End of an era

San Antonio Tex-Mex eatery shutters after 50 years in Southtown

San Antonio Tex-Mex eatery shutters after 50 years in Southtown

El Mirador
After 50 years in business, El Mirador is closing to make way for a new concept. El Mirador San Antonio/Facebook

First, the bad news. El Mirador, a Southtown staple for 50 years, is closing. According to a release, architect and developer Chris Hill has sold the property at 722 S. Saint Mary’s St. to restaurateur Lisa Wong, who will be developing a new concept on the property.

The shutter marks the end of an era in Alamo City’s dining scene. Julian and Maria Treviño first debuted the eatery in 1960 with a menu inspired by family recipes. It quickly became one of the most popular Tex-Mex eateries in town, drawing a crowd that included everything from politicians to blue collar workers.

Hill has been running the historic restaurant since 2014, giving both the decor and the menu a complete makeover in 2016. It was a risky move. Some online reviewers welcomed the changes, especially the switch to handmade tortillas. Yet others decried the aesthetic, labeling it with the ultimate San Antonio insult: “Austin hipster.”

Although Wong owns similar contemporary Mexican restaurants Acenar and Rosario’s Mexican Cafe y Cantina, she has no plans to carry on the El Mirador name, and Hill will not be taking the concept to a new location.

Now, the good news. San Antonians can look forward to three new eateries. Although the release did not reveal Wong’s future plans, she did provide a statement to the San Antonio Express-News.

"I appreciate the legacy left behind by the Treviño family, the loyal fanbase, and I look forward to creating a space that the community will equally support in the years to come," she told the paper.

Meanwhile, Hill is busy working on his next chapter. Along with Spot On Hospitality, he is working on a tiki spot to be located downtown.

He is also involved in the upcoming Canopy by Hilton, a hotel being built next door to his River Walk bars, The Esquire Tavern and Downstairs at the Esquire. That project will include a restaurant with a menu from another San Antonio food scene heavy hitter, Andrew Weissman.

But if all that change is hard to handle, there is one last chance to relive El Mirador memories. On November 18, the restaurant will be offering a buffet feast for $9.95 or free with the purchase of an alcoholic beverage or cocktail. And to give back to the community that has supported it for half a century, the eatery will be donating all leftover food to the San Antonio Food Bank.