The 15 best restaurants in South Padre Island, Texas
South Padre Island, Texas, offers a variety of restaurants with diverse cuisines, ranging from fresh seafood to Tex-Mex. Keep in mind that the dining scene may evolve, and new establishments may emerge. Here are some well-regarded restaurants on South Padre Island:
- Sea Ranch Restaurant Bar: Known for its seafood and oceanfront dining, Sea Ranch offers a diverse menu with options like fresh fish, shrimp, and crab.
- Blackbeard’s Restaurant: A local favorite, Blackbeard’s is celebrated for its seafood platters, steaks, and casual beachfront atmosphere.
- The Palms Cafe: This charming cafe offers a mix of American and Mexican cuisine, including breakfast favorites, sandwiches, and seafood dishes.
- Clayton’s Beach Bar and Grill: As one of the largest beach bars in Texas, Clayton’s offers casual dining, live music, and beachfront views. It’s known for its seafood, burgers, and tropical drinks.
- Liam’s Steak House & Oyster Bar: A steak and seafood restaurant, Liam’s is praised for its prime steaks, fresh oysters, and elegant ambiance.
- Pier 19 Restaurant and Bar: Located on the fishing pier, Pier 19 serves seafood, burgers, and Tex-Mex dishes. The waterfront setting provides a laid-back atmosphere.
- Ted’s Restaurant: A local institution, Ted’s is a family-friendly spot known for its breakfast options, hearty portions, and friendly service.
- Painted Marlin Grille: This restaurant offers a diverse menu featuring fresh seafood, steaks, and creative dishes. The relaxed ambiance and outdoor seating contribute to its popularity.
- Daddy’s Seafood & Cajun Kitchen: Specializing in Cajun and Creole cuisine, Daddy’s is known for its flavorful dishes, including gumbo, po’boys, and blackened fish.
- Ceviche Ceviche: A popular choice for those craving ceviche and other Latin American-inspired dishes. The restaurant offers a variety of ceviche options and seafood cocktails.
The 15 best restaurants at South Padre Island, Texas
Before visiting, it’s advisable to check the latest reviews and confirm the status of these restaurants, as well as to explore new dining options that may have emerged since my last update. Enjoy your culinary experiences on South Padre Island!
South Padre Island is a barrier island along with Texas. Gulf Coast and a popular vacation destination, with beautiful beaches and plenty of outdoor activities on land and sea to work with an appetite. We explore the ten best places to dine on the island when you need to refuel.
Most people associate South Padre Island with Spring Break, but it’s still a top beach destination the other 51 weeks of the year. Thanks to the mild south, calm seas, and an average of 300 days of sunshine, you can do just about anything you want, like kitesurfing, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling, diving: diving, parasailing, jet-skiing, and deep-sea fishing.
If your idea of fun is a little less adventurous, you can practice calmer activities, such as visiting islands, nature conservation centers, wildlife refuges, or walking tours.
The 15 best restaurants at South Padre Island, Texas
Horseback riding, beach camping, and eco-tours of Padre Island’s national coastline are other favorite activities. San Padre Island is a barrier island accessible from Queen Isabella’s Causeway, and the town is located at the southern end of the island.
The island owes its name to José Nicolás Ballí, the Catholic priest and colonizer. One of the island’s landmarks is the larger-than-life Cristo de Los Pescadores or Christ of the Fishermen, a memorial dedicated to fishers who never returned.
If you want to camp under the stars and wake up to the sound of the waves, take a surf lesson, practice water sports, enjoy the night with live music, great food, and drink, the island of San Padre offers you the possibility of these activities, in a memorable visit.
1. Blackbeard Restaurant
The Blackbeard Restaurant has a varied menu, and you can’t go wrong anywhere 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 dishes on the menu include an excellent seafood chef salad, plaice and shrimp po’boys, grilled plaice, and blackened catfish. And you can’t beat Blackbeard’s lime or freshly fried apple pie for a touch of Americana to finish.
Address: Blackbeard Restaurant, 103 East Saturn Ln., South Padre Island, TX, USA, +1 956 761 2962
2. Chillitto Pikin
Chillitto Pikin is one of the island’s most beloved Mexican restaurants. A small family business serves authentic and delectable Mexican cuisine ranging from fish dishes and incredible pork fajitas to blackened shrimp tacos. Locals love salsa and guacamole. Make sure to end the meal with one of Chillitto’s fried bananas.
Address: Chillitto Pikin, 3305 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX, USA, +1 956 433 5484
3. Pier 19
Pier 19 is located on the pier of South Padre’s Laguna Madre and specializes in fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico; you can even bring your own “catch” to cook by the chefs at Pier 19. Pier 19 serves traditional breakfast dishes, vegetarian options, burgers, and soups. Try the po’boy Mahi with mahi-mahi wrapped in mashed potato chips and served with chipotle crab mayonnaise.
Other delicious dishes include Baja tacos, seafood enchiladas, seafood burritos, Cajuns, and seafood pasta.
