When one starts planning a trip to South Padre Island, he can’t help but think about ocean views, dolphin watching, and time spent walking the beach. BUT in my family, the first question is always, “Where are we going to eat”? The best South Padre Island restaurants come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
My family and I have enjoyed our incredible time on the island, and I’ve got your one-stop resource for all things food-related, right here thanks to a sponsored trip.
Be sure to check out the Best Texas Beaches, as noted by top Texas travel bloggers!
(Originally published on the South Padre Island website.)
Guide to South Padre Island Restaurants
A barrier island with 34 miles of beautiful sandy beaches, South Padre Island offers what you would expect…fresh seafood, and plenty of it.
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The Painted Marlin Grille
LOCATION: 202 W Whiting St, South Padre Island, TX 78597
Located just off Padre Boulevard, on Whiting Street, you’ll find the island’s newest waterfront restaurant, The Painted Marlin Grille.
This restaurant is one to add to your itinerary, if only for the sunset views.
The open-air restaurant is just what you are looking for at the end of an activity-filled day. With breezes off the bay, you’ll enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, perfect for both families and a night out with your significant other.
Colorful decor and live entertainment (we visited on a Saturday night) make the atmosphere fun and inviting. I have to admit that we might have enjoyed watching a bit of a Dallas Cowboys game on one of the televisions over the bar, all the while my daughter was kept busy coloring one of their activity pages.
Though the atmosphere was charming and the view stunning, we were ultimately there for the food.
It did not disappoint.
The Painted Marlin Grille has a large menu with signature plates like Red Snapper, Sushi-Grade Yellowfin Tuna, and of course, the Catch of the Day. For non-seafood eaters, you’ll find a large selection of burgers, sandwiches and Po’ Boys. Be sure to try the Grilled Chicken Wrap, featuring a chipotle guava sauce. Vegetarian and Vegan options available.
My favorite…Blackened Mahi Mahi Tacos, featuring corn-flour blend tortillas, topped with cabbage, cilantro, and the star of the dish – mango (served with sea-salted cottage fries).
Do not pass up the chance to have dessert here.
While my husband loved the Key Lime Pie (and I’ll admit it was quite tasty), it was the Fried Cheesecake that stole the show. Cinnamon and cream cheese goodness!
You can check out their large menu here.
LOCATION: 100 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597
Looking for something a bit more casual?
Situated along the very back of the Schlitterbaun Beach Resort hotel, and just steps away from the beach, you’ll find Seaside Grill.
Not only did Seaside Grill provide amazing breakfast room service during our stay at the hotel, but we chose to visit for a casual dinner. Why? There’s nothing quite like listening to the waves crashing while enjoying dinner. Definitely a different experience from the bay side of the island.
Who can easily dine here? Hotel guests of course (hotel parking is strictly provided for guests only). Beachgoers who find themselves in the proximity can join for drinks at the bar or dining.
TIP: There is a small shower area to clean off your sandy feet.
Popular items on the menu include Fish Ceviche and Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, but you’ll discover everything from Grilled Ribeye to Beachside Fajitas. Yes, there is a definite Mexican influence when you are this close to the border.
We chose Baja Fish Tacos, grilled fish with cabbage slaw, cilantro, and chipotle mayonnaise in a corn tortilla. Also a family pick – the Mexican Steak Street Tacos.
All this and we didn’t have to change for dinner, as we just put on our swimsuit cover ups!
Schlitterbahn’s Shrimp Haus
LOCATION: 33261 State Park Rd 100, South Padre Island, TX 78597
Hidden deep within a waterpark (though you do not need to pay for waterpark entrance tickets to dine here), is Schlitterbahn’s Shrimp Haus restaurant.
In this beautiful setting, one can choose to eat indoors (with air conditioning) or outdoors while enjoying the Gulf breeze and ocean in the distance.
There is a reason they call the restaurant Shrimp Haus, as it literally serves shrimp in more ways than I could have ever imagined.
You’ll find classic dishes like Grilled Shrimp, Curry Shrimp, and Coconut Fried Shrimp, but then it gets creative. Have you ever heard of Peanut Butter Shrimp? Or Greek Shrimp?
Since you are in Texas, I highly recommend you trying the Chicken Fried Shrimp – Jumbo Gulf Shrimp topped with a Roasted Jalapeno Cream Sauce. You’ll find everything from a hamburger to a Texas staple, Chicken Fried Steak on the menu, but really, someone in your group must try the shrimp!
Check out their full menu here.
LOCATION: 700 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597
If you are looking for a great place for brunch, look no further. Head to Yummies Bistro and don’t let the packed parking lot deter you. There is a reason it’s packed!
Adults will love the breakfast mimosas and signature Padre Coffee and kids will be drooling over the Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothies.
A heartier breakfast option includes the Huevas Colima, scrambled eggs with onions, red peppers, pepper jack cheese, jalapeno, baked corn tortilla chips, served with a side of refried beans. Oh My!
But don’t forget to order Gavin’s Mickey Pancakes, named after the owner’s son, and a favorite for Disney fans.
Yummies Bistro is conveniently located close to the Isla Grande Resort and is only open from 8am-2pm.
LOCATION: 5801 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597
Parrot Eyes offers family recipes which are a blend of American, Mexican, and Cajun flavors for a casual dining experience.
Blackened Fish Tacos are highly recommended, but at Parrot Eyes, there is an experience you might want to take advantage of. “You Catch – We Cook” – at a per person or per pound rate, you bring your fresh caught seafood to the restaurant and they will prepare it how you like – blackened, fried, or grilled.
So book that deep sea fishing adventure and then take your catch over to Parrot Eyes for the perfect ending to your day.
Check out their full menu here.
Other South Padre Island Restaurants Worth Mentioning:
UMix – You will find the best crepes here (in addition to frozen yogurt). Try the Royal Crepe (cheesecake with strawberries).
Windjammers Beachfront Café – This café, located within Isla Grand Beach Resort, has been serving seafood, steaks, pasta and Tex-Mex since 1959. Watch for many All-You-Can-Eat nights or try some of the local favorites, Beef Fajita Platter, Jalapeno Chicken Sandwich, or the Green Tortilla Chicken Wrap.
Gabriella’s Italian Grill & Pizzeria – This is the place to go when you’ve had enough seafood (though you will find a few options here too). This is a great place for Take-Out and don’t forget to try the Chocolate Souffle!
Be sure to check out my post about our stay at Schlitterbahn South Padre Island Beach Resort, which as of 2020 is now called the Beach Resort Hotel.
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Sara Phillips says
The Painted Marlin is one of my favorites! I’ll have to add these others to my itinerary for my next visit.