(Being that San Antonio is the home of OriginalGamer.com, we feel that it's our obligation to offer some guidance those traveling to San Antonio for PAX South about this great city. Read part 1 of our tour guide of things to do downtown.)
If there are two things San Antonians know, it’s good food and drinks. Although the city is the Tex-Mex capital of the world, San Antonio offers a wide range of food from classic Mexican to Japanese. Dowtown San Antonio has it all, and to save you some time, we have a few places to eat and drink that the locals head to when they're downtown.
Almost everyone has had their share of 10 cent ramen in their lifetime, but it’s the authentic ramen that has to be tried. Kimura has authentic big bowls of Miso, Shoyu (chicken broth) and Tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen that includes shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, spring onions, and soft-boiled eggs. No flavor packs here. Ramen bowls start at $8 for Miso and work their way up depending on what kind of broth and how many extras you want to add to your bowl.
For those hankering for Chinese and sushi can head to Kawashi to satisfy your hunger. There’s variety of sushi here from your traditional California Roll to the special Don’t Mess with Texan Roll. If you don’t want to your hand at sushi, then you can go with their fried rice or stir-fry plates. Also, if you don’t feel like walking, you can order online for delivery.
Everyone loves a food truck. Well everyone except for the Convention Center which doesn’t allow food trucks within a certain distance. Never fear as the Street Eat Bar is there for your food truck needs. Only a 10-minute walk south of the Convention Center, you’ll find a selection of food trucks in one spot. Burgers, BBQ and seafood are just some of food variations you’ll find here. To go with your food, there’s also a selection of beer that includes some IPAs and some domestic favorites.
For the most part, this list has a variety of quality eats at affordable prices. Now for those with a little money to burn or who simply want to go out on a blaze of glory, the Fogo De Chão Brazilian Steakhouse may be right for you. If you’re not familiar with a Brazilian steakhouse, think of it as an all you can eat buffet except it’s nothing but meat. Chicken, lamb, pork and beef are all on the menu served in traditional Brazilian BBQ style. Unlike the traditional buffet place, at a Brazilian steakhouse, the wait staff comes along with meat on a spit and they’ll keep coming until you flip your card over to red to signify that you can’t eat anymore. Lunch will cost you about $30 per person while dinner is around $50 per person.
Whataburger or “Waterburger” as pronounced by the locals is a definite must for those visiting the Alamo City from outside of Texas. Located throughout the city or a short walk from the Convention Center, the beloved fast food chain serves up their made-to-order burgers on a toasted bun topping 100% American Beef patties. Don’t forget to ask for some spicy ketchup that’s so popular it’s now sold in grocery stores.
Get a taste of San Antonio’s German history by grabbing a deli sandwich and a cold beer at Schilo’s, a downtown staple since 1917. Schilo’s offers breakfast, lunch and dinner as is famous for their homemade Root Beer, Reuben Sandwiches, hot mustard and Split Pea Soup in their German themed restaurant at affordable prices.
What happens when your friends are all craving something different? You hit the Rivercenter Food Court! The food court houses something for every craving whether it be burgers from Dairy Queen, pizza and pasta from Luciano’s, breakfast food from IHOP or Chinese food. It’s not the finest of dining, but it’ll do if you’re on a budget.
Update: Rivercenter Mall completed an extensive amount of renovations not long ago. Part of the renovations is a new Dave & Busters as well as another Starbucks location.
Not only is The Pearl a site to see, it’s a place to eat and drink. You’re probably not going to find many places in the country where some of the best BBQ in the city, The Granary, is right nearby Green, one of the best vegetarian restaurants. Be warned, the prices at some place, especially the Granary, are not for the faint of heart. Located a few miles from the Convention Center, you can hop on a bus or a boat taxi to get to The Pearl.
Up until now, we’ve provided locations that were within walking distance or at least small ride on a bus or taxi. In-N-Out, however, is not a quick trek from downtown San Antonio. It’s nowhere near downtown. Even us locals have to find a good reason to make the drive. That said, if you have the means and have never had an animal style 3x3 burger, then this weekend may be your shot.
We San Antonians love our BBQ, but sadly the choices of BBQ downtown are a little light for our tastes. Although The Granary is considered the best, Augie’s BBQ is right up there for about half the price. A quick drive or a good 20-minute walk, which you’ll need once you’re done eating there, is all that stands between you and some tasty brisket and some very sweet creamed corn.
Tex-Mex reigns supreme in the Alamo City yet as many locals will tell you, a quality Tex-Mex restaurant is hard to find downtown. That’s why you go a little south to Southtown to Rosario’s. There you can enjoy some Mexican cuisine with, what else, a margarita.
Barbacoa & Big Red
Nothing ends the week quite like the heart-stopping combination of barbacoa and Big Red. The grease of a well-made barbacoa taco paired with the sugary burst of caffeine from Big Red is enough to sober anyone up from a night on the town or give a much needed energy boost to make it through a busy day of panels and exploring. The weekend delicacy that can be found at just about every taqueria and jalisco in town.
Known as the oldest bar on the River Walk, The Esquire is known to have its share of good food along with good drinks. They offer plenty of food for not alot of cash and their bartenders, or is it mixologists, are there to dull all of your senses except for your taste buds with their drinks.
An importa from New Orleans, Pat O’ Brien’s is the place to go for live music and drinking. In particular, this bar is known best for popularizing the Hurricane drink in New Orleans so you must give it a shot.
Named after the fruit of a prickly pear cactus, La Tuna Grill just a short walk from the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum. Don’t let the tin shack exterior fool you, the menu offers a mix of Tex-Mex favorites and anything from a simple chicken sandwich to a steak and shrimp dish. Nothing beats enjoying a night out with friends like relaxing with a blackened fish taco, a beer and live local music under the beautiful San Antonio sky.
Looking for some family friendly fun? True to its name, The Friendly Spot is a traditional Texas icehouse located on South Alamo Street, offering an eclectic mix of dishes and more than 250 bottled brews and 76 on draft. While kicking back and enjoying a cold one, let your kids have a go on their playground. The pet-friendly spot lets your favorite canine or feline enjoy a night out in the laid back atmosphere.
This is a small list of what the city has to offer, but these choices are great for those wanting to see where the locals go when they head downtown. Check back for part three of our tour guide where we give you some quick tips for your trip.