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JLK

San Antonio, TX

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The only place I know of there?

Philly's Phamous

I suspect I'll be heading to SA in December.  Anyone have suggestions?

How do you feel about chains? :lol: Eat away from the RiverWalk if you can help it.

The Pappas Chain restaurants - Pappadeaux (Cajun), Pappasitos (Mexican) and Pappas Steakhouses - are consistently good eats. I try to hit a Pappadeaux whenever possible!

Any kind of Mexican food is going to be outstanding. Chuy's is a favorite of mine from the Austin days, but there are some yummy hole in the wall places throughout downtown (just ask around).

If you find yourself with a craving in the middle of the night - Taco Cabana has amazing tortillas and queso or you could do a drive by at Whataburger (In-N-Out burgers, please).

And I've never met anyone who isn't a fan of Luby's cafeteria. Yes, I did just suggest a blue-hair fantasy...I stand by the LuAnne Platter! :P

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On the Riverwalk, I really enjoyed Boudro's, where they make their own guacamole tableside, with a squirt of orange as well as lime. I loved the flavor, my S.O. didn't, so take that for what it's worth.

I second Chuy's. And stay away from County Line, it's great in Austin but subpar in San Antonio, from what I've tried in both places. Outside town there's a delicious Mexican place... La Paloma, I think?

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I also like Boudro's on the Riverwalk. Great prickly pear margaritas which are really hard to find in the Southwest-at least done correctly. I also second any of the Pappas Bros. restaurants. Pappasito's is very similar to Rio Grande Cafe, but somewhat better. Wildly popular, as is Pappadeux. Pappadeux is not great Creole or Cajun but very good for what it does.

Arguably the best beef bbq in Texas (which for most means the world) is only an hour or so out of San Antonio in Luling at the Luling City Market. Either google this or look at one of the many lengthy threads of eG about TX bbq. This place is THE standard which most agree on. Rudy's has the "experience" and ambience out near Six Flags Fiesta Texas but most of the Q is far behind what can be found in Hill Country or about halfway between San Antonio and Austin. Over the years I've eaten at most of the bbq joints/groceries/roadhouses/farms (Salt Lick) mentioned in books or on boards. Yet today, when I have the time, I'll drive the two + hours roundtrip to Luling and return to the City Market. This link is from Roadfood's website: http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Writeup.as...D=583&RefID=583 Excellent photos and note the total agreement that it is worth a 100 mile pilgramage, Roadfood's highest compliment!

Arguably La Fogata is San Antonio's best Tex Mex; it's a different type of experience than Pappasito's. : http://www.lafogata.com/ It's about a fifteen minute drive from the Riverwalk in the direction of northwest S.A.

Edited by Joe H

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Traveling an hour outside SA will not be an option for me while on a business trip, but thanks anyway.

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The only place I remember from our SA trip five years ago is Rosario's...Mexican/ spanish cuisine with fantastic salsa and ceviche. We waited an hour to eat there on a Friday night, and then came back for lunch at the tail end of the trip.

I was not a fan of San Antonio in general...I found the Riverwalk to be incredibly touristy. It was certainly festive and attractive, way too commercial and totally NOT my speed.

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Arguably the best beef bbq in Texas (which for most means the world) is only an hour or so out of San Antonio in Luling at the Luling City Market. 

Hell yes! I totally agree, Joe. My folks and I will drive multitudes of miles out of our way for a quick fix of City Market. Now if they'd only open for Sunday lunch...

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JLK - Did you end up anywhere interesting? I'm heading down for a 5-day trip (Fri-Wed) and will be staying near the Market Square, but 'conferencing' at the Convention Center.

I would love to make the trip to Luling - that is THE best damn brisket anywhere - but I will be carless :)

I've been to Boudro's and gone the Chuy/Pappasitos/Pappadeaux route many times before. And Taco Cabana IS great for those cravings - do they serve margaritas, or was that just Two Pesos?

Anyway, they're all good standbys but I would love to try some of those hole-in-the-wall places - any specific suggestions?

