South Padre Island is a barrier island along Texas’ Gulf Coast and a popular holiday destination, with beautiful beaches and plenty of outdoor activities on land and sea to work up an appetite with. We explore the 10 best places to dine on the island when you need refueling.
Blackbeard’s Restaurant has an varied menu and you can’t go wrong wherever you start. Blackbeard’s amazing appetizers include crab cakes, stuffed shrimp and Blackbeard’s Mexican seafood cocktail, with a sweet and spicy cocktail sauce. Seafood favorites on the menu include a great seafood chef salad, flounder and shrimp po’boys, pan-broiled flounder and blackened catfish. And you can’t beat Blackbeard’s key lime or fresh-fried apple pie for a touch of Americana to finish.
Chillitto Pikin is one of the most well-loved Mexican restaurants on the island. A small, family-owned business, it serves authentic and delectable Mexican food ranging from fish dishes and incredible pork fajita to blackened shrimp tacos. Locals rave about the restaurant’s amazing salsa and guacamole. Be sure to finish the meal off with one of Chillitto’s fried bananas.
Pier 19 is located on the pier on South Padre’s Laguna Madre and specializes in fresh, Gulf of Mexico seafood; you can even bring in your own ‘catch’ for Pier 19’s chefs to cook up. Pier 19 serves traditional breakfast favorites, vegetarian options, burgers and soups. Try the mahi po’boy with mahi-mahi battered in crushed potato chips and served with chipotle crab mayo. Other delicious menu items include baja tacos, seafood enchiladas, seafood burritos, Cajun steamers and seafood pasta.
On weekends, Kranzler Café’s breakfast menu is one of the best on the island, offering treats such as specialty frittatas, specialty scrambled eggs (such as the ‘Big Apple,’ with diced apples, apple-smoked bacon and caramelized onion), crepes and an assortment of omelets and egg dishes. For lunch and dinner, Kranzler Café serves up hand-crafted sandwiches, pasta dishes, salads and delicious entrees daily. The saffron shrimp with mussels, lemon and herb chicken, rack of lamb and seafood puttanesca are recommended.
Windjammer’s Beachfront Café at Isla Grand has been serving islanders since 1959 and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Along with a breathtaking view of the gulf and the Isla Grand Beach Resort from the restaurant’s patio you can enjoy fresh omelettes, waffles and French toast for breakfast and soups, sandwiches, burgers and Mexican-inspired dishes for lunch and dinner. Try the ‘Tres Tacos,’ (chicken, beef, shrimp or fish), or Windjammer’s famous deviled eggs, topped with caramelized bacon.
For fine-dining on the island, Liam’s Steak House & Oyster Bar is a good choice. Start with fish ceviche or spinach artichoke crabmeat dip. Mains include a oysters, ‘surf & turf,’ and pasta dishes, such as tuna red pepper pasta or blackened shrimp marinara.‘Speciality’ dishes, such as red snapper Rockefeller (topped with spinach, bacon, shrimp and a three-cream sauce), bacon-wrapped shrimp and bourbon-glazed salmon are memorable
Bar, Restaurant, Seafood, American, Vegetarian, $$$
Sea Ranch Restaurant and Barfocuses on preparing delicious and fresh ‘local wild-caught’ seafood from the gulf. Open each day for dinner, the restaurant’s Sea Ranch Seafood Sampler or ‘South Padre Poke,’ ahi tuna marinated in sesame oil and soy sauce are highlights. If you’re not in the mood for seafood then Sea Ranch also serves chopped sirloin, rib-eye steaks, filet mignon,pastas and great salads.
Dirty Al’s, which claims to have ‘the world’s best fried shrimp,’ is open for lunch and dinner every day of the week on the island. Opened in 1986, this family-owned and operated restaurant is a favorite among island diners because of its creative and tasty way with fresh seafood from South Padre’s Gulf of Mexico waters. Delicious menu items include shrimp-stuffed jalapenos, New Orleans-style boiled shrimp, taco salads and shrimp, oyster, fish and chicken soft tacos.
Gabriella’s Italian Grill & Pizzeria, offers some of the only brick oven-made pizzas in the state and a rich menu of Italian favorites. Antipasti at Gabriella’s includes Italian nachos (topped with black olives, Roma tomatoes, Tuscan relish and mozzarella), zucchini fritters and toasted ravioli. Other delicious dishes include ‘The Sicilian’ and the ‘Leaning Tower of Cheeza’ pizzas and freshly made house pastas.
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If you’re looking for the perfect breakfast on the island, Ted’s Restaurant is a locals’ favorite that serves up amazing buttermilk pancakes with pecans and fabulous breakfast tacos with house-made salsa. From Mexican-influenced breakfasts such as migas and huevos rancheros to classic breakfast items like waffles and French toast or healthier choices of toast and oatmeal, Ted’s Restaurant has one of the best selections on the island for the first meal of the day.