South Pedro Island and Port Isabel Food

January 31, 2012

The date on this blog post is just the day I wrote it. The restaurants I am talking about were experienced during about a week when we were in the South Padre Island area.

La Jaiba:
La Jaiba was our first restaurant experience on Padre Island. Unfortunately it was a bad experience. The service was unfriendly, the menu choices were boring and the food was disappointing. We do not recommend it.

Our next restaurant experience here was at a place in walking distance from our RV space. It was called Dirty Al’s. It was a combination sea food market and Mexican sea food restaurant. We had to wait about 20 minutes to be seated, but once we were in the service was fast friendly and efficient. It was not a fancy place and the decor was a little thrown together. The tables and chairs were old and a bit uncomfortable. None of that matters much, though, when you consider that the food was excellent. Lucy and I both had a shrimp and fish combo. The shrimp and fish tasted like they were swimming around in the Gulf just minutes before they were cooked up and served. The batter was very light and not greasy. The flavor was good, but did not overpower the fish or shrimp. I have heard it said that if you want good Mexican food, go to a restaurant which is frequented by Mexicans. The crowd at Dirty Al’s was probably 80% Mexican. We highly recommend Dirty Al’s.

Grapevine Cafe:
One morning we decided to have breakfast at a little Mexican Cafe called Grapevine Cafe. Grapevine is in South Padre Island about half way up the main business strip.

Lucy and I had different experiences here. Admittedly, the service was a bit slow and a little indifferent, but I can overlook mediocre service if the food is wonderful. That’s where Lucy and I differ for the Grapevine. Lucy’s food was not good. Mine was wonderful. Here’s the rub; Lucy ordered eggs, hash browns, and a biscuit, an American breakfast. I ordered huevos y carne con chilis, beans and corn tortillas. It was excellent. So here is our recommendation; if you want an American breakfast, go to Denney’s. If you want an excellent Mexican breakfast go to the Grapevine Cafe.

El Papa’s:
Our next breakfast experience was an accident. We were on our way out of town and we remembered that someone had told us about a Mexican Cafe in Port Isabel. We entered the name into Gizmo and she took us to a vacant lot. We decided not to eat there. We also decided we needed a better photo of the bridge to South Padre Island so we drove down near the bay to get a better angle. The neighborhood we ended up in was a bit seedy looking and we still did not get a great shot of the bridge so we were about to get out of there when we spotted a little cafe with lots of old people coming and going. Now that is not always a sign of great food but it is often a sign of reasonable prices. The building was old and needed a paint job. The big wooden sign outside was faded, but clearly stated, El Papa’s. the lettering on the glass entry door was missing some of it’s vinyl lettering and announced, l apa’s. we went in to find an old, plain, but clean interior. The tables had cloth table cloths in a colorful stripe and that was covered with clear vinyl covers.

The food was okay for Lucy and excellent for me. Again it was probably due to the things we ordered. Lucy ordered, you guessed it, eggs, hash browns, and a biscuit. This time they brought her food with beans, which was the only thing that distinguished it from an American breakfast. The biscuit was unique, though, it was baked with some kind of glaze, probable egg whites, on top and then split and fried to give them an appearance of toast in the shape of a biscuit. Lucy says they were quite good. I ordered huevos y fajitas with beans and a corn tortilla. My food was excellent. Go figure.

Okay, there were two other places we ate during that time that I would not ordinarily write about, but fair is fair so here goes:

Ever since we got to the Southwest I have been seeing a place that I remembered from years ago. It’s called Church’s Chicken. I did not remember anything about it except they have spicy chicken and I loved it. I resisted the temptation as long as I could, but there is a Church’s Chicken on every other corner in this part of the world, so I finally gave in. I went in and ordered some spicy wings. They were out of spicy wings. The poor girl at the counter looked tired and frazzled so I tried to overlook her surliness. I just ordered a box of spicy chicken and went on my way. When I began to eat, I remembered why I liked it so much. Two reasons; one, it is very spicy and the flavor is of a nice mixture of hot and sweet peppers. And two, the breast meat is actually moist. If you ever eat chicken at fast food chicken joints, you know how rare that is. I recommend it, but on rare occasions. It is very high in fat and has way too many calories.

The other place is IHOP (International House Of Pancakes). In spite of the word International, this is a place to get a thoroughly American breakfast. Lots of carbs, lots of sugar, lots of comfort foods. They also have a few health items on the menu, but that is not their specialty, so don’t go there if you are linking for healthy fare. If that’s what you want, go to Bob’s Bean Sprout And Spinach Bar. But if you want good comfort food that is always well prepared and served with a smile, go to IHOP. another thing about IHOP is their consistency. You can go to an IHOP in Bangor Maine or Yuma Arizona and get exactly the same meal with exactly the same taste. I don’t know if that is good or bad, but there it is.

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