This is Kayla, one of my dearest friends. She deserted me. Okay, I know that sounds a little bit over dramatic. But she up and moved to San Antonio a few years ago and ever since I’ve been trying to guilt her in to moving back. So far it hasn’t worked. But that is okay because it’s meant that I have gotten to visit her. And I really like it in San Antonio. Visiting a new place, and staying at someone’s house instead of in a hotel means that you see the area a little bit differently. Although we did go by the Alamo on one visit, we mostly skip the touristy stuff. Also it means that you eat some of your meals at home in pajamas. But honestly, what we do the most when I visit, is try to find places that sound too crazy delicious to miss. So today I am sharing some of my favorite places to eat in San Antonio. Some of these are chain restaurants that we don’t have in CA and some are local favorites. Either way, they are all delicious and I (we) think you should know about them. I’m also sharing some of Kayla’s other faves!
First off, there is a Sonic on just about every corner. Although there are few Sonics in So Cal, they are pretty few and far between. So for me, it is a very “Texas” thing (but I realize that they are all over a lot of other southern states as well). You simply must drive through and grab a drink at some point during your stay. My fave is the Sonic Sunrise, that is no longer on the menu but some will still make for you. It’s basically a cherry limeade with orange juice. And it’s YUM!
Kayla’s Tip: Sonic may have a Happy Hour between 2-4 pm daily which means half of drinks plus other discounts!
I’ve known this little cowgirl since junior high school although we didn’t get to be great friends until after we graduated from college. She’s a kindergarten teacher who has the biggest heart! She is a fantastic listener and gives me the best advice. She always lifts me up when I need it and calls me on my sh*t when I need that too. We love to be in our jammies and watch trashy TV together and I wish we got to see each other more often. Here is where I break in to “Wind Beneath my Wings”…
Another special thing about Kayla is that, just like me, she loves to eat. So leading up to my trips, we starting sending links of restaurants back and forth to each other and planning our visit around meals and snacks. I couldn’t wait to try out Max’s Wine Dive after she told me about their crazy good comfort food. It was too dark out by the time the food came to get pictures of it. But we ate fried pickles, these delicious potato chip nachos with bleu cheese, fried chicken sliders and Max n’ cheese. Yeah, we go hard. Their brunch menu also looked amazing. Ambiance is cool and this seems like a great happy hour option. I also remember getting some dreamy short rib sliders from Houlihan’s on a previous visit that I would happily order again. Kayla says they also have delicious martini and wine flights and fabulous desserts.
We did not eat at Hot Joy but I took a photo of it because it looked so awesome! It’s bright and colorful and the design is just plain fun. On first look, it seems like Chinese food but then I read about it in Bon Appetit. And it sounds even more awesome than I imagined. This is on my list for the next visit for sure.
Down the street from Hot Joy is Feast. We ate brunch here and of course had to start off with champagne cocktails. The interior of the restaurant is pretty small but there is a great patio out front that looked really fun. The decor has a mid century modern vibe with a touch of glam minus the kitsch. It’s just cool. AND THE FOOD!!!!! We started with sausage and moved on to biscuits and gravy and a fantastic almond french toast. I kind of wanted to see if I could hang out there until I was ready to eat again, but of course, I over ate and practically had to roll myself right out of there. This is where you should go with your girlfriends to celebrate someone’s birthday. They only take reservations for parties of 6 people or more so be prepared for a wait!
Kayla’s Picks for Brunch: 18 Oaks at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country
You absolutely have to check out the Pearl Brewery area. It’s a cool, industrial type area that they have made in to a destination for food and shopping. The buildings are cool, there is a communal and super friendly vibe and so many great options for eating and drinking.
Thank goodness there was a juice spot called One Lucky Duck for a nice counter point to all that over indulging. There is a really cool indie, food vibe here. Just take a look at their list of restaurants. There is also a culinary academy here so you know they aren’t fooling around when it comes to food. There are also some great little shops for browsing in while trying to make room before your next meal. Last time I was there they were expanding it even more so I can only imagine what they have to offer there now. This is one of those places where you can pop in for a quick meal or hang out for hours.
Um, La Madeleine. Why oh why don’t we have one of these by my house? I would eat there everyday. It’s a country french themed restaurant and the food is just really fresh and really good. On this day I had a trio of Monte Cristo sandwiches and a side salad. SO good. But the Strawberries Romanoff is the real reason I like to go here. It’s a bowl of delicious, fresh strawberries topped with a sour cream based brandy sauce! (It kind of tastes like this quick strawberry snack!!!) This would be the perfect place to take your family for breakfast or lunch since there are so many different options. This is a totally casual place similar to a Marie Callendars.
I want to be honest that I have not driven around Texas on a BBQ taste off. We just keep going back to Rudy’s because it is so delicious. It’s rustic, smokey, small and just what you want your BBQ joint to be. The brisket is out of this world. As is the creamed corn and don’t even think about not getting the peach cobbler.
Kayla and I have embarked upon many a cupcake tour. Kayla’s sweet tooth rivals my own. Some of those bakeries have closed since our last eat off so Kayla’s current pick for best cupcake spot is Gigi’s Cupcakes. And if you are looking for a different kind of treat, you HAVE to try Karen’s Kernels in Helotes. The flavored popcorn comes in the most amazing flavors like Dill Pickle and Key Lime. We’ve tried quite a few flavors and all of them are ridiculous. I wish Kayla would read this post and send me some…
*Updated to add: OMG! I forgot the TexMex! Geez. Kayla wants you to know that Chuy’s is the place to go for some good TexMex. It’s a chain so there are tons of locations to serve you (their first location was in Austin). Their queso is fantastic and in the bar at happy hour they have an all you can eat queso/salsa/nacho bar. She also says to try their jalapeno dip. It’s “seriously amazing” and addicting.
The Alamo Cafe (two locations) is home to Kayla’s favorite queso in town and also the best tortilla soup around.
And down at the Riverwalk there are tons of dining options. Kayla’s faves are Acenar for Mexican (I’ve been there with her and I concur!). They do a tableside guacamole service where you choose your favorite flavors and they make it to your specifications right at your table. They also do a queso flameado. And also Paesanos for delicious Italian!
Or maybe I should plan another trip to San Antonio. Have you been? What places do I need to be on my to-do list?