14 Best Restaurants On The San Antonio Riverwalk, Ranked

Don't mess with Texas, especially when it comes to food. The Lone Star State is a gastronomic wonderland, where cultures converged to deliver some of the best cuisines that the U.S. offers. According to Texas Almanac, the flavors that make the state's food scene so unique originate in the combination of settlers, immigrants, and indigenous people that have called this land home over the centuries.

And there is no better place to taste Texas than the San Antonio Riverwalk. The bridges and pathways that form the Riverwalk were the brainchildren of architect Robert H. H. Hugman who, in the 1930s, designed it to harness the power and beauty of the San Antonio River, which runs through the city's downtown, according to the Riverwalk website. Shops and restaurants sprang up along the Riverwalk to cater to tourists and locals who came to experience the architectural marvel. It has since been a haven for diners to whet their appetites with some of the best food that South Texas has to offer.

From Mexican to German to Southern cuisine, the restaurants on the Riverwalk cater to every palate. To pick and rank the restaurants for this list, we considered common factors such as cost and taste. We also took things like direct location and whether or not a restaurant is San Antonio local, or a chain establishment in mind. Elegant establishments serve up quality Texas steaks and casual diners can delight in tacos and enchiladas, making it clear why Mexican food is becoming more popular worldwide. If you find yourself planning a stroll along this celebrated section of San Antonio's historic downtown, you don't want to miss our list of the best restaurants on the San Antonio Riverwalk.

14. Yard House

Coming in last place is Yard House, which should be the first stop for beer aficionados looking to sip on some quality craft brews in San Antonio. In fact, according to the website, it has the world's largest selection of craft beers. And they're not just any beers. The experts at Yard House rate and review hundreds of beers to make sure that the menu showcases the best that the market has to offer, with an emphasis on local brews. While it serves well-known brands like Dogfish Head and Lagunitas, the Yard House also has a wide selection of house beers that can only be found at the restaurant and brewhouse, which is located just north of the Riverwalk behind the Alamo.

If you feel like munching on a snack while you're sipping one of these bubbly brews (and let's be honest, you will), then order a bowl of queso. With a blend of Pepper Jack, cheddar, queso blanco, and roasted peppers and served with chips and warm flour tortillas, this Texas favorite will not disappoint. It places last because it actually has many locations across the U.S., and while we wish it was unique to the Riverwalk, it's just not

yardhouse.com
(210) 354-3844

849 E Commerce St #409, San Antonio, TX 78205

13. Boiler House

In addition to lunch, dinner, and a whole list of creative craft cocktails, Boiler House serves up a hearty helping of San Antonio history. Located inside the original boiler room of the Pearl Brewery, the owners of Boiler House have retained the original architecture of the industrial space. The kitchens are built inside the old boilers and the dining area is split into two levels with a full bar, a catwalk-loft dining space, and private dining rooms for parties and events, and the decor.

And if you're wondering just what the phrase "craft cocktail" really means, then peruse the libations on the drink list at Boiler House. Bartenders use locally sourced and seasonal ingredients to serve up creative twists on time-tested classics like an Old-Fashioned as well as innovative new drinks like the "Judgment Day," a mix of whiskey, amaretto, honey simple syrup, and red wine. The food menu features American cuisine with a South Texas twist. You can nibble on a bowl of whiskey bacon caramel corn or if you've really worked up an appetite from a day strolling around the riverwalk, get the Moscato-braised pork shank with jalapeño grits.

boilerhouse.com

(210) 354-4644

312 Pearl Pkwy Building 3, San Antonio, TX 78215

12. Iron Cactus

Tequila is the name of the game at Iron Cactus, a riverwalk standby known for showcasing the Mexican influence on South Texas cuisine. With an outdoor dining patio located right on the riverwalk next to the famous Aztec Theater, this place is perfect for people-watching in the heart of historic San Antonio. And what better way to enjoy the sights than with a margarita in your hand? With over 100 premium tequilas available, you can rest assured that the staff at Iron Cactus knows the key to a perfectly balanced margarita.

