San Antonio Riverwalk is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the USA. The beautifully landscaped Riverwalk with its bridges, public art, and walkways is an architectural marvel.
Few people know that the Riverwalk was originally constructed to contain river flooding. Today it serves as an easy way to get around in this vibrant city and enjoy its attractions including the Alamo and many museums.
But the Riverwalk is also a food mecca in its own right. The millions of visitors that the city sees every year love to grab a table by the water and eat a romantic meal as they see the boats cruise by.
However, San Antonio’s food history goes way beyond the Riverwalk – its cuisine is influenced by the Spanish since colonial times.
In fact, San Antonio is a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy due to its unique culinary heritage. Today, you can enjoy iconic Tex-Mex dishes, authentic Mexican food on the Riverwalk, and pan-Asian cuisines in the city.
San Antonio is a top day trip or weekend getaway from Houston or Austin. We love going to the Riverwalk and eating delicious food while people-watching.
This is also our kids favorite trip as they can watch the Riverwalk boats, climb over the bridges, and see the ducks swimming in the San Antonio river.
There are several great restaurants along the Riverwalk and picking one place to eat is really difficult.
Since we have been to San Antonio several times, we have tried a wide variety of Riverwalk restaurants and can easily advise you on our favorites. Here are some of the best places to try in San Antonio while on a trip to the city.
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“I’ll take you down to San Antonio.– Josh Abott Band, the Texas country music band
We’ll see the river walk and the Alamo
and maybe the zoo, just wanna be with you.
Take a carriage ride under the stars,
it feels so good to have you in my arms
where you belong, baby it’s been too long.“
Best Places to eat along the San Antonio Riverwalk
Many of the Riverwalk attractions are touristy and not worth a visit. That applies to some restaurants on the San Antonio river as well. Often we have walked into a place to find mediocre food and exorbitant prices.
But there are a few gems along the Riverwalk too – we have always had a great experience at some restaurants like Casa Rio, Dorrego’s, and Acenar.
The ones in Downtown San Antonio are most popular as they are near the major things to do in San Antonio. These offer live music and happy hour drinks and appetizers.
Here are some of the best Tex-Mex, Italian, and seafood restaurants in Riverwalk. We have also given recommendations on our favorite ice cream stops since well, everyone needs some ice-cream!
Bella on the River
Bella on the River is upscale compared to most other restaurants on San Antonio Riverwalk and is a great option for anniversaries, dates, birthdays, and other fine dining occasions.
It has a southern European inspired menu and is a good place to eat. Bella’s serves lamb chops, pasta, cheese plates, and has an extensive wine list. The Texas quail here is especially good
The Esquire Tavern
This is the oldest bar on the Riverwalk. It was opened the day after Prohibition ended in 1933.
Since then it has been serving customers and is known for its longest wooden bar in Texas. Have a cocktail or drink a cold beer on this 100-foot long bar and savor the history of the place as you enjoy the Riverwalk.
The pub food here is also quite good – try specials such as the homemade chips, chili salt fries, deviled eggs, grilled cheese sandwich, and the burgers. They also have plenty of other dining options.
For a nice sit-down Tex-Mex meal on the Riverwalk, try Acenar. The restaurant is not directly accessible from the Riverwalk and you need to take an elevator to the entrance.
They have indoor seating and a patio that overlooks the Riverwalk. We love sitting out on the patio and enjoying the hustle below on the Riverwalk.
They have great tableside guacamole and we also love the fish tacos at Acenar. They have Happy Hours from 3 to 6 pm and you can order cheap margaritas.
Schilo’s Delicatessen is the oldest restaurant on the Riverwalk. The dining room can be accessed at street level. This is popular with locals and professionals who work in the San Antonio downtown.
The menu has sandwiches, soups, and is a great place to grab a quick bite on the cheap. Their split pea soup is particularly well known.
This is definitely one of the hidden gems and best place to eat on riverwalk.
Casa Rio is the oldest Riverwalk restaurant. In fact, Casa Rio was the first restaurant to open on the Riverwalk in 1946. It is operated by the same family that owns Schilo’s.
Casa Rio’s colorful umbrellas are the most photographed and iconic picture of the San Antonio Riverwalk.
At Casa Rio, you can enjoy authentic Tex-Mex food with a gorgeous view of the Riverwalk. The restaurant serves tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and it is frankly one of the best tex mex in San Antonio riverwalk.
