Memorial Day is here and if you’re thinking of spending the holiday with sand in your toes, salt in your hair and good food in your belly, this list is for you. Houston Press spent a few days in Galveston and dined at some well-known favorites, and also checked out some island jewels you might not have heard about.
Gypsy Joynt, 2711 Market
Step into this eclectic bohemian paradise decorated with quirky chandeliers, colorful tapestries, mismatched chairs and strands of flashy beads dangling from the ceiling. The menu at this counter-service cafe is just as groovy, with items like oven-baked sandwiches, gourmet pizzas, creative tacos, huge burgers and gorgeous salads. The colorful Boho salad is loaded with fresh greens and topped with whole grapes, diced pineapple, sliced strawberries, cranberries, walnuts and salty chunks of feta.
Or choose from one of the crazy-named burgers, all served on fresh, homemade focaccia. The Ziggy Up burger comes with peanut butter, fresh mozzarella, homemade jam, bacon jam and the housemade Sriracha-based
Gypsy Joynt also has vegetarian options, including the Cosmic Clover sandwich, made with mushroom, spinach, green peppers, onion, provolone, tomatoes, pesto, mixed greens, cucumber and Italian dressing. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Mondays.
DiBella’s Italian Restaurant 1902 31st
A setback from Hurricane Ike in 2008 and a fire in 2009
The menu is loaded with succulent entrées, like a tender marinated Angus rib eye either pan-fried or grilled and served with a side of pasta. Or try the ravioli combo with pillows of pasta stuffed with chicken and cheese, porcini mushrooms and goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and cheese with your choice of sauce. Meat and vegetable lasagna is on the menu along with other vegetarian options like cheese tortellini, fettuccine
Shrimp 'N Stuff Downtown, 216 23rd
Jeff Antonelli creates a new feel for Shrimp 'N Stuff — this location, which opened in 2014 at the former Phoenix Bakery, is quite different from the seawall location — with tableware made in Mexico and broiled versions of fresh fish and shrimp. Choose from broiled snapper, flounder, salmon and redfish, or try some broiled stuffed shrimp. Po-boys and fried items are also available, as well are non-seafood items like chicken poblano, chicken-fried chicken or a classic burger.
On the lighter side, several entrée salads are available and some are gluten-free. The Strand Salad, with mixed greens,
BLVD Seafood, 28th & Seawall
You’d never think that this hip, modern restaurant operates in a building that was once a convenience store. The clean, industrial feel, the great view of the ocean, and the delightfully plated food make dining here a pleasant affair. Executive chef Chris Lopez has created a crafty menu with a variety of sliders, tacos, seafood
Choose from the Mambo Italiano sliders with 100 percent Angus beef that has been soaked in red wine, along with fresh mozzarella, basil and pesto aioli, roasted red peppers, and greens, or the BLVD sliders topped with guacamole, greens, cheddar, applewood smoked bacon,
Choose from many taco options, like the Asian tacos with tuna or crispy chicken, soft-shell crab with jalapeño coleslaw, or Caribbean-style with jerk shrimp and colorful salsa. Entrées range from a 14-ounce cowboy bone-in rib eye and a double-cut blackberry pork chop to several samplers with choices of andouille-crusted redfish, baked oysters, scallops and more. Don’t forget to order a refreshing cocktail from the stocked bar. Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Yamato Japanese Seafood Sushi & Steak House, 2014 61st
Walk through the doors of Yamato and you suddenly feel like you’ve left the island. The dimly lit, cozy dining area is warm and enchanting, decorated in colors of deep red and soft gold. A long sushi bar lined with bar stools and a few bar tables and booths sit on one side of the restaurant, and the larger family-style hibachi area on the other. There is a small room set up for special events or large parties, equipped with its own hibachi table and decorated with colorful Asian art pieces arranged within glass displays inside the walls. From an entertaining hibachi show, available only at dinner service, to fresh sushi and sashimi prepared right before your eyes at the long, glass sushi bar, it’s no surprise the Lo family has been pleasing islanders and tourists since 1988.
DTO (Daiquiri Time Out), 2701 Market
Okay, men and women. Ready to have some adult-only time? Native Texan Brad Stringer has brought craft cocktails to Galveston at Daiquiri Time Out Bar (or DTO) on Market Street. No food is sold here, but if you get hungry, Gypsy Joynt (first on this list) is right next door. Stringer creates a menu of cocktails every season using local ingredients and boutique spirits. Delicious creations include the Thai Bowl, an edible cocktail served with chopsticks. Dark rum, coconut water noodles, turmeric and ginger syrup, coconut cream, lime cordial, and lime fill up this pretty bowl for you to enjoy however you’d like.
