The 5 Best Hidden Restaurant Gems in Galveston

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The time for the great exodus has arrived.

Every summer as the temperatures rise and the oppressively hot days stretch into muggy nights, Houstonians escape the confines of the city for tropical paradise Galveston. No, it's not the loveliest beach in the world (or even in Texas), but it's our beach and our charming seaside neighbor.

Fortunately for those who make the drive to relax on the sand or stroll the Strand, Galveston has a pretty great selection of eateries to choose from. Whether you're looking for upscale dining or a hole-in-the-wall beer and shrimp shack, Galveston has the restaurants to satisfy either desire.

Instead of doing a roundup of the best restaurants in Galveston, though, we thought we'd take a look at some of the great spots that aren't as popular. If you're a Galveston resident, you might already know these places because, well, the island just ain't that big. But if you're planning a day trip, consider checking out one of these great spots off the beaten path.

5. Jack's Pub Galveston has no shortage of lively beach bars and pubs to frequent in between frolics in the ocean, but Jack's is one of the friendliest, and it has great pub fare. Jack's is located just a few blocks south of the strand on Post Office and 24th streets next to Third Coast Bar, a lively gay bar. Regulars visit Jack's for cheap, strong drinks and quality bar food. There aren't any frills here, but if you want a stiff drink and a basket of all things fried or surprisingly great bar pizza served with a smile, Jack's is your kind of place. If you're lucky, Jack himself might even be there holding down the fort. Look for an older gentleman with a shock of white hair nursing a beer at the bar and strike up a conversation. Like most people at Jack's, the man has some stories.

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4. Los Molcas The little Tex-Mex and seafood restaurant near Greens Bayou in Galveston combines the two types of food we do best on the Texas Gulf Coast. Los Molcas opened in September 2013, and though it's still not well known, it's one of the best spots for Tex-Mex on the island. The fluffy flour tortillas are made in-house, and the seafood is fresh and served in huge portions. There are even some fusion-type pasta dishes for those who might not be in the mood for Mexican, as well as a daily $7.95 lunch special featuring far more food than any one person should eat on his own. Everything tends to be fairly heavy (but not greasy) here, including the seafood options, many of which are drenched in a cheesy cream sauce. Not that we're complaining! Also note: The restaurant is BYOB, and there's no cork fee.

3. Mike's Little Supermarket & Deli We love a restaurant that serves other purposes as well (See Variadades El Salvador from a previous Hidden Gems post), so of course, a deli inside a convenience store is right up our alley. Previously Luke's Supermarket and Deli, the space shut down for several years after Hurricane Ike. It's back up and running today, though, and there's something incredibly charming about getting great sandwiches, gyros and Italian food from a popular island chef (Nic Notarnicola) and not having to stop somewhere else on the way home for toilet paper and dog food. If that's not a selling point for people who prefer their restaurants to be, well, just restaurants, stop in bright and early for a breakfast burrito that will surely change your mind.

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2. El Mercadito Y Taqueria It may not look like much from the outside, but El Mercadito Y Taqueria is the real deal. Like Mike's, El Mercadito is part convenience store and part taqueria, but it's the tacos that really have us excited. The breakfast tacos with homemade tortillas are the best on the island, and other dishes like huevos rancheros and enchiladas with green chile sauce demonstrate that this is much more than just a market. It is a great place to pick up hard-to-find Mexican and South American ingredients for your next beach cookout, but why do the work yourself when you can just eat there? The salsas are vibrant and spicy, and the horchata is perfect on a hot summer day.

1. Honduras Food Though the name doesn't demonstrate much creativity, the dishes that come out of the kitchen at Honduras Food certainly do. The small Honduran restaurant offers some of the cheapest and best whole fried fish in town, and the platters of fried plantains and fish topped with cabbage and fresh pico de gallo are ideal beach food. The charming interior is decorated with Honduran soccer jerseys, and this would have been a great place to watch the World Cup while the country's team was still in the running. Try any of the fried seafood dishes here, but don't be put off when your food comes out staring at you. If you prefer dinner without the head still attached, try the carne asada, coconut seafood soup or massive pork chop.

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