August 04, 2017 Slideshows » Food & Drink

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Where to Find San Antonio's 30 Most Essential Mexican Restaurants 

From the best breakfast tacos, to the reliable late-night stops to the kitschy Riverwalk restaurants, there are Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants on every corner in San Antonio. With a list that comprises both authentic Mexican and classic Tex-Mex favorites, here's a run down of the local spots you should have eaten at by now.
Taqueria Chapala Jalisco
1902 McCullough Ave., (210) 735-5352
This Tobin Hill gem relocated seamlessly to its new spot — cattycorner to its former — and still packs in followers. The breakfast tacos are huge and made-to-order and delish lunch specials don’t take a hit.
Photo via Instagram, tito3000
El Mirador
722 S. St. Mary’s St., (210) 225-9444
Now under new ownership (the same folks that gave us Esquire Tavern and Downstairs), El Mirador re-opened its doors in late December with artful new interiors, and delicate menu tweaks. The ginger-laced Diablo is as spicy as ever, and the patio is the perfect backdrop for a business lunch, brunch with pals or date night.
Photo via Instagram, rosepapi210
Los Balitos Taco Shop
Multiple locations, losbalitostacoshop.com
Whether you’re picking up for breakfast or stumbling in after a barhop, this popular 24-hour destination adds California influence to SA with killer burritos. Try the yummy over-the-top chile-relleno version, and at least six salsas at the restaurants formerly known as Los Robertos. The tortas are also delicious, especially the carnitas deshebradas.
Photo via Instagram, oscar.dehoyos.9
Ácenar
146 E. Houston St., (210) 222-2362
Rosario’s owner Lisa Wong paired vivid décor and haute Tex-Mex paired with romantic riverside seating and the bar’s dance floor sizzles on weekends. Try the grilled shrimp tacos and the citrus.
Photo via Instagram, hello_verlasso
Blanco Café
Multiple locations, blancocafe.net
This anchor of the homegrown chain serves massive Tex-Mex portions to happy weekend crowds. The just-right-greasy enchiladas are a fave of Current readers.
Photo via Instagram, braddieg21
Carmelita’s Mexican Restaurant
2218 Broadway, (210) 224-5540
A staple since 2003 for breakfast tacos and inexpensive lunch plates along Broadway, Carmelita’s is a family-owned oasis with great service.
Photo via Instagram, azaneth.a
Cascabel Mexican Patio
1000 S. St. Mary’s St., (210) 212-6456.
Cascabel will win you over with its interior Mex breakfast and lunch. The tiny South St. Mary’s spot offers an intriguing alternative to taqueria fare, with recipes from southern Mexico and light touches like silver napkin rings that set it apart from the Tex-Mex crowd.
Photo via Instagram, luna8190
Chacho’s
Multiple locations, chachos.com
The Monster Kong Nachos are loaded with four different types of meat: chicken and beef fajitas, shredded chicken and picadillo, and the quality is surprisingly good. Wash it down with a top-shelf marg or frozen Jack and Coke.
Photo via Instagram, dcunninghamsr4
Chisme
2403 N. St. Mary’s St., (210) 530-4236
That guacamole con chisme with cotijo cheese had genuine spunk the second time around. The straight-on queso that comes free with happy hour chips and salsa is just right. Note that the normal 4-6 p.m. happy hour is all day on Tuesday and take advantage.
That cochinita fared better on time two as well. Where before the slab of grilled pork had clearly met the sauce for the first time on the plate, this time the meeting may have been Tinder-quick — but there was at least a degree of compatibility; the orange sauce didn’t have the metallic tang of serious achiote, but it was reasonably convincing, and marinated onions added the necessary, vinegary accent.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the beef cheek barbacoa. The cachetes make for much less greasy barbacoa than is often the case.
Don’t skip dessert: I’m talking about the passion fruit and coconut tres leches. The flavors mesh beautifully — nutty and creamy against tart and fruity, the cake’s texture is almost custardy, and the plate is muy guapo to boot.
