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
62 reviews since June 25, 2014
Overall Rating4.4
  • Food4.4
    Service4.2
  • Ambiance4.4
    Noise LevelModerate
93% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (44)special occasion (36)notable wine list (18)neighborhood gem (18)romantic (17)hot spot (17)good for groups (16)late-night find (7)vibrant bar scene (6)great for outdoor dining (5)scenic view (4)great for lunch (2)Show More
  • Best and staffed by students
    Tejawaters
    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.
  • Good time!
    brutalistical
    Dined on 12/20/2013
    What I love about NAO is that it is helping our community grow! The food was excellent! And the service was good, but the students need a little more learning. All in all, it was a blast!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good idea, poorly executed
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 12/20/2013
    I love that Nao uses the flavors and ingredients of the Americas, esp since my professional life is bound up intimately with the region. However, adding aji to half the dishes does not add up to much. I had the smoked ribeye, which was serviceable, but it was topped with undercooked yuca fries and placed atop a pool of indifferent sauce. The meal was essentially unseasoned - not underseasoned - but unseasoned. Our 'special' table for my wife's birthday was a two-top that had the server's station and terminal right behind her chair and a kind of emergency exit door right next to my left elbow: this was not 'special'. If you have heard that the service is poor at Nao, then you heard right. It has been open long enough to work out the kinks.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Second time was a disappointment
    SkibumVIP
    Dined on 12/12/2013
    I had eaten here once before on a special visiting Chef dinner. This time though, the food appeared to be prepared by students. Service was poor, the server forgot one of our appetizers. Steak was thin and not cooked evenly at requested doneness. I think next time I will go when they have a special guest chef again.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • CIA strikes again!
    cavdocVIP
    Dined on 12/11/2013
    This is the third cullinary institute of America school. As with the new york and California schools this restaurant that is assosciated with the shool is superb. A unique selection of dishes and appetizers each inspired by a Latin American countries unique ethnic customs makes for a menu that is in constant evolution with flavorful, enticing, mouth watering delicacies. Food portions are more than reasonable and the flavors out of this world. Absolutely superb!!! Well done!!!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, notable wine list, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Upscale dining experience
    TravelingmanVIP
    Dined on 12/4/2013
    This is a beautiful restaurant, very good food. Good, friendly service. Highly recommend it.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, neighborhood gem, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Too expensive, mediocre food
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 11/29/2013
    Appetizers had no taste. Entrees were too expensive and there were no side options. The fish entrée was not enough for a meal. The steaks were good, but again, there were no side options. We are glad we tried Nao but we will not be back anytime soon.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Train staff on service
    greatdane05
    Dined on 11/23/2013
    This place is run by students. They have no clue on how to treat customers and how to cater to them. Don't know where the manager was, but the students lack of attention to customer service ruined the ambiance and food. We ordered several plates and drinks racking up close to $300 worth of food. For that they would not even say thank you or your welcome. Food was ok, with no seasoning whatsoever. Food was just bland. We didn't take any memorable moments or dishes that stood out. Above all I wish I would have spent my $300 elsewhere with better service. The water boy never responded to my thank yous and the waiter was just plain pretentious as if he was the chef himself. He didn't present the food or even bother explaining the dishes.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • A bit disappointed
    Marco
    Dined on 11/18/2013
    Food was O.K. just O.K. Service was poor and slow. Being part of The Culinary Institute of America I had very high expectations, which were not fulfilled. However, I understand it's all students working in the restaurant.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • FORGET ABOUT IT!
    TAMASAR
    Dined on 11/16/2013
    We are well traveled, thoroughly experienced restaurant goers, and have been loyal fans of NAO, but this chef's work has seriously deteriorated. Dinner is now over-priced, and under-imaginative. Few menu changes, and those mediocre. Tough pork chop. Almost non-existent duck breast. Pathetic service. $143.00. Sorry, guys. Stay away!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Disappointed
    Amy0
    Dined on 11/15/2013
    We have had many wonderful dining experiences at the CIA restaurants in Hyde Park, so the subpar service at Nao was a shocker. Food was good & I enjoyed wine but that's it -- we were expecting excellence. The server disappeared for most of our meal, didn't seem to know the menu, seemed mystified by what he was supposed to do like he had never even been a restaurant customer himself. All 3 of us thought we won't return for a couple of years until they get it together.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • We had an outstanding meal
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 11/13/2013
    We had an outstanding meal at Nao. My wife and I both had the fixed Peruvian dinner, and both were more than satisfied with our meals. The prices were reasonable, and the service very attentive. There were longer than usual waits between courses, which I assume are due to the nature of the restaurant staff, students at the Culinary Institute. We were in no hurry so did not mind. Drinks were slow in arriving also but not the fault of the wait staff. I cannot describe the Peruvian food without the menu in front of me, but it was interesting, very well prepared, and tasty. We were well-satisfied with our dinners.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, vibrant bar scene, great for outdoor dining, notable wine list, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • What happened to service
    SanAntonioBill
    Dined on 11/9/2013
    I am not a fan of automatic gratuity being added to every ticket especially for small groups but the experience at NAO cemented my belief that this is very bad for the consumer. Our wine service was completely mishandled and our server disappeared for long stretches. Seeing the automatic 17% added to my check frosted me.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Peruvian experience
    Foodiemom
    Dined on 11/9/2013
    I am Peruvian and honestly was a disappointed. We went to have a taste of their Peru tasting menu and It did not represent my food right, so sad. My friends food was very good though, so I have mixed opinions. Nice restaurant but should pay more attention when the said they are going to make you taste food from another cultures and make a good representation.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.