NAO at The Culinary Institute of America San Antonio

NAO at The Culinary Institute of America San Antonio

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://naorestaurant.com/
  • Phone: 2105546484x
  • Hours of Operation:
    Dinner: Monday - Saturday: 5:30pm - 10:00pm, Sunday: Closed
    Late Night: Friday & Saturday 10:00pm - 2:00am
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Carte Blanche,Diners Club,Discover,JCB,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Latin American, South American, Tapas / Small Plates
  • Executive Chef: Geronimo Lopez
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Chef's Table, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Getting there

  • Cross Street: East Grayson
  • Parking: Public Lot
  • Parking Details: Free Parking at the Pearl Brewery
A word from NAO at The Culinary Institute of America San Antonio
NAO restaurant is dedicated to the exploration, preservation, and celebration of the authentic cuisines, cultures, and bounty of Latin America. Unique flavors, inspired by iconic ingredients and indigenous preparations, are presented in a contemporary style. Distinctive and exciting cocktails and beverages compliment the cuisine. And an extensive wine list rounds out the experience in this modern and dramatic setting.
Continued
Foodspotting photos
See all photos
Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerFit for Foodies
  • Diners' Choice WinnerHot Spot
NAO at The Culinary Institute of America San Antonio reviews from OpenTable diners
58 reviews since July 3, 2014
Overall Rating4.4
  • Food4.4
    Service4.3
  • Ambiance4.4
    Noise LevelModerate
89% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (44)special occasion (33)neighborhood gem (18)notable wine list (17)hot spot (16)good for groups (15)romantic (14)great for outdoor dining (7)late-night find (6)vibrant bar scene (6)scenic view (2)great for lunch (2)Show More
  • Missteps abound
    jmburton
    Dined on 5/2/2014
    Second visit to NAO, and it fell way short of our first. Service was not up to par with our first visit. A restaurant training the future leaders in food culture needs to bring its "A" game. We looked forward to the small puffs of bread that are served just prior to the appetizer course, but they were greasy on the outside and wholly undercooked doughy mush on the inside. The mahi ceviche appetizer should have probably been sent back. The overly fishy smell also carried over into an entrée also featuring mahi. Even though it was cooked properly, the lack of basic seasoning on the pork chop entrée was a huge disappointment. Any time I have to ask the server for salt is a huge red flag! We didn't even want to stay for dessert.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • NAO
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008VIP
    Dined on 4/19/2014
    We have been there before, and this time did not disappoint, either. It's a bit noisy for my liking, but the food and service were great!
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • An exquisite dinner
    love2toeatwell
    Dined on 4/19/2014
    Always wanted to go an experience the different menus! It was a wonderful experience and delicious flavors. The short ribs were excellent but should have been warmer; they were not hot out of the grill. Nevertheless, they were delicious! Will go again, again, and again. My compliments to the excellent Chefs.
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Romantic, special occasion, Vibrant Bar Scene, Notable Wine List
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Consistently delightful
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 4/18/2014
    It is always delightful to be surprised by an elegant and inventive menu. I know when I dine at Nao I can count on discovering something new. I love the prix fixe menus and wine pairings. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and obviously takes pride in their work. The decor is tasteful, but the ambience is comfortable and unpretentious. Nao is now my favorite restaurant in San Antonio. Don't change a thing!
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Romantic, special occasion, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Fabulous evening!
    Tweynand
    Dined on 4/15/2014
    We had a wonderful server! She was new, and just as excited about the delicious Chilean foods! Each plate was inventive and just plain yummy! Our drinks and wine were perfectly coordinated with our meal as well! Cannot wait to go back!!
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Good for Groups, special occasion, Late-Night Find, Neighborhood Gem, Hot Spot, Notable Wine List
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great find
    MikeVIP
    Dined on 4/9/2014
    Great team of hard working professionals. Can not wait to come back to San Antonio.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, late-night find, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not recommended
    live2eat
    Dined on 4/7/2014
    Food was expensive and poorly prepared and presented. The steak was good - hard to ruin a piece of meat. The salad greens thrown on top of the steak made no sense. Oxtail soup looked and tasted like dishwater, with only two miniscule pieces of meat in the broth. Server was inattentive and appeared to be bored. Beer was good.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • CIA standard
    cavdocVIP
    Dined on 4/5/2014
    Top Culinary school sends one forth on a Latin American dining adventure. Menu changes, always fresh, food well prepared this is a dlightful evening. Students and staff combine for an outstanding dining experience.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not great....
