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Domingo Restaurante's tuna tostada.
One step off the elevator into the cozy lobby of Domingo Restaurante, and it’s clear that the recently opened downtown eatery could easily be written off as a special occasions-only establishment. Or a spot better suited to tourists.
The space on the river level of the Canopy by Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk hotel plays up the SA vibes with vibrant colors and lavish textures, from the stained concrete floor to the huge Chuck Ramirez prints on the walls.
But Domingo has distinguished itself by acknowledging that some locals don’t want to deal with the hassle of dining downtown. Perhaps wisely, it offers a locals-only discount to lure residents into its luxurious maw.
Turns out the food, with its fresh, high-quality ingredients and interesting — if not always entirely successful — approaches to Mexican staples, could prove a bigger lure than a markdown of its menu.
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Domingo Restaurante's Baja fish tacos.
An order of the house guacamole arrived quickly, but its texture was different from the usual tableside River Walk tourist pleaser. No chunks of red onion or tomato here, just simple, creamy avocado, lime and cilantro. Charred serrano chile provided a subtle, slow burn. The Caesar salad was pleasantly — that is to say, only slightly — fishy, the flavors of anchovy and garlic dressing fresh, crisp romaine lettuce. A generous helping of shaved cheese blanketed the salad like a layer of powdery snow, adding just the right amount of saltiness to the opening course.
Seafood was the ticket for lunch, and the Baja fish tacos and tuna tostada were largely successful on the flavor-meter, even if there were some missteps. Of the two, the fish tacos proved the standout. Generously embellished with the house guac and a Baja sauce reminiscent of spicy mayo, the three small tacos were messy but satisfying. The handmade corn tortillas offered a complex depth of flavor one typically doesn’t find on the banks of the Paseo del Rio, although the tortillas didn’t entirely make up for the fish, which was woefully overcooked. The garnish, vibrant red chili threads, probably didn’t need to be there but were pretty just the same. I still finished the plate, so clearly neither of those slights were dealbreakers.
The tuna tostada, while lovely to look at, was unwieldy to eat. The dish consisted of a tower of two tostadas, loaded with gorgeous sliced raw tuna, avocado, pickled red onions and pickled Fresno chiles. More avocado, cubed tuna and pickled stuff was sandwiched between the fried tortillas. Considering the sheer amount of fresh tuna, the $22 plate delivered bang for its buck. In the end though, it felt too much like an expensive, seafood-forward taco salad, where the only logical approach was to destroy the presentation to build a proper bite.
The cocktail offerings were plenty and varied. I sampled both the Oaxaca Colada and Passionfruit Margarita. The Colada, which features Mezcal, banana liqueur, coconut cream, lime and Angostura bitters, is served up. What hit me first was an ultra-boozy foam that brought the coconut and bitters to center stage. After the first sip, it felt like I was singing my nose hairs every time I exhaled. Thankfully, a straw allowed me to get past the foam and turned the experience around. I’m not usually one for banana or coconut, but once I figured out how to avoid the foam, the cocktail proved a delightfully balanced, upscale version of that quintessential summer sipper the piña colada.
The Passionfruit Margarita was fairly straightforward, offering tart, tangy tropical flavors via fresh lime juice, orange liqueur, passionfruit syrup and tequila. A frosty, dressed glass completed the journey, which overall, was an enjoyable experience.
Domingo’s River Walk location and menu items such as a Mexican hamburger and fried chicken suggest that even though it’s offering a discount to locals, its primary draw is to tourists. Even so, there’s plenty for locals to latch onto — at least enough to warrant an otherwise uncommon trek downtown.
23 N. St. Mary’s St. | (210) 404-7516 | domingorestaurant.com
Monday-Thursday: breakfast 6:30-10 a.m., lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m., dinner 5:30-10 p.m.; Friday: breakfast 6:30-10 a.m., lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner 5:30-11p.m.; Saturday: brunch 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m., dinner 5:30-11 p.m.; Sunday: bunch 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m., dinner 5:30-10 p.m.
Lunch dishes from $14-24, dinner entrees cap out at $38
Baja fish tacos, Caesar salad, house guacamole, Passionfruit Margarita
We get it, dinner and drinks downtown can be a huge production, when you factor in traffic, parking, reservations and the odd interaction with tourists. Domingo and its expansive river-level patio offer a respite that mostly works by paying homage to puro culture in everything from the atmosphere to the vibrant, fresh fare.
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