My rose of San Antone
July 5, 2006 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend any good restaurants and interesting attractions in San Antonio?

I'll be in San Antonio for about four days for a conference, and hope to have some free time to do some good eatin' and sightseein'. I've been to S.A. several times, but not for years and not as a semi-rational adult, so I'd love to get your suggestions.

I found this list on the website of the San Antonio Visitors' Bureau (sort of a greatest-hits kind of page, but some potentially interesting stuff on it), so I guess I'm looking for something a little off the beaten track. I will also most definitely be revisiting the great Buckhorn Museum, which when last I saw it was in shabbier quarters.

I'm mostly interested in the following:
- good Mexican food
- good barbecue
- bookstores
- interesting, weird local attractions.

I will be staying on the campus of Trinity University, and I'm not certain where that is in relation to downtown. I will not have a car, though a friend may be renting one for a day. (We may head out to the Salt Lick if we have the time.) Walkable or bus-able sites would be best.

posted by Dr. Wu to Travel & Transportation around San Antonio, TX (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Native here (though I've been gone since I was a kid) family is crazy about Jacala for Mexican food, especially the puffy tacos. Casa Rio is fun if only for its nice Riverwalk location.
posted by justonegirl at 9:10 AM on July 5, 2006

My favorite place in SA is Acenar, which is on the riverwalk, but quite a bit south of Trinity University. If the weather's nice, though, I'd expect you could walk downtown. Casa Rio is an old standby there, but I think the food is crap.
posted by mattbucher at 9:10 AM on July 5, 2006

Rudy's BBQ is my favorite.

Whenever I'm back in town, I hit up Half Price Books. It's a chain, but they usually have a pretty good selection at good prices.

The Witte Musem has some cool stuff sometimes.

Enchanted Rock is sort of far away, but worth the drive if you like outdoorsy stuff.

For cheap mexican, Taco Cabana is a must. That's the single biggest thing I miss about south Texas! It's not the "best" but it's cheap and awesome.
posted by nitsuj at 9:19 AM on July 5, 2006

Schilo's Deli, though it is neither Mexican nor BBQ. You want the root beer. It is the platonic form of root beer of which all other root beer is a pale imitation.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:22 AM on July 5, 2006

Oh, and from that list, I'd check out Market Square.
posted by nitsuj at 9:22 AM on July 5, 2006

If you're at Trinity University, you are in walking distance of Brackenridge Park. Be sure to walk over to the zoo area. Even if you don't want to go to the zoo, you can catch the aerial tram there to the Sunken Gardens, which is really cool.

Trinity is also fairly close to the trendy neighborhood along North St. Mary's Street: restaurants, bars, little shops, etc. Allow yourself some time to wander around there.
posted by Robert Angelo at 9:45 AM on July 5, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone - these are just what I was looking for!
Please keep 'em coming!
posted by Dr. Wu at 9:49 AM on July 5, 2006

Salt Lick is but a pale imitation of Kreuz Market in Lockhart. There you will find the apotheosis of Texas BBQ. A place whose brisket is so incredible that they don't bother offering sauce, sides, or even forks for that matter. It's that good.

Beware that once you have tasted this brisket, forever will it rule your destiny! You have been warned!
posted by popechunk at 10:03 AM on July 5, 2006

At the Liberty Bar I had lunch at a table right next to Tommy Lee Jones. They also had this gorgeous looking coconut cake that I have regretted not trying ever since.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:51 AM on July 5, 2006

Seconding Jacala's for good Mexican food and Taco Cabana for good Mexican fast food (I miss their breakfast tacos and chicken fajita nachos).

Casa Rio's food is crap but it's the oldest restaurant on the River Walk.

El Mercado isn't far away and can be interesting shopping-wise (cheap and funky).

There are four other missions in San Antonio besides the Alamo and they're interesting to visit if you're into history.

The Buckhorn museum is a hoot if you like that sort of thing.
posted by deborah at 12:03 PM on July 5, 2006

We had a really good breakfast at Guenther House last month. Food is tasty, the historical house provides a little interest, and the location on the river ws nice, although the wait for a seat was really long at 11am on a Sunday. The nearby neighborhood has some beautiful houses if you walk back towards the riverwalk area.
posted by babar at 3:19 PM on July 5, 2006

Staying at Trinity you're approximately 3 miles from downtown. A half a mile east of trinity is the zoo, brackenridge park and sunken gardens. Unfortunately the sunken gardens are under construction currently. From trinity, I'd recommend walking south on St. Mary's for about 3 blocks to Candlelight coffeehouse. I'd pick up a copy of the Current once you arrive to see what's going on during the week. In case you don't want to rent a car, you can pick up the #7, sightseer special bus from the zoo, it runs continuously from the Zoo to the Alamo and downtown area throughout the day. The King William district is a lovely neighborhood south of downtown, the Guenther house restaurant is located in that neighborhood. If you're here during the first friday of the month they have a neighborhood block party/art walk from 5 until 11. Once you arrive downtown I'd recommend taking one of the rio san antonio cruises tours to get a brief history of the city, see the riverwalk and figure out places you'd like to come back to later. For great Mexican food I'd check out Rosario's, they own Acenar restaurant that was mentioned above but they're not as touristy as Acenar. Other than half price books the other main local bookstore is The Twig, located on Broadway. The best place for BBQ would be Rudy's, the original Rudy's is located near Boerne, about a 25 minute drive from where you're staying. I know this is a lot of info, but I used to be a concierge in this fine city. For unusual sights you can't beat the toilet seat museum. Have fun and just try not to fall into the river.
posted by vionnett at 4:43 PM on July 5, 2006

Second on the recommendation of breakfast tacos from Taco Cabana. I hate* San Antonio and the 12 years that I lived there, but that is the single thing that I miss. Best: bacon-egg-n-cheese breakfast tacos!

For a great burger - and the best fries in town - try Chester's.

For ribs or steak: go to Tom's Ribs (and try the cheesy potato-skins)!

*Well, "hate" may not be the right word. More like "loathe." Heh...
posted by davidmsc at 6:25 PM on July 5, 2006

The missions are all close together-- unlike CA's-- and a good day trip.
The SA museum of art.
posted by brujita at 10:02 PM on July 5, 2006

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