Charles Barkley notwithstanding, the fat jokes at San Antonio’s expense have tapered off over the past few years, knocking us from the most recent ranks of chunkiest cities in the country. Is it any coincidence that there has been a recent surge in new restaurants in the Alamo City that serve cuisine as tasty as it is good for you? We think not. Here are the 10 best.
Want a Mexican lunch that doesn’t weigh you down? Mision’s got you covered. Want a heaping plate of cheesy, traditional enchiladas? Mision’s got you covered there, too. Serving breakfast and lunch six days a week from a simple, brightly painted strip-mall location, Mision does something that few other eateries do, giving diners the ability to eat Mexican every day without going up in pants size.
There's a lot to love about The Cove, what with its live music and abundant seating. It’s also the only place in town where you can get your car washed while enjoying “SOL” food (that’s Sustainable, Organic, Local), including fab fish tacos, great salads, and a host of creative burgers and sandwiches.
For more than 20 years, Mina & Dimi’s has been serving traditional Greek fare made with fresh ingredients in a warm, lively atmosphere. Is it possible for you to overindulge? Definitely. But it is also pretty easy to stick to healthy cuisine and not feel like you’re missing out. Mina & Dimi’s feels at once like a neighborhood joint and destination dining -- the kind of restaurant that inspires loyalty, where one visit leads to another, and where, before you know it, you’re a regular.
In addition to serving truly healthy and amazing food, O’liva scores in another respect: its nod to SA’s history and culture. Chef Chuck Hernandez creates Latin and New American dishes for O’liva’s unique service concept: lunch only, except on Fridays. Menu items change based on what’s in season, but if you get the chance, try the spicy-sublime ahi tuna aguachiles.
If you’re used to processed foods, Grayze will be a shock to your system, in the best possible way. The menu is broad, the wine list extensive, and the atmosphere intimate, and there’s a different vibe depending on whether you’re coming for lunch, dinner, or brunch. While menu items vary depending on what’s in season, some tried-and-true standouts are almost always available and consistently solid; the Bird is the Word roasted chicken breast and the bison burger are stellar.
In addition to its weekday lunch service and boxed lunches to-go, Pharm Table also offers workshops and outreach programs designed to educate San Antonians on transformative, mindful eating. But even the most greens-resistant diners will find something to love on Pharm Table’s tight but eclectic menu; the substantial farm-to-table tacos are a great choice, especially when shrimp is available.
Medical Center, Stone Oak, Northeast
Pasha’s extensive menu features something for everyone -- bowls, stews, seafood and chicken plates, kabobs, gyros, and salads -- all with a definite Mediterranean flair. All three locations are popular and especially crowded at lunch, and it’s no wonder. You can’t blame folks for seeking out food that is a step up from typical fast food at not much higher a price.
Exceptional ceviche and a wide variety of tacos, tostadas, and quesadillas form the cornerstone of Urban Taco’s seafood-centric menu. Everything is made fresh, and it shows. You'll also have a wide assortment of tequilas and agaves to spend those calories on.
09ers are great diners -- that is, they're loyal restaurant patrons who show their appreciation of good food by keeping their favorite eateries in business for years and years. Twin Sisters is a prime example of this phenomenon. Family-owned and -operated since 1981, it offers a great traditional breakfast and brunch, and a lunch/dinner menu that accommodates famished vegetarians as well as hungry carnivores.
It’s an apt name with a double meaning -- the food itself is nutrient-dense, sustainable, and respectfully sourced, and you will definitely be compelled to clean your plate once you taste it. Chef Cat New’s dishes are creative and substantial, and there’s not a dud on the menu. The hours are a little quirky, so check the website before you go. It’d be a shame to miss out on a dining experience guaranteed to make you feel so good.
