It’s no shocker that the best Tex Mex in San Antonio is definitely not on the Riverwalk. Ask any San Antonio local foodie where to get amazing Tex Mex, and 10/10 they will definitely not direct you to any of the busy restaurants on the Riverwalk! BUT (you knew there was a but, didn’t you?) yes…there are times when you just need to eat Tex Mex on the Riverwalk. And if that’s the case, here are your best bets for food that’s actually pretty good. (Map below.)
Maybe you’re in San Antonio for a conference at the Henry B. González Convention Center, and you and your buddies want to get some margaritas at a patio table the Riverwalk tonight. Or maybe you’re visiting SA with your family and you want to bring the kids to a fun Tex Mex spot for fajitas and chips & queso.
Whatever the reason, there definitely are times when Tex Mex on the San Antonio Riverwalk hits the spot! So if that’s the case, here are some good restaurant options.
Disclaimer: The Riverwalk Doesn’t Have Good Tex Mex Food
So don’t say I didn’t warn you! There are plenty of places for AMAZING Tex-Mex in San Antonio if you’re willing to venture past this tourist zone. But again, I get it! Sometimes visitors just really want that Riverwalk restaurant atmosphere.
Keep in mind that Riverwalk restaurants are about quick turnover and high costs, so the salsa is often watery, the enchiladas are flavorless, the tequila bars are the main event (not a bad thing!) and the mariachi bands are loud. Again, there's a time and place!
Three Spots Near The Riverwalk With Great Tex Mex
I haven’t given up yet! I’m still going to try to persuade you to try out some of San Antonio’s best Tex-Mex restaurants. And you don’t have to go very far past the Riverwalk to get to them! In fact, you could probably walk to all three of these if you have a bit of time. Or just catch a (very short) rideshare.
1. Rosario’s ComidaMex and Bar // This is a longtime Tex Mex favorite in SA. It’s been around since the 1990s, and the New York Times has even featured it for its amazing Tex-Mex cuisine!
Rosario’s has live music every weekend and a fun, festive atmosphere. It’s a large restaurant with a lot of big tables, so it’s great for groups. And those sizzling fajitas are absolutely scrumptious. (No dry, over-cooked steak here…which is what you can often expect on the Riverwalk. Just telling you the truth!) |WEBSITE| 722 S St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX 78205
2. Mi Tierra Café y Panadería // You’ve most likely heard of this mainstay Mexican restaurant in downtown San Antonio. It's famous all over Texas! It’s at the historic market square, just about a 10 minute walk from the Riverwalk. And while it is quite popular for tourists, the food is leagues better than what you might find at the most crowded Riverwalk restaurants.
Mi Tierra has been owned by the Cortéz family since 1941. This large (almost overwhelming?) restaurant has all of your Tex Mex favorites. When you walk in, you'll be greeted by their incredible Mexican bakery, and just that alone can give you decision fatigue. So many options! Stop by for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, or drinks at the bar.
If the lines at Mi Tierra are insane, try going to... |WEBSITE| 218 Produce Row, San Antonio, TX 78207
3. La Margarita // Yet another hot spot Mexican restaurant in Market Square, La Margaritas is an excellent option for flavorful Tex-Mex favorites near the Riverwalk. The New Orleans-style building is a festive spot to sip margaritas, indulge in fajitas, or even try out their oysters, which is another menu item thing La Margarita is known for.
Oh, and another perk of La Margarita is that you can make reservations here. If you're on a tight schedule and you want to make sure you won't get stuck in a long line waiting for a table, go to their website and make your reservation in advance. |WEBSITE| 120 Produce Row, San Antonio, TX 78207
Bonus spot: La Fonda On Main // This one isn't walking distance from the Riverwalk, but it's one of the very best Tex Mex restaurants in San Antonio. If you want exceptional food, strong margaritas, and a beautiful ambiance, snag an outdoor table at La Fonda! |WEBSITE| 2415 N Main Ave, San Antonio, TX 78212
Best Tex Mex On The Riverwalk In San Antonio
Ok, ok….if you’re still REALLY determined to eat Tex Mex on the San Antonio river walk and all of my arguments haven’t convinced you to dine elsewhere, here are some of the best options for tacos, margaritas, fajitas, queso, and other Tex Mex favorites.
Keep in mind that south TX has much better tejano cuisine than what you're about to experience...but tourists gotta tourist sometimes. Eat, drink, and be merry!
Psst, a tip for eating at Riverwalk restaurants: unless you're committed visiting the Riverwalk at a certain time of day, see if you can stop by during happy hour. Almost every Tex Mex restaurant on the Riverwalk offers happy hour specials! Riverwalk prices are notoriously high. That's simply because this is a tourist spot where SA expects to make a lot of $$$...and they do!
So if you'd like to get half price margs, discounted apps, or maybe even make a meal out of the tacos and nachos on the happy hour menu, check out the restaurant's websites and then swing by during the hours just before dinner.
