CHILE CON CARNE, puffy tacos, and a few slabs of fatty brisket. This is one representation of the San Antonio food scene and, to be fair, it’s not completely off-base. You can’t go two blocks in some parts of town without passing a hole-in-the-wall taqueria (which probably serves a menudo that’ll change your life). And we’re justifiably just as proud of (and hungry for) our BBQ as the rest of Texas is.
But times are changing. Come to San Antonio today and you’ll encounter dozens of restaurants that, under the guidance of creative and passionate chefs, are blending time-honored family recipes with delicious ingenuity. You’ll eat at places like
And in addition to these varying interpretations of South Texas cuisine, there are more and more international options emerging on the scene. Others have been here for decades but just don’t get the press. You’ll find Cajun, Korean, Greek, Vietnamese, vegetarian/vegan, and I believe we’re now up to four — yep, four — Peruvian restaurants.
The bottom line: San Antonio has entered a foodie realm all its own. Here’s a look at the city’s awesomely complex culinary landscape, from old favorites to the next generation.
Classic Tex-Mex + authentic Mexican
Okay, we’ll start with the most obvious. A mashup of Old Mexico gastronomy and Texan imagination, Tex-Mex has received equal amounts of praise and scorn. All this ooey-gooey cheese is amazing! All this ooey-gooey cheese is an abomination! Whichever side you’re on, Tex-Mex is here to stay (and most of us couldn’t be happier).
The super-sized platters overflowing with sauces and cheese isn’t entirely American or Mexican or limited to any particular style, and that’s precisely why it works. San Antonio prides itself as the Tex-Mex capital of the world, and she offers a never-ending arsenal of Tex-Mex restaurants to prove it.
The never-ending food festivals
Even in a city that
April marks the biggest party of the year for San Antonio:
Culinaria is best known for its main extravaganza, Festival Week, every May, but the truth is there are several Culinaria events throughout the year. There’s wine-tasting at the Rambling Rosé in August, the two separate Restaurant Weeks in August and January, and the Food Truck Event in September, which brings you mobile chefs, local artisans, and more wine.
To round out the year, why not hold a cozy tamalada with about 20,000 hungry San Antonians?
To international and beyond
When I first moved to San Antonio almost 20 years ago, I was homesick for the varied gastronomy of the Northeast. I missed the international flavors and mom & pop dives. I wondered if San Antonio would ever rise above the queso drippings and throw me a culinary curveball. Challenge accepted.
For ice-cold suds (you know that summer lasts for nine months here, right?), try the
Probably the most hyped restaurant opening this summer was
The greener future
A lot of those traditional San Antonio staples won’t win you any diet points (don’t worry, you’re on vacation!). But the city is turning a page when it comes to healthy eating and living.
If you want to whip up wholesome goodness at home, stop at one of the farmers markets in town. Urban Farm Stand is a year-round, indoor market that connects local organic growers to foodies and makes off-season totally less painful. And this fall, Culinaria organizers plan to launch The Farm, a green space that will feature responsibly grown produce and educate the community about living well and growing your own food at home.
Explore the town for tons more drool-worthy finds and, seriously, bring those stretchy pants.