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1. Mision de San Antonio1721 Babcock Rd, San Antonio
2. The Cove606 W Cypress St, San Antonio
3. Mina & Dimi's Greek House7159 W US Highway 90, San Antonio
4. O'liva Healthy Local Cuisine & Tasting Room115 Plaza de Armas, # 107, San Antonio
5. Grayze521 E Grayson St, San Antonio
6. Pharm Table106 Circle Auditorium, San Antonio
7. Pasha Mediterranean Grill9339 Wurzbach Rd, San Antonio
8. Urban Taco San Antonio290 E Basse Rd, San Antonio
9. Twin Sisters Bakery & Cafe6322 N New Braunfels Ave, San Antonio
10. The Clean Plate1022 N Main Ave, San Antonio
San Antonio certainly isn't hurting for Mexican restaurants, but this casual, colorfully painted strip-mall spot in Medical Center is serving the cuisine unlike any other -- by offering healthy vegetarian and vegan options that won't weigh you down or stretch out your jeans. Misión is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, offering an extensive menu with classics like tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas that can be made with either meat-, dairy-, or soy-based ingredients, right down to the salsa and chorizo.
The Cove actually began as a laundromat and car wash -- its husband-and-wife team added food service as an afterthought, and now, years later, it's gained a dedicated following because of its welcoming atmosphere and organic, locally sourced ingredients. They offer lamb, bison, and brown-rice patties, plus their ‘09er, which is made with grass-fed beef and topped with goat cheese, pesto aioli, and roasted red peppers.
It might be easy to overlook this strip-mall spot in Far West, but Mina & Dimi’s is worth seeking out for the best traditional Greek fare in town. For that reason, this warm and lively restaurant simultaneously feels like a random hole-in-the-wall and destination dining. If you're looking to impress your date with this hidden gem, go for the made-for-two Hercules Platter, which comes sizzling on a cast iron skillet with grilled onions, tomatoes, gyro meat, two beef shishkabobs, two chicken shishkabobs, and oven potatoes. It's the best way to taste all of the flavors coming out of this Greek kitchen. Don't skip out on the Better Than Sex Cake either: a sponge cake soaked in honey syrup and layered with a greek vanilla cream containing whipped cream and chocolate.
Farm to table fare comes to Downtown San Antonio. The globally inspired menu at O'Liva is full of fresh eats, including everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salads, grilled sandwiches, and savory dishes.
Chef Pedro Cuellar, formerly of Arcade Midtown Kitchen, offers comfort food with a twist just up the road from his old digs at The Pearl. Emerging favorites include sliders (barbacoa, bahn mi, meatloaf), balsamic-braised Lambshank Redemption and the gloriously decadent Queso Classico grilled cheese sandwich. Heading up the drink side of things is James Moore of TBA, whose still-emerging cocktail menu is the perfect compliment to Cuellar’s excellent grub.
Pharm Table is easily one of the most health-conscious restaurants in San Antonio, offering a weekday lunch service and boxed lunches to go that are farm-fresh and often lack inflammatory elements like dairy, wheat, and processed sugar. Even vegetable haters will find something to love on Pharm Table’s small but eclectic menu, particularly the substantial shrimp tacos. This downtown spot also offers workshops and outreach programs designed to educate San Antonians on transformative, mindful eating.
This San Antonio-born mini-chain is one of the more popular lunch options by the Medical Center thanks to its extensive and affordable menu of Mediterranean fare like hummus, shawarma, gyros, tabouli, and cornish hen kabobs.
Serving a seafood-obsessed menu of modern Mexican fare including tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, and quite possibly some of the tastiest ceviche in San Antonio, it's no wonder Urban Taco is always buzzing with diners. The kitchen uses local ingredients to make ultra-fresh, flavorful dishes -- many of which are healthy, as an added bonus. The prompt service and the speed with which plates arrive at the table makes the festive eatery a standout lunch destination, but the robust selection of tequilas and mezcals behind the bar ensure that it's equally as lively during peak evening hours.
An SA institution, Twin Sisters is known as a lunch hangout for Alamo Heights royalty, but don’t let the perception dissuade you. The portions might not be as large as us San Antonians are accustomed to, but this place makes a mean carne guisada. Tender, juicy, and with the right amount of salt, the taco will leave you wanting more, so make sure to fill up on the chips and fresh salsa.