And don't forget to pair your cocktail with one of the mouth-watering Mexican dishes available on the restaurant's food menu. The fajitas (a crowd favorite) are served on a sizzling hot platter with Mexican beans and rice. If you're feeling a little more adventurous, contemporary twists on Mexican classics include the pork tamale pops and crab-stuffed jalapeños. While we'd like to rank this one higher, it ended up on the lower end of the rating because it's standard and reliable South Texas cuisine, which we do love, but some of the higher-ranked places on this list just wowed us a little more.

ironcactus.com

(210) 224-9835

200 River Walk Suite 100, San Antonio, TX 78205

11. Little Rhein Prost Haus

If you're looking for a little slice of the old country on the Riverwalk, you'll find it at Little Rhein Prost Haus. In the 1800s, the area around San Antonio was settled by thousands of German immigrants looking for more land and a better life in the New World, according to the Texas State Historical Association. They brought with them many of the customs of the Fatherland, which remain an important part of the cultural landscape in the region, and one of the best places to experience this rich part of Texas history is at Little Rhein Prost Haus.

Little Rhein is situated in the oldest two-story stone building in Bexar County, the original structure was built by German immigrant Otto Bombach and is now the rootinest tootinest biergarten in San Antonio. "Prost" is German for "cheers," which you can say before you sip one of the many domestic and imported beers on the menu, served in traditional German beer glasses called "steins." The food menu bridges the gap between old and new, offering everything from huge Bavarian pretzels and kraut balls to a Texas-size plate of nachos.

littlerheinprosthaus.com

(210) 890-2225

231 S Alamo St, San Antonio, TX 78205

10. Tre Trattoria

If you work up an appetite while you're strolling the galleries at the San Antonio Museum of Art, there's no better way to whet your appetite than by breaking for a meal at Tre Trattoria, the museum's signature restaurant, which is perched right along the Riverwalk. Inspired by the cuisine of Tuscany and the region's culture of family-style dining, Tre Trattoria features Italian classics like homemade pasta and Cast Iron Pizza that is made to order.

But local culinary powerhouse Jason Dady, who is in charge of the restaurant's menu, doesn't stop there. He also decided to include a bit of South Texas flair with his signature deviled eggs, and the Nutella X3 dessert, a Nutella torte topped with Nutella ganache and a mousse made from — you guessed it — Nutella. If you're as hungry for culture as you are for food, Tre Trattoria offers a 10% discount for museum members. It's fantastic, which is why it made its way onto this list, but like so many other restaurants that ranked on the lower end of the list, the ones at the top end just blew us away even more.

tretrattoria.com

(210) 805-0333

200 W Jones Ave #501, San Antonio, TX 78215

9. El Castillo

We seasoned foodies all know that sometimes the best grub can come from a restaurant without a hefty price tag. This is definitely the case at El Castillo, a no-frills Mexican joint located just off the Riverwalk and (fittingly) right behind the Mexican consulate in San Antonio. It's a great place to get acquainted with the Mexican cuisine in Southern Texas, which, according to The New York Times writer Rachel Wharton, is distinct from Tex-Mex. 

The "puffy taco," for instance, features meat tucked inside a bubbly, inflated tortilla and is a local favorite. And if you want to find out what makes San Antonio's puffy tacos unique, then make your way to El Castillo. Other traditional Mexican favorites like cheese enchiladas and steak ranchera are available for those who love the true flavors from south of the border. The breakfast tacos are one of the more popular menu items, stuffed with a variety of fillings like beans, potatoes, bacon, or chorizo, and priced at less than $2! El Castillo might lack the sophisticated ambiance of some of the other restaurants on the list, which is why it's not ranked higher, but the bang-for-your-buck factor is undeniable.

El Castillo menu

(210) 537-9776

425 S St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX 78205

8. Esquire Tavern

Everything is bigger in Texas. And Esquire Tavern boasts the longest wooden bar top in the state. The creatively concocted libations available at this unpretentious riverside haunt include the Japanese Old-Fashioned, infused with yuzu citrus, and the aptly named "Stage Dives and Fist Fights," which includes overproof tequila blanco and rum. A hearty, Southern menu rounds out the drink list, with BBQ pulled pork and a burger made with Wagyu beef, which has just been crowned "the world's best steak."

