If you live in San Antonio, you’re probably an expert at this whole River Walk thing by now. For years, the San Antonio River Walk has been the epicenter of downtown activity and the heartbeat of San Antonio’s unique culture. In fact, a recent study by the Paseo Del Rio Association revealed that the River Walk accommodates over 10 million guests every year, most of whom are out-of-town tourists and guests.
For as long as San Antonio has existed, the river has always been a central point of activity. Composed of charming cobblestone paths and lined with award-winning local businesses, the San Antonio River Walk has become iconic, literally paving the way for many other river projects in other states and cities.
If the River Walk is known for excellence and variety in one thing, it’s undoubtedly the food. From Mexican to American to Italian fare, the San Antonio River Walk has the answer to your appetite! This hotspot of downtown culture has plenty of classic options, as well as some lesser-known local digs. Read on to discover some of our favorite spots, including several from off-the-beaten path.
Genre: Cuban Fare
Located inside the beautifully renovated Hotel Havana, Ocho’s is a hidden gem. This Cuban-inspired restaurant and bar is a local favorite for both its delicious food and relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy tapas and drinks in either the upstairs dining room or the downstairs lounge. Eating in the upstairs dining room gives you the option of outdoor or indoor seating. The menagerie-style glass room is a lovely place to enjoy Ocho’s famous Cuban sandwich. Downstairs offers a more intimate meeting spot with leather chairs and velvet couches. Stop in for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an evening bite!
Genre: fine dining
If you’re looking for a classic San Antonio experience, you can’t go wrong with Biga on the Banks. This restaurant was voted the best River Walk eatery on Zagat and was recently featured in Texas Monthly for its “new American cuisine.” Their menu is seasonal, meaning you’ll only be served the best and freshest ingredients. The elegant atmosphere overlooks the scenic San Antonio River Walk and is perfect for dinner for two. Afterward, you can stroll the banks of the San Antonio River and take in the atmosphere of the downtown scene.
Genre: Contemporary Mexican
If you’re truly looking for Mexican with a twist, look no further than Acenar! This restaurant has been called “most innovative contemporary Mexican restaurant and bar on San Antonio’s River Walk”. Upon entering the restaurant, you’ll be struck by the colorful, modern interior. Known for its unique take on tex-mex fusion, Acenar is sure to awaken your inner foodie! Owner Lisa Wong (who also gifted San Antonio with Rosario's) has created a menu filled with “killer food” (Zagat) such as Buttermilk Fried Oysters, the Young Texas Goat served with Ancho Salsa Ranchera and the Duck Crepes.
Genre: Classic Tex-Mex
If we were to describe Mi Tierra in one phrase, it would be this: one giant fiesta. Part restaurant, part bar, part bakery, and all colorful, Mi Tierra manages to serve up fun and deliciousness in every area! Open 24/7 means that you can stop by for breakfast tacos or for a late-night bite. Known for its over-the-top decorations and atmosphere, Mi Tierra ensures that you won’t leave without a Texas-sized smile on your face.
Genre: American Fare
Though The Esquire might not look like anything special from the outside, we guarantee you’ll feel right at home as soon as you walk in the front doors. As the oldest bar on the River Walk, The Esquire has long been a San Antonio favorite. This “quintessential downtown bar” opened in 1933 to celebrate the long, dry prohibition era. Part hipster and part historical, The Esquire also serves delicious American fare that can only be described as “gourmet soul food”. Stop in for a cold beer, swanky cocktail, or bowl of chorizo mac & cheese.
Genre: Italian specialties
If you’re walking the River Walk and find yourself craving Italian, look no further than Zocca! This authentic Italian kitchen offers an elegant, yet relaxed environment. Whether you’re looking for a fresh salad or a rich pasta dish, you’re sure to be satisfied at Zocca, which is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beyond. Plus, gluten free guests don’t have to miss out on the Italian fun! Zocca offers many gluten free options, including pancakes, pasta, and flourless chocolate cake.
Genre: American fare
Intimate, elegant dinners are best enjoyed at the Fig Tree Restaurant. This historic building offers dining on a terrace that overlooks the River Walk, as well as traditional menu that’s executed with excellence. Enjoy steak, seafood, and beyond at this San Antonio River Walk classic.
Genre: American fare
If you’re looking for a unique, yet casual dining experience, The Cove is definitely a San Antonio local favorite you need to try. Known for delicious gluten-free burgers, this place is also famous for its unique atmosphere. The Cove also acts as a music venue, hosting local entertainment, live music, and more on a regular basis. Adding to its unique flair, The Cove is also a Laundromat and carwash with picnic-style seating. The menu is surprisingly healthy, including grass-fed beef, farm-fresh ingredients, etc. If you’re new to San Antonio, you need to check this place out!
Genre: Old world/New Orleans
If you are interested in the foodie scene in San Antonio, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Lüke, the hit restaurant by celebrity Chef John Besh. Originally from New Orleans, Besh is known for using farm-fresh ingredients in new, innovative ways. A blend of German, French, and New Orleans seafood, Lüke offers everything from cold seafood to jumbo shrimp. Our tip: try the oysters. You won’t find anything like them in Texas!
Genre: Fine dining
Whether it’s a special occasion or you’re just in the mood for an elegant dinner, you can’t miss Las Canarias! Las Canarias is fine dining at its best. Both luxurious and relaxed, this restaurant is located inside the Omni La Mansion Del Rio hotel. Featuring fine wine, high-quality cuisine, and an upscale environment, Las Canarias was voted Readers’ and Critics’ Choice for Best Hotel Restaurant by the San Antonio Express News in 2012.
Genre: Old-school American Fare
A relatively new addition to the downtown dining scene, Restaurant Gwendolyn has already captured the attention of critics and locals all over the city! Gwendolyn’s approach to food is certainly unique...all their dishes are created using methods and recipes from before the 1850s. Cozy and romantic, this venue offers a pre-fixed menu that changes daily. Many of their ingredients are sourced locally and prepared by hand. Restaurant Gwendolyn is certainly worth checking out!
Genre: Mediterranean fare
Imagine sitting outside on a warm evening, listening to piano jazz float by and sipping on a glass of vino while a river calmly trickles in the background. Sound like Europe? Close! The closest thing to Europe in the San Antonio area is Bella on the River, a River Walk favorite! This romantic destination specializes in food from the southern coast of Europe. Flavors of roasted garlic, lemon, and olives prevail in these authentic Mediterranean dishes. We recommend the paella!
The San Antonio River Walk is arguably one of the most important elements of our city. Creating thousands of jobs and contributing over $3 billion dollars annually to the local economy, the area is integral to tourists and residents alike. Downtown’s sense of local pride and cultural identity are centered around the beautiful, unique San Antonio River Walk. Whether you’re a high-class foodie or just like casual dining, we guarantee you’ll be able to find something you love on the River Walk. But we hope you don’t just take our word for it...we recommend heading downtown to taste and see for yourself!
More River Walk Dining Options:
1909 Bar & Bistro
Boudro’s Texas Bistro
Charlie Wants a Burger
County Line BBQ
Dick's Last Resort
Hard Rock Cafe
Houston Street Bistro
Little Rhein Steak House
Lone Star Cafe
Luciano Ristorante Italiano
Mad Dogs British Pub
Original Mexican Restaurant
Ostra on the River Walk
Paesanos River Walk
Paloma River Walk
Rio Rio Cantina
Texas Land & Cattle Steakhouse
The Republic of Texas
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