The Best Foods to Try in San Antonio

San Antonio is (rightfully so) associated with killer Tex-Mex cuisine and BBQ. And while this list of the best foods in San Antonio isn’t short on Tex-Mex, tacos, brisket, and more tacos, the Alamo City has a few culinary surprises up its sleeve, too. 

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Midsection Of Woman Having Food At Home
Manjurul Haque / EyeEm / Getty Images

The (neverending) search for the perfect taco in San Antonio is riddled with delicious flavors, crispy homemade tortillas, the freshest salsas, and true tender love and care. Locals are passionate about their tacos, and there’s a ridiculous wealth of taquerias to check out when you’re in town. Still, there are some tacos it would be a crime to miss out on: the Machado a la Mexicana at Cascabel Mexican Patio, the crispy lengua (that’s beef tongue for all you monolinguals) at Los Roberto’s Taco Shop, and the brisket tacos at Garcia’s, to name a few. Your life will be forever changed.

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Courtesy of La Gloria

A handmade dish that’s popular in traditional Oaxacan cuisine (and a staple food in San Antonio), tlayudas are not unlike a Mexican take on pizza. Crunchy, thin, partially fried tortillas are covered with a spread of lettuce, avocado, refried beans, spicy salsa, crumbled cheese, and strips of meat. They’re generally served open-faced but at times are served folded in half, as well. At La Gloria, take your pick from tlayudas with shredded beef, chicken, beef, and asiento (unrefined lard, yum), or black beans. It’s pure deliciousness, and so much better than American pizza. 

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For those times when you sipped one too many margaritas the night before (hey, when in Texas!) and you need to soak up the liquid in your belly, San Antonio’s waffles are here to save your life. For a sweet breakfast treat, get the Strawberry Sweet Cream Waffle at The Guenther House. This light, fluffy, Belgian-style concoction is topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, and it’s to die for. 

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Puffy Tacos

Henry's Puffy Tacos

Courtesy of Henry's Puffy Tacos

Tacos again? Honestly, we can’t mention tacos enough, as far as we’re concerned—and no list of foods to try in San Antonio would be complete without mentioning puffy tacos. Instead of using hard, flat, fried tortillas, several San Antonio restaurants serve tacos on fluffy, soft, puffed-up tortillas. To make puffy tacos, cooks deep-fry uncooked masa dough, which then puffs up in the hot oil; once cooked, the shells get filled with ingredients, and then you eat them immediately. Head to Henry’s Puffy Tacos or Ray’s Drive Inn for some of the best puffy tacos in town. Yum!

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Steak Tartare

Though it may not be your first foodie impression of San Antonio, the city’s French dining scene is on point. For the Francophiles out there, there are several excellent options and must-get dishes—and yet, steak tartare takes the top spot. (After all, Texas is known for producing quality beef, in case you hadn’t heard.) At Bistr09, order the steak tartare; silky, delicious, and braced by horseradish and capers, this tartare is the real deal. 

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Mexican Tripe Soup - Menudo
cislander / Getty Images

A comfort breakfast food, an iconic family meal in Mexico, the world’s best hangover cure...Menudo is many different things to many different people. The main ingredient in this traditional Mexican stew is chopped-up cow stomach, yes, but don’t let that deter you (after all, is it any weirder to eat cow carcass?); menudo is a must-try dish when you’re in San Antonio. A typical menudo recipe will include a rich broth that’s made with hominy, chile pepper, and other seasonings, along with the cooked cow stomach, of course. There are tons of places that serve menudo in town, but Nicha’s Comida Mexicana and Sazon Mexican Cafe are solid choices. 

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When it comes to tamales, nobody does it better than San Antonio. Made from a mixture of masa (corn dough) and filling, then wrapped in a banana leaf or corn husk and steamed, tamales are easily one of the single most tasty food items on the planet. Pay a visit to the Del Rio Tortilla Factory, Adelitas Tamales & Tortilla Factory, or Granny’s Tamales for traditional tamales; or, try the barbacoa, brisket, and wood-smoked tamales at So. Tex BBQ.

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Tostada Mixta

Tostada Mixta

 Courtesy of El 7 Mares

Seafood In San Antonio? Why not! The Alamo City isn’t far from the Gulf Coast, and there are plenty of local places that serve some mighty tasty fish dishes. Tostada mixta, which typically contains shrimp, crab, octopus, avocado, and pico de gallo, is a great way to sample lots of different seafood at once. Get the Super Mixed Ceviche Tostada at El 7 Mares, a seafood smorgasbord loaded with every type of fish imaginable, along with hot serrano peppers and freshly made pico. 

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Twice-Fried Chicken Wings

It’s not a trip to San Antonio without sampling some fried chicken. And at Hot Joy, the fried chicken wings are made with cilantro, peanuts, and crab fat caramel—trust us, this dish is unlike any fried chicken you’ve ever tasted. But, if you prefer your chicken smothered in gravy and accompanied with a generous helping of fries and mac and cheese (hey, no judgment!), try Radicke’s Bluebonnet Grill, Chatman’s Chicken, or Hop & Vine. 

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Pan Dulce

Mexican Conchas sweet bread
agcuesta / Getty Images

And finally, when you’re hankering for something sweet, pan dulce is just what the doctor ordered. Don’t know about pan dulce? You’re missing out! Spanish for “sweet bread,” pan dulce is a slightly sweet, rich egg bread that’s topped with a patterned sweet dough made out of shortening, butter, flour, and sugar; it’s a big deal in the Alamo City. Try Mi Tierra, Panifico Bake Shop, or La Panaderia for their insanely delectable pan dulce, perfect with a cup of strong black coffee in the morning (or really anytime).