Other cocktails include The One With Cucumber, a refreshing concoction of gin, dill aquavit, lemon, pimento dram, cucumber
Olympia Grill at Pier 21, 100 21st
Inspired by their grandmother’s healthy style of cooking using whole foods and fresh ingredients, Larry and
On Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., Olympia Grill’s belly dancer offers exciting but family-friendly entertainment. The view of the harbor and the sunset is breathtaking and perfect for a romantic evening on the island. The menu has something for everyone. Seafood lovers can choose from baked stuffed shrimp, seared sesame tuna, or a mixed seafood platter with fried shrimp, baked stuffed shrimp, shrimp kisses, fried seafood crab balls and flaky white fried fish fillet. Non-seafood lovers have options like filet mignon, braised lamb shank, pastitsio, or chicken Santorini pasta with sautéed chicken breast and garlic, kalamata olives, green onions and fresh tomatoes, topped with feta cheese over angel hair pasta. Also among Olympia's menus, you’ll find a vegetarian menu with items like a falafel pita, lentil soup, or an avocado Greek salad topped with creamy avocado.
A gluten-free menu includes grilled shrimp, seared sesame tuna sashimi served with wasabi, seaweed
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch, Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Benno’s Dining on the Beach Cajun Seafood Restaurant, 1200 Seawall
Looking for spicy Cajun seafood and a shaded patio overlooking the ocean? We’ve found your spot. Benno’s is a counter-service restaurant sitting right on the seawall with a wide-open view of the Gulf. Place your order at the counter and take a seat outside. Listen to the waves rolling in, the seagulls cawing and the cars driving by as the bay winds tangle your hair and carry salty air to your lips. This is what dining in Galveston is all about. Now add a basket full of fried seafood and hushpuppies, and you’ve found paradise.
Since 1983, Benno’s has been delivering tasty Cajun dishes to island folks. Try one of the classics like crawfish étouffée, fried oyster
Rudy and Paco, 2028 Postoffice (21st and Postoffice)
If you’re still wearing your beach attire, be sure to check out Rudy and Paco only during lunch hours. Dinner service requires pants unless you're seated at the bar. The dress code becomes obvious as soon as you walk into this elegant restaurant with snow-white table linens, polished silverware set next to crystal clear wine glasses, and name-plated wine lockers on the walls. The back wall is mirrored, giving the appearance of a much larger establishment.
The server brings complimentary plantain chips with pico
Other dishes include
Cajun Greek, 2226 61st
Just as the name suggests, this local spot offers Cajun seafood and Greek options. Located off 61st Street in a small, brick shopping strip, Cajun Greek has been a local favorite for years. This casual, laid-back joint has a lot of island charm, with photos of smiling fishermen holding up their prized catches covering the walls, neon beer signs above the bar, and hung boat paddles and lifesavers throughout, with cute phrases etched into them like “Take a Leaky” on the oar hanging above the head. This is a full-service restaurant but does not have a full bar. Only beer and wine options are available.
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Appetizers include ceviche and fried crab fingers or Greek options like Tammy’s Dolmas or Scotty’s Greek Lollipops, which are grilled lamb chops on a bed of tzatziki and grilled rustic new potatoes. Cajun Greek also serves up some of the sweetest, tender boiled crab with a sprinkling of Cajun seasoning and a side of clarified butter. Ultimate Salmon Mac & Cheese is a rich entrée of pasta noodles with spicy Gouda sauce, crawfish tails, andouille, blackened Gulf shrimp,
Steve's Landing, 1290 Bay Vue (Crystal Beach)
An honorable mention if you're up for a ferry ride to Bolivar Peninsula is Steve's Landing. This seafood restaurant has a full bar and is a fun spot with outdoor swings and hammocks on a large patio overlooking the water. The hot and spicy shrimp here are a must. Peel-and-eat Gulf shrimp marinated in Steve's spicy, savory seasoning is the perfect starter if you like spice that makes your eyes water. Other menu items include seafood gumbo, étouffée and signature dishes like shrimp tikka and grits, pecan-crusted snapper, and even chicken-fried steak. This casual spot has a dock for boats, but shorts and shoes are required to dine. Hours: Memorial Day 11-8:30, Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, 4 to 8:30 p.m. and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Wednesdays.