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Heart of San Antonio

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the Best of SA!

Places to Eat

Downtown has tons of places to eat and drink, some better than others. We aren't going to cover the franchises since about every town of any size has its own and if you've seen one, you've seen them all. This is about those one-of-a-kind places you might not know about and be a little hesitant to try without a personal recommendation. So, here are ours...

(Mexican Food - Texas Style)


A. H. Burritos [ TOP ]
516 E. Houston
[Map A]
6:30 am-3 pm M-S - 7-2 Sunday
Get a Free Coupon!

First off, I want to introduce you to some of the best Tex-Mex anywhere. A block from the Riverwalk and the Alamo, A. H. Burritos on Houston Street is a must stop. I'm probably the biggest fan puff tacos ever had, suffice it to say I think puff tacos are what tacos are meant to be. Puff tacos are shaped like those crisp, crackley things that break into a thousand pieces as soon as you take your first bite. But they're not. Puff tacos are softer, but they're not the soft, rolled up things you're supposed to eat for breakfast. No, puff tacos are the best of the best and A. H. Burritos has the best puff tacos in town. They come in beef or chicken, ala carte (3) $3.65 or as the #10 Taco Plate (2 plus rice and beans) $4.35. Trust me, for under four bucks you'll be looking for a hammock after this. You can always order them on the side with any of their other dishes. Recently, I strayed from my "usual" and ordered something I had some reservations about. Now, being Texan, I love a thick chicken fried steak, fries and/or mashed potatoes with cream gravy and an ice cold, lettuce and tomato salad with French dressing and crushed saltines on top, about as much as life itself. Anyway, Janie, my regular waitress, suggested I try the Milanesa Ranchera ($5.50), billed as a chicken fried steak with a "Special Unique Ranchera Sauce," served with rice, beans and guacamole salad. Chicken fried steak with salsa on top? Ugh! But, looking for something to break my habit of puff tacos, I said OK...but ordered a beef puff taco on the side just in case. Well, that was about as good a meal as I ever ate. The chicken fried steak is real thin, breaded lightly and fried to perfection. The sauce on top? Well, Bubba, that's the only way chicken fried steak should be served. The puff taco on the side (80¢ extra) put me over the top. I needed two hammocks and didn't need to eat for two days. Ask for the HOSA Special, pure Texas, puro San Antonio!

Wait, that's not all. The complementary homemade chips and salsa (hot) are the best in town. The Caldo de Res (soup $3.75), served in a bowl that must hold a quart, comes with an entire garden in it. But, go ahead and try anything that sounds good, I've never heard anyone complain...except being too full.

AHB is about a block from the corner of Houston and Alamo, behind FootLocker (used to be Woolworth's). It's a little "hole-n-the-wall" place that most people would just walk by and not even notice. Since it's off the main tourist drag, very few tourists find their way in. Sometime after the first of the year, that's all gonna change. AHB will be right smack dab between the Alamo and the Buckhorn Hall of Horns' new home. My only fear is it'll get so popular I won't be able to find a seat. If you see an ugly guy behind the counter trying to snooze, that'll be Rick. If he's off for the day, you're in for another treat, 'cause his lovely wife, Beth, will be running the place. Be sure and tell 'em you saw 'em on the net.


Browns [TOP]
2405 S. Hackberry
[Map B]

OK, I'm already getting away from the heart of downtown, but here's another gut-buster and it's not far by cab. Brown's enchiladas have won Best of City since it opened in 1946. They come in two flavors: 2 or 3 to the order. No salad, no rice, no beans; just a boat full of enchiladas and chili. Order 2 unless you're starving. Don't be mislead thinking you'll have a side order cause 2 or 3 enchiladas won't be enuf. Trust me on this one. Now, if we could just get Brown's and AHB together, we'd have to open up the Alamodome to hold all the people. Oh, almost forgot, be sure to tell them "with onions." I guess since it's so popular with the business crowd, they make it an option you have to ask for.


Zuni Grill [TOP]
221 Losoya
(511 Riverwalk) [Map C]

Everybody's got nachos on their menu here, some kinda city regulation. Anyway, most restaurants serve the standard chip with beans, cheese and jalepeño slices. Fancy ones add whatever the kitchen has too much of as extras. Pretty much the same everywhere. Well, back to the Riverwalk area, in fact right on the Riverwalk, you'll run across Zuni Grill about 200 feet down the walk from the Hyatt Riverwalk Hotel. They've taken the standard chip, turned it blue, added some black beans and smoked chicken and have the best nacho in town. Order the Blue Corn Chicken Nachos from the appetizer section. Maybe not as good as the standard bean, cheese and jalepeño nacho as a companion for a cold Shiner Bock, but well worth sitting down for and having as a meal. Easily feeds two very hungry people.