Photo via Instagram, hairstylist_gavin
El Milagrito
521 E. Woodlawn Ave., (210) 737-8646
Their cheese enchiladas are titans of Tex-Mex, topped with good, chunky gravy that indicates Milagrito’s guisada is also a cut above. But don’t stop there: the tortas and huaraches are not to be missed. The breakfast menu, served all day, merits a try, too.
Photo via Instagram, elmilagritocafe
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Garcia’s Mexican Food
842 Fredericksburg Road, (210) 735-4525
You can’t call yourself a true San Antonian unless you’ve enjoyed a brisket and guacamole taco from Garcia’s. Helmed by the Garcia family since 1962, this tiny nook on Fredericksburg is a piece of heaven in a plump tortilla.
Photo via Instagram, jacobfavian
Guajillo’s
1001 NW Loop 410, (210) 344-4119
Billed as SA’s only Mexico City kitchen, the entrees here are healthier and less Tex than Mex by any standards. Try the calabaza con mole verde, a sauce made with pumpkin seeds, cilantro and Serrano peppers. The chips, salsa, and desserts (arroz con leche, anyone?) are also worth a shot.
Photo via Instagram, kf5uni
La Fogata
2427 Vance Jackson Road, (210) 340-1337
There are several reasons to visit La Fogata: the arboreal wonderland of a patio, the tequila-laden margaritas, the friendly staff, the light starters, the hearty enchiladas … should we go on?
Photo via Instagram, curious_earwig
Taco Haven
Multiple locations, tacohaven.info
A Southtown staple for more than 30 years, the menu has expanded to include a few Tex-American dishes such as chicken-fried steak and burgers. But the award-winning infamous tacos such as the Torres Special: refrieds, bacon and guacamole, are still the biggest draw. Be prepared for a wait on Saturdays and Sundays.
Photo via Instagram,
La Fonda on Main
2415 Main Ave., (210) 733-0621
Monte Vista residents still flock to this institution for both traditional and forward-thinking Mexican fare. The duck or fish tacos or mole enchiladas are deliciously dependable. Sit outside whenever possible and put it on your short list for brunch spots.
Photo via Instagram, southernmamacita
La Gloria
Multiple locations, lagloriaicehouse.com.
Still a favorite for tourists and locals hoping to taste a little of Mexico, chef Johnny Hernandez’s first restaurant scores points with its tacos de alambre and tortas. Enjoy a house margarita on the icehouse’s airy patio at the Pearl or Dominion.
Photo via Instagram, lovelylisa1972
Los Barrios
4223 Blanco Road, (210) 732-6017
One of San Antonio’s most beloved Mexican restaurants (yes, that is saying a lot), Los Barrios’ exhaustive menu includes items like “the world’s only gourmet sour nachos,” 16 different Mexican dinner plates and several arguably more interesting dishes like the Nuevo Leon specialty Cortadillo Zuazua Style, juicy beef tenderloin stewed with veggies and spices.
Photo via instagram, m_ojile
Mi Tierra Restaurant & Bakery
218 Produce Row, (210) 225-1262
For those in the know, Mi Tierra is truly a wonder. The panaderia at the entrance alerts that this is the real deal. Then there’s the typical fare including some of the best menudo in town. An institution since its 1941 founding, Mi Tierra is one of the few places still open 24/7, holidays included.
Photo via Instagram, alicevictoriastar
Original Mexican Restaurant
528 Riverwalk, (210) 224-9951
Named for the “oldest Mexican restaurant in the United States,” this 24-hour River Walk spot capitalizes on a hungry touristy and late night crowd. The traditional Mexican menu features standards like quesadillas and enchiladas, but the margaritas and the river view are the star attractions.
Photo via Instagram, veggieology
Original Donut Shop
3307 Fredericksburg Road,?(210) 734-5661
This Fredericksburg Road institution is known for good breakfast tacos and outstanding doughnuts, but get there early. The dual drive-thru lanes pack cars a block up Fred, but the Current recommends eating in the diner-like pastry area. Try the cinnamon-filled bear claw.
