August 04, 2017

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.
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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