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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Foodspotting photos
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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
56 reviews since July 28, 2014
Overall Rating4.3
  • Food4.3
    Service4.3
  • Ambiance4.4
    Noise LevelModerate
85% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (42)special occasion (29)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
  • Great
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 11/22/2014
    Atmosphere, food, and service were all great. Will definitely go back when menu changes again
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Disappointed
    VicG
    Dined on 11/21/2014
    Although they advertise specialty menus from Latin America, they usually serve the same things with different sides. I was disappointed when they had Argentina because they advertised a churrasco but I was served a new york strip. When i returned for the Puerto Rican steak and onions (which is supposed to be a thin minute steak), I was served a new york strip with tomato and avocado salad. They need to do more research into providing a more auntentic dining experience when advertising special menis. I will not return.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 11/14/2014
    Attentive but non-intrusive service, great ambience which faciliated dinner conversation (open, but not too noisy) and great food. Wonderful for a special occasion.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Cuban!
    DawnRVIP
    Dined on 11/14/2014
    We were at NAO specifically for the Cuban food. Cuba is the country they are currently highlighting. Had the Chef's tasting menu as well as the pork chop. Drinks (coquito), appetizer, main course and desert - all good. We really like NAO because of the changing menu featuring different countries every couple of months. They also have an interesting drink menu.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, late-night find, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful Dinner
    Susan
    Dined on 11/8/2014
    Enjoyed a memorable meal here and would definitely recommend!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Puerto Rico celebration
    Alamodonna
    Dined on 11/8/2014
    It is located in the Pearl so we were concerned about parking. It was so available - it was a perfect evening the wait staff was attentive, the dining room was noisy but not so intrusive. We ate the special with relish. My husband had the snapper & thought one of best he'd had. My beef was also perfect. The sauces served with each dish were supberb We plan to return.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Disappointed
    Doscampanas
    Dined on 11/8/2014
    Service: One of our party of four asked if the okra could be held and/or substituted for something else, her response was, there is very little okra on the dish, really it's just a garnish, it should not bother you as it's not really a part of the dish, our thought: then why is it even on the plate. While enjoying appetizers the server actually started to remove our plates, we stated we were still eating, she seemed a bit put out and stated: your entrees will be right out, should I have them hold them, we replied no. It then was another 15 minutes before our entrees arrived. Ok, the food. The cheese and olive plate was great, fish over cooked and the "poached" pineapple could not but cut. Nothing noteworthy, not worth your time.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Unfortunately not up to expectation
    SadDiner
    Dined on 11/7/2014
    Having eaten at CIA in California, I was very excited to try the one in San Antonio. My experience in California was stellar but here, only pretty good. Entree selections were rather limited and slightly smaller than expected. Flavor was good to better than good. Overall, not the dining experience I was anticipating.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Not CIA Greystone
    David
    Dined on 11/6/2014
    We were anticipating an experience that matched our visit to Greystone in the Napa valley two years ago. Unfortunately NAO did not meet our expectations. Our waiter, an employee, was very good. However, the food was not exceptional and was served so quickly that we barely had time to savor our wine. My steak was the chef's specialty and very flavorful but was served rare. Our waiter had advised us that it would be served medium. My wife's dinner was fine. Overall, we were just a bit let down.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • REVIEW
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 11/1/2014
    I went with my family for dinner on saturday, having a lot of expectations since I read and heard very good reviews about this restaurant, unfortunately we were not impress, the portions were small and the price high and flavor was ok. Plus the waitress was not very friendly either, over all not the best experience :-( for sure I won't recommend it to my friends!!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • WillBeBackSoon
    Dined on 10/29/2014
    With the intent of evaluating the program at the Institute, we were overwhelmingly surprised at the quality of the food and attention to detail.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food! Service?
    JandJTX
    Dined on 10/29/2014
    If you are a foodie, this place is for you. This was our second time there and every dish was outstanding. The service this time left something to be desired. Starting with our server being disappointed that we were only a table of two. She never took a drink order and we had to ask for bread. . We will definitely go back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Worth the trip
    OpenTable Diner Since 2003VIP
    Dined on 10/10/2014
    We ate at Nao while visiting San Antonio for a meeting. The service was great, the food choices varied and interesting. Would definitely recommend the chocolate mousse dessert with the most delicious rum sorbet.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delicious Dinner, Interesting Menu
    Chip
    Dined on 10/9/2014
    This restaurant is located in a very exciting area of San Antonio (Pearl Brewery). Nao has a wonderful atmosphere and the goings-on in the kitchen are viewable from most of the dining room. The menu is very Latin/South American focused but with a wide choice of entrees. My 2 companions have very narrow palettes/no sense of culinary adventure and ended up finding dishes they ended up loving. I had the green ceviche, the brown sugar rubbed pork belly and the goat cheese cheesecake. All were delicious and the presentation was absolutely beautiful. The portion sizes weren't enormous, but satisfying. Expect to pay about $50 per person for 3 courses (a 3-course tasting menu is available at a slightly lower cost) + alcohol. Gratuity is automatic.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Sensory and savory delights
    Trencherman
    Dined on 10/7/2014
    This restaurant is all about fabulous food. The sights, aromas, textures, presentations, flavors, subtle hints of flavors, tastes, lingering aftertastes, unexpected sensory pleasures are all here abundantly. NAO is a Disneyland for your senses. My waiter is a Culinary Institute student. His knowledge of food, his passion about it, and his sense of style made my dining experience more enjoyable. The restaurant is sort of Las Vegas Lounge Chic, but is comfortable and I was able to enjoy a sense of amiable companionship with my guests. We were actually able to converse. This is fortunate because we had a lot to discuss about the delights of our meals. When I come again I will ask for extra forks for when my dining mates say "Taste this!"