    LynneR912VIP
    Dined on 4/5/2014
    Disappointing, was hoping for decent service and good food as this is an arm of the Culinary Institute. Tried the tasting menu, the first course was delivered stone-cold (was supposed to be hot...), the second course, a sirloin steak, was gristly and full of fat but the toppings were tasty. The dessert and the paired wines were good; however, the wines were delivered well after the food for the second and third course. My partner's food was okay, his rib-eye was cooked correctly and the accompanying side dishes were good. The place is beautiful, and parking was a snap; but, it's sad that the best items to comment on are the decor and parking and the food and service comes in a distance third....
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • A San Antonio Gem!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 4/4/2014
    This is an unusual experience in that most of the staff including the wait and cooking are CIA students. The kitchen is open to view and the cooking is entertainment. Food is real foodie fare and one of the best restaurant experiences we have had. Compares favorably with the CIA Napa Valley. Fantastic service and quality food make for a special culinary experience. Five star in our view.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Everything we ordered was
    SazaracLoverVIP
    Dined on 4/4/2014
    Everything we ordered was perfect. Great steaks, appetizers and cocktails.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OK..but not impressive.
    vinosetc
    Dined on 4/2/2014
    Staff was very accomodating, in error i booked the wrong date for dinner and the hostest found a way to make it happen. The restaurant was good but nothing spectacular...I have been to better CIA.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Argentina!
    TexasSourdoughVIP
    Dined on 3/27/2014
    We went to NAO for the Argentina tasting menu. (I had been in Argentina earlier in March and wanted my wife to share the experience as best as possible.) She had empanadas for an appetizer and I had crispy sweetbreads, a chickpea "sopa", and an Argentine sauseage. All were very good. The empnadas were very authentic in flavor though in some ways a bit more up-scale and ultimately not quite as good as the ones we had in Patagonia. These were accompanied by a sparkling Malbec which was quite nice and interesting. A good paring. For the main course we had sirloins with chimichurri and a conventional Malbec. The chimichurri was very good and hte entire course was quite satisfying. Dessert was cookies, creme, and a late harvest Malbec. VGood!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Creative and delicious cuisine
    RoadWarriorAZVIP
    Dined on 3/25/2014
    We were here late on a weeknight, so we practically had the place to ourselves. We appreciated that we didn't feel rushed in spite of being the last party there. Our meal was a collection of appetizers, and all of them were creative and well executed. The little cheese bread balls were the hit of the night, I hate to admit. The cocktails were properly prepared and our server was very pleasant and knowledgeable. I love supporting culinary school restaurants, and this one is now one of my favorites.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • We thought they had remarkably
    Javi
    Dined on 3/22/2014
    We thought they had remarkably good cocktails and the food was excellent. The restaurant ambience was bright, colorful and elegant. Really enjoyed it (party of six).
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Excellent Experience
    SalvadorVIP
    Dined on 3/21/2014
    This was a great place for a first date. The food was excellent and the environment was tranquil and beautiful.
    Special Features:
    special occasion, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • EXTREMELY INCONSISTENT
    TAMASAR
    Dined on 3/20/2014
    NAO can be extremely fine -- and also seriously disappointing. There' s plenty of talent in the kitchen, but follow-though -- and ingredients -- are sometimes amazingly poor. Our twosome ordered the newly introduced Argentinian Menu, featuring Bife Chorizo, grilled sirloin with chimichurri sauce and vegetable garnish. We were served the toughest steak we have ever encountered in San Antonio. It was enormous, and dreadful. There is no excuse for this. We have both enjoyed excellent Bife Chorizo in Argentinian restaurants, and sirloin steaks in San Antonio. The NAO specimen was without the slightest marbling, and gave evidence of having been friozen. The flesh was pale pink, not rosy -- and barely edible. Yech.
    Special Features:
    late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great except for a major error
    Goodeats
    Dined on 3/20/2014
    I dined here the first time and enjoyed a wonderful swordfish belly. The experience overall caused me to want to return again. Six weeks later, we went back and I ordered the swordfish belly again, but when it arrived it was a loin cut, not the belly. I asked the server about it, she went to check with the chef and they said it was not the belly, but a loin. I spoke quietly with the manager on duty, and he seemed to care less. The lack of informing a diner that what they ordered was not what they were going to get is unethical at the least. If that is the way NAO wants to run their business, I will not return...there are too many other good choices than too have to deal with a dishonest situation and a manager who could not even apologize.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • A night in San Antonio
    jfineales
    Dined on 3/19/2014
    As a retired restauranteur (successful), I consider my experience quite nice. We were a four top. We ordered items from all courses. Presentation and taste was very nice. Experience tells me bringing staff from the 'back of the house' to the front (as servers) can be very challenging. With our visit the table presence was very comfortable. If in the area again I certainly would return to Nao.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Hidden gem in San Antonio
    foodiechick
    Dined on 3/14/2014
    Love visiting culinary school restaurants across country and this did not disappoint. Good drinks, food and service. Menu was not as large as some we have visited but the value of the food was excellent!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delicious!
    yummy
    Dined on 3/10/2014
    Our first visit to NAO was incredible, so we had to go back again and take a friend. Everything we have had thus far has been delicious. Our taste buds were watering before our steak and pork were set before us because we could smell it as the waitress approached. Presentation is artistry. Taste is incredible. We went on a Friday night and the restaurant was packed. We then went on a Monday night and hardly anyone was there. Great service, great food!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Unique experience
    DebbyG
    Dined on 3/8/2014
    We wanted to try NAO since it is affiliated with the Culinary Institute and the food is focused on Latin American cuisine. We loved it - very inventive combinations that were delicious. We started with the jicama tacos - refreshing, light and flavorful, and the cod fritters - very lightly fried, full of flavor. Our mains were just as delicious - cumin crusted pork chop and the Argentinian steak. The service was attentive, but a little clumsy, i.e., split water, fork flew off the plate and hit my arm. Nothing serious - would recommend if you like unique food combinations. They offer a fixed price menu focused on a specific country - seems like a great value, although we did not choose this option.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Nice night out
    reallyVIP
    Dined on 3/7/2014
    Begin with the Marinated Olives & Cheese appetizer, shareable as nibbles while deciding on drinks. Orange-Cumin Pork T Bone was cooked perfectly and the mashed yucca and plantain was smooth and creamy. Beef Short Rib was tasty but requested without the peppers and that didn't happen. Two ordered the Smoke Roasted Ribeye Steak, well done, and it was prepared to order. Shared desserts - Ginger Mango Cobbler w/homemade vanilla bean ice cream and passion fruit coulis and the Chocolate Encounter (chocolate meringue & chocolate mousse and rum sorbet). Both incredible. The best part of the meal by far. Service was sketchy as the server didn't seem to know the menu items clearly and had to go to the kitchen and ask several questions.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Service lacking
    Coleen
    Dined on 2/28/2014
    One must be patient with sometimes receiving inexperienced service and adventurous about the culinary experiences here.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, late-night find, neighborhood gem, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Experience
    SalvadorVIP
    Dined on 2/28/2014
    It was our first time there and we had a wonderful time.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great food, poor service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 2/22/2014
    The four people in my party each ordered different dishes so that we could taste as much of the menu as possible. The Brazilian dessert was a miss but everything else we ordered was very good. Unfortunately, the experience was marred by remarkably inept service. I realize that these are students but I waited tables as a student, too. We order two French press coffees (one regular; one decaf) to go with our desserts. The first carafe was delivered after the dessert plates had been removed. The secnd approximately 15 minutes after that. So sad that the evening ended on such a low note.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Excellent Choice
    luv2eat
    Dined on 2/22/2014
    NAO is located in the Pearl Brewery and the menu featured cuisines from the Americas with wonderful flavors. There are tables outside however we chose to eat inside. The inside is decorated beautifully. We were there for lunch so can not comment on the noise level. If you have never been to a CIA restaurant I would highly recommend this restaurant. The menu was a fun read and it was hard to choose what to eat. All of us enjoyed what we ordered. If you are there with someone who likes more bland food, the salad would be perfect for them and it is a good size. Our server was very informative. The CIA students cook at dinner and there is a bar where you can dine and observe. Would definitely go back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Solid choice
    2ndtimer
    Dined on 2/20/2014
    The food was clearly creative and done with expertise and care.No ambience-someone needs to divide this large rectangle into a cozier place so it does not feel like a dinner . Service just OK(not knowledgeable enought).
