Spurred on by my mother’s great experiences at Alamo Cafe in San Antonio, Texas, my daughter and I decided to have a late lunch at the restaurant.
Alamo Cafe has two locations in San Antonio. We visited the restaurant at 14250 Hwy 281 North. Arriving after the lunch rush, I figured we would be seated quickly and served just as fast.
Our hostess took us to a booth. As we walked past the tortilla factory, my mouth began to water. The smells swirling through the area were almost too much for a ravenous Texan.
The menu is extensive at the Alamo Cafe. I had a hard time choosing from several pages of meals. I’ve also watched too many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey chastising failing restaurateurs for putting everything and the kitchen sink on a menu. Nevertheless, the seafood flautas sounded interesting so I asked for our waitress’ recommendation. Kristen, our waitress, confirmed that the flautas were an excellent choice.
Seafood flautas ($9.50) are filled with shrimp, crab, and minced squash and smothered in a jalapeno green sauce topped off with feta cheese. Grilled vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, and broccoli) and rice accompany the flautas. My daughter chose the #3 enchilada plate. For $7.50, you get two enchiladas (choice of beef, chicken, cheese, green chicken, or sour cream chicken) and your choice of red, green, cheese, or chili sauce. Three sides accompany the meal: rice, beans, and a cheese tostada.
My daughter drank pink lemonade ($2.25) and I had ice water with lemon.
I gotta say, I had high expectations of my meal and the general experience at the Alamo Cafe. Maybe it’s because my mom loves going there with her friends. Maybe it’s because my daughter and I were having a fun “girl day.” We definitely were in good spirits and expecting the best.
The best is certainly not what we got.
Seafood flautas were a stretch for me. There’s something about fish and shellfish in a Tex-Mex restaurant that seems off. However, I thought I’d throw caution to the wind. That wasn’t a wise choice this time.
I ate part of my meal before putting my fork down permanently. Honestly, it was some of the worst Tex-Mex food I’ve had, but I suppose if you’re not well-versed in authentic Mexican food or just dipping your toes into the world of Tex-Mex, you might be fooled. The blend of shrimp, crab, and squash didn’t mix well. The seafood didn’t taste fresh and the flautas, overall, were bland. The fried tortillas were too crisp and burnt on the ends. The jalapeno green sauce certainly smothered the seafood flautas, and practically everything else on my plate. What I came away with? An overwhelming sense of what Alamo Cafe’s jalapeno green sauce tastes like. It’s also worth noting that feta cheese and Tex-Mex don’t mix.
The side of grilled veggies were okay, but they tasted frozen, not fresh. Yuck.
It’s sad to say that the rice was the overall winner on my plate. However, this rice couldn’t hold a candle to the Tex-Mex rice sides I’m used to.
My daughter enjoyed her food more than I did, but wasn’t impressed enough to frequent the Alamo Cafe a second time. Her thoughts were, “The enchilada sauce was really tasty. This food is a good medium between Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican food. But there are far better Tex-Mex restaurants out there, like Tamale King, which is not saying much considering Tamale King is in Buchanan Dam and we’re eating at what should be an amazing restaurant in a big city.”
The chips and salsa, served when we were seated, were nice. The chips were warm, multicolored, and crisp. The red salsa was okay. Personally, I make better fresh salsa at home, and I can get authentic, interior Mexican salsa that’s far tastier at the taco trucks in Kingsland, Texas.
The flour tortillas were the best items that I ate. Fresh, hot, and perfectly cooked, these homemade tortillas are to die for. I can see why the staff in the tortilla factory are smiling. It’s a slice of heaven in there!
All in all, I felt Alamo Cafe’s prices were unreasonable for the quality of food served.
If my story ended here, we’d be good. I’d simply say the Alamo Cafe’s food sucks and I’m not going back. But there’s more.
Beyond feeding your patrons quality food, you should give your customers quality service, too.
I rarely complain about waitstaff because I know how hard servers work. It’s a thankless, demanding job. Hell, I’m easily impressed by even mediocre service. Our waitress, Kristen, seemed nice enough in the beginning. She smiled, helped me look through the vast menu for dishes I’d like, made eye contact, and seemed interested in my daughter and me as customers. After the initial greeting and handing out our menus, taking our drink orders, and offering meal suggestions, she disappeared.
Keep in mind the time we arrived. It was after the lunch rush. Alamo Cafe was not busy and Kristen’s section had only our table to serve.
About fifteen minutes after we ordered our drinks, Kristen returned with the water and lemonade and asked if we were ready to order, which we did. Shortly after that, two young men were seated in the booth in front of us. For whatever reason, Kristen couldn’t tear herself away from flirting and talking with these men.
It bears adding that throughout our meal, which ended quicker than usual because we weren’t keen on the food, Kristen was present at the booth in front of us and eagerly helping those customers with anything they wanted.
All this while my daughter’s lemonade needed refilling and I wanted the tab so I could pay and we could hit the road. I waved to Kristen several times and she ignored me. What? Not appropriate. Not cool at all.
Would I recommend the Alamo Cafe? Nope. Truly, having a better waitress would have made a mundane meal more pleasing. I’m big on customer service and Kristen annoyed me to no end. Disappearing acts and ignoring customers when they depend on your services is unprofessional.
The Alamo Cafe is located 14250 Hwy 281 North, San Antonio, Texas 78232. The phone number is 210/495-2233. A second location is at 10060 IH-10 West in San Antonio, Texas 78230. The phone number is 210/691-8827.
The establishment has been in business since 1981. Both locations are family-friendly and casual dress. Banquets and catering services are available.
The restaurants are open every day of the week and hours are as follows: Sunday-Thursday 10:45 a.m-11 p.m, Friday-Saturday 10:45 a.m. until midnight. Alamo Cafe is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Easter Sunday.