Where to get the best of San Antonio's diverse food scene

Gorge on traditional Texas barbecue, wrap spicy slow cooked meats in fresh tortillas at traditional Mexican spots or taste the new fusion cuisine sweeping the southern states. San Antonio, Texas is a go-to for gourmands for good reason.

Classic Mexican dishes are served all over San Antonio, Texas, a city with a proud Latin heritage and diverse food scene. 

Photograph by La Gloria Perla
By Tamara Hinson
Published 3 Feb 2023, 17:16 GMT

Travellers head to the Deep South in search of indulgent food, seeking sauce-drenched smoked meats and fiery Mexican delicacies. San Antonio, Texas is the ideal source of delicious southern fare — it’s one of only two UNESCO cities of gastronomy in the US, and the presence of the Culinary Institute of America San Antonio and newly launched Tasting Texas Wine + Food Festival have made it a magnet for food lovers. Visiting the city, travellers can indulge in its diverse range of cuisines at these favourite local spots.


Tex-Mex was born in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, when Texas declared independence from Mexico in 1836. Tejanos (Texans of Mexican descent) then introduced the US to Mexican cuisine and it didn’t take long before the US embraced their neighbour’s classic dishes, tweaked them and made them their own. Downtown San Antonio’s Mi Tierra Cafe is regarded by many as Texas’s finest Tex-Mex. Opened in 1941 by Pedro and Cruz Cortez, Mi Tierra is now run by their grandchildren, who’ve filled it with photos and paintings in homage to the place’s founders. Try their carnitas de puerco — pork slow cooked in orange and spices, its juices scooped up by fresh corn tortilla.

Where to try it: Mi Tierra Cafe, 218 Produce Row, San Antonio.


San Antonio is a mere 150 miles from the Mexican border — minutes in Texan terms. Its culture was born of a blend of the two nations, and its cuisine has followed suit. If you’re looking to taste authentic Mexican cuisine on your next US break, San Antonio is the perfect place to start. First, try the La Gloria Mexicana restaurants — their proprietor, Johnny Hernandez, went from selling tacos with his father in San Antonio to cooking for President Obama. He’s got three restaurants in the city, including La Gloria Pearl, next to the Culinary Institute of America, where travellers can tuck into piquant shrimp ceviche or indulge in dripping pots of queso fundido. Other places to sample authentic Mexican cuisine include Rosario’s Mexican Cafe Y Cantina in Southtown (try the chile relleno — a poblano pepper stuffed with beef and raisins) or try Original Mexican Restaurant, famous for its sopapillas — Mexican-style cinnamon beignets.

Where to try it: La Gloria Pearl, 100E Grayson Street, San Antonio.

Creative fusion foods born of San Antonio's diverse culinary scene include creamy coconut noodles served up ...

Creative fusion foods born of San Antonio's diverse culinary scene include creamy coconut noodles served up with green tomatoes and cheddar hush puppies moulded like Japanese mochi.

Photograph by Marla Segura


San Antonio’s barbecue scene has been shaped by multiple influences, including Texas’s meat-hungry German settlers. They brought with them entrepreneurial butchers, who carried on traditional European methods of smoking meats for preservation. These methods melded with the pit-style cooking techniques of African American farm workers, whose culinary heritage in the region has been influential since the late 1800s.

Today, San Antonio’s top barbecue spots include the 2M Smokehouse, famous for its pork sausages made with Oaxaca cheese. “What sets us apart is the fact that we do it the old-fashioned way,” says 2M Smokehouse co-owner and pitmaster Esaul Ramos, who’s racked up multiple James Beard Award nominations. “We’re about big chunks of meat and fire, and we take a real pride in our food.” If you’re somehow still hungry after a meaty meal at 2M, consider stopping by South BBQ & Kitchen for the St Louis pork ribs or add a Mexican twist and opt for the brisket tacos.

Where to try it: 2M Smokehouse, 2731 S WW White Rd, San Antonio.

Fusion food

San Antonio’s food scene is incredibly diverse— the city is one of the US’s most multicultural — and its influences stem from all over the world. One of its greatest imported cuisines is its Asian fusion scene, championed by the chef at Best Quality Daughter, Jennifer Dobbertin. Paying homage to her Chinese American roots, and her Texan upbringing, the restaurant’s unique take on the state’s favourite ingredients has landed Dobbertin a place on many esteemed ‘best new restaurants in the US’ lists. Stop in for unique dishes like mochi-style cheddar hush puppies or larb made with Texas oyster mushrooms, fresno chillies and pepitas.

Where to try it: Best Quality Daughter, 602 Avenue A, San Antonio.

Plan your trip

It’s easy to reach San Antonio from London Heathrow via gateways including Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and New York City Aiports (JFK/LGA). For more information on travelling to San Antonio and to book, check out the package trips at Travelbag


Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media:


Explore Nat Geo

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • History & Culture
  • Science
  • Travel
  • Photography
  • Space
  • Adventure
  • Video

About us


  • Magazines
  • Disney+

Follow us

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society. Copyright © 2015-2023 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved