Exterior of Guenther House restaurant San Antonio in King William District

Exterior of Guenther House restaurant in San Antonio TX, in the historic King William District.

(Part of my very occasional Travel Post Friday series here on the blog)

I’m a big fan of the city of San Antonio, Texas, even though Austin (about 90 minutes away) seems to get more travel hype.

If you’re looking for some old school eateries there, one of your options is a restaurant housed in the former home of Carl H. Guenther, a German immigrant who built a flour mill in the Texas Hill Country in 1851, later moving his operation to San Antonio. Guenther eventually trademarked 12 flour brands, and yes, C.H. Guenther & Son, now the Pioneer Flour Mills company, is still in business. I have a box of their Pioneer Baking Mix (equivalent to Bisquick) in my pantry right now.

Be prepared to line up for awhile when you visit Guenther House for breakfast or lunch, but the building and the San Antonio River surroundings are so pleasant, you may not mind the wait that much. Try for a weekday if at all possible, to reduce that wait time. They do close at 2 p.m.

The Guenther family home was built right next to the mill, and was restored in 1988 to open with a restaurant and gift shop (which is well-stocked and is another worthy place to poke around while you wait for a table.)

The main dining room, built between 1915 and 1918, is a bright, pretty space in Art Nouveau style, with lots of windows, stained glass, baskets of ivy matching the stained glass design, and a ceramic tile floor. Note the light fixtures:

“. . . Cast of solid copper. Chinese dragons with lily pads and lotus blossoms form the sconces and reflect motifs [Guenther son] Erhard encountered on his trip through China. The bowls of these fixtures are alabaster.”

Restaurant main room Guenther House San Antonio

The main room of the Guenther House restaurant; there’s also a darker wood-paneled side room, plus outdoor patio seating.

Breakfast and lunch items are made with Pioneer products, like Pioneer flour for their famed biscuits, White Wings for the flour tortillas and Mi Rancho corn tortillas for the breakfast tacos, and Southern Sweet Cream waffles and pancakes.

For example, “Guenther’s Favorite Breakfast Platter” includes biscuits, a side of country gravy with crumbled sausage, choice of preserves, fresh fruit, and either Applewood smoked bacon, country pork sausage patties, or chicken sausage links (the links are my favorite.)

Lunch sandwiches are on fresh-baked bread – I like the chicken salad – and you can also get chicken enchiladas or a taco salad. This IS San Antonio, after all.

Take a look at the parlor, restored to its 1860 glory days, and the former library which is now a small museum with company and family memorabilia. Until 1952, they made little china plates to commemorate anniversaries of the company’s founding.

I was particularly drawn to the ones from 1917 and 1938 . . .

Pioneer Flour Mills 1917 anniversary commemorative plate Guenther House San Antonio

Commemorative company anniversary plate from 1917.


Pioneer Flour Mills 1938 commemorative anniversary plate Guenther House San Antonio

The commemorative company anniversary plate from 1938. See the little roach?


Pioneer Flour Mills breakfast treat cereal bowl Guenther House San Antonio

Not sure of the date, probably the 1930s, but I like this little cereal bowl.

Here is a quick video to give you a sense of the Guenther House surroundings next to the San Antonio River:

Do you have a favorite restaurant in San Antonio? Let me know in the comments.

All photos and video by the author

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