It also has a Mariachi band that plays songs for guests on request.
Casa Rio was the first restaurant on the Riverwalk to start the tradition of dinner cruises. Casa Rio also has lunch cruises where you can experience floating down the San Antonio river while enjoying your food and drinks.
It is definitely one of the best places to eat on Riverwalk in San Antonio.
Biga on the Banks
This Riverwalk restaurant is not in the popular Downtown Reach but located on a quiet area of the Riverwalk. It is however definitely worth the visit.
A creation of San Antonio’s famous celebrity chef Bruce Auden, Biga on the Banks has really great food.
The menu changes daily but the focus is on American cuisine and you will find a variety of meats at this restaurant.
However, the real highlight of a visit to Biga on the Banks is the Sticky Toffee Pudding.
The restaurant is a great choice for special dinners and date nights, making it one of the best restaurants on the riverwalk in San Antonio.
Boudro’s on the Riverwalk
We love visiting Boudro’s on the Riverwalk for one thing – tableside guacamole!
The guacamole is made fresh at the table and is a fun experience.
Our kids love watching the servers scoop the avocado, make fresh guac, and serve it with lemon and orange slices.
Boudro’s Texas Bistro also has a great riverside location and fantastic food.
They also have amazing margaritas: we especially love the prickly pear tequila margarita and the serrano chile margarita. Definitely one of the best riverwalk restaurants in San Antonio, plus also best Mexican food on San Antonio riverwalk.
Rio Rio Cantina
Another great riverwalk Mexican restaurant with tables by the water and great indoor seating for larger families.
They have great Tex-Mex food – we have tried street tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, salsa and chips, guacamole, quesadillas, and more.
The menu has the restaurant’s history & story and the Mariachi band serenades you as you eat.
Another riverwalk favorite, this San Antonio Riverwalk best restaurant is located inside the Hotel Valencia.
Trust them to dish up tasty Argentine and fusion Latin American food. The decor here is also equally amazing.
We love dining here and going through their unique menu. Try the roasted tomato with aged provolone cheese for appetizer or the shrimp ceviche and the grilled baby lobster for entrée.
Wash it down with a pisco sour and enjoy some grilled street corn on the side. We have often had the chef come out and see if we’re happy, love the personal touches!
Don’t forget their desert menu filled with sorbets and cakes.
Another amazing gem of a place on the San Antonio Riverwalk if you are looking for a fancy dinner. This award-winning Mexican restaurant on the Riverwalk has amazing food.
I personally love their brisket enchiladas with chocolate mole sauce. I also love their romantic ambience, tables placed right on the Riverwalk, and excellent margaritas.
Iron Cactus is perfect for date nights and for sitting under the holiday lights of the Riverwalk in winter.
Rita’s on the River
This Tex-Mex restaurant is popular for its fajitas, margaritas, and mariachi music! The Texas size Margarita is really large at 32 oz and just amazing. We also love their street tacos.
They have indoor as well as outdoor seating. The outdoor tables have really fantastic views of the river. And you will be surrounded by the ducks and pigeons which keeps kids super happy.
Original Mexican Restaurant
A good Tex-Mex restaurant serving tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, and chalupas. They also have giant margaritas iconic to the Riverwalk.
But where this restaurant really shines is the cheesecake! The cheesecake here is flavorful, dance, and moist. If you love cheesecakes, then this is definitely the best place to eat on the San Antonio Riverwalk.
The best part is they’re open 24 hours so this is a great place to grab a bite on the Riverwalk even in the middle of the night.
If you’re looking for an upscale dining experience on the Riverwalk, then head to Paesanos.
Everyone’s favorite here is the shrimp paesanos. The signature dish has juicy shrimp so delicious pasta in a light lemon cream sauce – delicious!
Other dishes worth trying here include the stuffed shells, lobster bisque, dijon marinated pork, and the crab stuffed salmon.
Republic of Texas Restaurant
For every type of Texan food from barbeque to fajitas to briskets and even a bison burger, where else can you go but the Republic of Texas on the San Antonio riverwalk?!
This eatery has great, lively music and also doubles as a nightclub with dance floor or a small dive bar after sundown.
Besides these restaurants, the Riverwalk also has the most popular chain restaurants including Landry’s Seafood House, Joe’s Crab Shack, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Rainforest Cafe, Dick’s Last Resort, and Hardrock Cafe.
