Review: Casa Rio and County Line, San Antonio, TX

Barbecue and Tex-Mex, what else are you going to eat in San Antonio?

The problem with San Antonio is that in their tourist information, all they do is talk about how great the Riverwalk is, how you don’t need a car, you can walk everywhere, etcetera, etcetera.  WRONG. The Riverwalk is pretty, but with the exception of one or two restaurants, entirely made of chains.  And if you want to do something besides eat or drink, you’re out of luck– you’ll have to go somewhere else.  This is a great place for conventioneers and tourists, but not so great for someone with a bit more wanderlust.

Being carless (and only there for about 48 hours), we hit up Urban Spoon for some suggestions.  Terry saw County Line Barbecue and decided it would be lunch on my first day there.  Barbecue?  Who am I to argue?  Lots of people on Urban Spoon liked it, so off we went.

We had a coupon for a “free appetizer” which was smoked sausage.  Not bad– beefy and a little spicy and very smoky.

County Line, San Antonio

Since I’m a pork barbecue kind of girl, and they didn’t really HAVE pork on the menu (something about being in Texas…) I got the smoked chicken, which was excellent.  Well-seasoned, well-smoked (but not too smoky), with really tasty skin and meat that fell off the bones.  I would totally go back and get it again.  The potato salad, one of my side choices, was okay (if a bit mushy), but the coleslaw was superb– thickly cut with a tangy, creamy dressing.

County Line, San Antonio

Terry got brisket and a beef rib, along with coleslaw and fries.  The fries were frozen and only OK.  The brisket was flavorful, but not particularly moist, which is something I’m not used to in smoked foods– smoking generally yields a moist product.  The beef rib was practically inedible, as the meat was so tough you couldn’t get it off the bone.  This was pretty confusing.   A friend of mine who is from Texas said that in that particular part of Texas, the cattle have very lean meat, which doesn’t help with moisture (fat=marbling=moist product).  Also, Texas barbecue is more about the sauce than the meat (according to my friend), so the sauce was good– tomatoey, a little sweet, a little tart, a little spicy– and was supposed to be the standout feature.

Learn something new every day.

As Terry says, if it ain’t pork, it ain’t barbecue.  And I’m sticking to my pork barbecue, thanks.

County Line, San Antonio

Our next day’s lunch, before we headed to the airport, had to be Tex Mex, as we hadn’t had any yet.  Can’t leave Texas without it, so off we went to the Riverwalk (again).

Casa Rio, which has been on the Riverwalk since 1946 (in other words, before it was Tex Mex Disneyworld) is supposed to have some fairly authentic Tex-Mex food.  The scenery was pretty– ducks swimming in the river, dining outside in the middle of November.  The food was… okay.

Casa Rio

The chips and salsa were the best part of the meal.  Freshly cooked chips paired with “warm” but not hot salsa was a great combination.  Their guacamole was pretty nice, too, though a bit spicier than I like.  I’m a wuss, I admit it.  The margaritas were also nice.

Casa Rio

This was my meal– a cheese enchilada and a chalupa.  The chalupa reminded me a bit of a tostone– very bland.  I expected something akin to flatbread and was disappointed.  The cheese enchilada was cheesy, but not spectacular.  Terry’s meal was essentially the same, with the addition of a very tender chili con carne.  I think if I were to go again, I’d get the chili con carne, some tortilla chips, salsa, guac, and a margarita and call it a day.

If you go to San Antonio, rent a car and go away from the center of the city– I hear the missions (and the restaurants) get better the further out you go.  Tomorrow, I’ll post the review for Citrus, which was a a gem in the middle of downtown San Antonio.
Casa Rio on Urbanspoon
County Line on Urbanspoon

  • Jim

    At Casa Rio, I always go for the chili con carne and a plate of tamales. They are consistently very good. Everything else is pretty blah.

    County Line BBQ is a chain for tourist. And, I’m afraid your friend is wrong about Texas BBQ. It IS about the meat! Although, they ARE quite proud of their sauces!

    I’m from Cincinnati, but I’ve worked throughout Texas over the last 40 years. ALL BBQ joints have brisket, pork ribs, sausage, chicken and ham. Some have turkey, pork chops, pork loin, pulled pork and beef ribs.