Is Shiro Japanese Bistro the Best Restaurant in San Antonio?

In 2023, the San Antonio Express News made waves when they published their annual article on the top restaurants in San Antonio. Shiro Japanese Bistro, the restaurant that received the top honor of “best restaurant in San Antonio,” managed to beat out some of the more well-known culinary big dogs like Mixtli, Cured, and Clementine.

Given this herculean feat, it was a total surprise to many that the winner wasn’t a familiar name at all. In fact, many seasoned SA foodies were totally unfamiliar with Shiro, which opened toward the end of 2020, making it a total pandemic restaurant anomaly. 

Shiro Japanese Bistro

Perhaps even weirder than its lack of name recognition, was the fact that it was a Japanese bistro. For a city that majors in Texan/Mexican/BBQ/New American flavors, San Antonio is not at all known for its pan-Asian flavors. So, this felt like a gutsy claim. 

Could a Japanese restaurant in south Texas really top the likes of our James Beard semi-finalist institutions? I had to find out for myself. 

Shiro Japanese Bistro


Shiro Japanese Bistro

Shiro Japanese Bistro is located in San Antonio’s river north area. Technically it is on the San Antonio Riverwalk, but not the part that you would ever just happen upon if you were visiting the city. The touristy part of the Riverwalk is smack dab in the middle of downtown and bustles with shopping, restaurants, river barges, and pricey hotels. 

The river north area doesn’t have any of the crowds and noise that people usually think of when they think of the Riverwalk. It is quieter and more peaceful – which feels like a fitting place for Shiro as it seems to be going for a totally zen experience, in both food and ambiance.  If you are after those river views, be sure to grab a seat on their patio which does look out over the river across to the El Camino food truck park.

Shiro Japanese Bistro

Shiro sits in the lower corner of an apartment building, across the street from the San Antonio Museum of Art and the popular garden bar, Elsewhere. 


Shiro has dedicated parking spaces (cheer!) for its patrons. If you are headed to Shiro Japanese Bistro, you can use the apartment’s parking garage and park in one of the restaurant’s designated spots. Just be sure to snap a pick of the QR code before exiting the garage as your server will need to input a code into your phone which will give you 3 hours of free parking. No code, no parking.


You could drive by Shiro a million times and not know a restaurant is located there. The nondescript storefront is overshadowed by the balconies of the apartments and is easy to miss. Look for red awnings, dangling white sheets, and a seriously tiny sign with Japanese characters on it. 


Shiro Japanese Bistro

Shiro’s interior is on the smallish side with tables that form an L-shape around the sushi bar. The décor is a mashup of industrial finishes, modern art, and clean Asian lines. 


Shiro Japanese Bistro

Shiro’s service is absolutely impeccable. Our server had been with Shiro Japanese Bistro from its inception, and he clearly felt a measure of pride about the restaurant. He was knowledgeable about the menu, was quick to offer suggestions, and was prompt and friendly without being overbearing. 


Shiro Japanese Bistro

There is really nothing I can say to better capture Shiro’s food other than: omigosh! It is utterly divine.

We sampled a variety of dishes the evening we visited including the hot line crispy gyoza (delightfully spicey and surprisingly filling), thin sliced pork belly (which was so tender it fell apart in my mouth), sushi (the slap happy crab and shrimp tempura roll was on point), and the beef teriyaki spread (which included miso soup, a green salad, matcha soba noodles, kabocha squash, rice, and shiitake mushrooms which, incidentally, were the BEST mushrooms I have ever eaten). 

Shiro Japanese Bistro

Everything was perfect. Perfectly executed, perfectly presented, perfectly tasty. Truly, I didn’t have a single complaint except that there were so many menu items that I wanted to try and didn’t have room for.

In addition to small plates, chef special plates, and sushi rolls, Shiro Japanese Bistro also boasts a stellar nigiri menu. Just plan ahead (as in, take a look at the menu beforehand) so you know what to order because the nigiri takes a little bit longer to prepare. 


The verdict: Shiro is a powerhouse that comfortably sits among the best of the best in the Alamo city.

Shiro Japanese Bistro

I hesitate to crown Shiro the “best restaurant in San Antonio” simply because I hesitate to crown ANY restaurant in San Antonio the “best.” There are simply too many fantastic restaurants and talented chefs preparing innovative and amazing dishes that to say one is at the top just doesn’t feel right.

What does feel right, however, is giving Shiro its rightful due and placing it squarely among the best of the best in SA. Shiro is doing everything splendidly and the restaurant adds another wonderful dimension to the foodscape in San Antonio. 

And who knows, maybe someday our city will be known for its Asian flavors, and should this happen, I have no doubt Shiro will be considered the godfather of the cuisine.

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