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fantastic Experience
    Luckydog
    Dined on 10/3/2014
    My wife and I visited the Persl District in San Antonio and were recommended NAO! Great atmosphere and amazing service! The Hostess say us at the bar/counter so we could have the full experience. It was like sitting at the Chef's Table at a high end Resturant. We saw all the Chefs preparing our food. As for the food it was AMAZING, with fresh and unusual combinations! The drinks are just as unusual and amazing! Do not pass this place up!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, late-night find, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good food and service
    SusanNVIP
    Dined on 9/26/2014
    4 of us went for dinner. We had a reservation and were seated quickly. Our server came right over, very friendly great suggestions for pre dinner drinks, she was also very knowledgeable about the menu and made good suggestions for appetizers and dinner. Very enjoyable evening. We will return.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Absolutely amazing! ! 5+ stars!
    verderapture
    Dined on 9/25/2014
    This place is truly exquisite. Phenomenal menu, well executed! It's a foodie must :) can't wait to go back!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Amazing
    luvfood
    Dined on 9/17/2014
    The food was really flavorful and the plating was beautiful. The customer service was outstanding and they very accommodating. I enjoyed the overall experience and it was a great place to celebrate a Birthday or any other special occasion.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, late-night find, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food, poor service
    Sally
    Dined on 9/17/2014
    Food was excellent and pleasing to both the palette and the eye. However the service was really, really lacking. Like, I've had more attentive service at a McDonald's. I realize they are students at Nao, but it was quite ridiculous. My friend asked for ice tea at beginning, server came back to the table like 3 times and never brought it to her. When we asked about items on the menu, he replied "yeah um, I really don't know". We asked about desserts and literally he said, "well we have one that's like frosted flakes with bananas and we have a few others but I forget what they are..." Seriously?!? Just shocked that service is so bad for an upscale restaurant. Gratuity is automatic on the bill for everyone but it goes to the school.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    The food was great, service excellent! The only negative was the noise level. W We were a group of 8 and had to yell a at each other to be heard. It's pretty noisy even for a smaller group to have a cconversation.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Excellent Food and service
    GeoffD
    Dined on 8/22/2014
    Was looking for a special place to go to and found Nao. Even though it was for a romantic evening, for this it was not the best place to be as the noise level was pretty high and talking was very difficult however the food was excellent; the service was one of the best.....we would definitely be going back!!!
    Special Features:
    special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Great Dining Experience
    TAMKEITH
    Dined on 8/21/2014
    Three of us had dinner at NAO - two of has the pre fix with wine pairings and one had soup and seafood entree. Delicious all! Our Server was the best and we enjoyed hearing about the culinary school. We will definitely be back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • NAO an unforgettable experience
    Vinofied
    Dined on 8/19/2014
    I love to dine out and my husband & I agree our dining experience at NAO was superb from start to finish. Realizing it's a learning experience for the students of the culinary institute everything went very smoothly. Although the tables next to us arrived, dined and left during our dinner we were never rushed or crowded and enjoyed our two+ hour dinner. We were there midweek during Restaurant week; my husband had the fixed menu and I enjoyed the Bahianan fish stew. We were very pleased with our single vineyard wine touted as the queen of Chilean wines. We will be back and thank our friend for recommending the experience.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Below expectations
    txjalapeno
    Dined on 8/5/2014
    Creative offerings with generally excellent sauces, but all meat/seafood items (except ahi tuna ceviche) were grossly overcooked. Graciously accepted overcooked steak and replaced with appropriate medium rare, which was exceptional in flavor. Also expected service personnel to be more generous and knowledgeable about the menu items, including tidbits on their preparation.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 31 ratings-only reviews submitted since July 28, 2014
    • Overall Rating4.5
    • Food4.5
    • Ambiance4.6
    • Service4.4
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 298 reviews are from the NAO at The Culinary Institute of America San Antonio reviews archive.
