By birth, I’m a San Antonio native. However, at the tender age of 5 years old, my family relocated to the Houston area and we left the beautiful Hill Country city in our past. Missing the food, the people, and the culture of San Antonio, we often returned for weekend getaways—and even lucked out with countless business trips to downtown SA town. (Family businesses for the win.) When my Air Force fiancé was sent to San Antonio for training a few months ago, I made it a mission to show him some of my favorite spots in town–and even to try a couple of new ones. Below are four of my absolute favorite places to eat in the city.
1. The Guenther House (King William)
205 E. Guenther St.
One word: BRUNCH. Okay, there’s more words than that: lovely, relaxing, historic, delicious. It’s about a 20-minute stroll from the main stretch of the Riverwalk, but it’s a gorgeous one, with huge shady trees and views of some of the prettiest homes in SA town. If you’re not up for a walk or bike ride, there’s plenty of free parking, even on busy weekend mornings. The wait for a table can be a bit long, but they serve fresh coffee on the lawn and you can explore the grounds and catch great views of the San Antonio river. Inside you’ll find a little history, as the beautiful home belonged to the Pioneer Flour Mills’ founding family. As for the main event—the food, of course—you can’t really go wrong. The Champagne Chicken Enchiladas are to die for and occasionally they’ll offer a special of Chicken and (their famous) Sweet Cream Waffles that can’t be beat. The fluffy buttermilk biscuits are positively dreamy, and don’t forget about the tempting treats inside the bakery area. If you’re in town for the weekend, skip your hotel breakfast and enjoy a leisurely morning at The Guenther House. It’s truly one of the best spots in the city.
2. Bird Bakery (Alamo Heights)
5912 Broadway St.
Step foot inside the most adorable bakery you’ve ever seen. No really. With it’s calligraphy-covered walls and charming bistro tables, you’ll wonder if the sweet treats and salty snacks are just as good as the decor. (Spoiler alert: They are.) My fiancé and I ordered a pair of sandwiches to start (Tuna Melt for him, Tarragon Chicken Salad for me) and they were scrumptious, especially paired with a tall, cold glass of the house lemonade. Served with potato chips and a deli pickle, it was just what the doctor ordered for our Sunday lunch. But don’t forget the real reason for your visit. The gorgeous array of cupcakes will remind you of your NEED for dessert. I had a brownie with a cup of coffee (both delightful) and he had the famous Carrot Cake Cupcake, of which I sampled a bite. Let me tell you—this was one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Incredibly moist, just sweet enough, with frosting straight from Heaven. If you’re in the area—and even if you’re not—a visit to Bird Bakery is a San Antonio must.
3. Rosario’s (Southtown)
910 S. Alamo St.
Wander away from the chain restaurants of the Riverwalk for a bit and discover the Mexican food you were craving all along. Rosario’s first began serving in 1992, and my San Antonio-based family (at the time) fell head-over-heels in l.o.v.e. with their cheesy enchiladas, crispy tacos, decadent flautas, and basically everything else on the menu. There’s plenty of seating so the wait usually isn’t longer than your first margarita. The fresh salsa greets you at your table with plenty of chips to get things started. I’d recommend the fish tacos, flautas especiales, or the tacos norteños. (I had the latter the night I got engaged, so the dish is a bit sentimental. Also—more importantly—tasty.) Essentially, order off the “Favoritas” section and you’ll be planning your next trip to San Antonio in no time.
4. Las Canarias (Riverwalk)
112 College St, River Level
If you’ve got your heart set on a meal along the Riverwalk—and you’re also feeling Fancy with a capital F—dinner at Las Canarias is just the ticket. Located inside the Omni La Mansion, this dining experience is pure and utter romance. The American cuisine features local, incredibly fresh ingredients that will surprise even the most refined palates. From colorful salads to tender veal, there’s something for vegetarians and carnivores alike. The fish and pork tenderloin are exquisitely prepared, but the shrimp & grits can only be described as sinfully decadent. As always, save room for dessert, but skip over every option except the sticky toffee pudding. While I’m normally not crazy about any of those three words, add them together and you’ve got a five-star finish to a fantastic meal. Sip a glass of wine and take in the river views as soft, live music plays in the background. But be careful—you may be lulled into never leaving this alluring, vibrant city.