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I love San Antonio and have had the privilege of visiting both for social and business purposes. Here is a quick list of tried and true places:

1) The RiverWalk isn't all bad. One night we stumbled onto the patio of a newly opened restaurant in a newly opened luxury hotel where we had the best oysters we had ever had... Turns out the Watermark is an amazing hotel and the restaurant top notch, even if it is on the Riverwalk

2) Browns for cheese enchiledas but that is it. It is a totally local place in a commercial district that many locals don't know about:

Brown's Mexican Food

2405 S. Hackberry (78210)

(210) 533-8174

3) A total tourist trap, the Mi Tierra restaurants are really a must do once. Only once, the food is okay but the atmosphere is amazingly fun if you are with a group. Also, they have really nice outdoor seating at one of the restaurants:

Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia

218 Produce Row (78207)

(210) 225-1262

www.mitierracafe.com

4) Los Barrios is an awesome family run Tex-Mex place that really is a locals place, for generations!

Los Barrios

4223 Blanco Rd., San Antonio, TX, USA

Phone: 210-732-6017

5) There is a restaurant in Alamo Heights or one of the suburbs which is amazing Tex-Mex. I can't recall the name. :-(

Okay, I am drooling now. Must stop this post. Have a great trip!

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Arguably the best beef bbq in Texas (which for most means the world) ...
Joe I have to respectfully disagree with this, I have yet to be impressed by Texas BBQ (no I have not been to yet been to Luling City Market) and have found that what I have had to be much overrated. To make matters worse, I have always been forced to listen to Texans lecturing me on how they know the best BBQ or chili in the world because they are from Texas, as if just being from a place automatically makes one an expert.

As for La Fogata, I found it to be rather run of the mill, and nothing I would go out of my way for. The one exception is the Queso Flameado which was heavenly. I did have a decent steak at Little Rhein along the River Walk.

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It may come down to one's opinion of brisket vs. pork. I've had the Skylight Inn, Archibald's, Sweatman's, Bozo's, Bryant's, Fresh Air and a whole bunch of other pork bbq's along with most every Texas place that has a rep including Smitty's and Black's in Lockhart (even Kreuz under the old owners), Cooper's in Llano, Louie Mueller, Clark's Outpost, Sonny Bryan's on Inwood, etc. (All of these as part of annual 8,000 mile driving trips including criss crossing TX each year.) The old Kreuz had the best ambience with Cooper's a close second. But I really, really like the City Market in Luling. About fifteen years ago I went there for lunch and Ruth's Chris for dinner in Dallas that night. City Market was better. Much better.

But that's me.

I go back there in about three weeks.

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It may come down to one's opinion of brisket vs. pork. 
I do think that it is a Pork vs. Beef issue, I just can’t get my taste buds around barbequed beef. I know that there is quite a bit of pork smoked in eastern Texas but I have found that it pales compared to what comes from the Carolinas and North Georgia. As for atmosphere the only atmosphere I care about when it comes to barbeque is what is on the plate or bun in front of me, extra credit if they sell beer, even crappy beer is a welcome treat when it comes to most barbeque joints.

That reminds me how do you define the difference between a Restaurant/Joint/Dive:

Restaurant: Matching furniture, taped music, printed menus. Accepts credit cards. Member of the chamber of commerce.

Joint: Screened door, jukebox, beer, chalkboard menu. The cook is nicknamed Bubba. Cash only.

Dive: Torn screened door, tattoos, beer, whiskey, flies. No menu. The cook's real name is Bubba, and she has a prison record. You don't tell your mama you go there.

Personally, I tend to enjoy the Joints and Dives.

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I actually think atmosphere plays a part in evaluating the taste, at least for me. At Pete Adkins Skylight Inn (I think the overall best of all the pork places in America) it is the non stop chunk chunk chunk of a man with two cleavers endlessly chopping whole hog q (at the risk of Carpal tunnel syndrome); at Dreamland in Tuscalossa it is the pit IN THE ROOM with the Q and when the pitman opens the door the smoke wafts over the low ceilinged room, flavoring the air with eue de pit (while, for others, like smog on a bad day in L. A.); at Sonny Bryan's these funky school desks and a cement floor with wood stained smoky black from 50+ years of smoking meats; at the Luling City Market (and a few other places) it is a separate room that is partitioned off for the pit where the pitman must inhale more smoke than any chainsmoker. I can't leave there without feeling that someone is literally giving his life for his Q. Clark's Outpost in Tioga, TX has blond wood that, I swear, is mahogany! And Guy and Mae's in Williamsburg, KS has a barmaid who has a smoker's cough to rival what I once had-and she's never smoked a cigarette in her life.

