On a Mission: South Side Neighborhood Serves Up Homespun Drinks, Food and Charm

Sara Hinojosa
South Side neighborhoods possess some of San Antonio’s last remaining puro spots. You can find a limpia at the local botanica and stop at a taco truck in the parking lot on the way back to your car.

And as Southtown and the Lone Star Arts District continue their creep into the area, it’s important to recognize the neighborhoods’ family-owned gems — or even locally based chains — before they’re gone. Places where the food is good, the service warm and the portions generous.

No, the South Side neighborhood around San Antonio’s historic missions isn’t full of glitzy nightlife, but there are plenty of ways to explore it on its own terms. Here are a few you can fit into one evening.

Happy Hour at Nicha’s Comida Mexicana // Nicha’s is everything you want in a Tex-Mex joint: weekend mariachis, a menu as long as the Bible, some of the best rice and beans in the city and a happy hour that feels like you hit the jackpot. Share or indulge in a large order of appetizers — top choices include beef empanadas, chicken flautas and pulled chicken quesadillas — for $5. But the real bonus is the daily $4.50 drink special, available weekdays, 3:30-7 p.m. The plates are generous, and cocktails are served in fishbowl-shaped glasses as big as your head. 3119 Roosevelt Ave, (210) 922-3330, nichas.com.

Binge on Barbecue at B&B Smokehouse // Juicy with perfectly crisped skin, B&B’s smoked barbecue chicken is some of the best in town. Affordable options like the $7.79 BBQ plate, with a choice of meat and two sides, provide a tasty break from boring old Bill Miller. (Just kidding, Bill, I love you!) And you can sit comfortably in the smokehouse’s newly renovated digs. If you’re dining with picky eaters, B&B also offers decent tacos, chalupas, turkey clubs and salads. There won’t be leftovers, but you can even pick up scraps for your furry friend. 2619 Pleasanton Rd, (210) 921-2745, bbsmokehouse.com.

Movies and Margs at Mayan Palace // Relax post-BBQ binge with a good drink in hand at the Santikos Mayan Palace, just five minutes away from B&B. The recently upgraded theater boasts plush reclining seats, a full bar and superior Southside-appropriate snacks like the Mangonada, a classic San Anto frozen treat swirled with mango, generous amounts of chamoy and spiked with tequila. Drink cautiously, though, as it’s deceptively strong. If chamoy isn’t your thing, try a frozen rum and coke that tastes like your childhood Coke ICEE, all grown up. Night owls can catch a late show before heading to their final stop. Final screenings take place daily between 10:30-11 p.m. 1918 SW Military Dr, (210) 923-5531, santikos.com.

M&M’s Shaved Ice // Head to M&M’s Shaved Ice, down the road from the Mayan Palace, for a dessert nightcap. As the name suggests, raspas are a specialty, but M&M’s crew has gotten inventive by serving fun carnival treats like fried ice cream and funnel cakes. Try the deep-fried cheesecake sundae, a slice of homemade cheesecake dipped in batter and served alongside a mountain of ice cream. This is drunk food at its best. Purists can also find banana splits, classic shaved ice and fruit cups. For those who just aren’t dessert fans — do such people exist? — the menu also offers hot Cheetos and cheese, french fries and spicy pickled pepinos (cucumbers). 3203 Pleasanton Rd, (210) 519-1013, facebook.com.

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