210) 821-5338)
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)
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)
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)
La Fonda on Main
La Fonda is one of the prettiest restaurants in the city, with its white stucco and gorgeous patio covered by a giant oak tree. Sipping a margarita and eating La Fonda's signature salsa that tastes as if the ingredients were picked fresh that day, you feel like you just might be in Mexico. Although this delicious Tex-Mex restaurant has all of your favorites, the level of quality that La Fonda's is known for makes the meal as guilt-free as possible. Some local favorites are the Chile Relleno, the Shrimp Enchiladas and the Fish Tacos, which comes with a zesty salad and a spicy grilled jalepeno. If you have the appetite, be sure to start the meal out right with some of their addictive queso or homemade guacamole! (210-733-0621)
Taps Y Tapas
Although Taps y Tapas is new, it's already on its way to becoming a huge success. Located in a house built in 1883, this fantastic restaurant and bar on the south part of North Flores, has taken the tapas concept to the next level. Not only do they offer an assortment of made-from-scratch tapas, such empanadas, tacos, tortas and our favorite, Fried Chicken Mole Lollipops served with Oaxaca cheese mash topped with micro greens, they offer 24 beers on tap, mostly local and micro-brews. The cuisine is inspired by authentic central Mexican flavors and ingredients, such as those commonly found in Oaxaca and the Yukatan. Taps Y Tapas is the perfect place to kick back and relax with friends or family after a fun day of sight-seeing. The venue is charming and homey, the staff is exceptionally friendly and the food is outstanding! They also have a fantastic patio where they play live music every weekend. ((210) 277-7174)
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)
Las Kekas Restaurant
Although Las Kekas is already a staple in Laredo, their newest restaurant in San Antonio just opened up in July of 2014. The good news is quickly spreading about their authentic, delicious and even healthful Mayan and Mexican cuisine, often a fusion of the two. This is not the typical Mexican fare. The recipes are primarily the owner and Chefs, while a few of them come from his family, but all of them stem from true Mexico. Ingredients are either imported from Mexico or sourced locally. Everything is made from scratch, from the sweet and creamy horchata (rice milk) to the mole made with dozens of ingredients, including chocolate, peanuts, banana and five different kinds of peppers. The kekas, what the restaurant is named after, are essentially fried quesadillas filled with an assortment of scrumptious ingredients and are extremely light and delicate. Huitlacoche, a mushroom that grows on corn, is one of the popular choices and considered a Mexican delicacy fit for only Gods and Kings, at least that's what the Mayans believed. Just one bite at Las Kekas and you might agree! (210-680-1650)
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.