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South Padre Island Restaurants & Nightlife

Best South Padre Island Restaurants

We spent a week on South Padre Island and were impressed with the choice and quality of the restaurants and their reasonable prices, the active and fun nightlife, and all the other fun things there are to see and do on the Island. South Padre Island has just about every kind of restaurant and cuisine you could want to satisfy you pallet - Italian, German, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Chinese, Mexican, Cajun, and lots of great fresh seafood restaurants. Plus you've got sports bar and beach bar food, fast food, and not so fast food. And all within 5 miles of each other. You can find a restaurant with a great view of the Gulf of Mexico or a spectacular sunset over Laguna Madre Bay. We thought that for a resort town, the restaurant prices were very reasonable in 2010. And Port Isabel, which is just across the bridge leading to South Padre Island also has some great restaurants. I was in dinning heaven during our visit and I'm now paying the penalty and trying to loose all of those calories.

Here were some of the best South Padre Island restaurants and our favorites:

  • Pier 19 is a must for breakfast or lunch and we imagine it would be just as good if not better for dinner with a sunset - and keep an eye out for the pirate and the attack of the Black Dragon Pirate Ship and Blackbeards's consistently gets good ratings
  • In the entertainment district along the shoreline of Laguna Madre Bay, you've got a couple of the better known restaurants like Amberjacks and Louie's Backyard - we enjoyed 25 cent oysters and a sunset at Palm Street Pier
  • Several of the locals recommended Jake's and we loved it - good Mexican food and a variety of tasty items in a sports bar atmosphere with lots of friendly locals and very friendly service
  • Wanna Wanna has an ok burger and good margaritas if you're looking for a beach bar
  • Sea Ranch has the gourmet reputation and is pricey
  • Tom & Jerry's is known for the best burger on the Island
  • Shrimp Haus as you might expect is known for serving a variety of shrimp dishes
  • Padre Rita Ville has ok food but we really enjoyed the music
  • Gabriella's was our favorite with excellent Italian food
  • Daddy's Seafood & Cajun Kitchen was excellent with lots of big well cooked and tasty Cajun seafood dishes

One of favorites was Pirates Landing in Port Isabel. Reasonable prices, lots of choices, excellent service, great view of the Bay, and very tasty entrees and desserts. The pasta was fantastic, the fish was fresh and the etouffee was delicious, and the sushi grade tuna was excellent - and then the desert came and even though we were stuffed, we found room for this huge scrumptious desert. Pirates Landing is pretty cool and as you would expect, it is decorated with a pirate theme with old model ships, weathered wood, wharf-like posts and railings, several life size pirates, and myriad pictures of briny buccaneers doing their thing. Make sure you wander around and check it out. Just outside the entrance to Pirates Landing are some vendors selling some interesting wares and a couple talking parrots who would love to sit on your shoulder and have their picture taken. Make it a day and sail with some lively and rowdy pirates on the Black Dragon and then try The Thriller high speed boat ride across the Bay, after which you'll be ready for a big meal.

Watch out for the pirates at Pirates LandingThe Tuna was superb at Pirates LandingAnother pirate at Pirates LandingWow, a huge delicious dessert at Pirates Landing

Also in Port Isabel is Pelican Station where we had a superb lunch while enjoying the view of the bay. If you like Italian, there is Marcello's - we hear it's good for dinner but we can attest to some excellent appetizers and good Bloody Mary's. And we heard from a couple people that Manuel's is excellent but only open for lunch or dinner and they have a breakfast taco and burrito made with home made tortillas that would feed four people, or at least one hungry person!

Best South Padre Island Nightlife

Not only is South Padre Island home to some great restaurants, it also has a very active nightlife scene. On any given night you should be able to find some live music or at least a DJ or some interesting karaoke or a cold drink and a stunning sunset. You can find some upscale more yuppie (is that still a current term?) nightclubs, sports bars, bars with fantastic sunsets, nightclubs for the older crowd, and plenty of bars where the locals hang out. We particularly enjoyed the entertainment district which has 5 bars/restaurants along the shore line of Laguna Madre Bay.

Here are some of the best South Padre Island bars, nightlife, and places to hang out during your South Padre Island vacation:

  • Gulf of Mexico Beach Bars - Wanna Wanna (our kind of beach bar - burgers, cold beer, and right on the beach) , Boomerang Billy's, and Palm's Cafe on the Beach (a little too foo foo for us - attracts the affluent condo owners)
  • Live Music - Louie's Backyard, Amberjacks, Quarterdeck (really good bands on holidays), and Padre Rita Ville (loved Michael's range of songs and voice)
  • Entertainment District- Louie's Backyard is huge and multi levels with music, a younger crowd, and good food; Amberjacks (a tad pricey) is more upscale but it has a fun upstairs bar and a good restaurant downstairs, Coconuts is funky, fun, and laid back; Palm Street Pier is laid back and when we visited they had 25 cent oysters; and Tequila Sunset is a good mix of Amberjacks and Coconuts - all the preceding are on Laguna Madre Bay and next to or within a block of each other and there are several others that not on the Bay but are close to or considered part of the Entertainment District, like Coral Reef with karaoke each night,
  • Sunset Watching Bars - any of the ones along the Bay will provide you with a stunning sunset, for a start try the Entertainment District bars or Pier 19
  • Local Hangouts - Jake's Bar & Grill, Tom & Jerry's (known for food, fun, and the best burgers), and Coral Reef (the last call)

Amberjack'sTequilla SunsetLouie's BackyardBar and Restaurant in the entertainment district of South Padre Island

Check out the this website which has a list of most of the nightlife locations.

Have fun, drink and eat responsibly, and enjoy South Padre Island. Return to our South Padre Vacation article.