The San Antonio Riverwalk, one of the most popular destinations in Texas, stretches approximately 15 miles from the city’s south side, to north of downtown near the San Antonio Museum of Art. But when people picture the San Antonio Riverwalk, they typically only picture the portion that stretches from the Rivercenter mall, to where the river bends westward, just under N. Presa St, a length of less than half a mile. This is the most popular, and by far the busiest, section of the river. It’s here that you will find bustling restaurants, bars, shops, and loads of tourists. And it’s also here that you will find the best restaurant on the San Antonio Riverwalk: Boudros.
Boudros is actually only just one of a number of really great restaurants on the San Antonio Riverwalk. But it is the only one located in the ultra-hectic section of Riverwalk that is detailed above. So while it may not *technically* be the tippy-top best restaurant on the San Antonio Riverwalk, it definitely is on the portion that everybody thinks of and visits when they come to San Antonio. Do yourself a favor and avoid the pervasive tourist traps that own this area and make a stop in at Boudros. Because it’s the best.
Boudros: The Best Restaurant on the San Antonio Riverwalk
Boudros is located on Commerce Street in downtown San Antonio, just two blocks west of the Rivercenter Mall. While Boudros can be accessed from the street level, the restaurant itself is on the river level between the Rio Rio Cantina and the Naked Iguana Riverwalk Bar. If accessing the restaurant from Commerce street, take the elevator down one level and then walk through the restaurant outside to the Riverwalk where you can check in to be seated.
Boudros does not have a parking lot, but it is located downtown near a number of parking garages. The Riverbend garage at the corner of Commerce St. and N. Presa St. is the closest garage available but is quite pricey at $30 for an hour or more.
From the street level Boudros is super easy to miss as it is in an unremarkable storefront of tan stone with dark red accents. There isn’t even a sign visible from the street (it hangs perpendicular to the street under the awning and can be seen from the sidewalk).
From the river level, the restaurant is housed in a green building with red shade umbrellas covering the large outdoor dining area. There are two seating areas, one next to the restaurant itself, and one directly along the river with some of the best views in the city. Be sure to make reservations if you want one of these tables, and then be prepared to wait.
Warning: while there is much to see while seated outside, the temperatures can be positively brutal in the summer which detracts from the whole outdoor experience. Best to enjoy the al fresco dining between October and May.
The indoor dining room smacks of a New York City bistro with closely placed tables, lots of dark wood, and a brightly colored vintage tile floor. There are two primary indoor seating areas separated by the bar (which you can’t sit at) and entrance to the kitchen. The front seating area is small but has a large floor to ceiling window where you can take in views of the Riverwalk, while still enjoying the comforts of air conditioning. The larger back seating area doesn’t offer the views but can accommodate more people and larger groups.
There are two reasons why Boudros is the best restaurant on the San Antonio Riverwalk (or the touristy part of the Riverwalk, that is) and the first reason is the service. We have been eating at Boudros for the past 20 years and in that time, have not seen the service ebb even once.
Service is consistently top notch with attentive servers who are both friendly and knowledgeable. They do an excellent job catering to tourists, while avoiding becoming a “touristy” restaurant with disinterested and harried staff who don’t have to make an effort to win patrons. And if you happen to be a local – they are pleased to attend to you as well and will do everything in their power to make sure you aren’t just a local, but a regular.
Reason number two that Boudros is the best restaurant on the San Antonio Riverwalk: quality food. My biggest complaint about this busy portion of the Riverwalk is that the food (nearly everywhere) is second-rate at best, and straight-up lousy at worst.
With the number of tourists swarming the Riverwalk, all of whom need to eat, it’s easy for the restaurants that are fortunately positioned along the river to fill their dining rooms. In fact, they don’t even have to try to earn people’s business. And that is woefully obvious in the quality of much of what you will find along the river. Does anybody actually want terrible Tex-Mex? I certainly don’t.
But Boudros is a refreshing exception to this rule. Simply stated, they care about their food. And that results in Boudros being a tremendous standout in an otherwise massively mediocre food scene. The menu at Boudros is a tribute to South Texas fare with a mix of gulf seafood and steaks, all of which are delicious and well balanced. You won’t leave hungry or disappointed when eating here.
Boudros is locally famous (and in some cases, famous statewide or even nationwide) for a number of items on their menu. Upon arriving, make sure and start the evening off with their signature cocktail, the prickly pear margarita. This refreshing blend of Tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice, and prickly pear cactus puree hits all the right sweet, sour, and salty notes, plus, it is a fun magenta color.
For your appetizer, the tableside guacamole for two Is. A. Must. I’m just going to go ahead and say it – Boudros has the BEST guacamole in the whole city. I know that’s a bold claim, but it’s a true one. The magic begins when your server wheels out the eye-catching guacamole cart and prepares the masterpiece while you and your table expectantly look on. Be prepared with a chip in hand because as soon as the guac hits the table, it’s every man for himself.
And, in the event that you simply don’t want to share all the yumminess, no shame in ordering guacamole for two – for one. Done it myself. Will do it again.
Finally, finish off your meal with the double chocolate brownie. This brownie sundae, with scoops of Azteca and toffee crunch ice cream, is utterly divine. While you could certainly enjoy an entrée (we love the shrimp and grits, coconut shrimp, the blackened or wood grilled fish fillet, as well as any one of their steaks), you could totally make a meal out of just the margarita, guacamole, and brownie sundae. And it would be a sensational night.
Boudros is consistently a quality restaurant. The river views are excellent, the service is terrific, and the food is reliably delicious. Boudros is, by far, the best restaurant on the San Antonio Riverwalk’s busy portion.
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