Rosario’s New Location Becomes One of Southtown’s Coolest Hot Spots
By Janis Turk | Photography by Kody Melton
For decades Southtown’s epicenter has been Rosario’s ComidaMex & Bar, a local landmark located for years on the corner of Alamo Street and South St. Mary’s. Standing in the shadow of Hemisfair, just a few blocks from downtown, Southtown offers an eclectic, authentic San Antonio ambiance.
This February, however, Rosario’s dropped its apron at its old corner location and moved a few blocks down St. Mary’s into the building that had long housed El Mirador restaurant. Enhancing its atmosphere and making an even splashier impact on the ever-evolving, art-centric neighborhood, Rosario’s new 25,000-square-foot space stands tall and bright.
Many longtime Rosario’s lovers, initially skeptical about the move, and some who mourned El Mirador’s closing, now agree that the move was the right thing for customers and the community. The ambiance is decidedly different, but its food isn’t, so Rosario’s is sure to remain a Southtown institution.
Rosario’s owner/founder Lisa Wong appreciates what it takes to keep customers happy: “Consistently great food and service.” The same enchilada plate customers could count on every time they’ve come is exactly what they’ll find here, thanks in large part, she says, to her longtime loyal “cook extraordinaire,” as Wong calls Manuel Lopez, who’s worked with Wong for 20+ years. Lopez, Wong, and two of her nieces, vice president Michelle W. Gonzalez and manager Ashley Cavazos, care about every plate they serve and every aspect of the restaurant. “Rosarios is my legacy to my family; I couldn’t do this without them,” says Wong, an attractive, smart, and business-savvy force. Wong is also a co-founder and the C.O.O. of Ácenar next door to Hotel Valencia.
Rosario’s former location on San Pedro closed in March, allowing time to concentrate on the new Southtown location. Its new indoor dining room and outdoor patios are colorful and inviting. Inside, guests behold a bright fuchsia back wall while tables in front face floor-to-ceiling windows. The sleek modern vibe retains a sense of warmth, with modern furnishings and organic textures, like touches of brick, wood, natural fibers, and even authentic Mexican pigskin equipale chairs. Architectural elements and warm textural touches were intentionally integrated into the design. Original masonry walls line a quiet back room, adorned by two works from local artist Eva Marengo Sanchez of classic Concha pastries (an homage to Wong’s late mother). Also, El Mirador’s small Kiva fireplace room remains intact, honoring its special place in Southtown’s past.
Adjacent to Rosario’s, the King William Garden House will soon become a private event space. Wong is respectful of the 1860s-era caliche stone edifice and its historical significance. An official landmark, Wong lovingly renamed it “Casa Isabel,” honoring her late mother.
Behind the restaurant where parking is plentiful, notice the enormous mural by internationally-renowned Chilean artist INTI (Inti Castro). Also, look for the summer opening of Rosario’s rooftop bar and lounge, offering peerless vistas of the city skyline and the Tower of the Americas.
Most importantly, Rosario’s offers the same kind of menu customers have come to love. Try the in-house made fire-roasted salsas and chips, appetizers like shishito peppers sprinkled with sea salt, and (my favorite) the fabulous Mexican street corn made with both queso fresco and Cotija cheese. Enjoy Rosario’s spectacular fresh ceviche or classics, like its famous enchiladas, rich creamy moles, stuffed puffy tacos, and more. We loved the yummy vegan cauliflower chile relleno stuffed with fresh carrots and sweet potato hay covered in a light poblano pepper cream sauce. Rosario’s also offers an exciting full bar menu with eight classic margaritas, nine tequila and mezcal cocktails, eight specialty cocktails, 13 national and local draft beers, 17 bottled beers, and 21 wine selections.
“We offer Mexican comfort food that is simple and delicious. I’ve owned my own restaurant since I was 18, so I learned long ago what my customers want: great food and attentive service. They’ll find that here every time,” says Wong.
The modern space is colorful, but Wong ensured it would not be too loud or too large. “It’s Rosario’s re-imagined. Our customers are our family. Rosario’s is their home as much as mine,” says Wong.
Taking the tired out of Tex-Mex and offering a fresh, colorful take on tried and true traditions, Rosario’s ComidaMex & Bar remains a San Antonio staple. Keeping its unique culture – and its cool – Southtown won’t lose its unique flavor as long as Rosario’s is around.
Rosario’s ComidaMex & Bar
722 S. St. Mary’s Street
(210) 223-1806 | Rosariossa.com