These are a great option if you have picky eaters and want to visit a familiar place where you know the menu and still dine at Riverwalk restaurants in San Antonio.
Best Ice Cream on the Riverwalk
If you are visiting San Antonio in the hot Texas summer, then cool yourself down with lots of ice-creams!
Mr. Ice Cream
Mr. Ice Cream looks like a retro ice cream bar with funky seating and tables.
They have over 40 flavors of ice cream, shakes, and malts so there’s something for everyone.
However, the shop accepts cash only so keep the bills handy.
Justin’s Ice Cream
If you want delicious local ice cream and unique flavors visit Justin’s Ice cream.
This is a riverwalk classic since 1981 and has gelatos, sherbets, ice cream, and more.
The ice cream flavors are really creative – we have tried many different ones including guava, rainbow sherbet, coconut sherbet, blueberry sherbet, and more.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
If you love Ben & Jerry’s, then you must visit the riverwalk location on Crockett Street.
The store has nice seating overlooking the riverwalk and there is an elevator right next to it where you can reach riverwalk level. This is very convenient if you have strollers and/or bags.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate
This is another great place to go on the Riverwalk if you Love chocolates and ice cream. They also have other delicacies like caramel apples and thick milk shakes.
Best Places to eat in San Antonio – Away from the Riverwalk
Most tourists known about the best San Antonio Riverwalk restaurants, but did you know that there are several amazing places to eat in San Antonio area and its other neighborhoods as well?
In fact, some of the best known restaurants in the city are spread all over the area including Bakery Lorraine in Pearl, Rosario in King Williams District, and Mi Tierra in Downtown San Antonio.
Whether you are in Historic Market Square area or visiting the popular Pearl District, here’s where you should go if you are ready to venture away from the Riverwalk.
Historic Market Square
If you want to try authentic Mexican cuisine in a pretty authentic setting, visit the El Mercado or the Historic Market Square for lunch.
Here you will find restaurants, shops, and booths inspired by ‘south of the border’.
Some of the must things to eat and drink at the Mercado include the street corn, churros, micheladas, horchatas, Mexican as well as Tex-Mex cuisine, and Texas’ famous Blue Bell ice cream.
This San Antonio restaurant located in Historic Market Square is famous for its margaritas and oyster bar.
They also have great Mexican food and are popular for their fajitas. We especially enjoy the shrimp fajitas.
We have been to La Margarita many times and loved their service and food.
The building is New Orleans inspired and the seafood is also delicious here.
Mi Tierra Cafe Y Panaderia
This restaurant is a San Antonio icon. It is also located in Historic Market Square and is always full.
They have a huge Tex Mex menu and the interior is inspired to look like Christmas year-round. It is fascinating to visit the place and look at the hundreds of stars, twinkling lights, and other decorations on the ceiling.
The restaurant also has a famous mural on its wall. It is open 24 hours and is perfect for your late-night cravings.
Viva Villa Taqueria
Another popular restaurant in El Mercado.
They have a huge Tex-Mex menu and also serve Texas-style barbeque.
You can order enchiladas, street tacos – the al pastor are our favorite – and tortas.
Rosario’s Mexican café & cantina is about 15 minutes walk away from the Riverwalk and serves great Mexican food. They have some of the best Puffy Tacos near the Riverwalk.
We have tried everything here including nachos, chalupas, chicken enchiladas, margaritas, and other cocktails.
They also have an extensive dessert menu including flan, churros, bread pudding, and more.
Big Lou’s Pizza
This iconic eatery in San Antonio has been featured on the Travel Channel show, ‘Man vs. Food’. They are popular for their gigantic places including the 42 inch enormity! This is large enough to feed a family for a week and perfect for large parties.
They also have pizza rolls, pastas, sandwiches, calzones, chicken wings, and garlic bread. This is a perfect place to take the kids out out for relaxed fun family meals.
Ro-Ho Pork & Bread
Our secret! This is a hole in the wall place that serves really good food from the Mexican region of Guadalajara.
A must eat on the menu is the Torta Ahogada – a pulled pork sourdough sandwich dipped in a salsa sauce.
Little wonder that the name, Torta Ahogada translates to a drowned sandwich.
So if you want to try something different and more authentic for lunch, then definitely pay a visit to Ro-Ho Pork & Bread.
Cured, located in San Antonio’s trendy Pearl District, is a must for foodies.
The farm to table & whole animal cooking based restaurant has a whole charcuterie display case that shows off the meat options: smoked sausages, ham, pork, etc.
