South Padre Island

Ahhhhhh!  Vacation.  Was there ever a nicer, more relaxing, word?  Since we had a three day weekend, the Hubby and I decided to take a spur of the moment trip down to South Padre Island, TX.  We had never been before, and I was missing the beach after 3 years of living in Texas.

So, we left early Saturday morning and started on our long 9 hour drive down to the beach.  After about 5 hours of driving, we were getting hungry and decided to stop in the town of Luling to see if we could find some grub.

We found a little restaurant called the Coffee Shop.  The inside was cute, kind of like coffee shop meets saloon.  We ordered some fried green tomatoes for a starter (very yummy!) and the Hubby got the fried catfish with grilled veggies and I got a southwestern turkey sandwich.  The catfish was in long strips, almost like a chicken tender.  It was cooked perfectly, and the breading on it was really tasty.  The Hubby really liked the seasoning on the veggies.  My sandwich was also good, though a tad on the greasy side.

We also got a Watermelon Smoothie, which is what was advertised in their window.  I think a lot of counties are having some sort of watermelon festival, or it’s watermelon season.  Seemed like every town we passed through had tons of watermelon.  The smoothie itself was more like a slushie, and it tasted exactly like a watermelon jolly rancher!  Not bad.  It was refreshing.

When we finally got into town 6 hours later, we checked into our hotel and then went out to find something to eat.  After some deliberation, we decided to try Gabriella’s.  Wow, this place is amazing.  We went at 9pm, and it was packed!  The wait was still an hour!  When we were finally seated, I started by ordering a cream soda with peach flavoring.  I LOVED it!

And it just got better!  They brought out the bread and olive oil, and it was amazing.  We ordered the mussels and bruschetta for appetizers and they blew my mind.  The mussels were so fresh and yummy, and the sauteed peppers, onions and prosciutto sauce it came in was delicious.  The Hubby had kind of been wanting pizza, and he said that this dish with the garlic bread satisfied that craving.  My only complaint is that they handled the mussels a little too roughly cause I kept getting little pieces of shell.

Gabriella’s will let you split a dish for a charge of $3.  Which is good cause their portions are ginormous!  We split a Shrimp fra Diava and ate the whole thing.  The shrimp was cooked perfectly and the pasta (which they make in house) was amazing.  We had just a bit of bruschetta leftover, which we packed up to snack on the next day.  Our waiter was extremely impressed that we ate so much of our meal and gave us, “major props.”  This is seriously the best Italian I’ve had since getting to Texas.  I’ve found great Italian places are not nearly as plentiful here as they are in the north east.

Breakfast the next day was a bit late.  We headed over to BadaBing Bagels, which boasts some real authentic New York bagels.  The Hubby got the cinnamon bagel with apricot spread; and, because I was craving something more substantial, I got the Bronx.  It’s turkey with lettuce, tomato, swiss, and onions with an in-house scallion caper spread.  I got it on a multi-grain bagel and it was heaven.  The wait was a bit long here, but as a post-it on their counter reads, “Fast food is not good.  Good food is not fast.”  There’s something about a New York bagel that is just fantastic.

After an educational jaunt at the Sea Turtle Rescue Center, we were ready for lunch.  We stopped by the quaint Zeste Cafe and Gourmet Market. We started with some venison empanditas which were okay, and I got a cup of chicken tortilla soup and the southwestern crab cake with grilled zucchini.  The crab cake had a nice kick to it, and the zucchini had a nice balsamic glaze that I really liked.  The Hubby got some Thai peanut chicken sandwich thing, which he said was good.

This carrot cake was calling my name after lunch, so I had to get it.  It was huge!  But, oh sooooo tasty.  Zeste’s has kind of a Whole Foods feel to it.  Even a lot of the food options they offer remind me of Whole Foods.  The cafe is located inside along with other market items.  I particularly liked their selection of artisan chocolates.

We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing on the beach and chasing after our beach umbrella that would not stay grounded.  After washing up at the hotel, we headed out to dinner at the Sea Ranch Restaurant.  The nifty thing about this restaurant is that they will also cook what you catch.

We started with the South Padre Poke, which is ahi tuna marinated in sesame oil and soy sauce, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and served layered with avocado and pico de gallo.  The dish itself was scrumptious.  The chips were not.  They were extremely hard.

I ordered the filet mignon and gulf shrimp.  The filet was cooked well, though a tad over the medium I had ordered, and the shrimp was cooked perfectly.  My only complaint is that the shrimp was a tad over salted.  The Hubby got the Pirate Dan’s, which is delicately broiled seafood combo of gulf flounder, gulf shrimp, and scallops.  The Hubby had the same complaint about his shrimp, but he said the scallops were very good.

We had a lovely stay in South Padre Island.  The next day we packed up to head home.  We stopped for breakfast at Ted’s. It was a little confusing at first since it was seat yourself.  But the wait staff was very attentive and friendly.

I ordered the “Our Specialty” which was fajita meat with eggs, potatoes and bread.  The Hubby ordered pancakes with pecans.  Despite how they look, he said they were fluffy and tasty.  The fajita meat tasted like they had marinated it in A-1 sauce, which I like, so I thought it was good.

Then it was a long 9 hour drive back to Dallas.  We definitely enjoyed our time in South Padre Island, but next time, we might get a condo for a week.  If only to eat at Gabriella’s every night!

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