How To Make the Most of San Antonio Restaurant Week – 10 Tips!

With so much great food to experience in San Antonio, Texas, it can be difficult trying to budget for all of the stellar options that are available. If you are looking for a way to stretch your culinary muscles without going broke, San Antonio restaurant week is your ticket to exceptional food in quality restaurants without the pain of paying the full price.

With a little planning and preparation, plus our tried-and-true tips and tricks, you will be able to make the most of this bi-annual event by enjoying everything San Antonio has to offer.

San Antonio Restaurant Week

What is San Antonio restaurant week?

Culinaria is a local SA not-for-profit organization whose goal is to promote San Antonio as a premier wine and food destination. Each year they host two restaurant weeks, one in the winter and one in the summer, during which local restaurants will partner with Culinaria to offer special menus in order to attract new patrons.

These menus are typically three-course prix fixe menus priced at $20/$30 for lunch or brunch and $35/$45/$55 for dinner menus. Culinaria handles the advertising and promotion, and restaurants get a chance to drum up new business.

When is restaurant week?

San Antonio Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week typically occurs every year during the last two weeks of January and the last two weeks of August. For information on the next restaurant week including dates, click here.

What’s on the menu?

This will vary from restaurant by restaurant, but you can expect to get an appetizer, entrée, and dessert included in your prix fixe price. Most of the restaurants will have 2-4 options available to choose from for each course, and you can normally expect to find at least one vegetarian option in the mix.

San Antonio Restaurant Week

How To Win at Restaurant Week – 10 Tips

Do your research. There will be a bunch of restaurants that participate each time. We are talking 100+. Clearly, you can’t eat at that many restaurants in a two-week period (nor would you want to!).

Take the time to comb through the available restaurants and their special restaurant week menus and choose a few to visit. Just a few of the popular restaurants that have participated in the past include Bliss, Ladino, Maverick, and Battlion.

San Antonio Restaurant Week

Be adventurous. San Antonio restaurant week is a great opportunity to explore something new you may not have had before. Been hearing about that hot new restaurant you've been dying to try? Head there during restaurant week to get a great sampling of their standard fare.

Never tried Caribbean food before? There will likely be a few restaurants participating in restaurant week that dish our flavorful Caribbean cuisine and now could be the time to see what it is all about.

Make use of the more affordable priced menus to see what types of food you may have been missing out on for your whole life.

Take advantage of the lunch options. Many of the restaurants that offer both lunch and dinner prix fixe menus during restaurant week will either have the exact same menu for both meals or nearly exact, yet lunch prices will be considerably more affordable than the evening menu prices.

This has been the case for popular restaurants in the past such as Dough, Jardin, and Range. Utilize lunch to save a little money, while holding dinner times for some of the more expensive options.

Do the math and don’t just assume you’re getting a good deal. It’s easy to get all starry-eyed when you see that you can get a full three-course meal at a fine dining establishment like Up Scale or Kirby’s Steakhouse and just assume that you’re making out like a bandit. But keep in mind that restaurants will sometimes compensate for this profit loss by decreasing the quantity of food they serve in each course.

This happened to us when we discovered that an appetizer at a particular restaurant for its restaurant week menu was exactly half the amount of food it would have been had we ordered the same appetizer from their standard menu. While this isn’t always the case, just remember that you tend to get what you pay for and if you are paying less, you may just get less.

Leverage the really pricey restaurants that you may not be able to try on a regular night. Restaurant week is a great time to visit those pricier restaurants that you tend to hold in reserve and only go to for special occasions. With the prix fixe menu, you can know exactly what you are getting ahead of time and what you will be paying, which means you are less likely to experience sticker shock at the end of the evening when the bill arrives.

Make reservations. This one should go without saying. But San Antonio restaurant week can be a very popular time to eat out and restaurants will fill up. Make those reservations well ahead of time, a few weeks ahead if possible, and avoid the disappointment of being turned away from crowded eateries.

Mind the upsell. Since the goal of restaurant week is to attract new business which occurs at the expense of profits, restaurants will try to offset this by including upsells in their menus, oftentimes for alcohol. Be aware that that beverage pairing offer will come with a price tag you’ll be on the hook for at the conclusion of your meal.

Get what you want, even if it isn’t on the San Antonio restaurant week menu. It sometimes happens that a person will select that perfect restaurant for restaurant week, make their reservations, and arrive only to realize that they are in the mood for something different than what is on the restaurant week menu. Don’t give in to the restaurant week pressure and end up regretting an evening out.

At the end of the day, you’re paying for it, and you should enjoy your meal. So if something on the standard menu (which is commonly available even during restaurant week) is more appetizing to you in the moment – go for it! Better to leave satisfied and happy, than disappointed over a meal that just wasn’t what you wanted after all.

San Antonio Restaurant Week

Don’t sweat it if you miss it. Even with four weeks of chances to participate in restaurant week, it doesn’t always fit into everybody’s schedules.

You can still visit your preferred restaurant and save a little cash by going at lunch, ordering less food, splitting with your party, or looking out for year-round specials that the restaurants may offer. Don’t feel like you missed your only chance for a bargain, just get creative and you’ll still be able to enjoy a night out without breaking the bank.

Be kind. Business increases a lot during restaurant week and restaurants will be busy. While restaurants do prepare for this, the extra crowds can sometimes translate to slower service or order mishaps. Showing some grace and a little kindness to restaurant staff when things don’t go just to plan can be the breath of fresh air that they need to gather themselves and turn the evening around. 

Black Restaurant Week San Antonio

San Antonio Restaurant Week

Photo Credit: Kelly Martin

While not exactly part of the Culinaria SA restaurant week, Black Restaurant Week San Antonio is also a must-not-miss. This event, sponsored by the Tim Duncan Foundation, seeks to get the word out regarding black-owned eateries in the Alamo City.

Participating restaurants (of which there were nearly 30 last year), will host special food events in which $1 from each purchase made will go to support the San Antonio Food Bank. This means that Black Restaurant Week is a great time to experience the contributions of Black-owned businesses to the SA food scene while also supporting the entire San Antonio community.

For more information, including dates, please visit the Black Restaurant Week San Antonio website.

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