My last few comments really note one of the reasons why "real" Q is almost impossible to find anymore: very few are willing to do what is necessary to produce the authentic taste, the smoky bite that real bbq has. When one does do this, often, it seems that they are giving more than any customer could ever reasonably ask of them. It is also a reason why so few health deprtments no allow the kind of pits that produce this special type of flavor and meltingly tender, fall apart texture. It is more than just waking at midnight to stoke a pit; it is a way of life and, for some, giving of their health for a taste and flavor and perfume of the pit that is increasingly more difficult to find. For many the sacrifices are not worth it; but for those who do find these "special" places and the people who staff them, whether they are pork or beef or ribs, they are indeed special and to be savored and remembered.

They have become seemingly, sometimes almost literally, a dying breed.

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A few thoughts and links to places I visited in San Antonio (most of them mentioned already).

Mi Tierra is touristy, and I tend to disagree with the signs touting it as "San Antonio's Favorite Mexican Restaurant". It has a huge and interesting selection at the bakery located in the center of the building. The 'mercado caldo' - tortilla soup - sounded good but I opted for a "Special Mexican Dinner" - Cheese Enchilada, Crispy Beef Taco, Tamal, Guacamole, Chile con Queso, Spanish Rice and Refried Beans - too much food, none of it great. The tamal wasn't bad, but I found the beans pretty bland, and the rest of it average. It's a nice place to sit outside and the wait usually isn't too long, even when it's very busy.

As mentioned by others, Boudro's has the best damn guacamole anywhere. Juice of 1/4 orange and 1/2 lime, one ripe avocado, a dash of sea salt, spoonful of chopped red onions, and the house-grilled tomatoes and serrano peppers. Prepared tableside in a molcajete. Though they say it's for 2...well, I had no problem finishing it all by myself :) . I also enjoyed the beef and mushroom quesadilla. I arrived just after 3pm, when they make the jump from lunch to dinner menu, which means a pretty big jump in price. As far as places on the Riverwalk, this is probably my favorite, and one of the few where I didn't feel like I was treated as a second-class citizen when I was dining alone.

Mexican Manhattan was a lifesaver on a busy, Fiesta-time Saturday night with a 2- and 5-year old needing to eat and get to bed. They are away from the really busy part of the Riverwalk and have outdoor seating, along with a quite large, diner-esque, inside space. The food was cheap, portions were huge, and we were seated immediately. A nice little local, family-owned place to know about. We feasted for under $40 with 2 margaritas and too much food!

Away from the Riverwalk, I was very happy I wandered over to Rosario's. Located in the King William District (which is worth a visit - beautiful old homes, reminiscent of Key West or New Orleans, and a funky arts scene), Rosario's is a bustling, noisy place. The food was quite good, the service a little sketchy and slow. They had a very flavorful tortilla soup (much better than the one I tried the day before at Carlos and Charlie's offshoot Guadalajara Grill), and a decent chicken chipotle quesadilla. I ordered queso flameado with mushrooms and chorizo - it took two tries to get the right toppings. The first time it was just chorizo with some might crispy jalapeno strips. This was a very different queso than what you'd get around here. The cheese was very thick and stringy - the tortillas it's served with came in handy for tearing off hunks of it. I didn't make it here, but just down the street from Rosario's is Tito's, which looked like a lot of fun, a small Mexican place, they had a jam session of sorts (looked like bluegrass from the assortment of instruments) going on in the bar, and tables of happy-looking couples and families eating in the restaurant.

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And Taco Cabana IS great for those cravings - do they serve margaritas, or was that just Two Pesos? 

Taco Cabana has really gone downhill is the last several years. A good local (family-owned) chain of taco restaurants is Las Palapas, but most of them are closed on Sundays for family and worship.

