Visitors to the San Antonio Riverwalk have long enjoyed the lovely views and history of the city, but have been disappointed by the quality and options of the mostly touristy restaurants that line the banks of the San Antonio river. Thankfully, with the emergence of the Pearl Brewery as a culinary hotspot, as well as the rapid development of Southtown area restaurants, there are now countless options where people can enjoy a fantastic meal just a few minutes north or south of downtown. So read on for our recommendations on where to eat in Southtown (or click here for a list of the best restaurants at the Pearl Brewery).
Where is Southtown?
Southtown, also known as the King William neighborhood, lies just south of San Antonio’s downtown area and is known for the historic, beautiful homes that were built in the 1800s and have been restored and preserved.
Today, many of those houses are still private residences, but some have also been converted into businesses and restaurants making Southtown not just a great place for the views, but an absolute food goldmine.
We’ll be honest, this is the biggest headache of the entire dining experience in Southtown. There are only a few (so, so few) restaurants in the area that offer dedicated parking, and given the popularity of Southtown, street parking can be a veritable nightmare - especially on the weekends when people are out and about. So take this into consideration. You will likely need to spend some time driving around the side streets looking for a place to park and this can eat into your available time.
Unless otherwise stated – as in the case of Bliss and Battalion – you can assume that the restaurants on our list do not have parking lots and you will be required to find a place to park on the street nearby.
And if not nearby, just look at it as an opportunity to walk off some of the delicious calories you will be enjoying during your meal.
Where To Eat In Southtown
Food: New American
Bar Loretta opened its doors in the summer of 2021, moving into the 100-year-old building that previously housed the immensely popular and cherished Madhatter’s Tea House. For 20 years, Madhatter’s was the go-to place in the King William neighborhood for a coffee with friends, so news of the restaurant’s closing and the announcement that a new restaurant would take its place, was met with sadness and skepticism that anything could live up to the previous occupant of the building. Obviously, Bar Loretta had some big shoes, or shall we say a big hat, to fill. And fill it, Bar Loretta has.
Bar Loretta offers a beautiful marriage between its food and cocktails, and the rustic-chic (and, in homage to Madhatter’s, sometimes quirky) interior design of the restaurant. Loretta’s indoor dining spaces are varied and unique, with each room, or in some cases, nook, differing from the next. But all are connected by the charms of the aged building like its unusual layout and hardwood floors.
Food at Bar Loretta is just as varied as the building itself. Bar Loretta serves upscale modern Texas cuisine with delicious entrees like the Grilled Tomatillo Shrimp, Peppered Beef Tenderloin, or the near-perfect Loretta Burger with mouthwatering crispy prosciutto. Each appetizer and entree we tried was absolutely exquisite in both presentation and flavor. But whatever you choose to order, DO NOT MISS the Fancy Cheese Board, Bar Loretta’s take on charcuterie. The assortment of bread, cheese, fruits, and nuts is a lovely testament to the restaurant - beauty, variety, and flavor - all in one location.
Finally, Bar Loretta also offers a ginormous cocktail list (which is apropos, given the name of the restaurant). Wines, beers, and house cocktails are all available, with a highlight being their extensive whiskey and specialty whiskey cocktail offerings.
Little Em's Oyster Bar
Little Em’s Oyster Bar is the original restaurant brainchild of husband and wife team, Houston and Emily Carpenter, two of San Antonio’s busiest restaurateurs. Little Em’s, which opened its doors back in 2021, smack dab in the middle of the global pandemic, managed to find great success, launching the owners into a restaurant opening frenzy that has yet to cool down.
This highly instagrammable restaurant is housed in what was formerly a gas station, but today is noticeable for its sleek white lines, blue awnings, and bursts of pink. The satiny-white, clean interior of the restaurant, while simple, is equally chic and stylish – the perfect place to sip champagne and enjoy some oysters.
Photo Credit: Facebook Little Em's Oyster Bar
And if you come to Little Em’s, that’s exactly what you should do. The menu is all about the seafood, and not surprisingly, is very oyster heavy with 10+ different varieties of oysters to sample. Guests can also enjoy a number of other seafood dishes including mussels, tuna tartare, and a Maine lobster roll.