Ácenar is actually really, really good! It's not on the main loop of the Riverwalk tourist region, so you'll have to walk just a bit. But, yes, it is a Riverwalk restaurant! (See the map above.)
Ácenar is the brainchild behind two famous San Antonio restaunteurs (one from Rosario’s, mentioned previously, and another from Biga on the Banks, one of the best Riverwalk restaurants for American cuisine.)
Chef Richard Sanchez creates Mexican favorites with a Texas influence, which is, by definition, Tex Mex cuisine. But I'll say the menu leans more toward Mexican cuisine than it does Tex Mex. The seafood component is strong here, so if you love ceviche, fish tacos, or grilled snapper, this is the place to get them.
They offer lunch and happy hour deals, specialty cocktails, and multiple levels of dining that offer beautiful views of the Riverwalk.
Actually, that's one of my favorite parts about this restaurant: you can dine ABOVE the Riverwalk. Dining on the Riverwalk means that pedestrians are constantly walking inches from your table and dirty birds are landing nearby and trying to steal your chips. Ácenar's patio provides the same view, but in a calm, private environment.
2. Iron Cactus Mexican Restaurant and Margarita Bar
Iron Cactus, which is actually an Austin-based restaurant that opened a second location on the San Antonio Riverwalk, provides a calm, beautiful place to enjoy fajitas on the Riverwalk. One of my favorite things about Iron Cactus is that the outdoor patio has a guard rail with planters around it, so you can dine outside without pedestrians bumping against your table. It's a slightly more elevated and calm experience than something like Casa Rio, but it's also not quite as private as Ácenar.
Iron Cactus actually has an amazing tequila selection with 100 premium tequilas. (I mean, Margarita Bar is in the name!) If you want excellent margaritas that are shaken-to-order and won't make you feel like death the next day (looking at you, cheap liquor inside a 32-oz sugary marg), Iron Cactus can deliver. This is the place to go for a spicy watermelon or a prickly pear margarita. Or, if you're a true tequila nerd, try out a tequila flight or a mezcal flight.
While they call themselves a Mexican restaurant, the menu really leans more Tex-Mex with items like a pork tamale pops, a cheeseburger and fries, and hickory grilled salmon. Of course, you can also enjoy favorites like sizzling beef fajitas, tuna ceviche, and tres leches cake.
I wouldn't necessarily seek it out as one of the best San Antonio restaurants on its own...but if you're looking for good Tex Mex on the Riverwalk, it fits the bill.
Domingo is a modern terrace restaurant located steps from the San Antonio River. It's located inside the Canopy Hotel by Hilton, but it doesn't feel corporate at all.
They offer Mexican cuisine with a Texas flair. When you sit down, start with one of their signature cocktails, like an Oaxaca Colada with Banhez mezcal, coconut cream, and banana liquor, or a passion fruit margarita. The classic guacamole has a nice kick from the charred serrano chili, and the skillet cornbread with honey butter is a fun Texas twist to mix with a standard Mexican menu. Their tacos are knock-out amazing, served on soft, freshly made corn tortillas.
Domingo is all-around a beautiful spot to enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner on the Riverwalk. I believe this is some of the best Mexican food on the Riverwalk. As per usual with San Antonio restaurants located right on the water, expect riverwalk prices.
4. Casa Rio
Oh my gosh, Casa Rio is on this list?!
Yes. Yes it is. Here's why.
Sure, the food at Casa Rio is not exceptional. The salsa literally tastes like chopped tomatoes dumped in water. And the chicken tamales are so dry and flavorless that you'll need to heap sour cream and cheese on them to give them a bit of life.
But...Casa Rio is the oldest and most iconic restaurant on the Riverwalk. You'll recognize it when you walk by because of the colorful umbrellas. And it's kind of fun to actually dine at this institution.
5. Rio Rio, Rita's On The River, The Original Mexican Restaurant, and all the rest...
Basically, from here on out, there's not a huge difference in quality or ambiance of Tex Mex restaurants on the Riverwalk. If you haven't found one that strikes your fancy, just wander until you find one that looks good!
Some people also go off of wait time for tables. During peak hours (Friday and Saturday evenings) the queue for a table can get quite long. So if you don't have a strong preference, just walk around until you find one that can seat your party the fastest.
You could also choose based on menu and prices. Since this is a buzzing tourist region in San Antonio, most restaurants display their menus on the sidewalk patio so pedestrians can scope it out before choosing a restaurant.
And there you have it. While I can't wholeheartedly recommend eating Tex Mex food on the Riverwalk if you're looking for exceptional cuisine, I do understand the need to be a tourist sometimes.
If you're looking for the best Tex Mex near the Riverwalk, go to the top of this guide and read about the three best options that are only a short walk from the Riverwalk. The quality of food improves drastically when you step just a few blocks away!
And if you absolutely must dine on the Riverwalk, keep in mind that the food isn't going to be quite as good, but there are a few restaurants that have reasonable options. You'll pay Riverwalk prices, but you'll also get to enjoy eating by the water.
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