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: (210) 554-6484
  • 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.
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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
57 reviews since July 30, 2014
Overall Rating4.3
  • Food4.4
    Service4.3
  • Ambiance4.4
    Noise LevelModerate
85% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (43)special occasion (30)notable wine list (17)romantic (15)hot spot (15)good for groups (14)neighborhood gem (12)great for outdoor dining (7)vibrant bar scene (6)late-night find (5)scenic view (1)Show More
  • 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.
  • Best and staffed by students
    TejawatersVIP
    Dined on 2/8/2014
    This CIA restaurant is every thing you would expect in a first class restaurant. A little noisy (sp). One of the wine's we wanted to try was not available, but the waitress new that as we asked for it. I am taking medication for a test and doctor does not want me to consume alcohol and the lengths the staff went to make sure this was honored was amusing.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A table of 8
    Topper1946
    Dined on 2/8/2014
    We were a large group for this venue and the service was O.K. but our server was lacking in knowledge about some of the dishes and had to be asked repeatedly for another glass of wine. Several of us had the Brazilian style prix fix special menu and the food was great.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • It's almost like dinner theatre!
    driverlady
    Dined on 2/6/2014
    We had the featured set-price menu and the food was amazing. The dishes were beautifully presented, service was impeccable, and the general ambiance is one of casual elegance. Another winner for the CIA program. We only have the New York site still on our bucket list.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, notable wine list, romantic, scenic view, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Met HighExpectations
    joez
    Dined on 2/1/2014
    My wife and I enjoyed our dinner on Saturday night. The cocktails were clever and tasty and the dinner items delicious, interesting and well presented.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fun, unique - but a student-run ser
    SteveGr
    Dined on 1/31/2014
    Food at Nao is interesting and fun. Some items are better than others, but you should be there for the food experience. Service can be spotty, not bad, but these are students from the school. We enjoy going and like the seasonal items and the chance for trying dishes from the region. Make a reservation, go with friends, and share. They do include a 18.7% gratuity on every check! it goes to student scholarships.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Foodie Paradise
    GoyoVIP
    Dined on 1/25/2014
    Watching the culinary students prepare your meal is fun, and the results are fantastic. There was nothing about our meal that wasn't first rate. The meats were perfectly cooked, the ceviche was great as were the other dishes. Service and decor were great, too well worth a visit
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • disappointed
    EdEllis3
    Dined on 1/24/2014
    Tbis is the third time we went to Nao. This time,they had a latin/south american theme and the selections were interesting. We tried several. They were all "OK" but very small portions and not as tasty as I would hve thought they should be. The best dishes were the jicama tacos and the beef selection (like an osso-buco). The worst part was the noise level was so bad that we could hardly converse without shouting. It is not a place I could recommend for individuals who want to carry on a conversation. We felt bad that we took our guest there because of the above.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Nice Take on Latin.Cuisines
    RandomSampler
    Dined on 1/22/2014
    The dishes were creatively designed in their ingredients and presentation. Our server was pleasant but needed to improve their skills. The ambience matched the food in its creative feel. Nice location.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • superb food and exemplary service
    Bianchi
    Dined on 1/18/2014
    a wonderful dining experience--everything from cocktails to desert was creatively prepared, beautifully presented, and absolutely delicious! Service was personalized, efficient, warm
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, notable wine list, late-night find, neighborhood gem, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • NAO
    dhjz
    Dined on 1/18/2014
    We had outstanding food, best braised short ribs ever. Also loved the chocolate decadence and crumble topped with ice cream and ginger sauce. Our server was not the best, but we found out that she was not a student as it was graduation weekend-thinking the students serving may have more interest in customer service. Good wine list, although out of stock was Greystone Cab. We will def return. Very interesting design and original art.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • The food and service were
    SAdinerVIP
    Dined on 1/16/2014
    The food and service were both excellent. The restaurant trains students of the Culinary Institute for America in San Antonio. We went on a Thursday night. It was a slow night from a crowd point of view but it was the day before graduation day for the current group of students and thus they were at their peak. The food was just fantastic - a medley of flavors. We took a chance on a bottle of wine from Uruguay (we had never tasted any wine from there) and hit gold. Just a wonderful experience. Highly recommended
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fabulous!
    Julie
    Dined on 1/14/2014
    From the service to the wine to the food NAO is on the top of my new favorite places in San Antonio!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Always fun & interesting
    FiveForks
    Dined on 1/11/2014
    We love supporting the students and the CIA's presence in San Antonio. Going to Nao with a small group is a fantastic way to explore new flavors. Our waiter, Michael, was attentive, patient and informative. We lingered over dinner and enjoyed sharing tastes of many different items. Be adventuresome in your selections, but stay away from the cod fritters which were tough, chewy and saturated with salt. I had read the same comments from others but thought surely this would have been corrected by now. Everything else was wonderful!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Amazing food
    Fredo
    Dined on 1/11/2014
    Really innovative food, really good service, a bit noisier than some >60 y/o folks enjoy. I did the tasting menu du jour, well worth the $39.00. I really enjoyed the crab and mahi-mahi ceviche.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • 5th Visit, Still a Great Experience
    SkyjaxVIP
    Dined on 1/10/2014
    For a restaurant that continually changes staff (rotation from chef to FOH) and menus, the experience is amazingly consistent. Great food, great cocktails, energetic without being too noisy. We will continue to enjoy NAO in the future.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • NAO Feature
    Robanero
    Dined on 1/9/2014
    Walking in, I was greeted immediately with a very friendly smile. It was a very fancy looking restaurant but had a more casual ambiance to it. The menu did not have a lot of choices, but enough to decide from. The fixed menu was a very refreshing ordering option without the stress. I loved the open kitchen look. The server was very knowledgeable and was able to recommend a drink immediately upon questioning. His recommendation was right on. The cheesy-bread bites were scrumptious, a great signature. My main meal was delicious, but not necessarily over the top. It was the first time trying sword fish. Then, came the dessert; It was an explosion of flavors and sensations that will surely have me back again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, late-night find, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Food OUTSTANDING, Service POOR
    Ronald
    Dined on 1/4/2014
    There're no doubt, food is outstanding. But service is really poor. Wait for more than 30 minutes for main menu to come. And then wait for more than 20 minutes for dessert to come. No one even care to fill the water.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Beautiful place nice location
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 1/3/2014
    The place and the location are very nice. The food was good.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great restaurant!
