When your taste buds are craving some authentic chili con queso with “the big chip,” homemade tortillas, or a beautifully crafted margarita, Alamo Café in San Antonio, Texas should definitely be your next stop! Currently, under the leadership of the Pat Hanlon family, Alamo Café has been family-owned and operated since 1981. With two locations from which to choose, the restaurants each feature an upbeat, festive atmosphere that welcomes guests of all ages.
The original Alamo Café location was opened on San Pedro Avenue in 1981 and four years later, in August of 1985, the second IH-10 location opened its doors. The name Alamo Café was decided on based on the proximity to the Alamo as well as the desire for the restaurant to have a café feel, with a Tex-Mex menu. In March 1996, fifteen years after opening the original restaurant, Alamo Café relocated to its current home on US-281; the San Pedro location closed. The 281 location is larger and considered the flagship restaurant for the company, better able to accommodate the rapid growth the business was experiencing.
The newest addition to Alamo Café at the 281 location is Patio 81, created to be the “happy hour bar.” After enjoying the bar, upon entering the restaurant, you will look up to find a mock Texas sky, featuring gorgeous changing colors that mimic the rising and setting of the sun. Guests can enjoy the engaging atmosphere while watching staff in the Tortilla Factory prepare fresh, handmade tortillas to serve hot off the griddle! These are especially tasty dipped in the mouth-watering queso that is considered a highlight of Alamo Café. The 281 location also features a small stream flowing through the restaurant as well as various windows that let in the natural Texas sunshine. If your visit is not during the dog days of summer when the thermometer hits the triple digits, a patio area featuring a manmade stream and a grove of shade trees creates a quaint outdoor dining experience. Included in this area is a small green lawn, which is a great area to let the kids burn off some energy.
Both restaurants operate from 10:45 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:45 a.m. until midnight Friday through Saturday. They are open daily, with the exceptions of Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Alamo Café prides itself in being one of the few restaurants in town that can accommodate large walk-in groups of 20 to 30. Guests have come to rely on this as they consider their dining options in San Antonio. “We strongly believe in serving high-quality food at a good value to our guests. We strive to create a family-friendly atmosphere where people can gather for great food, and a good time,” said owner Pat Hanlon.
In addition to the best queso in town, Alamo Café has many great menu items. Their fajita meat, also used in their quesadillas and in a few salads, is consistently tender, flavorful, and juicy. Additional guest favorites that come highly recommended include the tortilla soup, brisket quesadillas, avocado enchiladas, sizzling fajitas, and chicken fried steak. Appealing to the younger taste buds, Alamo Café offers a kid’s menu to its more youthful visitors, including some Tex-Mex choices of puffy tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, or nachos. If the kiddos are in the mood for more all-American fare, they offer hamburgers, grilled cheese, and chicken nuggets served with french fries.
If the adults are looking for drinks from the bar to pair with their dinner, Alamo Café’s House Margaritas are a definite winner. This drink comes in lime, strawberry, mango, chamoy, or prickly pear. If you are looking for something with a sweet and spicy kick, the Jalapeño-Strawberry Margarita is a great choice. For a premium margarita experience, choose the San Antonio Shaker Margarita.
Along with serving up delicious in-house fare, Alamo Café offers their mouth-watering cuisine to private parties. There are currently four party rooms at the 281 location and a recently remodeled one at the I-10 location, each with the space to hold 140 guests. A creatively unique feature of Alamo Café’s catering is the offering of their one-of-a-kind queso fountain. To truly impress guests, this flowing fountain of smooth and spicy cheese can be set up off-site at private events, or in an in-house banquet room. Additionally, the Patio 81 Bar at the 281 location can accommodate groups of up to 50 for anyone looking to host a happy hour event. Alamo Café has a dedicated events manager ready to assist with arranging all the details.
A delectable banquet menu is offered that includes the choice of plated foods or buffet-style cuisine. For the plated option, a choice of three entrees can be included on each plate, including several Alamo Café favorites such as the sizzling fajitas, tortilla soup and tacos, chicken fried steak, and fajita ensalada. Included in the buffet options are scrumptious fajita dinner with all the fixings, an appetizer buffet that includes chicken quesadillas, and build-your-own nachos, mini flautas, fried stuffed jalapeños, a fiesta dinner buffet with a choice of beef, chicken, or cheese enchiladas, build-your-own beef tacos and chalupas with rice, beans, and toppings.
Online ordering for pick-up is available for when you are in the mood for the amazing Alamo Café flavors but do not have time for a sit-down meal. This allows you to bypass any restaurant wait time, pick up your meal, and be on your way in no time. Curbside take-out for to-go orders, as well as delivery, are also offered.
Cooking and serving great food in a welcoming, festive atmosphere is not Alamo Café’s only specialty. The restaurant also strives to model impeccable business practices that others in the industry want to replicate. This includes providing exemplary service in all departments, such as Administrative, Catering & Events, Human Resources, Marketing, Operations, and Training & Development. The way in which Alamo Café has continued to be a staple in the community among locals and tourists points toward the high level of quality they provide in both the business and operations side, as well as the cooking and customer service side.
The Pat Hanlon family owns two different restaurant concepts in the San Antonio area, including Alamo Café and Salata. The Hanlon family’s Salata franchise locations currently include three in the Austin area and four in the San Antonio area, with additional locations in San Antonio coming soon. Providing leadership for both of these restaurant concepts allows the Hanlon family to demonstrate high-quality service in both the full-service and quick-service sides of the industry.