The historic Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, Texas, has transformed from a 19th-century beer-making powerhouse into one of the city's most charming restaurant districts.
This iconic spot, which ceased brewing operations in 2001, has reinvented itself as a gathering place where food lovers and families can explore fantastic restaurants.
In this guide, we'll take a culinary tour through the Pearl's best restaurants, diving into the flavors and stories that make each spot a must-visit for locals and travelers to San Antonio.
Whether you're craving innovative Texan cooking or international cuisine, Pearl's vibrant food scene promises a memorable dining experience in San Antonio.
1. Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery
In April 2015, Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery opened its doors at the Pearl and brought brewing back to the historic district.
Chef Jeff Balfour, a native of Galveston, presents seasonal menus that mix Texas coast cuisine with Southern classics. Signature dishes include Southerleigh's snapper throats and famous fried chicken. Meanwhile, head brewer Les Locke is responsible for crafting the 15 beers on tap.
Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery is housed in the former Pearl brewhouse designed by Chicago architect August Maritzen and constructed in 1894.
The interior retains the industrial look of the 130-year-old space, with rough walls and exposed metal pipes. These old walls stand in stark contrast with the stainless steel brewing equipment above the bar.
The concrete smokestack adjacent to the building has been converted into a private dining room for groups. It's a little austere but certainly unique!
312 Pearl Pkwy, San Antonio, TX, southerleigh.com
2. Brasserie Mon Chou Chou
Founded by three Frenchmen who came to call San Antonio home, Brasserie Mon Chou Chou provides high-quality French comfort food in a casual setting.
The Parisian-inspired restaurant opened at the Pearl in November 2020 and quickly became a local favorite. Chef Laurent Rea, a native of Strasbourg, leads the kitchen.
Menu highlights include an ooey-gooey Raclette cheese sandwich, various steaks (just reading "pan-seared foie gras sauce" makes my mouth water), chicken cordon bleu, and baked branzino with brown butter sauce.
During my first visit, I put my money on the Bourguignon de Joue de Boeuf, braised beef cheeks in a Burgundy wine sauce. The generous portion of tender meat made for a hearty lunch on a cool autumn afternoon.
Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can order the Plat du Jour (Dish of the Day) for $22. The house salad, petit fours, and tea or coffee are included in the price.
French food lovers will appreciate the omelets, quiches, and cheeseburgers on the Sunday brunch menu, plus more decadent items like beef Bourguignon Benedict.
312 Pearl Pkwy, San Antonio, TX, brasseriemonchouchou.com
In 2013, Wisconsin-born chef Steve McHugh opened his first San Antonio restaurant, Cured, with his wife Sylvai in the former Pearl Brewery Administration Building.
Exposed brick walls, hardwood flooring, and a pressed-tin ceiling are reminders of the structure's century-old history.
Chef McHugh, a five-time James Beard Award Finalist, serves locally sourced, house-cured foods, namely charcuterie and pickled vegetables.
Guests can choose three, six, or nine items from the charcuterie options, including various meats and cheeses.
The 60-day cured pork coppa was a highlight for me, and when I didn't like the smoked duck I picked out, my waitress generously gave me a chance to replace it.
Dinner entrees run the gamut from masa flash-fried oysters and whole rainbow trout to a double-cut pork chop, gumbo, and turtle soup with dry-aged beef.
Housemade food items, including pork butter, chicken liver mousse, seasonal stocks, pickles, and seasonings, are available for purchase.
306 Pearl Pkwy UNIT 101, San Antonio, TX, curedatpearl.com
I've had my eye on Ladino, a modern Mediterranean restaurant by Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group, since it opened at the Pearl in September 2022.
The dips get you off to a mouthwatering start. I skipped the hummus in favor of butternut squash with harissa, and we received the spicy feta with Fresno and Aleppo pepper as a gift from the kitchen.
Both were so tasty we took leftovers home to enjoy with the baked pita, made on-site in a wood-burning oven.
Our server recommended beef and lamb dumplings in yogurt with smoked chili; these five little guys were my favorite dish. She warned us that the lamb belly ribs were fatty, and indeed they were. Kel enjoyed them more than I did.
The date cake with Texas pecan and Turkish coffee ice cream offered a highly satisfying end to our first lunch at Ladino.