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • IT WAS OK
    Doug
    Dined on 2/19/2014
    The whole experience was mediocre. We had Brazil dinner - lobster stew- good, palm salad- bland, steak good, grilled shrimp nice. Dessert - Brazil- OK.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • This isn't your mama's tex-mex
    Tony
    Dined on 2/18/2014
    Very interesting and delicious foods from all over Mexico, Central and South America. You definitely have to ask questions to find out what some of the dishes they serve are and most are very intriguing. It is hard to choose so go with friends who do not mind sharing, family style, so you can try more of their delicious food.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • San Antonio Gem
    NLLINKE
    Dined on 2/17/2014
    Any visit to San Antonio should include the Pearl Brewery development on the Riverwalk. San Antonio is fortunate to be the home of one of the Culinary Institute of America locations. A hip and modern Nao offers the opportunity to taste the creations of the Culinary Institute. I would highly recommend it.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list, romantic, late-night find, neighborhood gem, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food - still learning service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 2/15/2014
    This was our 3rd or 4th dinner at NAO. The food has been consistently very good, both taste & presentation. This was the first time that the quality of service did not match that of the food. It was good, but lacked a bit of the professionalism of earlier visits (e.g., our waitperson forgot an appetizer, awkward wine presentation). Perhaps she was a new student. Still highly recommend for a memorable dinner.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Food, Inexperienced Server
    LisaL
    Dined on 2/15/2014
    The food was fantastic. Unfortunately, our server was inexperienced and clearly struggling. She was pleasant but did not clear empty glasses/dishes from the table. She only filled our water glasses once. Did not bring spoons for our dessert. Not tragic but inept. The service was what I would expect from Chili's not a restaurant like Nao. Thankfully, the managers recognized that our server needed help managing her section and provided good service recovery. The food is worth chancing the possibility of mediocre service.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Experience
    datenightdiner
    Dined on 2/14/2014
    It was Valentine's night but we just wanted a nice night out, not the full romance experience. NAO was perfect. Students working hard and a fabulous menu and terrific food. It was really a pleasure.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Consistently Good
    Nano
    Dined on 2/14/2014
    The food is what you would expect from a high end restaurant. Tasty and new surprises on each visit. If you like ginger, try their house made ginger ale, it's the best I've ever had. The food is visually beautiful and flavorful. The service is old world and very attentive, every server is knowledgeable on the menu and the ingredients. This is a foodie gem!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, late-night find, neighborhood gem, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Steak
    Shrek
    Dined on 2/14/2014
    We visited for Valentines Day and were very happy with our evening. We arrived a little early, before the rush, and enjoyed the art and open environment. The waitress was witty and engaging and added to our evening. The food took a little longer than we would have liked to wait, but as it was Valentines and we were in no hurry, we were not upset. When the main course arrived, we truly enjoyed one of the best steaks ever. What made it taste even better was knowing the comparative prices at other steak houses in San Antonio. Fantastic value and great environment. Parking is the only challenge, but I would not charge that to the restaurant.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Brazilian menu is very good
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 2/14/2014
    I booked a dinner at Nao because the menu was Brazilian and I've lived the food from that region. The lobster appetizer and the papaya dessert were delicious. The main course was good but the picanha had some gristle and not as good as I've had in the past. I still love Nao and will come back but I hope their beef cuts are better quality in the future.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, notable wine list, romantic, neighborhood gem, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Beautiful and Tasty
    kpidl4
    Dined on 2/13/2014
    The food is incredible, the service was okay. The restaurant itself was gorgeous and the presentation of the food was awesome it just took awhile and our order got mixed up a few times and took awhile getting to us.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, notable wine list, romantic, late-night find, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Highly Recommended
    sdmn
    Dined on 2/11/2014
    Everything was perfect. Took business colleagues to dinner and ordered the prix fixe menu. It was so refreshing not to be rushed through the courses...we had the table for the night, courses were served at a reasonable pace allowing us to enjoy the company and conversation. Quiet enough to carry on a conversation without raising voices...a novelty these days. Food was fabulous. We love this place!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great Food
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 2/8/2014
    The food was great and professional done but the portion was little too small for the price given.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, vibrant bar scene, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.