Only a short, two(ish)-hour drive from San Antonio, Port Aransas is one of our favorite summer destinations. The little island town (sometimes best known as a “drinking town with a fishing problem”) has sure done some growing up in the last 10 years. There are few chain restaurants on the island, lots of kid- and family-friendly restaurants within a few minutes of the largest condos and in town, and more recently, a bloom of flourishing “fine dining” options. Granted, it’s still Port A, and fine dining means shorts and a crisp linen shirt instead of a jacket and tie, but the quality of the food is impressive and some of the best in the state. Here are some of my family’s favorite spots to eat when we’re at the beach:
Weekly live music, a third-story bar (perfect for sunset cocktails), and a menu that has everything from a Kobe burger to bone marrow, The Black Marlin takes date night in Port A to a new memory making level. It’s great for groups, and kids accustomed to dining out in adult restaurants can be accommodated. Reservations recommended; open for lunch and dinner.
Located in the adorable community of Cinnamon Shores, seasonal ingredients and fresh-from-the-Gulf catches make Lisabella’s a standout on Mustang Island. Try the seafood enchiladas or red snapper belle meunier. Reservations are recommended, and it’s location in a large, upscale community helps it be somewhat kid-friendly. Open for dinner.
Opened in 1995 by two Venetian (like, from Venice!) transplants, this is some of the most authentic Italian food you’ll ever eat. I can’t pick a favorite—but haven’t found fault in anything I’ve ordered! Reservations are highly recommended; open for dinner.
Just a short drive away from “downtown” Port A, Black Sheep Bistro is by far one for the more eclectic and unique eateries in the area. They post their daily specials on Facebook, and the wine list is extensive and thorough. Open for lunch and dinner.
International flair and unique flavor combinations make Dragon Fly one of my favorites. The lamb meatloaf stuffed with goat cheese tops my list of favorites, and even the most selective eaters in our group have found something in their comfort zone to love. No reservations accepted—first come, first seated; open for dinner.
La Barataria | 3500 Island Moorings Pkwy., Port Aransas, TX 78373 / (361) 749-2212
Tucked away in Island Moorings, this is a “have to know about it” gem. Cajun and Creole food make up the majority of the menu, but I’ve heard the pizza is pretty fantastic. Also one of the best places for Sunday brunch in Port Aransas. Reservations recommended; open for dinner and Sunday brunch.
The Rajun Cajun | 303 E. Beach Ave., Port Aransas, TX 78373 / (361) 749-5069
Dump-it-on-the-table crawfish and seafood boil without the prep and clean-up! We love eating here with big groups, and there is something on the menu for everyone. Open for lunch and dinner.
Stingray’s Taphouse and Grill | 401 Beach St., Port Aransas, TX 78373 / (361) 749-BATS
Just want a burger or pizza and a cold one? Stingray’s is everything you love about dive bar burgers without the dive bar. A family favorite for lunch or dinner and—bonus!—the patio is pet-friendly! Open for lunch and dinner.
Good N Crisp Chicken | 14601 S. Padre Island Dr., Corpus Christi, TX 78418 / (361) 949-0011
One of my ultimate beach indulgences is the fried chicken at Good N Crisp. Seriously, it’s everything fried chicken should be—and about as far from haute cuisine or fine dining as you can get! The chicken is fried to order, so don’t expect fast-food wait times, and get extra sides, because they will be inhaled! Call in larger orders for pick-up—great on nights when no one wants to cook or your day at the beach was too exhausting to leave energy for dinner out.