Q. We have family visiting this weekend. They want to eat Tex-Mex. Can you recommend one such restaurant downtown and one out in the I-10 or 1604 area?
A. In a city known for its Mexican and Tex-Mex, you have plenty of options. Here are a few of our favorites, both downtown and on the north side.
Rosario’s, 910 S. Alamo, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, which is a milestone for any restaurant. But there’s a reason the place is still going strong: Owner Lisa Wong makes sure that the food coming out of her kitchen is as good as it gets. Bonnie Walker and I stopped in on a recent Saturday afternoon for lunch, and by the time we left, there was a line of people waiting for tables.
The salsa is still that smoky, spiky treat with plenty of jalapeño and tomato flavor. A bowl of fideo, filled with beans and noodles, was pure comfort on a cloudy afternoon, while shrimp nachos were loaded with richness from both the cheese and the seafood. The carnitas were perfect as always, with sizzling bites of pork complemented by a cup of beans in a porky broth.
And, of course, Rosario’s is known for its tangy array of margaritas as well as its tequila selection. The salsa music on weekends adds to the lively vibe that flows through the place.
Wong’s other place downtown, Ácenar, 146 E. Houston St., is great if you want to dine on the River Walk. The food is slightly different, with a few more upscale items, including buttermilk fried oysters and duck chalupas, well worth investigating. You can also arrange a barge dinner, if there’s enough time, and enjoy the likes of pasilla-rubbed roasted chicken or grilled adobo pork loin while gliding down the river.
In the I-10 or Loop 1604 area, Aldaco’s at Stone Oak, 20079 Stone Oak Parkway, is always great for a party that never stops. The margaritas flow freely, including a unique one made with avocado, and sipping one on the patio while the sun sets is a great San Antonio pleasure. Plus, Blanca Aldaco makes sure you get food you enjoy, even if you are a gluten-free diet. The weekend brunch, with a great breakfast relleno, is also a good bet.
La Hacienda de los Barrios, 18747 Redland Road, is another place to remember, especially if you have a large party. This is a wonderful place to introduce people to the local favorite, the puffy taco, which Diana Barrios Treviño makes better than most. (She even topped Bobby Flay when he appeared at the restaurant for one of his throwdowns.
Another place not to miss is El Mirasol Alta Cocina, 13489 Blanco Road. Owner Jesse Calvillo and his staff treat you right, whether you’re just dropping by for a margarita and a plate of queso flameado or you want enchiladas with a choice of sauces.
Readers, what other places would you recommend for guests visiting from out of town who had a hankering for San Antonio’s authentic brand of Tex-Mex? Post your suggestions below.