You won’t go thirsty at Little Em's. Regarding the bubbly, Little Em’s has 12 different types of champagne available to choose from as well as a number of other wines and beers. When it comes to where to eat in Southtown, Little Em’s is an all-around solid choice.
Food: New American
Bliss is a chef-owned and operated upscale, New American restaurant. Prior to its opening as a restaurant, Bliss was a gasoline-filling station and while the layout of the building still hearkens back to the original occupant, the food at Bliss is anything but gas station quality.
Bliss’s rotating menu focuses on seasonal ingredients and usually includes a number of seafood dishes such as scallops and red snapper, as well as Texas-inspired bistro options like quail, short ribs, and beef tenderloin. Whatever you choose to order, be sure to ask for a wine pairing recommendation from Bliss’s enormous wine list, which has options to fit every taste and budget.
While not inexpensive, Bliss is perfect for a date night or celebration dinner. And for those looking to take it up a notch, check out the Chef’s Table for a 7-course tasting menu priced at $150/person.
One thing that Bliss has going for it over and above nearly every other restaurant in Southtown is its parking lot. Bliss’s dedicated lot means that guests are guaranteed a free parking spot they won’t have to spend lots of time in search of. Less time walking means more time enjoying a lovely meal.
Maverick Texas Brasserie
Food: French American
Maverick Texas Brasserie, one of the best restaurants in San Antonio and one that absolutely should be on your list for places to eat in Southtown, is a modern eatery outfitted in industrial décor – think exposed bricks, steel beams, a shiny copper cocktail bar, and Edison bulbs galore. But don’t think for a second that industrial means uninviting. Maverick pulls off industrial plus cozy and comfortable with flair. In fact, each room is decorated to exude a different feel which means that any way you turn, you will be met with design perfection.
But it’s not just the restaurant that screams perfection. Food at Maverick is an utter delight as well. The menu is a French/Texas mashup with entrees like the Au Poivre Burger, Trout Almondine, and mouthwatering beef tenderloin. And with a seasonally rotating menu, flavors and dishes are changing constantly which means there is always something new to try.
Maverick also offers a daily plat du jour, a 3-course meal with a salad, entrée, and dessert. The entrees change daily and you can see the options on their online menu.
Don’t miss their weekend brunches on Saturdays and Sundays between 10 am and 3 pm. The Chicken and Waffles and Brown Butter and Brioche Doughnut can’t be missed.
When it comes to tapas, Hola! may just be the best that San Antonio has to offer. This new(ish) restaurant celebrates its one-year anniversary in May of 2023 and features a bar with a large selection of Spanish wines, and an outdoor dining patio with views of the Tower of the Americas.
Menu-wise, tapas are king with more than 30 varieties of Spanish tapas to choose from. Prices ranged from a reasonable $5.00-$9.00 per plate and were pretty heavy-handed on the portion size, which was a pleasant surprise and a departure from the much smaller portions we have seen at other tapas eateries.
If headed to Hola!, we recommend taking advantage of the price points by ordering a variety of dishes to try. A few of our favorites included the Baked Cheese, Beef Empanada, and Moorish Lamb – a Moroccan lamb stew served with flatbread that was both very filling and delicious with smoky flavors. You can polish it all off with a chocolate truffle dusted in cinnamon cocoa (just don’t inhale at the same time you eat it or you will inadvertently experience the cinnamon challenge – ask us how we know!).
Disclosure for parents: Hola!’s décor was on the saucier side with artwork on nearly every wall of women in various states of undress. So parents may want to consider what they are comfortable with before loading up the kids and taking the whole family to dine there.
The Good Kind
When it comes to lunch options in Southtown, you can’t go wrong with the Good Kind. With a focus on fresh comfort food, meals here are created from responsibly grown, locally sourced ingredients, prepared by James Beard Fellow and Food Network Chopped Competitor, Chef Tim McDiarmid.
The Good Kind’s menu leans heavily on sandwiches, salads, tacos, and bowls. It’s the “good kind” of food that you want to eat, but nourishing and sustainable. Fan favorites from the menu include gluten-free fish tacos and mozzarella bites.
The Good Kind offers both indoor/outdoor dining, as well as takeaway options. If you are eating in, be sure to check out their outdoor garden lounge, which hosts regular live music, markets, and other pop-ups, and has great views of the San Antonio city skyline.