The dimly lit interior harkens back to the days of yore, which is no surprise since this San Antonio staple just celebrated its 90th birthday. According to Forbes Magazine, the bar has a storied history that includes illegal gambling, gun fights, and even a ghost that, according to local legend, haunts the basement. But don't worry, because once you're sipping one of Esquire's famed cocktails and munching on its signature fare, you'll be too satisfied to be bothered by ghost stories (just maybe don't bring your kids here if they're petrified of anything ghost-related).

esquiretavern-sa.com

(210) 222-2521

155 E Commerce St, San Antonio, TX 78205

7. Schilo's

If you're ambling along the Riverwalk and you're hungry for a taste of old-world flavor, head to Schilo's. Open for over a hundred years, this San Antonio institution started as a saloon opened by "Papa" Fritz Schilo in the early 1900s and has been delighting customers with its German-inspired fare ever since. After surviving the Prohibition era, which saw the widespread closure of saloons in the United States, the restaurant moved to its present location in 1942, which used to be a currency exchange vault. Schilo's is now the oldest operating restaurant in San Antonio. This staying power is no small part of why Schilo's made it on our list.

And it's no wonder why the restaurant is still thriving after a century of business. Breakfast and lunch, served daily, include German classics like potato pancakes fried crispy and served with applesauce, hot pretzels, and meatloaf, which is Schilo's best-selling dish. And if you want to take the flavor of German-Texan cuisine back home with you, buy a jar of the famous hot mustard, which is available for purchase.

schilos.com

(210) 223-6692

424 E Commerce St, San Antonio, TX 78205

6. Supper American Eatery

Southern hospitality is in no short supply at this American eatery inside the Hotel Emma. The warm, homey decor pairs perfectly with the comforting dishes inspired by the crossroads of culture that makes San Antonio unique. Dishes like sautéed gulf shrimp and chicken dumpling soup are nods to Southern cuisine while breakfast options include schnecken, a German-style sticky bun with pecans and cinnamon, and Mexican-inspired scrambled eggs with roasted poblano cream. And if you're not a morning person, not to worry, because breakfast is served all day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m..

And if you're having dinner at Supper, we wouldn't expect you to be a morning person the next day, anyway. The extensive drink menu includes a wide selection of wine and beer as well as a variety of exquisitely curated craft cocktails that are sure to satisfy your palate.

supperatemma.com

(210) 448-8351

136 E Grayson St, San Antonio, TX 78215

5. Nonna Osteria

In Italian, "nonna" means "grandmother," and it's a word that's meant to evoke the warm, friendly environment that Italians associate with family dinners. According to an interview with Food Network, the head chef at Nonna, Italian-born Luca Della Casa, says that his "culinary view is what he learned from his grandma," which, according to him, is "simple recipes, a good knife, and the freshest ingredients." Lucky for us, we can all get a taste of what that means at Nonna, where the short, simple menu features expertly executed Italian classics with the chef's signature creative flair, which is why we ranked this eatery up with the best on the Riverwalk.

Time-tested starters like arancini with fontina and chianti butter and burrata with roasted vegetables and a balsamic reduction prepare guests for hearty main dishes like branzino with broccolini, clams, and fennel butter and gnocchi with Italian sausage and saffron cream. The wine list reflects the distinctly Italian experience at Nonna, featuring mostly wines from Italy and some French Champagnes. So don't forget to raise your glass to la dolce vita.

nonnasa.com

(210) 224-8800

401 S Alamo St, San Antonio, TX 78205

4. Biga On The Banks

For an eclectic, stylish fine dining experience on the banks of the San Antonio River, make a reservation at Biga. Head chef Bruce Auden, a native Londoner who has his skills on display at Biga, earned a James Beard Award nomination for his creative and playful interpretations of "New American cuisine." Although the menu changes daily, some of the funky flavors that diners can expect at Biga include dishes like seared Hudson Valley foie gras with brioche french toast and apple-smoke salmon chalupas.