Address: Pier 19, 1 Padre Island Blvd., South Padre Island, TX, USA, +1 956 761 7437
4. Kranzler Cafe
On weekends, the Kranzler Café menu is one of the best on the island. It offers specialties such as specialty frittatas, specialty scrambled eggs (like Big Apple, diced apples, apple-smoked bacon, and caramelized onions), pancakes, and an assortment of omelets and entrees. With eggs. The Kranzler Café serves artisan sandwiches, pasta dishes, salads, and delicious dishes every day for lunch and dinner. Saffron shrimp with mussels, chicken with lemon and herbs, rack of lamb, and seafood are recommended.
Address: Kranzler Café, 3109 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, Texas, USA, +1 956 772 1840
5. Windjammer’s Beachfront Cafe
Windjammer’s Beachfront Café in Isla Grand has been serving Islanders since 1959. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With stunning views of the Gulf and the Isla Grand Beach Resort from the restaurant patio, you can enjoy fresh omelets, waffles, and toast for breakfast and soups, sandwiches, burgers, and Mexican dishes for lunch and dinner. Try the ‘Tres Tacos’ (chicken, beef, shrimp, or fish) or the famous Windjammer stuffed eggs, topped with caramelized bacon.
Address: Windjammer’s Beachfront Café, 500 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX, USA, +1 956 761 6511
6. Liam’s Steak House & Oyster Bar
For fine dining on the island, Liam’s Steak House & Oyster Bar is a good choice. Start with the fish ceviche or artichoke dip with artichokes and crab. Dishes include oysters, ‘surf & turf,’ and dishes like bluefin tuna pasta or blackened shrimp marinara. “Special” dishes like Rockefeller red snapper (spinach, bacon, shrimp, and three cream sauce), bacon-wrapped shrimp, and bourbon-glazed salmon are unforgettable memories.
Address: Liam’s Steak House and Oyster Bar, 3409 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX, USA, +1 956 772 4700
7. Sea Ranch Restaurant and Bar
Sea Ranch Restaurant and Bar focuses prepare delicious and fresh local seafood caught from the wild in the Gulf. Open daily for dinner, the Restaurant’s Sea Ranch Seafood Sampler or “South Padre Poke,” ahi tuna marinated in sesame oil and soy sauce is a must. If you’re not in the mood for seafood, Sea Ranch also serves minced sirloin steak, rib steak, filet mignon, pasta, and great salads.
Address: Sea Ranch Restaurant and Bar, 1 Padre Island Blvd, South Padre Island, TX, USA, +1 956 761 1314
8. Dirty Al’s
Which claims to have “the best-fried shrimp in the world,” is open for lunch and dinner every day of the week on the island. Opened in 1986, this family-run restaurant is a favorite among island patrons because of its creative and flavorful way with fresh seafood sourced from the waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico. Shrimp stuffed jalapenos, boiled New Orleans shrimp, taco salads and shrimp, oysters, fish, and soft chicken tacos.
Address: Dirty Al’s, 33396 State Park Rd., South Padre Island, TX, USA, +1 956 943 3340
9. Gabriella’s Italian Grill & Pizzeria
Gabriella’s Italian Grill & Pizzeria offers some of the state’s only wood-fired pizzas and a rich menu of Italian specialties. Antipasti at Gabriella include Italian nachos (topped with black olives, Roma tomatoes, Tuscan relish, and mozzarella), zucchini fritters, and toasted ravioli. Other delicious dishes include “La Sicilienne” and “La Tour de la Tour de Cheeza” pizzas and freshly made homemade pasta.
Address: Gabriella’s Italian Grill & Pizzeria, 700, Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX, USA, +1 956 761 6111
10. Ted’s Restaurant
If you are looking for the perfect island breakfast, Ted’s Restaurant is a local favorite serving amazing buttermilk pancakes with pecans and fabulous tacos with homemade salsa. Ted’s restaurant has one of the best selections for Mexican-influenced breakfasts, such as Migas and huevos rancheros, to classic dishes like waffles and French toast or healthier choices of toast and oats. Island for the first meal of the day.
Address: Ted’s restaurant, 5717, boul. Padre, South Padre Island, Texas, USA, +1 956 761 5327
11. Cafe on the beach at The Palms Resort
Cafe on the Beach at The Palms Resort is the premier dining destination of South Padre Island’s beautiful Palms Resort, located directly on the island’s beach, offering modern conveniences combined with the rustic charm of classic beachside inns. The elegant beachfront oasis offers delicious dining experiences with direct views of the region’s famous dunes and surf, including alfresco dining on a beautiful covered terrace area.
High-quality seafood is served all day for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, highlighting menu favorites like cold water lobster tails, Veracruz snapper, blackened mahi-mahi, and coconut fried shrimp. Fried seafood baskets are also served with delicious burgers and steak and vegetable sandwiches.