Stella Public House
Farm-to-table pizza and craft beer: the perfect Friday night. And at Stella Public House, it’s not just for Friday nights, but for every meal.
Stella Public House’s “farm-to-pizza” concept means that every pizza you enjoy at Stella includes ingredients sourced from the restaurant’s partnerships with local growers and ranchers. Their super fresh pizzas are then baked in their wood-fired Italian oven, resulting in that perfect crust char and delicious flavor.
While Stella has 10+ specialty pizzas available, if you are looking for the best, give Southern Hospitality a try. This hefty BBQ pizza is topped with tender pulled pork and smoked brisket, jalapeños, red onions, and BBQ sauce with a mango serrano drizzle.
And if pizza isn’t ringing your bell, Stella also has a number of small plates, appetizers, and entrees to choose from. Make sure and pair any dinner with a selection from their impressive bar menu. With more than 15 craft beers on tap and 10 house cocktails, there’s never a reason to leave thirsty from Stella Public House.
Located in a historic building at the entry to Southtown, Battalion has made its mark as a solid Italian restaurant in San Antonio, and THE best Italian in Southtown. This fire-station-turned-modern restaurant boasts delicious food served in a buzzy and contemporary atmosphere.
While you won’t find any new takes on Italian food at Battalion, the “Italian classics done right” concept is more than winning. Battalion’s menu, which is a very traditional Italian menu, includes antipasti, primi, insulate, and pasta options, all served up at a reasonable $12-$14 a dish. Those looking for a heartier meal can select from their main entrees which include, among other things, eggplant/chicken parmesan, a pepper-crusted pork chop, and a NY strip.
Battalion is another one of those rare Southtown eateries that have a dedicated parking lot. And in Battalion’s case, it has a decent-sized one. That said, come early if you plan to nab a spot because the later you wait, the busier the restaurant gets, and you are way less likely to find a parking spot, let alone a table.
Pharm Table’s chef has one goal – to achieve bodily balance by eating well. So, chef Elizabeth Johnson has carefully curated a restaurant that ensures that only the best ingredients go onto the plates, and then into the mouths of her guests.
Pharm Table is an *almost* vegetarian/vegan restaurant that uses local ingredients to prepare dishes of the highest quality, without skimping on taste. Guests in the hunt for dairy, processed sugars, and refined wheat will be disappointed to learn that these foods have been purposely avoided in preparing dishes to avoid any chance of harmful or damaging ingredients entering peoples’ bodies. But Pharm Table’s able team has worked such wonders with their chosen ingredients that you aren’t likely to miss that bread or cheese if you even happen to notice its absence in the first place.
In addition to taste and health, the food at Pharm Table is also quite lovely to look at. Since we eat with our eyes first, Chef Johnson has gone to great lengths to prepare visually stunning meals that will draw guests in. From start to finish, there is nothing quite like Pharm Table in the whole of San Antonio, which is why it is one of the most unique dining experiences in the city.
Rosario's ComidaMex and Bar
Rosario’s is THE place to go for Tex-Mex eats in Southtown. The restaurant opened up its doors in 1999 and over the years has been featured in Southern Living, Texas Monthly, and the New York Times for its exceptional Tex-Mex menu and lively atmosphere (you can catch live music here every weekend).
Rosario’s menu is an absolute beast with pages of mouth-watering Tex-Mex favorites including Tacos Norteños, Griselda’s Tacos Callejeros, and Enchiladas Suizas. If you are in the mood to share, check out the parrillas, and fajita dishes that come out sizzling and splittable. Rosario’s is a great place to bring your big group for dinner – it has a large seating area and a menu that can accommodate just about any need or taste.
The Station Café and Filling Station Taproom
Food: Sandwiches, soups, salads
If you are asking, “Where should I eat in Southtown?” we could simply answer that question by saying, “at a gas station.” Seriously, it is mind-blowing how many restaurants on this list were formerly gas stations. And the gas station-turned-really-good-restaurant fad continues with the Station Cafe.
Opened in 2006, this artisan sandwich restaurant and taproom has expanded over the years to include both the old Texaco station and the adjacent building where scratch-made sandwiches and pizzas, as well as craft beer and ciders, are served up to hungry lunch go-ers in search of a simple, but tasty midday meal. Don’t expect fancy at the Station Cafe, but do expect consistent and scrumptious.
