Planning a trip to San Antonio and looking for the best places to eat in San Antonio? Check our guide to the best places to eat on the San Antonio Riverwalk and elsewhere in the city. Whether you want Mexican, Tex-Mex, American cuisine, we have you covered. You might also like our post on the Best Things to do in San Antonio.
San Antonio is our favorite day trip or weekend getaway from Houston. 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 river.
But 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, and pan-Asian cuisines in the city.
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.
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 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. Here are some that serve the best Tex-Mex, Italian, and seafood on the Riverwalk. We have also given recommendations on our favorite ice cream places since we are big ice cream fans and eat it on all our trips.
Bella on the River
Bella on the River is upscale compared to most other Riverwalk restaurants and is a great option for anniversaries, dates, and birthdays. 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 drink 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 – we love the homemade chips, deviled eggs, grilled cheese sandwich, and the burgers.
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. It 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.
Casa Rio is the oldest Riverwalk restaurant. It is operated by the same family that owns Schilo’s. Casa Rio colorful umbrellas are the most photographed and iconic picture of the San Antonio Riverwalk. The restaurant serves Tex-Mex cuisine and has a Mariachi band that plays songs on request. Casa Rio was the first restaurant on the Riverwalk to start the tradition of dinner cruises.
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 still worth the visit and serves 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.
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. The restaurant also has a great riverside location and fantastic food. They also have amazing margaritas: we especially love the prickly pear margarita and the serrano chile margarita.
Rio Rio Cantina
Another great riverwalk 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 restaurant is located inside the Hotel Valencia. It serves Argentine and fusion Latin American food. While we have dined here just once, it was one of the best meals in recent times. We tried the grilled baby lobster, pisco sours, grilled street corn, and many deserts and loved it.
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.
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.
Best Places to eat elsewhere in San Antonio
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. 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 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 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.
Ro-Ho Pork & Bread
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, 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. Cured offers a dining experience to be savored and is a highlight of the San Antonio visit.
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.
We hoped you liked our list of the best places to eat while in San Antonio. 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.
We were invited to dine at Casa Rio & Dorrego’s but all opinions are our own.