Chances are when you think of San Antonio Riverwalk you think of the colorful umbrellas lining the Riverwalk and the Spanish Colonial brown building modestly hidden behind them. A plaque near the entrance thanks the founders, Alfred F. Beyer and his wife, for first undertaking responsibility for beautification of the River. A sign at the entrance says, Casa Rio since 1946. Do you know you have stumbled upon the first restaurant on the Riverwalk?

C & I visited Casa Rio on our most recent trip to San Antonio. When we asked for a table for 3, our hostess in a traditional Mexican Senorita dress inquired, ‘Inside or outside?’ It was the hottest day of August, we had arrived at Casa Rio for lunch and the noon sun was shining down upon us. We said, outside. It is always a treat to sit under one of the colorful umbrellas and sip on a cold beer or margarita and watch the tourist barges cruise by. It is fun to wave at the tourists, watch the ducks and birds at the river and feel the slight breeze blowing from the water. It is a great way to have quality time with your date or family. ‘Yes, outside’, we said a little more empathetically and were delighted when we were seated right by the river under a giant red umbrella.

Full Disclosure: We received lunch for two and a half as guests of Casa Rio. All opinions are our own.

C opted for a spicy margarita and I ordered the Alamo Ale. We also ordered an ice tea for S-boy, who promptly drank it with gusto. Our server also brought some chips and salsa to munch on with our drinks; these were on the house for every table. The hot salsa was very much on point. The spicy margarita was like a Michelada sans the beer but with Margarita and quite tasty. Their menu advertises San Antonio style Mexican food, which in my opinion is code for good old Tex-Mex. I ordered the grilled Mahi-Mahi with poblano sauce and side salad and C ordered their famous deluxe dinner. His dinner was a giant plate that came with an enchilada, crispy taco, tamale, chips and guacamole, refried beans and Mexican rice, and more. Basically, the whole Tex-Mex shebang. S boy had his own rice and refried beans. The food was really good, especially the deluxe dinner, (I mean ‘next-time-I’m-ordering-what-you-had’ good) and the atmosphere was lively and romantic. Did I mention the Mariachi band which serenaded the diners? These guys were charming and even posed for a few photographs.  

Casa Rio was the first restaurant on the Riverwalk and also the first restaurant to have dining barges on the river. The restaurant is where the evolution of the Riverwalk as a mecca of fine-dining first began. While they don’t operate their own barges today, visitors have the option of taking a dinner cruise with Rio San Antonio cruises and ordering dinner from Casa Rio. Few years back when their neon sign was taken down for a refurbishment it made the local news; Casa Rio and its happenings are profoundly linked to the San Antonio Riverwalk and the city. The restaurant still remains in the family; Alfred F. Beyer’s great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Lyons, serves as the Director of Marketing and Public Relations and is working keenly to blend the historic restaurant with modern eating lifestyles while preserving its authentic character. My grilled Mahi Mahi, with grapefruit salad and a light cheesy sauce with Mexican rice, was newly added to the menu to appeal to modern taste buds and it sure works!

Mariachi band serenading a couple on their anniversary. Uber-romantic!

Are you planning to visit the most photographed restaurant on the San Antonio Riverwalk anytime? Let me know in comments!  

Full Disclosure: We received lunch for two and a half as guests of Casa Rio. All opinions are our own.

Casa Rio | Website | Address: 430 E. Commerce St., San Antonio, TX 78205 | Phone: (210) 225-6718

I visited Casa Rio on the San Antonio Riverwalk in August 2017.


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