  • Latin Spice
    jdantotherescue
    Dined on 7/26/2014
    Love the cartel cocktail: blanco tequila, mexcal, Serrano pepper, cucumber, simple syrup and other secret ingredients. Green juice with a kick. Shrimp and mussels were delicious, along with the jicama tacos for an appetizer.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • GOURMANDRGL
    Dined on 7/25/2014
    It is hard to decide with plate to chopos. Food is excelent and creative, and service is pretty good. The place is great. It is a bit noisy, but can get use to.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Delicious! Truly a great find!
    lindalou54VIP
    Dined on 7/19/2014
    Delicious! Can’t believe culinary students prepared our meal, we enjoyed the seasonal cocktail with our meal and every aspect of our dinner truly made us feel as if we were dining in a fine restaurant in Latin America. The entrees were amazing, bravo to team NAO. You have to try the Bahian Lobster and Fish Stew, it has coconut milk, dende oil, lobster knuckles, sweet plantain and yucca, it was a little piece of heaven. We arrived early to sample a few of the cocktails at the bar, highly recommend the Cartel Cocktail, the bartenders are wonderful and the cocktails are delightful. My husband & I look forward to trying the rest of the dinner entrees before the menu change. I know we frequent NAO for years to come.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Excellent
    brenda
    Dined on 7/18/2014
    This restaurant is classroom internships for a The a Culinary Institute last year students. Menu changes flair every 6 weeks. We had South American cuisine. Excellent in every way. Highly recommend this restaurant.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • MCL10
    Dined on 7/16/2014
    We went to NAO for my wife's birthday and it was our first time visiting the establishment. We enjoyed the ambiance of the place, had a great time tasting the variety of different foods, especially the Yucatan theme foods they had for the month. My wife enjoyed the different drink varieties and was excited that they offered her a complimentary drink for her special day!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, romantic, special occasion, late-night find, scenic view, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • expensive for a learning restaurant
    hungryintx
    Dined on 7/15/2014
    Keep in mind they are students when you go. Service is pretty funny since they aren't waiters. Ours had to check with the chef on all of our questions about the menu. My husband ordered the ribeye but got a new York. They pretty much told us we didn't know what we were talking about but made a new steak for him anyway. Brought a ribeye that time. The manager didn't come to the table until we were paying to say it was definitely the wrong cut of meat. Food was really good. There were three of us. Had the duck and pork pate and tuna tartare apps along with our main course. The bill was $150 before wine. They add 17% gratuity to every check regardless. All in all a good meal. Worth going once for a special occasion.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Excellent service and food
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 7/15/2014
    Excellent food, service, ambiance. My only complaint was the pork was dry. However, it was more than balanced by the pao de queijo, cheese and preserves, my husband's steak, and exquisite desserts. The drinks were imaginative and tasty. I cannot wait to return to Nao.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • NAO Chow
    09erDiner
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    First visit Saturday night early seating. Very Cool interior design and comfortable leather chairs. Online reservations worked perfectly. Room temp was too warm but it was 95 outside. Young fresh faced server was friendly but obviously not well trained and was unable to explain any of the dishes or unusual ingredients much of which were foreign to us and apparently him too. We tried a variety of appetizers all good except the pâté' was still ice cold and hard out of the fridge. The various entrees were tasty. If they are going to charge like a real restaurant there is no excuse not to perform like one.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, romantic, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Always Impresses
    KiwiWannaBeVIP
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    We've been here on numerous occasions and have never been disappointed. Cutting edge Latin cuisine and drinks and outstanding service make for a very enjoyable experience. Most of the employees are culinary students getting an appreciation for the customer-facing side of the restaurant business. They have always been engaging and are willing to give you an extremely educated description of the menu.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, late-night find, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Not so good...
    PorkBellyVIP
    Dined on 7/11/2014
    This is our second time at this restaurant and we were not impressed. The food came out alternately under or over cooked. When the undercooked sausage was brought up we were told that was how it was supposed to be cooked. We passed on finishing the slightly warm sausage disaster. Overall I would recommend the restaurant for the comedic value only.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Interesting
    jimnjudyVIP
    Dined on 7/5/2014
    It's always interesting to try dishes from other countries/cultures.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    Well the choices were not a lot so a little disappointed! And I wasn't happy that they already added the 17% for 2 people and didn't let us know
    Special Features:
    late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Varied offerings
    houstonfoodieVIP
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    The current Venezuela dinner was several dollars higher than advertised on email, good nonetheless but without the wine pairings of the last Chilean offering. I hope the future Mexican offerings specialize in regional expertise.
    Special Features:
    special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delicioso
    Lamore
    Dined on 6/21/2014
    The food was incredible, everything cooked to perfection. Our server, Nadia, did an excellent job - cordial, helpful, and anticipated our needs.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • A night at NAO
    2NOLAFoodiesVIP
    Dined on 6/20/2014
    Our first time at NAO and I must say that it was a great experience. Our group enjoyed the jicama tacos with mango and pineapple as an appetizer. The taquitos were absolutely wonderful- nice and light. I had the Cuban pork chop. initiallly, I was concerned about the "mojo" seasoning being over powering with garlic flavor, but that was not the case. Very good choice and would highly recommend it. The ambience was a tiny bit on the energetic side. Overall it was a great experience and would recommend NAO to those people who are looking for new flavors to explore.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic