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Galveston/Crystal Beach Report

My first trip back to Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula after Hurricane Ike was for several reasons. I wanted to check out my fishing spot on Bolivar, and see and eat at some of the restaurants and seafood stands. Right off the causeway we checked out Clary's, a favorite. I was glad to see that it was intact, although being right on the water it must have been gutted. There was a sign out front for a marble company remodeling, plus a truck from another company in the parking lot. It looks like they will reopen. We hit Benno's on the seawall, outstanding grilled oysters and shrimp. I have to brag here, I am able to duplicate those oysters at home. It was good to see a line of about fifteen people at around 1130 am, Galveston is coming back. Crossed over to Bolivar, checked out my fishing spot on the beach, it's accessible, but they must have lost 75 feet or so of beach on the Gulf. We drove down to Gilchrist, the destruction was progressively worse, almost a moonscape, u-turned and hit Stingaree for some fried oysters to enjoy in the ferry line. They only recently re-opened, and are open Thursday-Sunday. Crossed back on the ferry to check out some of the seafood places on the water across from the Strand at 20th. Joe's Crab Shack is still closed(no loss), but I was happy to see Katie's seafood was open, but Samford and Son nest door was still closed. I bought some 10-15 fresh shrimp, but I'm kicking myself for not buying some of their beautiful red snapper and grouper. Get down to Galveston and spend some cash, they need it.

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  1. ..have close friends that have a house in Galveston...they are living in their garage...it's so sad..seems almost like the folks down there have been forgotten.

    Most definitely make the trip south...they need all the help they can get.

    1. Here is a piece about the restaurants in Galveston:


      We all do need to support them, since the rest of the country is totally ignoring them.

      1. Thanks for the Galveston update. I'm heading through there myself this week-end.
        Where did you see the grouper? I'd love to get my hands on a few of those.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Cookie Baker

          Where the Elyssia is docked, (which is open), on 20th street and Harborside, the grouper is hit or miss, go for whatever is fresh, grouper, snapper, etc. still kicking myself in the ass about the grouper and snapper. I had tunnel vision for grilled shrimp, my wife is no meat for lent. The shrimp is great, go to 20th and go to the right look for Katie's next to the erstwhile Joe's Crab Shack.

          1. re: Cookie Baker

            The "Stingaree" restaurant in Crystal Beach has reopened. Ask around, the food is pretty good, and the raw oysters are a bargain for the area of Galveston. Take the free ferry over and give it a try....you might, or might not, like it. Food is subjective.

            1. re: Buck_Bailey

              I went there per the op. The crabs are the things most people go for when they are in season.

          2. I am glad to hear my favorite Galveston restaurant, Beno's, has re-opened. Love the gumbo and stuffed shrimp.

            We have a weekend house at Crystal Beach that survived the storm. The tidal surge was 8 1/2 feet under our house. It missed the 2nd floor by a foot. We are working on rebuilding the utility room on the ground floor. The total destruction at Gilchrist is unbelievable. The community was basically wiped off the map.

            It's been nearly 6 months since hurricane Ike's wind and surge caused destruction across the Gulf Coast. Now a FEMA Manufactured Housing Site is getting ready to open on the Bolivar Peninsula. 6 months later????

            You are all correct; WE must support them, since our government, the press, and the rest of the country is ignoring them. So, take a drive, see the power of a hurricane, and support a local business.

            The "Big Store" just reopened last month. I don't know if their deli is open yet, but their fried boudain ball is the best. Try it.

            10 Replies
            1. re: jfred1840

              jfred - I give, what is the Big Store?

              I was in Galveston Sunday and it was very busy. More shops have opened on the Strand and happy to report Yaga's is opened. Going back in April for a short vacation.

              Katie's Seafood is great! Thanks for the tip!

              1. re: Cookie Baker

                Hey Cookie, that was my tip on Katie's! The Big Store is in Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula, an area gutted by Ike, as you know. It's a combo Shell Station/ you can buy darned near anything you want kind of place. It is quite large (BIG), not your run of the mill convenience store. We were in Galveston ten days ago, and unfortunately, the Tremont House on Mechanic did not appear anywhere close to re-opening.

                1. re: James Cristinian


                  Do you, or Swamp, know if The Spot on the Seawall was affected by Ike? We wanted to go last weekend but the freeway closure made us postpone the trip.


                  1. re: danhole

                    I just looked at their web site and it looks like they are open. The seawall protected most of the island behind it, with moderate damage compared to the Strand, which flooded from the bay, by at least 12 feet of water. I know Benno's was closed for a relatively short amount of time, and they are not too far apart.

                    1. re: danhole

                      The Spot is up and running, has been for a while. In addition to the Tiki Bar they are planning on opening a true cocktail lounge as well on the property.

                      Most things on our seawall are open. Downtown things are slowly opening.

                      Press Box with bar grub is open and serving. Yagas has reopened. Not restaurants specifically but Tsunami Bar is open and so is Bacchus Wine Bar, both on The Strand. Fisherman's Wharf and Willie G's at the port are both open. In the East end Mosquito Cafe and Sunflower are open.

                      1. re: swamp

                        We like the Press Box. There is a bar around the Strand named Poor Richard's, I think. Did that survive?

                        1. re: danhole

                          The only bar with a name like that is Poor Michael's and it is not open. I hear he is looking for a different location but nothing definite at this time.

                          1. re: swamp

                            Thanks Swamp. That's the place! Sorry to hear it is closed. Wonder what else around there is gone. Is the Old Strand Emporium there? I guess we need to come see for ourselves. Thanks for your updates.

                            1. re: danhole

                              The Emporium is open. A good place to check for information is www.galveston.com. On their business listings it will have a Hurricane Ike update and say if the establishment is open or closed.

                    2. re: James Cristinian

                      The Big Store is a combination of gas station, hardware store, tourist shop, sporting goods, deli, and grocery store. Their prices are reasonable.

                2. One of my favorite Mexican places on the island, Gordita's has reopened. They have great food and some non tex-mex menu items which is nice for a change. Like so many businesses that have reopened on our island it actually looks nicer than it did before the storm. I guess they used this as an opportunity to make some changes that were needed. Yes, it is a hard way to make improvements but we look for silver linings wherever we can find them.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: swamp


                    My friend and I did a weekend road trip for lunch a few weeks ago. I should have posted about this little gem sooner.

                    We really enjoyed our meal at the Mosquito Cafe on 14th street in Galveston.

                    The menu had many different offerings and we struggled to make a decision! My favorite part of the meal was the brie appetizer but everything else was delicious. The food tasted good but had great visual appeal too.

                    The patio was a nice place to sit and relax.

                    I had some food allergy questions to ask and the owner addressed my needs very promptly.

                    I wish them much success and plan to visit again during Spring Break.

                  2. Does anyone know about the mexican restaurant in Galveston - El Nopolitos?

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Cookie Baker

                      I looked then up on Galveston.com, and there was no Hurricane Ike update. Given their relative proximity to Galveston Bay, they must have seen a significant amount of water. I'll try and call them this weekend.

                      1. re: James Cristinian

                        I couldn't find that link on galveston.com either, but Ch. 13 has a link to a pdf file with a complete listing of all the businesses that are open. El Nopalitos is not open yet.


                        1. re: danhole

                          Sorry, I did not mean to send people on a goose chase. Galveston.com is our official web site for information. I know some will not reopen but there are several that say no report available and they are working on reopening.

                          It also appears we may have some establishments that will not return but we will get some new choices in their place.

                          1. re: swamp

                            I must apologize to you Swamp! I just went back to galveston.com, looking for a particular shop that I like. If you go to the shopping section they do list a status of open or closed, so I guess they would also do that for other businesses. But they don't have that option on restaurants. The link I post said they would keep it updated, so for restaurants we can just keep going back to that one. Maybe the CVB is working on it as we speak, though. Thanks for your help.


                            1. re: danhole

                              http://www.galveston.com/cuisine/ Does have if restaurants are open or not. Unfortunately, the only way I've gotten the open/closed status is by scrolling down to the "Inside this section" area. Click on the different categories and the status will be posted with the list. I've tried selecting all but have no luck on status when viewing them all at once.

                              Again, I'm throwing Mosquito Cafe into the conversation. We really enjoyed our meal there.

                              1. re: onatrip

                                I love Mosquito Cafe too, and am so glad it's back. We'll definitely spend a weekend in Galveston sometime this spring.

                                Incidentally, the patio at Mosquito Cafe is dog-friendly!

                      2. re: Cookie Baker

                        El Nopalito's is not open. I have been told that a waitress from El Nop. is opening up a new home style Mexican restaurant on 45th Street. According to him it will have the same cooks and similar food. Don't have any additional details at this time.

                        1. re: swamp


                          I wonder if this is it - Mi Abuelita's Home Style Mexican Restaurant. It's on 45th and only had one review on B4. What other mexican restaurants would you recommend for a man who only eats fajitas (my DH) and a woman who just likes mexican food. We are going to be there in a couple weeks.


                      3. We went about two weeks ago on a Tuesday. Had lunch at Gaido's. It was good. Went over to Bolivar on the ferry and rode a few miles to see what was going on. We stopped at the Big Store, wish I'd known about their boudin balls.

                        People will start returning as the weather gets nicer. Galveston looks pretty good and my gosh, all the new fancy gated beach house communities on Bolivar - WOW!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: texasredtop

                          My husband and I went to Galveston for a short spring break. We ate at Mario's Italian Restaurant on 61st and it was pretty good. Landry's on the seawall was good, but the service was rough. Our last night we ate at Gaido's and they were short on staff and it was busy. We waited an hour for a table and less than half the dinning room was full. When we sat down, the waiter told us all the items on the menu that they were out of. The list was quite long and they were still open for another three hours.

                          We stayed at the Hotel San Luis on the Club Ten level of the hotel. It's an adult only floor and the floor and rooms are really nice. They have a continental breakfast and snacks all day/night available. We wanted to eat at the Steakhouse at the hotel but we were told that it was closed the two days we were there. While we were on our way to Gaido's, I noticed the restaurant was open. Not one person I talked to at the hotel told me they were going to open on Monday.