Raoul recently had an opportunity to sample their "Original" Margarita and had to rethink the top margarita spot.


Black Tie Affairs [TOP]
258 Deerwood


After tortillas, tamales have to be the most consumed Mexican dish/item in San Antonio. It's long been the tradition not to disclose your favorite tamale source so you'll always have the best. Well, I'm breaking with that tradition and will tell you right up front, Mama Ojeda's tamales are without peer. Her home-made tamales are packed with pork, chicken or beans, cheese and jalepeños with just enough masa to hold it together. At about an inch and a half in diameter, you always get your money's worth. Her son, Richard, will ship frozen tamales to you but be prepared for the freight charges-about equal to the cost of the tamales-$6.50/dozen.


Next up, hamburgers are about as all-American as you get. Legend has it they were first served in a south Texas greasy spoon by a guy named Ham. He named them burgers, after his pet bull, and when they started getting popular, people would come in and say "Ham, give me one of them burgers." Eventually, the small talk'd get in the way during the rush periods and people'd just holler "Ham, burger!" Today, we just say "Hamburger!"

Fuddruckers [TOP]
115 Alamo Plaza
[Map D]

Just in case your town doesn't have one, probably the best burger you'll eat is a Fuddruckers' burger. What makes them special is they hand you the bun and patty (cooked) and let you pile as much stuff on it as you can carry. My burgers usually end up about 5" high when I leave the fixins area. My philosophy is "you gotta squash 'em to eat 'em or you didn't do it right." Fuddruckers is only a block off the Riverwalk and right on Alamo Plaza. They have three other locations scattered around town. If you like coconut creme pie, it's hard to beat theirs (Iris says the one at the Colonnade has the best).

Republic of Texas [TOP]
526 Riverwalk
[Map E]

Our winner for best burger on the Riverwalk is the Republic of Texas. Good burger, comes with fries, it's cheaper than our other contender's and you can either sit inside (why?) or right on the riverwalk for great people watching. Now that I've had the chicken fried steak, their hamburger and a Mexican dinner, I'm going to have to expand our listings to add these to their other winner. Republic of Texas is one of the best choices for lunch or dinner on the Riverwalk.

Bar B-Q

County Line [TOP]
111 W. Crockett St.
[Map G]

On the Riverwalk, there is only one place for Bar B-Q and we're sure glad it's the County Line. Located at the Navarro Street Bridge, across from Planet Hollywood and next door to the Hard Rock Cafe, County Line serves excellent Bar B-Q. Go for the "All You Can Eat" special if you're really hungry and want a variety of delicious meats plus several sides. Only caveat, everyone at your table has to order the "AYCE." But unlike most AYCE places, each reload of the platters is as good as the first. If you order ribs, the best part of Bar B-Q, I recommend the pork instead of the beef. Pork ribs, anywhere, are always the better choice unless you just want beef or don't like pork. You should see the tourists' eyes when they get a plate of beef ribs placed in front of them. There's usually a minute or two of them just staring in shock at their plate. Randy has two other locations on the far northside that are just as good.


Little Rhein Steak House [TOP]
231 S. Alamo
[Map I]

Just gonna have to go on faith here. I have not personally eaten here but when the movie stars come to town, they always seem to make this their favorite eatery. It's always enjoyed a fine reputation so I'll go out on a limb and include it here. It is very pricey but offers a unique, terraced hillside dining experience. Flanked by the Hilton Palacio del Rio and the Arneson River Theater (also the Riverwalk entrance to La Villita), it's in a prime location to see and be seen. Next door is the Fig Tree, another reputedly excellent restaurant, pricey and untried.

Mortons of Chicago [TOP]
849 E. Commerce [Map J]

Like the Little Rhein and Fig Tree, Morton's is included on reputation only. It's in the Rivercenter Mall, on the way to the Imax Theater. One of the most expensive, maybe the most expensive, restaurants in the city, Morton's is one of the growing number of establishments that welcomes the trendy, cigar crowd.


