If the term “Tex-Mex” conjures nothing more in your mind than a platter of Spanish rice and refried beans, you are in for quite a treat. On your visit to San Antonio, it doesn’t matter if you stop into a hip new Tex-Mex joint where every plate is a potential Instagram masterpiece or a multi-generational classic that connects deeply to the roots of this beloved cuisine. Either way, you’ll be going home with a serious new craving.
To begin your epic Tex-Mex food tour, head to La Gloria at the Pearl, where Chef Johnny Hernandez has something wild in mind for you. He’s one of the premier Mexican cuisine chefs in the country, a claim you won’t doubt upon first bite. Expect authentic but accessible interior Mexican cuisine, from slow-roasted pibil tacos to torre de mariscos to molcajetes and panuchos—and don’t worry, they’ll have a gustatory glossary at the ready should you need it.
Next, it’s time for a tried-and-true classic. Mi Tierra Cafe is a San Antonio institution if ever there were one, and the fact that it’s open 24 hours a day means you have no excuse not to eat here at least once. Beyond the mouth-watering meals, the onsite traditional panadería (bakery) offers fresh, fragrant, traditional Mexican pastries whenever you stop by, aromas wafting from the case like you’re in abuela’s casa.
San Antonio is a massive city, and its signature cuisine permeates every corner. If you happen to be up on the north side, don’t assume you have to head back downtown to find the Tex-Mex dinner you’re dreaming of. La Hacienda de Los Barrios features many of the same dishes perfected over the decades at its original location on Blanco Road, served up in a sprawling, upscale, indoor/outdoor setting north of Loop 1604. Try the enchiladas verdes here and you’ll have an instant new favorite.
Already having trouble making a decision on where to score your next Tex-Mex fix? In a city with a million options, you can always count on Tito’s Mexican Restaurant to be full of locals. After all, few tourists would expect this casual, drop-ceiling spot to serve up margaritas this beautiful or shrimp enchiladas this well plated. That’s the secret and what lands Tito’s on this list of upscale Tex-Mex go-tos. Your tacos, sopes and fajita nachos will come fully loaded, your drinks garnished and rimmed to perfection. And be on the lookout for a few new-to-you dishes—perhaps the albondigas en chile chipotle or the pozole. At Tito’s, you’ll get the true “Sabor a la Mexicana.”
Routinely voted Best Mexican Restaurant in San Antonio—and by now you should have an idea what that accolade means—Rosario’s has two locations in the city, both serving classic plates like chile relleno and fish tacos you might actually write home about. That’s the Rosario’s twist: traditional dishes like never before. And then there’s the live music, to-go margs and happy-hour specials six days a week. Neon pinks and electric blues complement the well-earned, never-ending buzz.
And finally, we can’t talk about San Antonio Tex-Mex and not mention the very first restaurant to open on the River Walk. Casa Rio mastered the art of ambiance back in 1946. Those beautiful, brightly colored umbrellas that always steal your eyes away from the water? They were born right here. For an iconic San Antonio experience, look no further. Their most popular dish is the “Deluxe Dinner,” but don’t let the unassuming name fool you. It’s code for a whopping plate of deliciosa, best paired with a top-shelf margarita, right on the water’s edge, watching the riverboats go by.