San Antonio's golf and Tex-Mex restaurants: A killer combination

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

SAN ANTONIO - With the addition of the TPC San Antonio and its two golf courses in 2010, the golf scene in the Alamo City continues to grow. But San Antonio offers another aspect that perhaps no other golf destination can match – top notch Tex-Mex food.

Los Barrios - enchiladas
Los Barrios offers a wide variety, including its cheese enchiladas and puffed tacos.
Los Barrios - enchiladasCasa Rio restaurant in San AntonioLa Fogata Restaurant in San AntonioAldacos - avacado margarita
If you go

Everybody knows San Antonio has lots of great Mexican food, but how do you know where to find it? Like anything else, great Tex-Mex in San Antonio can be hit and miss.

Fortunately, unlike Houston or Dallas, the San Antonio scene is more hit than miss. That's because many of these venues opened generations ago, evolving into gut-filling satisfaction that most golfers love after leaving it on the course for five hours.

They're also the best watering holes, serving margaritas - an art unto themselves. San Antonio margaritas, using the finest tequilas and a lot of imagination, are a must with great Tex-Mex.

It's impossible to the pinpoint the best of San Antonio's great Mexican restaurants, but here's a look at seven solid Tex-Mex choices in the Alamo City:

Aldaco's in Stone Oak

There are two Aldaco's locations (the other is at historic Sunset Station) but the latest 20079 Stone Oak on the northwest side sits at San Antonio's highest point, offering dramatic views of the city below. The food, as you might expect, is first-rate – great fajitas, appetizers and terrific enchiladas (a must for any decent Tex-Mex venue) – but the margaritas are arguably the best in the city. On most nights at Aldaco's, you can find owner Blanca Aldaco mixing her heavenly creations. How about the award-winning Aldaco's avocado margarita? "Once you try it, you'll love it," she says. Or the La Bonita, made with fresh lime juice, Don Julio Blanco and Cointreau? Try it with a chile relleno al cilantro or steak Marisol, which comes with three grilled shrimp in a roasted garlic "crema chipotle." For more information, call (210) 494-0561.

Casa Rio

Casa Rio (430 E. Commerce St.) wasn't just the first Mexican restaurant to open on the famed River Walk. It was the first business as well, founded in 1946 by Alfred F. Beyer. It sits on land first granted title in 1777 by the king of Spain. The Spanish Colonial hacienda still includes its original cedar door, window lintels, fireplace and thick rock walls. Best of all, there's indoor and outdoor dining in the heart of the River Walk, which makes it a great place to sip margaritas or a Corona and watch people and boats pass. You'll find all the Tex-Mex staples – crispy tacos, flautas enchiladas, fajitas, nachos and tamales, to name a few. Casa Rio also offers river boat packages. For more information, call (210) 225-6718.

La Fogata

Another old favorite, La Fogata (2427 Vance Jackson) is a terrific gathering spot with its private and public patios, excellent menu and terrific margaritas. Its cooks prepare everything fresh and from scratch, and La Fogota offers the usual suspects as well as specialties that include tangy enchiladas verdes, creamy rajas de chile poblano and a unique fire-roasted salsa. These extremely popular dishes have earned La Fogata top honors in local polls and a loyal following. For more information, call (210) 340-1337.

Los Barrios

From puffed tacos to shrimp fajitas, family-owned Los Barrios (4223 Blanco Rd.) has been serving Tex-Mex favorites for generations. Specialties include the El Mofofo Grill, which is a combination of beef and pork marinated in a special blend of spices and cooked on the grill. Or you can try the Milaneza con Papas, which is chicken-fried steak, Mexican-style. The mango margarita is also a specialty. Los Barrios has another location at FM 1604 and State Highway 281. For more information, call (210) 732-6017.

Mi Tierra Cafe y Panderia

Pete and Cruz Cortez opened a little, three-table café for early-rising farmers and workers at San Antonio's Mercado way back in 1941. Sixty years later, Mi Tierra Cafe (218 Produce Row), the anchor of the family's three San Antonio restaurants, is a landmark and favorite among tourists and locals alike. The Cortez children and grandchildren have continued the family tradition of good food and big-hearted hospitality at Mi Tierra, which now seats over 500 and remains in Market Square, El Mercado. It's open 24 hours, 365 days a year. For more information, call (210) 225-1262.

Pico de Gallo

Another of the Cortez family's establishments, Pico de Gallo (111 S. Leona) opened in 1979 on Market Square. Formerly known as La Carreta Mexican Steak House, Pico de Gallo has developed into a popular spot for locals. It's famous for its Parrilladas, which is an assortment of charbroiled meats. Pico de Gallo's Salon Azteca includes a unique, private bar that features a magnificent, hand-carved wooden mural depicting traditional Mexican festivities. A minimum of 75 guests are required for use of the salon. For more information, call (210) 225-6060.

Rosario's

Ranked as one of the best restaurants in Texas by Zagat, Rosario's (910 S. Alamo) is a San Antonio institution. The establishment's fish taco has been rated as the "No. 2 taco you must eat before you die," behind the Picadillo taco at Fuel City in Dallas, by Texas Monthly. Rosario's award-winning menu features traditional south-of-the-border dishes with a contemporary twist. Located in the historic King William District near the Blue Star Arts Complex, Rosario's is also known for its award-winning and unique, roasted tomato salsa. For more information, call (210) 223-1806.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.


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