Like losing a sandal during Fiesta or sharing an Edgar meme, spending a raucous night at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is a rite of passage for every local. But the assortment of fried oddities and sugar bombs don’t necessarily give merrymakers all the fuel they need to make it through the long haul.
Lest one wants to feel faint before the Oak Ridge Boys yearn for Elvira; starting with a base is a good idea. Whether you’re looking to hydrate, carb-load, or get some pregame warm-and-fuzzies, check out these nearby spots giving all the giddy-up, um-poppa, mow, mow attendees will need. Then head to 2023’s list for even more East Side action.
Those looking to escape deep-fried foods won’t find much respite at this sunny yellow shack, but they will find a bargain. Guests can feed a family for less than $30, saving some budget for a Rodeo beer. And if one really needs a break from all that crunch, sides like greens and mashed potatoes are uniformly excellent.
The ice cream burger — an improbable creation with a deep-fried scoop — has received most of the flowers for this unassuming joint. But Mark’s isn’t just about the novelty. The Original Fatty’s is as classic as burgers come, and the plant-based options are no mere afterthought.
Pollos Asados Los Norteños
The truth is that almost any pollo asado joint in town will hit the mark for a quick, comforting meal. But mere competence isn’t enough. Los Norteños’ charbroiled chicken sets the standard with incredibly juicy birds served with equally commendable rice and beans.
Reese Bros Barbecue
There are barbecue sides, and then there is Reese Bros’ poblano mac ‘n’ cheese, a blend of vegetal flavors and velvet textures that trumps the clumped creations of its competitors. The meat is no slouch, either. The brisket is deeply barked, and the queso fundido sausage beats the pants off kielbasa.
The Ridge at the Hill
This newish family restaurant offers a little of everything, from a hearty chicken-fried steak to an unexpected roasted lamb sandwich. The culinary wanderlust makes it a little hard to pin down, but no matter. It’s fun going through all the varied dishes to find a favorite.
Think of this charming shop as an antidote to the Rodeo’s buckets of partially hydrogenated oils. The iron-rich Verde juice brings pep with spinach, cucumber, and jalapeño, while the Chisos smoothie energizes with an intriguing mix of Earl Grey tea, oat milk, and lion’s mane mushrooms.
Come for the beer — a rotating selection that includes barrel-aged stouts, puckery sours, and complex Belgian-style tripels. Stay for the gourmet pub grub like confit duck wings slathered in a Thai sriracha glaze or a Kobe beef burger with hickory-smoked bacon. And then enjoy the show.