With over 40 places to grab some grub, foodies have a literal Smörgåsbord of bold, tropical flavors to try on South Padre Island. The tastes that define this Texas paradise are a mix of coastal cuisine and authentic Mexican dishes. Prepare your tastes buds!

1) Red Snapper and Mahi Mahi and Black Drum, oh my!

Fish, fish and more fish. Surrounded by the waters of the Laguna Madre Bay and Gulf of Mexico, a variety of fish are literally in our backyard, and available year-round thanks to our mild weather. Most restaurants on the Island serve some sort of fish, whether it’s grilled, blackened, fried, in a taco, on a bun, or in things like ceviche (more about that later). If you happen to go fishing while you’re here, several restaurants will cook your catch!

Island Insider Tip: Looking for seafood with a creole spin? Check out Daddy’s Seafood & Cajun Kitchen.

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2) Taco ‘bout it, taco ‘bout it, taco ‘bout it, taco ‘bout it...

No matter what kind of tacos you’re into, we’ve got you covered here on the Island (and over the Queen Isabella Causeway in Port Isabel too!). Fresh tortillas (corn or flour) are a staple here, filled with barbacoa, carnitas, blackened fish or shrimp, or even eggs and bacon! You’ll find some type of taco on most menus — feel free to try them all!

Island Insider Tip: Hit up Pier 19 for blackened fish tacos, Chilitto Pikin for tacos pastor, and head over the Causeway  into Port Isabel for the biggest (and best) breakfast tacos at Manuel’s.

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3) “Shrimply” irresistible

Long before the City of South Padre Island was established, the neighboring community, now known as Port Isabel, was a prominent fishing village. With commercial fishing and shrimping beginning as early as the late 1800s, the area has long been known for its abundance of fresh shrimp. Like fish, shrimp is served at most restaurants in some fashion. So whether you like it grilled, blackened, fried, covered in coconut, or in a taco or po’ boy, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.

Island Insider Tip: If you want to try several different kinds of shrimp in one sitting, check out Shrimp Haus at Beach Park at Isla Blanca.

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4) Cómo se dice ceviche

One dish you absolutely must try while you’re on South Padre Island is ceviche. “What is ceviche?,” some of you may be asking. Traditional ceviche recipes consist of seafood (usually shrimp or a white fish like Mahi Mahi) which “cooks” in the acidity of a citrus marinade as opposed to being exposed to heat. Throw in some cilantro, tomato, onion and spices and there you have it! You can eat it with tortilla chips, crackers or just a fork (it’s that good).

Island Insider Tip: Ceviche Ceviche lets you customize your ceviche, from the spice level, to add-ons like avocado, fruit and extra veggies. Don’t forget to try their signature sauces to kick it up a notch!

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