With a food selection as delightfully diverse as the one on offer at Biga, it makes sense that an equally unique list of drinks is available. Enjoy your meal with wines from around the world or a local craft beer and if you're feeling particularly adventurous (and we hope you do), try one of the hundreds of rare liquors that the restaurant has to offer. The creativity displayed at this forward-thinking eatery is why Biga made one of the top spots on our list.

biga.com

(210) 225-0722

203 S St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX 78205

3. Boudro's Texas Bistro

Have you ever had a prickly pear margarita? If not, it's time you head to Boudro's Texas Bistro, which has been serving up New American cuisine with a Texas flair on the Riverwalk since 1986. You can enjoy your meal next to the limestone walls of the tasteful interior, out on the dining patio overlooking the Riverwalk, or on a barge that floats on the river itself. And drinkers will delight: The bottles in the wine cellar were specifically selected to pair with the distinct flavors that chef Danny Ibarra features on the Boudro's food menu.

The famous guacamole at Boudro's is crafted next to your table in a shallow stone bowl that nods to the way guacamole was originally prepared and main courses like the blue crab tostada and Texas filet of sirloin showcase an elevated take on South Texas culinary heritage. Life in the Lone Star State has never tasted so good.

boudros.com

(210) 224-8484

On The Riverwalk Level, 421 E Commerce St, San Antonio, TX 78205

2. Bonahan's

We love a steak dinner. And if you've got a hankering for a fine cut of meat on the Riverwalk, then Bonahan's is the place for you. Chef and owner Mark Bonahan is a native Texan and, according to Bonahan's website, his grandfather, "the king of barbecue," taught Mark what he needed to know about the family tradition of how to cook meat. And we're not mad about it, because Bonahan's serves up the best steaks in San Antonio.

Bonahan's uses Akaushi beef, one of the absolute best cuts of steak to grill. Akaushi cows store fat inside the muscle instead of on the outside, giving the meat its fantastic marbled quality, which translates to the delicious, tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture that meat lovers are after. This undeniable passion for meat and what makes it delicious is why Bonahan's made it to second place on our list. Other steakhouse classics on the menu, like the jumbo lump crab cake and the open-faced wedge salad, are prepared with the care and attention that we've come to expect from this San Antonio staple, which has been open for over 20 years.

bohanans.com

(210) 472-2600

219 E Houston St #275, San Antonio, TX 78205

1. Domingo Restaurante

We chose Domingo Restaurante as our top pick of restaurants on the Riverwalk not only because the food is prepared by seasoned chefs using quality ingredients, but because it celebrates the food culture that makes San Antonio a diner's paradise. The undeniably delicious flavors of Mexican cuisine soar to new heights at Domingo, where an expertly curated menu offers a list of fare that is artfully executed to ensure that guests walk away with an experience that is like no other.

Start with the elote, a modern take on grilled Mexican street corn with chile, lime, and mayo, and move onto the short rib quesadilla with huitlacoche, a corn fungus that, according to Food Republic, was a staple in the Aztecs' diet. And the drink list is also brimming with the taste of Mexico. The candied Paloma is a creative take on the classic cocktail and the signature margarita is not likely to disappoint. If you're looking to get a true taste of elevated San Antonio cooking, you can't miss a meal at Domingo.

domingorestaurant.com

(210) 404-7516

123 N St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX 78205

Methodology

Ranking restaurants is never an easy thing to do, so we should note that even the restaurants in last place are still some of the best eating you can have along San Antonio's riverwalk. That said, there are a few things that separate the top restaurants from the bottom in this round-up.

To make our list, we considered a slew of factors, including cost and history, a restaurant's direct access to the waterfront, and its place within the San Antonio community (is it part of a chain, or unique to the city). Accessibility played a factor as well — is the restaurant a spot strictly for special occasions, or is it opening and welcoming to all visitors, anytime? In some instances, chef renown played a part. Most importantly, however, we consider the ingredients and flavor available to San Antonio diners.