Hmm, now I'm thinking about breakfast tacos with a Big Red soda.

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Heading to San Antonio for a work conference next week on the Riverwalk. I'd really like to try some authentic Tex-Mex but is everything on Riverwalk a tourist trap? Is there anywhere within walking distance? I'll be traveling alone and without a car.

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Boudro's is arguably the ONLY really good restaurant on the Riverwalk. As mentioned the guacamole and the prickly pear margarita along with some very, very good Southwestern dishes including rather unique Black and White soup (literally half of each) and chili fried Gulf oysters. http://www.boudros.com/boudros/

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The local SA paper actually has a pretty good handle on the dining scene. You can see a list of their top 250 picks here-->click. On this list, I would highly recommend Liberty Bar and Rosario's for downtown, but off the River Walk choices.

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Thanks for the suggestions.

I ended up going to Little Rhein Steakhouse the first night because colleagues wanted to go there. Ick! Overpriced and underseasoned. And I'm the type of person who never has to use the salt shaker when I go out to eat. This place also has the dubious distinction of having the worst creme brulee I've ever tasted in my life. I think it was crisco mixed with cream. There seemed to be no sugar or eggs in it. Things got better after the first night though.

Breakfast was at the bakery of Mi Tierra. I recommend the pumpkin empanada. Lunch at Boudro's was good, though service was slow. The guacamole was great. They use a smoky chipotle blend and orange juice along with all the other typical guacamole ingredients. The black and white soup there was excellent. One half black bean the other half white cheddar. Dinner was at Acenar- a semi-upscale nuevo latino/tex mex kinda place. Lots of great dishes here, including a lettuce wrap and a crab salad, a friend had the crab tacos and said they were great. She's from houston so I imagine she knows her tex mex.

Lunch the next day was at Casa Rio, definitely a tourist trap but it was nice to have a margarita along the river and enjoy the gorgeous weather.

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I recommend the pumpkin empanada.
Pumpkin empanadas are definitely a San Antonio specialty, with apple not too far behind. Growing up, I never knew that meat empanadas existed.

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I have yet to be impressed by Texas BBQ (no I have not been to yet been to Luling City Market)
Was at the Luling City Market in Nov. The sausage was unbelievable. The brisket and ribs were excellent. No plates, no utensils, just BBQ by the pound on deli paper. A 'must go' if you're in that area.

Will be heading to San Antonio in Mar for business. Curious about Biga on the Banks. Icon, tourist trap or what?

Other options recommended elsewhere but also not mentioned here: The Lodge, Silo, Sandbar, Paloma Blanco, Liberty Bar. Anyone been to any of those?

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Well....this isn't going to be helpful. I have been to San Antonio or Austin approximately ten or eleven times in the last 15+ years. Every time (repeat, EVERY time) I have driven back to Luling, TX. Austin really does have a number of other options but San Antonio...well, that's another matter. Other than Boudro's I just haven't found a place to rave about or even to return to.

OK, Chester's makes good hamburgers.

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Other than Boudro's I just haven't found a place to rave about or even to return to.
I went to Boudro's about a year ago, and although I would return, I certainly wouldn't rave. Then again, I didn't find any better option either.

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Liberty Bar is one of my favorites and a request whenever I go home (parents are in SA). Its definitely worth a visit. They have a bean salad that I can't seem to recreate no matter how many times I've tried.

Alamo Cafe, which has some mighty tasty tortillas (not very good mexican food) and a very large, greasy chicken fried steak. I usually pick up flour tortillas from Alamo Cafe or HEB market before returning to VA.

In SA, its usually the mom and pop hole in the walls south of town that are worth visiting. Those you'll have to ask when your down there. River walk has gotten much better over the yrs, but its become a tourist trap instead of the sketchiness I remember in the early 80s. Now I'm craving a tamale.

As an alternative to Tex-Mex and BBQ, there is a pretty strong Czech and German community around SA and up to New Braunsfels. Its worth exploring the bakeries for some fantastic finds. I remember hitting some great German restaurants when I was visiting from college.

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