Image Courtesy of SACurrent.com
“Who has the best salsa in town?”
Ask this question to a crowded room of Texans. I dare you. Watch the room erupt into loud opinions, dogmatic arguments, and an eventual spiral into anarchy...
Okay, maybe this is a slight exaggeration. BUT, we do know that in the great Tex-Mex capital of America, a simple question like “Where was the breakfast taco invented?” can cause major controversy. And because almost everyone holds some kind of strong opinion about the best taco, best margarita, and best salsa, the Best Of San Antonio 2016 is the perfect opportunity to showcase this sort of passion.
Every year, the San Antonio Current offers up a collaborative voting and nominating process where the good people of the Alamo City are invited to eat, drink, play, nominate, vote, and ultimately choose the best and brightest restaurants, parks, bars, bookstores, and breakfast tacos. If you have an opinion about it, there’s likely a category for it: from "Best Margarita" to "Best Place to Take Your Tinder Date", San Antonio showed up on a massive scale, decisively and deliberately playing favorites.
Image Courtesy of MySanAntonio.com
The results are below: as explained by the SA Current, “What you hold in your hands (or read on your screen) is a massive ode to the majority vote.” The winners have been declared, and (to make things a little easier for the average resident) we’ve grouped them according to neighborhood Spread out over the following 7 distinct areas are the winners of various categories: "Around Town," "Shopping," "Food & Drink," and "Nightlife." What hidden (or incredibly popular) gems are near you? Keep reading to find out...
Northwest + Outer West
The spots west of I-10 seem to have a penchant for great International food, boasting the winners of “Best Indian Food”, “Best Thai Restaurant”, and “Best Chinese”...not to mention the obvious bias towards Mexican and Tex-Mex (the winners of “Best Tamales/Barbacoa”, “Best Nachos”, and “Best Puffy Taco” also reside in this area).
Several specialty stores also excelled in the western part of the Alamo City: musicians, gamers, and comic book aficionados will find the pinnacle of expertise and variety at the “Best Musical Instrument Store”, “Best Comic Book Shop” and “Best Video Game Store”.
In the “Around Town” category, the western edge of the city proved its ability to work hard, play hard, and relax: scoring “Best Place to Work” (thanks, USAA!), “Best Barcade”, “Best Non-Fiesta Festival”, and “Best Med Spa”, among others.
Ray’s Drive Inn, winner of “Best Puffy Taco”; Image Courtesy of TwoFatBellies.com
Far North + North Central
When it comes to food, northern San Antonio does the classics best. Winning everyone’s all-time favorite food and drink, the northern edge of the city took the prize in “Best Pizza”, “Best Nachos”, “Best Steakhouse”, and “Best Coffee”. We also noticed the abundance of mouth-watering Asian food: taste the pad thai at the “Best Thai Restaurant”, an order of maki at the “Best Sushi” spot, and a savory banh-mi at the “Best Vietnamese” place in town.
After you’ve enjoyed a delicious meal or top-notch latte (thanks, Local Coffee!), northern San Antonio invites you to take care of yourself: after a calorie-blasting workout at the “Best Gym”, head to the “Best Hair Salon”, “Best Barbershop”, or “Best Nail Salon” and spruce up for a night out on the town…
Because lest you fear that the only thing to do up north is look good and eat great food, San Antonio Best also proved that this area has plenty of nightlife to enjoy: the Best Karaoke spot, Best New Bar, and Best Comedy Club are all available for your entertainment.
The Bang Bang Bar, winner of “Best New Bar”; Image Courtesy of the SA Current
Downtown San Antonio
Downtown San Antonio seems to shine the most via the nightlife scene. If you’re looking for an evening silhouetted by the city skyline, head south of I-35 when the sun sets and the bars open. No matter your preferred scene or vibe, we can pretty much guarantee you’ll find a winner that suits your style. Cheer for your team at the “Best Sports Bar” (or the “Best Place to Watch the Spurs”), order a Manhattan at the “Best Cocktail Bar”, or get lost in the music at the “Best Dance Club”. Other nightlife winners include the “Best Dive Bar”, “Best Local Brewery”, and the “Best Wine Bar” in town.
Besides incredible cocktails, the heart of the Alamo City also boasts the best of local tourism and culture. Head downtown for the “Best View”, “Best Tourist Attraction” (you guessed it: The beloved River Walk), the “Best Fiesta Event”, and even the “Best Place to take your Tinder Date”! The local favorite Mi Tierra also cleaned out with two awards: “Best Menu + Pan Dulce”, as well as the “Best Bathroom to Sneak Into during Fiesta”.