200 E Grayson St #100, San Antonio, TX, ladinosatx.com
5. Best Quality Daughter
At Best Quality Daughter, chef Jennifer Dobbertin serves New Asian American cuisine in the Mueller House, the restored home of Ernst Mueller, chief barrel maker at the Pearl Brewery.
In 2023, chef Dobbertin was recognized nationally for her work when she was named a James Beard Award Semifinalist for Emerging Chef of the Year.
The pink and white house has a beautifully decorated little bar and several dining rooms. We were seated in the center of one plastered with pink floral wallpaper.
Mochi cheddar hush puppies with Thai chili got us off to a good start. Korean corn cheese spring rolls and Taiwanese popcorn chicken also sounded tasty.
Kel and I shared the cashew chicken lunch special, served family-style with steamed rice. And it was more than enough food for both of us. The curry guisasda Dan Dan, made with Peeler Farms Wagyu beef, also sounded appealing.
The milk oolong ice cream sandwich missed the mark for me; the bread was tough, and the ice cream wasn't too flavorful.
Take advantage of happy hour to sample their terrific house cocktails, which are half-off between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
602 Avenue A, San Antonio, TX, bestqualitydaughter.com
Venezuelan chef Geronimo Lopez opened Botika at the Pearl in 2016 after working as an executive chef and instructor at the Culinary Institute of America's (CIA) San Antonio campus mere steps away.
Furthermore, there are signs of Chinese influence as well. Chinese Peruvian cuisine is known as Chifa.
All this is to say there's much to choose from on the menu, from fresh seafood, including sushi and ceviche, to eggplant noodles and charred octopus. Safe bets include Peru's national dish, lomo saltado, and the Botika burger, cited as one of the best in the Pearl.
While I was seated at a table for lunch with a group of people, my eye was drawn to the colorful bar area, where B&W scenes from a Godzilla movie were playing on the TVs. The atmosphere is casual, and the prices are not too steep.
303 Pearl Pkwy #111, San Antonio, TX, botikapearl.com
I was introduced to Carriqui at the Pearl in San Antonio during my December 2023 trip for Holidays on Houston Street and fell in love with it.
The 130-year-old wooden building originally served the community as Boehler's Liberty Saloon. When Prohibition ended in 1933, it was the first bar to receive beer from the Pearl Brewery.
In 2020, the city approved the relocation of the historic building, which had been undergoing repairs to its foundation. It was meticulously renovated, providing a beautiful space for South Texas cuisine to shine.
The restaurant is named after the green jay, a tropical bird whose territory extends from Southern Texas through Mexico to Honduras.
To get you going, the menu features queso with fire-roasted chiles, sweet corn cakes, and nachos. Smoked Texas brisket, beef cheek barbacoa, and oak-grilled fish a la Veracruz to fill you up.
I can vouch for the desserts, which include pecan pie with vanilla custard, crispy churros with Mexican chocolate, and tres leches cake.
Carriqui's Smokehouse Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. allow guests to see what's cooking in the Pit House and enjoy live music on the patio.
239 E Grayson St, San Antonio, TX, carriquitx.com
8. Bakery Lorraine at the Pearl
My first experience with Bakery Lorraine came at The Domain in Austin, where I'd dropped in for a pastry one day. Fast forward to 2023, when I began visiting San Antonio more often, and it was only natural to pop into their bakery at the Pearl.
While the interior felt more claustrophobic than The Domain's space, I knew I could count on a similarly enticing array of pastries.
Sure enough, my eye honed in on the "Ridiculously Large Thin Mint," which I could not resist. If only the Girl Scouts made their cookies this large!
Runner-up for my choice that day was the pain au chocolat. Almond croissants, kouign amanns, morning buns, and glazed cinnamon rolls also greeted guests, as did colorful Parisian macarons.
Founders Jeremy Mandrell and Anne Ng didn't set out to open an award-winning bakery when they moved from the San Francisco Bay to San Antonio, but that's precisely what they did. Both were named 2023 James Beard Award Semifinalists for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker.
306 Pearl Pkwy #110, San Antonio, TX, bakerylorraine.com
As our culinary journey through the best restaurants at the Pearl concludes, it's clear that this San Antonio neighborhood has much to offer.
From the rustic charm of Southerleigh's Fine Food & Brewery to the sizzle of Carriqui's live-fire cooking, the Pearl encapsulates the spirit of San Antonio—diverse, vibrant, and deliciously unforgettable.
My meals at Southerleigh, Botika, and Carriqui were complimentary in collaboration with Visit San Antonio.