Surrounded by the sea, with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Laguna Madre Bay on the other, South Padre Island is a tropical paradise destination for foodies and families. The compact nature of the destination allows for easy access to beach, bayside activities, dining, shopping, entertainment and nature –  all reasons that tourists have been visiting for generations.

If you spend a few days enjoying all the adventures the island has to offer, you’re going to work up an appetite! Food is a big deal on the island, judging by how often it is the topic of conversation. Locals like to talk about where to eat, what they ate, what you eat, how to cook your catch, where to cook your catch, and what food to buy locally.

Fish and seafood are a given, as the island is completely surrounded by water. Shrimping fleets have been around since the 1800s and still very visible,  making shrimp the feature of many local menus cooked in a variety of ways.  Here are a few of our favourite places to eat on South Padre Island:

Yummies Bistro, 700 Padre Blvd.  When we asked locals where to go for authentic local food, the answer was always Yummies Bistro.  We lunched there and were blown away by the presentation and menu choices.  With shrimping boats in high numbers around the island, a portion of the menu was focused on a variety of shrimp dishes.  The huge menu also features fresh local fish, and the portions are generous. If you get the onion rings, you may only need one! Casual, friendly atmosphere with other tables chatting to one another.

Photo Melody Wren

Pier19 Restaurant and Bar is a perfect spot for amazing views from the pier, wildlife watching and feasting on locally caught fish fresh off the boats. If you try your luck casting off the pier, they will even clean, cook and server your catch to you!

Painted Marlin Grille:  My personal favourite! Not just fresh fish, but beautifully fresh vegetables and a unique menu that stood out from the rest. The chef and servers ensure that you are happy with your choices and make recommendations based on your likes and dislikes.