The Station Cafe has more than 30 hot and cold sandwich options, all under $8/sandwich. Favorites include the Jalapeño Roast Beef, Turkey Chupacabra, and Garlic Roast Beef. Soups, salads, and pizzas are also available if you prefer the non-sandwich route.
Food: Fine Dining
Emily and Houston Carpenter are back with their second Southtown eatery, Up Scale. Up Scale is a fine dining restaurant located in the building previously occupied by the popular and quirky restaurant Feast, which closed pre-pandemic in 2019. After ditching the outrageous, sometimes kitschy, décor of the previous occupant, the Carpenters redesigned the space in keeping with their minimal-yet-chic aesthetic found at Little Em’s. Blush pink velvet booths and modern tiered chandeliers makeup Scale the perfect place for a little fancy in Southtown.
The name of the game at Up Scale is Caviar. Just about every dish served at Up Scale has caviar in it or added to it – even the desserts! A few of our menu faves include the wonderfully tangy Nigiri (try a couple of different kinds), the Caviar Deviled Eggs, and the creamy Lobster Tagliolini (with caviar, surprise!). For dessert, you can try the Caviar Cheesecake (though we question whether cheesecake needs caviar in the first place), but we recommend the decadent flourless Chocolate Cake, sans caviar thankfully.
The Friendly Spot
Food: Bar and pub grub
The Friendly Spot is the place to eat in Southtown if you are looking for that old-school icehouse experience. It’s as much a community gathering place as it is a bar. There’s a fenced-in playground, an inflatable screen for Spurs games, and lots of leashed pets, making the Friendly Spot exactly what the name implies.
As you might expect from any icehouse, beer is what The Friendly Spot does best with more than 300 bottles and can brew choices and 76 options on tap. The food menu is pretty straightforward bar food (fries, wings, nachos, etc.) that is good, though not great. But it’s not really the food you come for – it’s the ice-cold beer, the relaxation, and perhaps above all, the friends.
Boozy's: Creamery + Craft
Photo Credit: Facebook Boozy's Creamery + Craft
Food: Ice cream
Alcohol-infused ice cream: need we say more? Boozy’s Creamery + Craft is an adult ice cream shop with an array of drunken desserts, alcoholic coffees, and sober sweets for the kids (who are only welcome until 8 pm when Boozy’s becomes a full-on bar). Boozy’s is a fantastic stop-off for a nightcap dessert after your main meal in Southtown.
Guests to Boozy’s can drunk-ify any number of milkshakes, ice creams, coffee drinks, or craft blends. And, since the ice cream menu rotates on a very regular basis, there is always something new to choose from. A few long-term favorite options at Boozy’s include King William – a mix of vodka, kahlua, chila horchata, and sweet cream poured over ice cream – and the Boozy Affogato – any choice of boozy ice cream with an espresso pour-over.
Food: Upscale Mexican tasting menu
Mixtli (pronounced MEESH-lee, and means “cloud” in the Aztec language) is a Mexican restaurant, and one of the most unique dining experiences in San Antonio, that offers a seasonally rotating 7-course or 10-course tasting menu which highlights the different regional cuisines of Mexico. The highly decorated chefs and owners of Mixtli have created an absolute gem of a restaurant, ensuring both variety and quality, 100% of the time.
The food at Mixtli is top-notch. Depending on the menu, you will likely recognize most, if not all, of the dishes being served to you, but they will simply be the “best of” whatever the dish is. The best tamales, the best black bean soup, the best chile en nogada, the best flan. And that’s what puts Mixtli at the top of its game – preparing recognizable foods, but doing them to utter perfection.
To visit Mixtli, you must make reservations and purchase your tickets in advance online. Tickets are $110 for the 7-course tasting menu or $160 for the 10-course tasting menu.
For those interested in getting a small taste of Mixtli prior to dropping some serious change for dinner, try popping into their bar (no reservations needed) or outdoor patio to enjoy a range of seasonal cocktails or margaritas that have been curated by their head bartender.
The Guenther House is not only a must-eat in Southtown, but it is also one of the best brunch restaurants in the whole of the Alamo city. Located in one of the oldest buildings in the King William District, the Guenther House is a treasure trove of food, history, and natural beauty.