Tano's Pizzeria [TOP]
143 E. Travis [Map T]
210-227-8266; 472-0565 fax

Tano's is a recent discovery - thanks go to my buddy Rabinski for turning me on to it. Excellent food, indoor seating and a great patio overlooking a quietly beautiful stretch of Riverwalk. The most expensive item is a 16" pizza at $9.45 (pizzas start with a generous 6" for $3.45 and all come with unlimited toppings at no extra cost). Most everything else is in the $3.45-$5.35 range and are excellent values, not only for the price but for the quality and quantity. I predict this will be a success for a long time. Congratulations, Tano! You did good. Their only drawback is that, like most restaurants downtown off the Riverwalk, they're only open M-F 10am-6pm. But located across the Riverwalk, behind the Westin Centre, Tano's is convenient to everyone downtown and only a short stroll from the Adams Mark and Gunter hotels. They offer free delivery in the downtown area, so fax in that order for the office lunch and be a hero.

Paesano's  [TOP]
111 W. Crockett [Map K]

Pricey but excellent. Their signature dish is the Shrimp Paesano, somewhat overpriced but excellent. Other dishes are excellent, but what you would expect from a fine restaurant. Paesono's recently opened a second location in the new, trendy Village on the Green center next to the new Quarry Market shopping center.

Delores del Rio [TOP]
On the Riverwalk [Map L]

Delores del Rio is the newest culinary offering from Stefania, recently of "St. Mary's Strip Nona's" fame. Another hole-in-the-wall you might pass by without even knowing it, but you'll know the minute you step inside you're in a place that reveres great Italian food. The garlic and spices will have you drooling before you get seated. Excellent food, live entertainment and very romantic. After you pass the Presideo walking West along the Riverwalk, you'll pass the Esquire Bar then, just before you get to the flood gate, you'll see Delores del Rio. Stop in and tell Stefania we sent you.


Main China Restuarant [TOP]
124 N. Main Ave. [Map M]

Halfway between Houston and Commerce on Main is the Main China Restuarant. Voted best Chinese buffet in town, for $4.95 you can have as much as you want of about anything you'd ever want in a Chinese restaurant. Breakfast and Lunch only.

A'Hon Noodle & Grill [TOP]
430 W. Hildebrand [Map Q]

Technically not downtown, but so easy to get to and so good, I couldn't wait to tell you about this new discovery. Formerly a pizza place, A'Hon basically gutted the place and transformed it into a bright, open dining room. Recommended to me by several friends, I convinced the family to give it a try, Chinese being one of our favorites. Afterwards, they decided it was their new favorite Chinese restaurant. They insisted we go back the next day for more. Curiously, while we were there on our second visit in as many days, a friend came in for takeout and said her family had eaten there the night before for the first time too and her kids wanted it again for lunch. So, I guess you ought to plan on going back the next day once you try it. How many places can you say that about? Whatever you do, don't pass up the appetizers, particularly the Fried Shrimp Balls ($3.75), Shu-Mai shrimp filled dumplings ($2.75) and Spring Rolls ($2.75). They are worth the trip by themselves. We've only ordered from the lunch specials so far, but if everything else is as copius and delicious, you won't go wrong on any of the other entrees. The Mixed Grill Terriyaki special ($4.95) is plenty for two good size appetites... Opens at 11:30am, it's about half a block west of San Pedro, just behind the Jack in the Box on Hildebrand, right before you get to the railroad tracks. Tell them Nachi sent you. They won't know what you're talking about but tell them anyway and give them something to wonder about.

Home Cookin'

CDB Grill & Snack Bar [TOP]
615 E. Houston (Downtown Post Office 1st Floor) [Map R]
210-222-2244  225-0051 fax

If we didn't tell you about it, you'd never know it was there. When you've been on the road for awhile, no matter how good the restaurants, you're always ready for a little bit of homestyle cooking. Well, CDB is the place in downtown San Antonio. No frills-just good, home-style cooking at extremely reasonable prices (under $4!). In addition to the wide selection of sandwiches and salads you'd expect, every day there are 2 specials - from chicken n' dumplings, beef stew to chicken fried steak - served with a choice of 2 vegetables and bread. Meatloaf (just like Mom makes) is a staple every Thursday. They're open from M-F from 7am-2pm and deliver breakfast and lunch in the downtown neighborhood from 8-10:30 & 11-1. CDB's at the corner of Houston and Alamo so they're a perfect place to have breakfast or lunch before or after your visit to the Alamo. But get there early, the downtown crowd already knows about them and now the world does too!