Photo via Instagram, sarahledd
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Paloma Blanca Mexican Cuisine
5800 Broadway, (210) 822-6151
A perennial favorite in our Best of San Antonio polls for enchiladas and guacamole, Paloma Blanca showcases hacienda-inspired architecture and interior Mexican eats for an elevated dining experience. The menu offers traditional and updated versions of Mexican favorites, with standouts including the pollo asado, tacos al pastor and shrimp fajitas. Choose from a variety of margaritas to complement your meal, and don’t miss out on the signature pastel de tres leches for dessert
Photo via Instagram, janie_ur
Perico’s Mexican Cuisine
Multiple locations, pericosgrill.com
The hacienda-style chain has locations off Bandera, in Huebner Oaks and Sonterra, but you’ll find standard Tex-Mex at any stop. The calabacita con pollo is a standout. Make sure to wash it down with a Parrot Tail, a concoction of vodka, coconut rum, Triple Sec, Hypnotiq, cranberry juice and sour mix.
Photo via Instagram, tarasaurus62
Ray’s Drive Inn
822 SW 19th, (210) 432-7171
Puffy tacos and a certain San Antonio je ne sais quoi are the draws at this Westside establishment. Portions are large (bring the whole family), but remember to bring cash; our critics recommend the brisket and guacamole puffy tacos.
Photo via Instagram, hammertimez
Rosario’s Restaurant y Cantina
Multiple locations, rosariossa.com Lisa Wong’s other baby is a staple with the Castros and other power lunch-goers. The bright lights, big city cantina concept — aided by lots of concrete and a neon-lit faux palapa — and Tex-Mex add a certain buzzy feel to Southtown and the aesthetic reaches the northside location. Try the stellar fish tacos or the Mexican Caesar Salad with spinach, toasted pepitas, fried corn chips, roasted red peppers, tossed in a creamy chipotle dressing.
Photo via Instagram, pittena
Soluna
7959 Broadway, (210) 930-8070
Home of the Chispa, this Alamo Heights restaurant comes alive on weekends. Pour over the entire menu and work your way through it with several visits. We won’t judge.
Photo via Instagram, wheresck
Taco House
6307 San Pedro Ave., (210) 341-3136
In 2013, our critic proclaimed he never had better puffy tacos than the ones he found at this unassuming breakfast and lunch joint. He also highly recommended the arroz con pollo, which is so good that the weekly Wednesday special often sells out by noon.
Photo via Instagram, aqua_marie
Taco Taco
145 E. Hildebrand Ave., (210) 822-9533
A plethora of choices here but the best thing to order is of course, the namesake: tacos of all kinds, served on piping hot, homemade corn or flour tortillas. Conveniently located in Olmos Park.
Photo via Instagram, travstheman
Taqueria Datapoint
Multiple locations, (210) 615-3644 The food hasn’t lost its late-night street charms at this taco-truck-turned-restaurants. Current readers say you must try the gorditas, and our critics recommend the mini asada taquitos and chicken torta.
Photo via Instagram, monkey_616
Taqueria Guadalajara #1
2702 Roosevelt Ave., (210) 532-5500. Take comfort in surroundings that are puro San Antonio – Taqueria Guadalajara is Tex-Mex in a time capsule with all of the traditional favorites. The carne al pastor is a blend that rocks, as the pork, beef and onions are combined in perfect proportions.
Photo via Instagram, m__alondra
Metro Basilica 2
7627 Culebra Road, Suite 105 (210) 680-1412 Taco truck fare inspired more by DF than SA. Branch out to less familiar menu items like mulita (meat and cheese sandwiched between two thick masa tortillas), lengua and tripas, or stick with tried-and-true chicken quesadillas and asada tacos.
Photo via Instagram, karli230
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Taqueria Chapala Jalisco
1902 McCullough Ave., (210) 735-5352
This Tobin Hill gem relocated seamlessly to its new spot — cattycorner to its former — and still packs in followers. The breakfast tacos are huge and made-to-order and delish lunch specials don’t take a hit.
Photo via Instagram, tito3000
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