At Cured, Chef Steve McHugh offers a dining experience to be savored and is a highlight of your visit, making it one of the best restaurants in San Antonio.
Best Breakfast & Brunch Spots in San Antonio
Looking for something to energize yourself early in the morning? O looking for bottomless mimosas and delicious pancake brunches? Here is where you should go to satisfy early morning food cravings!
Located in Pearl District, this bakery is a must on everyone’s San Antonio bucket list.
This bakery has the most fantastic sandwiches, pastries, and drinks.
While everything on their menu is delicious – the macaroons, lemon blueberry muffins, orange muffins, and quiche are our favorites.
If you visit on a weekend, you can see the Pearl Farmers Market while enjoying breakfast or brunch outside at Bakery Lorraine. It is definitely one of the best places to eat in San Antonio.
While you are in the Pearl, also visit the popular Hotel Emma.
Magnolia Pancake Haus
If you are looking for the best breakfast in San Antonio, then look no further than the Magnolia pancake house!
Their buttermilk pancakes are said to be the best in America! We have tried them and they are delicious. They also have great breakfast omelets and waffles.
They also have amazing Southern atmosphere and the servers are very friendly. You can also get mimosas and other brunch cocktails for a great price.
Word of advice – they have long wait times for weekend brunches, so make sure you go early on.
Best Tacos in San Antonio
San Antonio is famous for all kinds of tacos including puffy tacos that are said to have been invented here! You can also find breakfast tacos and several other types in the city.
Henry’s Puffy Tacos
Henry’s Puffy Tacos is a San Antonio gem that has been around for decades. If you have never tasted a puffy taco, you are in for a delight.
A puffy tacos is deep fried, crunchy on the outside and chewy soft on the inside. It just melts in the mouth and is one the bucket list of most visitors.
Looking for filling recommendations? Try the chicken fajita taco or spicy beef puffy taco.
Ray’s Drive Inn
The other place to eat Puffy Tacos in San Antonio! The rivalry between Henry’s And Ray’s Drive-In is legendary.
While the tacos themselves are fantastic, we really love the vibe of this place. Here you will find lots of old memorabilia including antiques, a jukebox, and souvenirs as well as a no-frills atmosphere.
Their gorditas also hit the spot!
Garcia’s Mexican food
Located in downtown, Garcia’s Mexican food is a great option whether you are craving for a breakfast taco or a full and satisfying dinner.
Amazing brisket tacos, the meat has a nice smoky taste and tastes amazing with the avocado. Other good options to try include carne guisada, egg and cheese breakfast tacos, and the legendary pork chop tacos!
Apart from tacos, they also serve tamales and enchiladas and are a hit with locals.
Best BBQ in San Antonio
You cannot really visit a Texan city without trying its barbecue. Whether you want the famous brisket or a pulled pork sandwich, San Antonio has some great spots where you can get your bbq game on.
2 M Smokehouse
San Antonio’s 2 M Smokehouse is well on its way to being one of the top bbq joints in Texas!
The bbq place always has a long line outside its doors. The smoked meats are known for their premium quality as well as tons of flavor.
We recommend their brisket and the sausage with chilies and white Oaxaca cheese. The sides are also filling and tasty.
Want to eat some classic Texas pit bbq listening to live music while the kids run free in the outdoor patio area?
Head to the Alamo Bbq in San Antonio.
Here you will not only find the favorites of brisket, ribs, pulled pork, smoked sausage, and chopped beef but can also enjoy crawfish when in season and desserts like banana pudding as well as margaritas!
Smoke Shack BBQ
The Smoke Shack has amazing BBQ. Their specialties include pulled pork, moist brisket, ribs that fall off the bone, and a variety of sausages.
For sides, try their fully loaded mac and cheese or the potato salad. You can also order collard greens here, which is not that common in Texas.
Whether you want a crispy snapper sandwich for dinner or some good old Texas barbecue, Alamo City is the place to go. The city offers much more than attractions like San Antonio museum or San Antonio mission.
It is one of the best cities to visit in Texas for foodies and we hope to have convinced you of the same with our list of the best places to eat while in San Antonio as well as the comprehensive list of best Riverwalk restaurants.
While the list is not exhaustive, we do try to include new restaurants as and when we try them out. If there’s anything that we must try, let us know – and maybe we can drop in on our next visit to San Antonio.