A co-worker listed out my favorite restaurants and bars on a page on the Valero Alamo Bowl website she titled “Rick’s Picks.”
The catchy, self-serving name wasn’t worth the grief I got from friends for leaving their places off the list. The Bowl smartly updated the page to be called “Do It Like A Local.”
However, my Mom frequently asks me to “Please email your list of the best places to eat so I can give it (insert random friend’s name I’ve never heard of) who is planning a trip to San Antonio.” That is a testament to San Antonio’s desirability as a visitor destination as well as our burgeoning culinary scene.
A big part of San Antonio’s charm is its authenticity and always improving downtown. Thus, this list features links to unique places close to downtown that my wife and I recommend.
Restaurants Walkable From Major Downtown Hotels:
Box Street Social
Dough Pizzeria Napoletana
Enrique Tomas (Spanish)
La Panadería (Baked goods)
Mi Tierra (Mexican)
Revolucion Coffee + Juice
Rio Rio Cantina (Mexican)
Toro Kitchen + Bar (Spanish)
Restaurants around near downtown/Southtown (1 mile)
Mark’s Outing Burgers
Maverick Texas Brasserie
Reese Bros Barbecue
South Alamode Panini & Gelato Company
Restaurants around Midtown/The Historic Pearl (2 miles)
Best Quality Daughter (Asian)
Brasserie Mon Chou Chou
Cullum’s Attaboy (brunch)
The Cove (Family)
La Fonda On Main (Mexican)
Magpie (Korean-American Fusion)
Mr. Juicy (Hamburgers)
Smoke Shack BBQ
Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery
Bars Walkable From Major Downtown Hotels
1Watson Rooftop Bar
Bar at Bohanan’s
The Bunker Mixology
Devils River Distillery
The Esquire Tavern
Gimme Gimme Rock Bar
Hopscotch Lounge and Interactive Art Experience
Mad Dogs British Pub
Sojourn Trading Company
If you have specific questions or need a drinking/eating buddy, feel free to reach out to us socially to @valeroalamobowl or use #valeroalamobowl.
* Our off-the-beaten path recommendations, don’t miss the Maria’s Cafe for breakfast, the Michoacán style carnitas at Carnitas Lonja, the amazing brisket at 2M Smokehouse or Garcia’s (both are lunch only), the Thai food at Thai Dee, the roasted chicken at Pollos Asados Los Nortenos
* If your group is split between going to eat or getting a drink, then consider Esquire or Zinc as they offer the best of both worlds. The Esquire’s “Downstairs” bar is a cool riverside lounge.
* Need something for the ‘gram? Then visit one of these top brunch places in San Antonio.
* To look good while exploring downtown and taking in cool attractions like Hopscotch, buy a guayabera from Penner’s or a custom hat from Paris Hatters. Both of these family owned businesses are 100+ years old.
* Want to do a downtown brewery tour? Hit Alamo Beer, Dorcol Distilling + Brewing, Freetail Brewing’s Taproom, Kuenstler Brewing, Dos Sirenos Brewing, BackUnturned Brewing Co., and Roadmap Brewing Co.
* Whataburger doesn’t qualify for this list as “unique to San Antonio,” but they are headquartered here and have a convenient downtown location at 412 E. Commerce.
Need a sugar fix? Downtown San Antonio also a Voodoo Doughnut open 21 hours a day.
* If the Yelp reviews include too many $$$$, check out their weekday lunch specials. Most are very reasonable.
Rick Hill was a Bowl Volunteer for the first several games and joined the Valero Alamo Bowl staff full-time in 1999. Complaints, clarifications or invitations for him to join can be sent via his email or Twitter.