Eating at a restaurant near the beach is like dining at a theme park. In either case, you get wrapped up in the atmosphere and the moment forgetting about what it is you're really eating and how much you're paying for it. Anyone ever ordered clam strips at a place steps from the water and realized mid-bite that they probably came out of a Mrs. Paul's package?
If you don't want to worry about whether or not the fried shrimp were pulled out of the water where you were swimming, skip the seafood altogether.
Every time I head down Corpus Christi way I try to make a point of taking a trip to the Padre Island Burger Company. The place looks like a beach shack and is right across the street from one of those 150-beach-tees-for-$10 joints, but they really do serve perfect burgers.
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SHOW ME HOW
The patty is about medium thick, but even a few diehard thin patty eaters that dined with me were more than happy to gobble up every bite. They have a menu full of specialty burgers like the Dr. Pepper (with a BBQ sauce that is made with, well you can guess), the Hangover (with a fried egg and caramelized onions) and the Chronic (with avocado and green chili).
I chose the First Date with meaty mushrooms, bacon and garlic spread. While the meat, mushrooms and bacon worked well together, I would have gladly paid an extra fifty cents for double the garlic spread. You could barely tell it was there.
My only significant beef with the Burger Company is that they don't make their own fries. They are the seasoned out-of-the-bag variety, but a server did tell me if you order the garlic fries, they sauté them in fresh garlic before serving.
At night Padre Island Burger Company turns into a clubby kind of place with shots, live music and a frozen drink called a Smurf. I've never been there when it is a meet market but they do indeed do burger meat well.