3616 Gulf Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, Phone: 956-761-2703
12. SPI F&B
F&B SPI is a delightful, first-class dining experience opened in 2018 by Executive Chef Walter Greenwood and restaurateur Brandi Hackett, serving elevated Gulf Coast fare at the bar and the communal table. The restaurant features a constantly rotating menu based on seasonal availability, offering indoor and outdoor seating throughout the year. Diners can enjoy fresh Gulf seafood at lunch and dinner, including favorites like lobster or braised duck tagliatelle, coastal shrimp boils with Andouille sausage, and ginger-salt crusted all-day fish citrus and coconut. Dirty options tend to be steakhouse food,
3109 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, Phone: 956-772-8114
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13. Gabriella’s Italian Pizzeria and Grill
Gabriella’s Italian Grill and Pizzeria has become one of the most popular dining destinations in South Texas since opening in 2003, ranked as one of the best restaurants on South Padre Island by TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating year-round, serving delicious lunches and dinners with a traditional Italian twist.
Couples can enjoy Italian pasta favorites like linguine Pomodoro, roasted garlic tortellini, and pasta a la tonno prepared with sun-dried tomatoes and flaked ahi tuna. Staples like chicken piccata, beef saltimbocca, and five-layer lasagna are also on offer, along with delicious land and sea offerings like 10-ounce Angus Bourbon Street steaks with sweet bourbon glaze.
700 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, Phone: 956-761-6111
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14. Liam’s Steak House and Oyster Bar
Liam’s Steak House and Oyster Bar have been voted South Padre Island’s best shrimp joint, owned by the Salazar family and operated as an extension of a bait station since 2003. The restaurant serves elegant steak and seafood dishes throughout the week in an elegant dining space, featuring a full-service bar offering wines, cocktails, and after-dinner drinks.
House specialties include Rockefeller red snapper prepared with spinach, bacon, and a three-cheese cream sauce, orange wine Gulf shrimp with sautéed broccoli, and cedar-grilled salmon with roasted lemon beurre blanc sauce. Fried seafood platters showcase local fish, oysters and shrimp, served alongside pasta favorites like blackened shrimp fettuccine alfredo,
202 W Tarpon St, South Padre Island, TX 78597, Phone: 956-772-4700
15. Marcello’s Ocean Grille and Spirits
Marcello’s Ocean Grille and Spirits are located inside the former Lighthouse Grocery and South Padre Island Meat Market, known as one of Port Isabel’s landmarks since the mid-20th century. Manuela Stevenson converted the space into a restaurant in 1984 and is today overseen by executive chef Bettina Tolin, recently rebranded as an elegant steak and seafood destination.
Diners can enjoy high-quality Gulf Coast cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients, including daily catches of fish and shellfish. Delicious seafood favorites include giant crab cakes with a citrus cream sauce, carbonara shrimp tagliatelle with fresh pasta and smoked bacon,
110 N Tarnava St, Port Isabel, TX 78578, Phone: 956-943-7611
The 15 best restaurants in South Padre Island, Texas
South Padre Island is a charming resort town located off the southern coast of the Texas Gulf of Mexico, known as one of the main beach destinations in the region. Couples can explore maritime attractions in the area, such as the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, which offers stunning views of migratory bird populations, and the South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Marine Life Center, which offers guided boat tours and tactile tank exhibits. After exploring the island’s beautiful natural areas, couples can choose from various acclaimed seafood restaurants serving authentic Gulf Coast cuisine and gourmet dishes from the land. Hours/availability may have changed.
Water Sports in an Outstanding Environment
Fishing is big in South Padre Island, so I decided to try my luck at catching something very early in the morning. Fortunately, my friends at Breakaway Cruises gave me a couple of recommendations, and I could reel in a few fish. Plus, I got to see even more fish of the region, including a stingray that stopped to greet us!
After our morning of fishing, we returned to the marina, wherewith I took a jet-ski tour with the same company. Oh yeah, I got soaked! But the pure adrenaline invited me to play on the waves of the Laguna Madre Bay nonstop. If you are lucky, you might be able to see dolphins playing in the distance.
Breakaway Cruises has many diverse options to entertain visitors, so craving more, I ventured to dry myself by parasailing. Yes! I got into a boat, and we motored out into the middle of the bay; we were still tethered to the boat; my parachute was released and quickly lifted me until I could see the island from up in the air. You have no idea how exciting it is to parasail! And what a view!
I was trying to reel in a big catch on a South Padre Island fishing charter.
Guaranteed Water Park Fun
I also visited one of the largest water parks in the USA: Beach Park at Isla Blanca. Here, you can picnic and bring your food or enjoy the dishes that the park restaurant offers. It also has a hotel and a beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
I flung down through water slides, I surfed on an artificial wave with a bodyboard, and I even explored the exciting underwater world with a diving helmet at Sea Trek! To dry me, I slid via the zip lines spanning the park from above. Pure adrenaline!
One of many fun water slides in the park
Pure Relaxation and Unforgettable Sunsets
I decided to end my trip with a sunset catamaran tour, which passed through the canals of the residential area and along the bay. The tour company Southern Wave Sailing Charters transported us in style and livened up the evening with live music and a delicious surf and turf dinner as the sun went down.
Did I mention the climate is temperate almost all year round?
But not everything is about being active all day. If you want to wake up to the murmur of the waves, practice water activities, taste fresh dishes of the region, relax by the beach under the sun or the stars, look no further! South Padre Island has everything you need to have fun in an outdoorsy atmosphere of relaxation with endless activities.