The 13 Best Restaurants in Galveston
... Also known as “How to Not Fit Into Your Bathing Suit in Galveston This Summer.” Because once you get your first taste of the ocean-fresh fish, Gulf shrimp-loaded gumbo, tantalizing steaks, and fried everything platters from these 13 Galveston Island spots, you’re going to want to eat ALL OF IT.
Linger over crisp drinks and fresh-from-the-water eats at this chic resto on the picturesque Pelican Rest Marina. The two-story terrace gives off an island vibe with live music on the weekends, while the indoor dining room is 100% luxury. Break out the wallet and start with the sexy Grand Amuse -- an iced seafood tower packed with seasonal oysters, shrimp cocktail, scallops, mussels, tuna tartar, AND lobster or king crab.
Run by a pair of local sisters, islanders know to hit this bright and airy counter-service bistro for fantastic comfort food. Fan favorites include everything from whole-fried snapper and shrimp & gouda grits, to killer breakfast tacos and the “OMG” – that’s a CFS on a pancake that’s smothered in sausage gravy and topped with a fried egg, ICYWW. Yeah.
Get a taste of seriously good steam-kettle cooking in the form of cioppino, dreamy étouffée, and near-black gumbo loaded with prime rib, shrimp, sausage, oysters, and crab (the Mumbo Gumbo packs in all of the above). There’s also dope stuff like fried seafood balls, big-ass po-boys, and homemade bread pudding.
Tucked away in a quaint 1870s building in the historic East End, this urban kitchen pumps out daily chalkboard specials and homestyle cafe favorites and with oomph. At breakfast, the scratch-made scone eggs Benny and the sausage, Swiss, and apple quiche are things you most definitely want in your belly. At lunch, get kicked up salads with perfectly seared ahi tuna with wasabi cream and stacked corned beef sandwiches topped with freshly prepped dressing.
This new-to-the-island resto, complete with a Gulf-front patio and modern dining room, has some big names behind it -- including Brian Peper (of Urban Eats and Costa Brava), who helms the kitchen as executive chef, and Chef Randy Evans (of Haven and H-E-B), who consulted on the menu. Expect an inspired beverage program alongside dishes like sofrito shrimp & grits, charred octopus salad, and flat iron steak frites, all made with ingredients sourced from local farmers, ranchers, and fishmongers.
Your hungry (slightly burnt) post-beach body will love this cozy seafood spot, open since '76, not only because there’s a heavenly shaded patio at the original location, but because a second location means you have double the opportunity to stuff yourself with fresh-as-hell seafood po-boys, fish tacos, and stuffed shrimp. Cheap buckets of beer don’t hurt matters either.
This beachside bistro is a grade A spot to take a date. At lunch and brunch, you’re looking at things like crawfish beignets, fiery ceviche, and Tabasco-fried chicken & waffles the size of your dome. At dinner, things get serious with coffee-crusted Wagyu ribeye, drunken mussels, and a meat- and seafood-stacked mixed grill.
Latin American fine dining is the name of the game at this local spot in Downtown’s historical district. Hit it in the afternoon for mango habanero grilled salmon or a slow-roasted pork Cuban; or go for the gold with a dinner of plantain-crusted Gulf red snapper and beefy prime filet broiled your way.
With an executive chef who’s had stints at El Bulli, French Laundry, and Alinea, this formerly members-only fine-dining mecca boasts a bold menu of beautifully plated, progressive American eats. Now that you’re allowed in, put on some slacks and treat yo’ self to seasonally inspired plates like walnut-crusted halibut, BBQ Gulf shrimp, and smoked thick-cut pork chops with lemon beurre blanc.
Local islanders flock to this Cajun-Mediterranean hybrid for impossibly good fried crabs, whole grilled flounder, and spicy peel-&-eat shrimp mixed in with classic Greek gyros, seafood po-boys, and Creole-style crawfish mac.
If you’re going to Sunday brunch in Galveston, you may as well go all out at this grand buffet inside the beautiful Hotel Galvez. Because when you can eat endless amounts of things like fresh crabs legs and oysters, made-to-order breakfast stuffs, carved meats, pastas, and charcuterie for around 40 or so bucks, you do. And did we mention there are bottomless mimosas?
Sometimes, you just need some rib-sticking, finger-lickingly good BBQ, even if you are in a bathing suit. Leon’s has been keeping islanders well-fed with post oak-smoked meats for over 25 years. Get seriously tender pork ribs; chubby links of rice-stuffed pork boudin; and overstuffed, chipped beef-loaded baked potatoes that will have you rethinking that trip back to the beach.
Served on the half shell or smothered with things like spicy aioli, shrimp, and cheese, it’d be a mistake not to start with the oysters here. But don’t fill up, because there's fried catfish, blackened snapper, crawfish po-boys, and crab-stuffed flounder to follow...
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