    Laura
    Dined on 1/3/2014
    We celebrated my son's 18th birthday at NAO and had a great time! Restaurant is a CIA (Culinary Institute of America) restaurant, totally run by the CIA Students. Food was very good, service was very attentive, food was prepared quickly. Menu choices are for a fixed price meal or a la carte. Wine list was very nice - many choices! We had tapas (table pleasures as they call them) & entree. Those in our party each had something different - duck, swordfish, pork t-bone, chicken mole, steak - everything was very tasty. Portions were just the right size. The birthday boy got a special desert with a candle! They have different seating - a curved bar for eating where you can see right into the open kitchen or regular tables. Very nice!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, notable wine list, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Disappointed
    yourtvpal
    Dined on 1/3/2014
    I read outstanding reviews for NAO and thought it would be the highlight meal of a weekend trip and every hot course was sadly overcooked from the shrimp to the duck. Beautiful decor with the best part of the meal being the wine and coffee. I don't ever post bad comments but for a near $200 meal, I had to make others aware. Perhaps, the staff will be better in the kitchen next semester.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Best of our San Antonio Vaca
    musiccity
    Dined on 12/30/2013
    So enjoyable to sit at the kitchen counter and interact with the chef near us and watch the kitchen in action. We tried nearly all of the small bites rather than an entree. Loved the pairing of the jicima cold crunchy tacos with an order of spicy hot meatballs. Their cocktail creations were fun. Dessert was amazing. The restaurant is beautiful. Only one tiny change would be a new sauce with the cod balls, otherwise perfect evening. Lovely space for a post-dinner stroll too.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Mostly good
    Andrea
    Dined on 12/27/2013
    The manchego and guava appetizer is great! Even the non-guava people lived it. The shrimp with sofrito was really good, too. Great flavors! The letdown was our waiter. He didn't seem to be very excited about being there. The music level was really high - I felt like we had to raise our voices to have conversation. Overall, a very nice meal.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Did not disappoint
    Barbfrog
    Dined on 12/24/2013
    We had an absolutely spectacular dinner and dining experience! Would definitely return.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Nao a hit
    DaveVIP
    Dined on 12/24/2013
    Our family went to dinner at Nao on Christmas Eve. What a great idea. The food, service and ambiance were great. We will go back and often.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Overall a great dining experience
    SARose
    Dined on 12/24/2013
    We were at the restaurant on Christmas Eve. Four of us ordered the dinner special for that evening and 1 person ordered from the Latin Carribean menu. The menu items were beautifully presented and skillfully prepared. The appetizers offered with the evening special were perhaps too unique; we ate very little of the appetizers. The steak option was wonderful and made up for the appetizers.The chocolate dessert was fabulous! The Latin Carribean menu was disappointing. The portions were extremely small for each course. The shrimp served were small In size of poor quality. Our waiter was attentive, but not helpful recommending wine or explaining the menu. I suppose his mind was elsewhere on Christmas Eve.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • over salted and slow service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 12/24/2013
    Occassion: My wife's birthday Service: extremely slow from drinks to main course. 45 min wait between the appetizer and main course. Food: We ordered the Tastings Menu: pao de queijo - cold and over-salted (this is one of my favorite snacks and should be served hot) Conch & Mangu: too much salt, my wife had a single grape tomato and I had 5, which was useful in cutting the salt flavor Grilled Shrimp in Adobo: shrimp doesn't need additional salt, but the cooks felt it did. I literally was drinking water my entire meal and still had burning salt sensation in my mouth the whole ride home. Dessert: skipped the dessert because it was hour and a half since we had arrived and it didn't want to wait another 20 mins for dessert.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • A favorite
    Linda
    Dined on 12/21/2013
    I've been to dinner twice, and this is fast becomming a favorite spot for an exceptional meal. Well executed fish and beef dishes, beartifully presented, with extra, unexpected touches (who knew tiny coral orchids were edible flowers with a special little taste zing?) Innovative Latin American menu. Desserts have also been consistently good. The service has improved between my two experiences there. The interior is lovely. There's a full bar and a decent wine list to complement the dishes served. I've just discovered they're open Friday and Saturday late nights till 2:00am with a limited menu--and they're perfectly located for lots of people heading north after downtown evening events. A great addition to the local food scene.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, late-night find, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.