Restaurant recs [Dallas-FW, Austin, San Antonio]

Hello from California (enter boos and hisses here)!

I am making a trip with my wife and 4-year-old son to Texas. First time visiting the state. We are from the San Francisco area (Dublin, to be exact), and are flying into Dallas, driving to Austin, and ending up in San Antonio before flying out. We do not have a specific itinerary yet, but the trip will last about a week. We’ll be there in mid-October.

My mouth is already watering at the thought of Texas BBQ, as our BBQ scene here is…not great. While I do plan on attacking the BBQ, I would love to check out any other culinary adventures that I can’t easily get in SF. I would also love to get some beer/brewery recommendations as well. We have no dietary restrictions but would like to avoid high-end formal dining establishments (he’s usually really good, but we don’t want to disturb other guests with our child).

If you want to suggest any sights to see or anything like that, I would appreciate that as well!



Welcome to Texas cluskillz. You’ll find we’re all welcoming as long as you behave. :grimacing: I can’t help much with Dallas, but Austin to San Antonio is a food mecca. Be sure and take the short detour to Lockhart, which is the BBQ capital of Central Texas. Pick one or all of the 3 majors or any other smaller locations. The 3 are Smitty’s (my personal fav), Black’s and Kreuz’s. If you go to Smitty’s, I suggest you pick up young 4 year old to enter the back door adjacent to the ample parking in the back. You will be entering very close to the pits. I’ll post a picture below. Anyway, you’ll order from the pitmaster at the fire, brisket by the pound, sausage by the link, etc. I usually order 1/4 lb brisket for me. It’s served in butcher paper and you can get sides and sodas in the eating area which is thankfully air conditioned. Summer in the pit room is brutal, don’t know how the pitmasters manage.

What can I say about San Antonio, it’s great. All the restaurants at the Pearl Brewery Plant are fantastic, I’ve been to Cured and Brasserie Mon Chou Chou there, both amazing. Since SA is a tourist town, littles are generally accepted with graciousness at the eateries during hours littles are generally awake, so I wouldn’t worry about that.

Avoid: Tex-Mex on the riverwalk. Take a boat tour though. Restaurants on the Riverwalk I can recommend are Budro’s, Paisano’s Italian, but you shouldn’t eat Italian here probably. So Budro’s.

If the little jumps up early in the morning and you need breakfast al fresco on a day when the weather is fine, head to our local mill, Pioneer Flour Mill and have pancakes on their lovely garden patio, The Guenther House.

So many other places to recommend, do lots of research, and have a terrific trip! Also, y’all come back now, y’hear?

Smitty’s back door by parking lot and pit:


“Hello from California (enter boos and hisses here)!”

“Welcome to Texas cluskillz. You’ll find we’re all welcoming as long as you behave. “


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Hi Calvin, welcome to HO. Sorry I don’t know Dallas at all but used to travel to Fort Worth about monthly for work for several years so have some thoughts there. But I doubt there’s any restaurants in FTW that you can’t get similar in SF (other than good BBQ, as you already mentioned).

If you do get over to Fort Worth, the Water Gardens are definitely worth an hour or so. There’s also a small outdoor JFK memorial (should open a 3-D view on google maps) just up the street, next to what is now the Hilton Fort Worth. Kennedy stayed there the night before his assassination - it was then called the Hotel Texas and all the rooms have a framed photo mentioning that fact. I usually stayed in that hotel so I know the area around it pretty well.

If you happen to be there around lunch time, the Capitol Grille is in the next block North and is good, but also a bit pricey (you didn’t mention your budget, but I don’t think the lunchtime crowd would be worried about kids). I also always liked the Little Red Wasp which isn’t as expensive, but it looks like they may have declined a bit recently based on Google reviews.

Another good spot for lunch is Coco Shrimp, about a half mile South of the Water Gardens. Hawaiian style shrimp baskets or tacos at a decent price., and mochi ice cream treats. Very casual. I also like Istanbul Grill (Turkish/Mediterranean style) just up the street (website not loading presently) for lunch.

Bailey’s BBQ downtown there close to the water gardens is really good, but there are a couple of food-truck type places (Panther City BBQ and Brix BBQ) that are also really good if the weather’s nice. Both have a bit of cover and seating.

If you find yourself quite a ways down South in FTW (like 10 miles South of the Water Gardens area), check out Madea’s Down Home Cooking, Sista’s Cafe (both Southern/soul food types) or Longoria’s BBQ. I just looked at Longoria’s ratings on Google and it looks like they’ve been having some off days, though it was always great when I had it.

I was stationed in San Antonio twice but it was decades ago, so I’ll won’t try to add anything more to @Lambowner’s food recommendation. Definitely second the boat tour, but add a caution to keep your wallet in the front pants pocket. The Riverwalk area used to be notorious for tourists getting picked (Lamb Owner can correct me if this is no longer a problem).

Gotta check out the Alamo, though - imagine trying to explain being in SA and not seeing the Alamo!

Have fun!

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I’m curious why you tell the OP to avoid Tex Amex on Riverwalk. Too touristy? Where should someone go for Tex Mac?

All I want to eat when I visit Texas is Tex Mex.

I spent several days in San Antonio 30 years ago, and all I remember are a couple good Tex Mex meals and a good German meal in New Braunfels, outside San Antonio.

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She probably means that like all tourist traps, you’re paying much much more for similar or lesser, (but almost never better) quality. You get the ambiance, but you also get it if you have a margarita and then walk it off.

For good TexMex drive any direction and stop at the fifth non-chain place with a name written in Spanish on your right.

Or ask someone in any grocery store. They’ll LOVE to tell you all about their favorite place. Do not ask the guy at the hotel. He’ll send you to the Riverwalk. :grin:



I know Mi Tierra in SA is very popular. It is large and colorful, often has mariachis, and it’s in Market Square so you can shop before or after. Last time I was there, the shopping experience was like shopping for souvenirs in Mexico. It’s fun for all ages. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten there, but I recall it being good.

Puffy tacos is indigenous to SA, and Henry’s Puffy Tacos is the place to eat them. If you are a food show fan, you may have seen it featured. It’s unique to SA for sure.

Honestly, when I’ve entertained visitors, they seem to love Pappasito’s, which is a family owned Texas chain that serves large portions of excellent food at prices that seem ever escalating. There is a Pappasito’s in San Antonio.

But like NotDoobs says, there are tons of mom & pop places that are likely fabulous if you are feeling adventurous.


Pappasito’s where I went in 1995.


Sorry for the lack of replies; I’ve just been swamped recently.

Thank you all so much for your recommendations. I may not have stopped by Lockhart if it weren’t for you fine folks here, along with some other suggestions.

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