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San Antonio Dining

Tex-Mex
San Antonio Dining
Influenced by a multitude of cultures, San Antonio’s food scene is extremely varied. Visitors are sure to find a meal to remember among the city’s many food trucks, cantinas, and fine dining destinations.
By Lara Dalinsky, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Robin Jerstad
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    Tex-Mex
    Tex-Mex
    One thing you’ll never lack for in San Antonio is Tex-Mex cuisine. The city is home to hundreds of taco joints and cantinas, serving traditional favorites such as enchiladas, flautas, quesadillas, and tamales. When visiting, be sure to try the native puffy taco, made from masa dough that’s deep-fried until it bubbles into a light, flaky shell. Also not to be missed are Tex-Mex spots Rosario’s (get the fajitas), La Villita CafeEl Mirador, and Casa Rio.
    Photo by Robin Jerstad
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    Food Trucks
    Food Trucks
    Like in neighboring Austin, San Antonio’s food truck scene is flourishing, offering some of the city’s tastiest fare at affordable prices. Here, you can get pretty much anything you want at a truck, from Pakistani street food and Korean barbecue to seafood, tapas, grilled cheese, and even chocolate. Fans can typically track the locations of their favorite vehicles online. However, a few food-truck parks—such as Alamo Street Eat Bar, the Point Park and Eats, and the Block SA—have popped up around the city, making it easier for diners to try a variety of specialties in one sitting.
    Photo by Nan Palmero
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    Craft Breweries
    Craft Breweries
    San Antonio is gaining serious ground as a craft beer destination, with nearly a dozen breweries and numerous beer gardens opening in just the past few years. Enjoy a beer by the river at the Pearl Brewery complex, or sample microbrews at Southerleigh. Another solid option is Alamo Beer Company, with its picnic tables, live music, food trucks, and annual Oktoberfest celebration.
    Photo by Robin Jerstad
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    Dining on the Patio
    Dining on the Patio
    With average temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the 90s, San Antonio has perfect weather for dining alfresco. The best time to eat outdoors is in the late afternoon, when the hot sun begins to fade and the cool evening breezes kick in. For the best views, head to the River Walk and its surrounding neighborhoods, where patio restaurants are in abundant supply. Casa Rio is an especially good choice if you’re looking to experience San Antonio’s unique outdoor-dining culture.
    Photo courtesy of San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau
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    Chili con Carne
    Chili con Carne
    Chili con carne is so treasured in Texas that it was designated the official state dish in 1977. A fiery stew of chili peppers, beef, and spices, it originated in San Antonio in the mid-1800s, when charismatic Mexican women, popularly referred to as “chili queens,” sold it by the bowl from commercial stands in the city’s plazas. Nowadays you can find the best versions at Casa Rio on the River Walk, or the revered Institute of Chili food truck. Purists can order chili con carne on its own, but the more adventurous may want it atop a Frito pie or chili-cheese dog.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Local Cantinas and Dive Bars
    Local Cantinas and Dive Bars
    Thanks to the city’s casual, laid-back vibe, cantinas and dive bars thrive in San Antonio. Throw on a T-shirt and jeans, and head downtown to festive spots such as Rosario’s and Tito’s, both of which are known for their refreshing margaritas and authentic Tex-Mex fare. Alternatively, neighborhood watering holes such as Texas T Pub, the Texan II, and Bar America are no-frills places to unwind with cheap drinks and good company.
    Photo courtesy of Rosario's
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    Contemporary American
    Contemporary American
    The River Walk and downtown areas of San Antonio are home to a growing number of fine dining destinations—due in part to top chefs who studied at the Culinary Institute of America campus at the Pearl Brewery complex and then stayed in town to open restaurants. Spots such as Cured, Restaurant GwendolynSoutherleigh Fine Food & Brewery, and Bliss put creative twists on regional cuisine, using locally sourced ingredients and innovative techniques.
    Photo by Robin Jerstad
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    Crawfish Boils and Oyster Bakes
    Crawfish Boils and Oyster Bakes
    San Antonio’s proximity to the Gulf Coast means easy access to fresh seafood. If you’re a shellfish fan, visit the city in spring, which is high season for crawfish and oysters. The popular, weekend-long Fiesta Oyster Bake takes place in April and features 100,000 oysters served raw, baked, and fried. You can also try the bivalves at San Antonio’s several Cajun-inspired restaurants, such as Acadiana Cafe and Dry Dock Oyster Bar.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Breakfast and Brunch
    Breakfast and Brunch
    San Antonio has a plethora of places to start your day on the right foot. For melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip pancakes or savory corned beef hash, stop by Magnolia Pancake Haus. If it’s waffles you want, don’t miss Belgian Sweets.
    Photo by Tricia Fleming