The Guenther House’s menu includes breakfast and lunch standards, with a number of menu items containing the flour that is still milled on the grounds of the property. Highly recommend the Strawberry Sweet Cream Waffles, Guenther’s Favorite Breakfast Platter, or the Champagne Chicken Enchiladas.
After a delicious brunch, make sure to spend some time strolling through the lovely gardens around the property, enjoying the San Antonio river views, and taking a turn through the museum which displays a number of items from the 100+ year history of the Guenther House and the family that originally called it their home.
Food: Coffee and cocktails
Coffee or cocktails? At Halcyon, you don't have to choose. As a coffeehouse by day and a bar by night, both the early birds and the night owls are sure to find something to love at Halcyon-Southtown.
Halcyon is located in the Blue Star Arts Complex and is therefore a great addition to any night of art, theatre, food, and drink, all of which are within walking distance in the complex. In addition to coffee/cocktails, Halcyon has a fairly robust food menu, a super fun Happy Hour ($6 mango chili margaritas and pineapple pork tacos, anyone?), and the coup de grâce, tableside s’mores for 2 or 4.
Tito’s Mexican Restaurant
Photo Credit: Yelp Heather P.
Food: Tex-Mex and Mexican
It may be no frills, but Tito’s Mexican Restaurant is about as steady, dependable, and consistent as they come. For the better part of the last two decades, Tito’s has been a solid choice for locals and visitors alike who have spent a day in the King William District and want to enjoy an affordable, but still decent, meal.
Tito’s, much like its main Southtown competition Rosario’s, has an enormous menu featuring everything from tacos and enchiladas to specialty plates and combos. Tito regularly receives rave reviews for their sopes, a traditional Mexican dish with a fried corn base, a choice of picadillo or pollo guisado, chipotle cream, white cheese, onions, and cilantro.
Protip: Be prepared to wait at Tito’s. The restaurant is on the smaller side and does not offer reservations, so it is not uncommon to have to wait to be seated, so account for a little extra time in your planning.
Photo Credit: Facebook Bar 1919
Food: Bar and cocktails
This speakeasy-style bar, located in the Blue Star Arts Complex, is one of San Antonio’s most popular bars – but you just have to know where to look for it. Like most speakeasies, it isn’t labeled, so input the address into your phone’s GPS and then follow the directions. Once you find the correct door, you’ll head down a flight of stairs, and past some red lights into a dimly lit bar with more than 1400 different liquors and a knowledgeable staff who not only expertly mix drinks, but love the history and culture of the speakeasy.
While Bar 1919 touts itself as predominantly a whiskey bar (and they are – hundreds of choices of whiskeys are available), they also have a HUGE selection of non-whiskey craft cocktails available. Just don’t go asking for a Cosmo, Long-Island Iced Tea, or anything mixed with an energy drink, as you’ll be publicly shamed for it. This isn’t THAT kind of bar.
The Brown Coffee Company
The Brown Coffee Company, located in the same complex as Pharm Table and Mixtli, is one of the most well-respected local coffee roasters in San Antonio. They roast their own beans (which they source directly from the coffee producers) on-site and coffee drinkers can watch the entire process unfold from their front-row seat in the coffee shop.
Brown Coffee is a coffee purist's paradise with an emphasis on quality, freshly roasted beans, and not on fancy, sugar drinks that only contain a dash of java (no mochas, frappuccinos, or affogatos). Everything here is strictly espresso or coffee. Period. We highly recommend the house espresso or americano.
Protip: Brown Coffee will validate your parking in the paid lot right next to their property for 90 minutes with a coffee purchase.
Blue Star Brewing Company
Food: Brewery and pub grub
The OG of San Antonio Breweries, Blue Star Brewing Company is a pillar in Southtown and one of the restaurants that set up the whole area for culinary success with the expansion from just a brewery to the Blue Star Arts Complex.
Blue Star got its brewing start in 1996 with a number of craft brews on tap. They added a full restaurant and now operate with a sizable food menu and beer list. Blue Star’s menu features traditional American food and pub grub, while the beer list includes 9 craft options that are brewed on location as well as some sour beer choices from their Barnstormer Series. Given that Blue Star is first and foremost a brewery, we highly recommend the beer flight with any meal to get a taste of what they do best.
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