A Night in Old San Antonio, winner of “Best Fiesta Event” ; Image Courtesy of MySanAntonio.com
Midtown: The Pearl + Brackenridge + Monte Vista
Considering the curated, top-notch Pearl Brewery complex is located in this area, we didn’t expect anything less than excellence from this part of San Antonio. Both family-friendly and romantic, upscale and accessible, the blocks stretching north of downtown up to Hildebrand Ave seem to hold a bit of everything. From “Best Place to Take the Family” to the “Best Music Venue” to the “Best Place to Take a Date”, Midtown is the very definition of versatile. Enjoy fine food by ordering the “Best Charcuterie” or a classic home-cooked meal of the “Best Chicken Fried Steak”.
This area also seems to have a serious sweet tooth: the “Best Ice Cream” isn’t far from the
“Best Bakery” and the “Best Raspas” in town. If you’re in the area before 11am, you can also hit up Candlelight Coffee for San Antonio’s “Best Brunch” and “Best Place to Drink in the Morning”...and if we’re talking drinks, we have to recommend the “Best Cheap Drinks”,
Besides excellent food and drink, Midtown does a fine job expressing San Antonio’s famed family-friendly vibes: shop around at the “Best Farmer’s Market” for some fresh local produce and the “Best Children’s Store” for some fun and games...not to mention the outdoor fun of the “Best Swimming Pool” and “Best City Park + Playground”.
Bakery Lorraine, winner of “Best Bakery”; Image Courtesy of tmg-photography.com
Uptown: Alamo Heights + Terrell Hills
As the quiet, classic refuge in the eastern-central belt of San Antonio, Alamo Heights and its uptown charm holds its own on the San Antonio Best list. Besides serving up fine liquids (“Best Coffee”, “Best Juice”, and a spicy rendition of the “Best Michelada”), this area once again proves its romantic spirit: here, you can wander the stacks of the “Best Used Bookstore”, exercise your green thumb at the “Best Plant Nursery”, and peruse inspired artwork at the McNay, which effortlessly claimed the prize as “Best Museum”.
Cheever Books, winner of “Best Used Bookstore”; Image Courtesy of Texas Public Radio
Southtown + King William
Just south of downtown, the happy combination of Southtown and its close neighbor King William boast one of the most unique sections of San Antonio...as seen by its San Antonio Best winners. From the decadent King William Manor Historic Inn (“Best Bed & Breakfast”) to the “Best Place to Nurse a Hangover”, King William’s historical charm fuses with Southtown’s off-the-wall art scene to create a delightful sense of diversity...because while you may not find a Nordstrom Rack down here, you sure as heck can find the “Best Place to Get a Pinata”.
Hipsters and professionals alike flock to the “Best Food Truck” and “Best Yoga Studio”, while art lovers can head to the “Best Gallery”, and anyone can volunteer at the city’s “Best Nonprofit”. While you’re down here, grab a round of the “Best Salsa” or order a drink from San Antonio’s “Best Bartender”.
Southtown Yoga Lofts, winner of “Best Yoga Studio” ; Image Courtesy of Groupon
Northeast San Antonio
Though it may be sparser than the other areas, we can’t forget about our beloved Northeast San Antonio! Hunt for treasures at Bussey (the “Best Local Flea Market”), and bring along your cowboy boots for the “Best Country Dance Hall”.
While we were able to pin down many of the San Antonio Best winners, some had more than one location to go around...below are a few establishments that likely have a location closeby no matter where you are. From Whataburger (“Best French Fries” + “Best Late Night Eatery”) to Rudy’s (“Best BBQ”), these Texas companies have proved to be vital pieces of San Antonio’s culture. Others include Best Wings, Best Seafood, Best Smoke Shop, Best Bike Shop, Best Thrift, Best Discount Store, Best Liquor Store, Best Florist, Best Tanning Salon, Best Place to get Pampered, Best Movie Theater
If reading these descriptions has sparked your interest in a specific part of San Antonio, explore SA neighborhoods here! Whether you’re an espresso junkie who wants to live next to the Best Coffee Shop or simply an eager parent seeking to live in your favorite school district, our agents would love to help you find the location that best suits your lifestyle. And, you can download our FREE Buyer’s Guide with valuable information about finding a REALTOR®, connecting with lenders, making an offer, closing costs, and way more.