Schilo’s Gets it Right for One Hundred Years
Schilo’s (pronounced She-Lows) has been a fixture on San Antonio’s downtown landscape since 1917. The Schilo family was part of the German migration to Texas that helped shape the backbone of the city. Fritz Shilo moved his family and business (Schilo’s Saloon) here from Beeville, Texas, opening shop on South Alamo. The saloon was short lived however thanks to Prohibition. But that didn’t stop the entrepreneurship of the Schilo’s. Even before prohibition, the family decided to start serving food and the deli we know today was born. Schilo’s moved twice more in the years to come, which brought them to Commerce Street and their current location.
You will want to drink in the abundant history while dining here like the mirror backed bar thought to be from Mr. Shilo’s saloon in Beeville. The restaurant has an historic look with the old wood and limestone interior features along with the original pressed tin ceiling. Check out the framed vintage German post cards in the back room and be sure to buy a bottle of their world famous hot mustard while here. It’s delicious history in a bottle!
The eatery was able to survive the depression in part thanks to the hearty German fare Mrs. Shilo started cooking using her own recipes. And because beer was not allowed, Papa Fritz developed a recipe for root beer which was a hit with his patrons. This sweet treat is still pleasing the locals today as are many of Mrs. Schilo’s time-honored recipes. For instance, you will still find the Split Pea Soup, a traditional dish made here so long ago. The recipe has changed a bit to keep up with the times (gluten-free & vegetarian), but it is still one of the most requested items on the menu.
The Ruben sandwich made simply with corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese all piled high between two slices of premium grilled rye bread, is a real treat here. There are no crazy “extra” items on this sandwich. It’s just pure and delicious Ruben all the way. Of course, if you desire to dip, there is a side of Thousand Island Dressing for dipping. For a small extra charge, you can add a cup of soup (get the Split Pea) or a garden salad.
There are other German favorites to try here also like the Wienerschnitzel, Potato Pancakes, or some Bratwurst or Knockwurst. If you prefer to stay in culinary America, there are many great choices as well, like the Patty Melt, Chicken Fritz Sandwich or the Submarine.
Schilo’s does sell beer again offering a nice mix of both Texas and German brews. Not sure what you like? Do a flight of all Texan, all German or a mixed tasting. If you decide to stick with the Root Beer, that’s fine too. Or maybe do beer now and a Root Beer Float for dessert. Best of both worlds!
Schilo’s is also offering a new smaller bites menu. Something for a light lunch or with a beer flight at Happy Hour with friends. The Mixed Sampler Basket with grilled sausages, cubed cheese, apple slices and crackers is a great choice for several people to munch on. Add some of their world famous Schilo’s Hot Mustard. It’s a good kind of hot that cleans the sinuses and makes your eyes water. Or maybe Spud Skins is more your style. These potato skins are scooped out small baked potatoes that are filled with warm German potato salad, topped with cheddar cheese & bacon and grilled in the oven. As my German friend always says, “Life is good”!
And you shouldn’t leave here without trying one of the great desserts they make. Miss Irma’s Apple Streussel served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream will have you singing a high note. The Homemade Cheesecake is a Schilo’s favorite which I like plain, but you can get it topped with cherries or strawberries too. And the warm blackberry cobbler a la mode in a rich, flaky pastry is something that will cause your eyes to roll back in your head.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You will find a mixture of American & German items on the large breakfast menu and all are generous servings meant to fill you up before hitting the streets to see the nearby Alamo and other San Antonio sights.They even have breakfast tacos brought in fresh each morning from their sister restaurant, Casa Rio.
Stop into this eatery for a beer, slice of cheesecake or pick up a take-out for dinner tonight. And don’t forget a bottle of that famous hot mustard! They also have their 2017 Fiesta medals commemorating the restaurant’s century of German-Texan cuisine available for purchase. Schilo’s will be celebrating their 100th anniversary in October of this year. Keep checking back here for special news and events happening around this centennial celebration.
**Full Disclosure: I received lunch in exchange for my review. All opinions are 100% mine.
424 E. Commerce St., San Antonio, TX 78205
Open Monday – Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Monday – Saturday 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.