20 iconic San Antonio bars and restaurants everyone should try at least once
San Antonio residents are lucky to live in a vibrant culinary destination. From Texas-style barbecue to fiery Sichuan food and almost everything in between, our restaurant scene is full of great dining options.
To narrow things down, we complied this streamlined list of must-visit spots — places that are iconic either for their ambiance, their history or their excellent eats. Whether down-home or upscale, all these restaurants and bars qualify as both delicious and culturally significant.
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Photo via Instagram / deadlywritr
1111 S. Alamo St., (210) 227-1187, liberty-bar.com
Housed in a restored convent, Liberty Bar’s bright, window-filled space makes for a naturally gorgeous spot to dine in, whether it’s for brunch or late at night. The food and drink are definitely the main draws, but the ambiance sure isn’t anything to shake a stick at.
Photo via Instagram / earlabelssa
1639 Broadway, (210) 444-9424, earlabelssa.com
Can you say you’ve explored the San Antonio diner scene if you haven’t been to Earl Abel’s? Considered a staple in the Alamo City, the restaurant is known for home-cooked dishes like meatloaf, pork chops and fried chicken.
Photo via Instagram / matthewmauldon
La Fonda on Main
2415 N. Main Ave., (210) 733-0621, lafondaonmain.com
A classic for Tex-Mex and interior Mexican fare since 1932, longstanding La Fonda on Main is just one of those spots every San Antonian needs to dine at — ideally sooner rather than later.
Photo via Instagram / thefriendlyspot
The Friendly Spot
943 S Alamo St., (210) 224-2337, thefriendlyspot.com
Southtown’s largest outdoor food and drink venue, The Friendly Spot, marries “friendly eats & drinks,” outdoor sports viewing and weekend DJ sets for a seriously laid back vibe that's a must-try.
Photo via Instagram / thejerkshack
The Jerk Shack
117 Matyear St., (210) 776-7780, facebook.com/thejerkshacksatx
A consistent mention in restaurant roundups, folks keep coming back to the West Side’s Jerk Shack. Both a Black-owned and veteran-owned eatery, the restaurant offers wild flavors, hefty portions and good eating.
Photo via Instagram / mrs.a_w15
Niki’s Tokyo Inn
819 W. Hildebrand Ave., (210) 736-5471, facebook.com/nikis.tokyo.inn
Incredibly authentic with tatami-style seating, Niki’s Tokyo Inn is a solid choice for genuine Japanese eats. Diners can take a seat on the floor or grab a stool at the bar and enjoy freshly-made sushi and other classic Japanese dishes in this cozy eatery.
Photo via Instagram / cp2_unique_designs
218 Produce Row, (210) 225-1262,mitierracafe.com
Mi Tierra needs no introduction. Pedro and Cruz Cortez opened a three-table cafe in 1941, serving farmers and workers in the mercado. The rest, they say, is history. The now-famous landmark has seen much success, being a go-to for locals and tourists alike.
Photo via Instagram / kimdparker73
424 E. Commerce St., (210) 223-6692, schilos.com
Founded in 1917, this South Alamo Street saloon wasn’t phased when prohibition hit the Alamo City. The deli quickly replaced their booze kegs for ones filled with the family’s smooth, creamy root beer. Authentic German fare and ambiance have kept this place famous for over 100 years.
Photo via Instagram / cherritybar
The Cherrity Bar
302 Montana St., (210) 598-0496, cherritybar.com
Beloved East Side joint Cherrity Bar is known for its Japanese comfort food and philanthropic mission. The bar features charity cocktails of the month along with rotating recipient charities. Sakes, local draft beer options and ramen are the stars of the menu that offers plenty of vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian options.
Photo via Instagram / 2msmokehouse
2731 S. W.W. White Rd., (210) 885-9352, 2msmokehouse.com
2M Smokehouse cooks out of their own love of barbecue and the proof is on the plate. Seasoned and smoked to perfection, their menu offers all the barbecue must-haves as well as daily specials Thursday through Saturday.