Sunday, November 20, 2016

Tips for surviving Lone Star Weekend for non-bikers

The Lone Star Rally is an annual Galveston event, drawing thousands of biker enthusiasts from all over. Part of the Seawall and most of the Strand are blocked off for vendors. Its not my favorite weekend to be in Galveston but when one of our daughters, her husband and 2 year old and 2 month old sons wanted to come down, there is only one answer: YES!

Mike and I came down on Friday and encountered few bikers on Highway 6 and the causeway. We saw more on Broadway and Harborside but traffic flowed freely. We noted the road closures along the way to eliminate surprises later. Our place is on the East End of the island and there were almost no bikers staying there and only the occasional sound of cyclists enjoying the perfect weather.

If you want to access something on the Seawall, drive down Broadway and then come up the back way. Part of the Seawall was blocked off so if you are trying to go to the area near the Pleasure Pier you will have difficulty parking on nearby streets.

We were able to go downtown, but not the Strand area, and ate dinner at our favorite Trattoria restaurant just off Postoffice. Parking wasn't impossible but prices had been jacked up at the lot behind the Grand Opera House. Few patrons were at the restaurant--so we felt like we almost had it to ourselves.

Which leads me to another tip: some businesses closed during this weekend, like Kitchen Chick and the Galveston Historical Society's historic homes. I assume that is due to parking issues and the experience of having few patrons show up that weekend.

With such young grandsons in tow, we weren't touring or eating out. The 2 year old is perfectly happy playing in the pool, the playroom and the playground while Dad and Poppa enjoyed multiple college football games on TV.

Final Tip: avoid the island if you aren't a biker unless you will be happy avoiding the Seawall and the Strand area. You can still have a great time if the weather cooperates--we did!

Monday, October 3, 2016


With the two grandsons in tow, ages 5 and 3, we decided it was time to try out this little pizza place which moved from Bolivar, where it was in business for 25 years, to the Strand area (intersection of Postoffice and 21st streets) after losing its venue to Hurricane Ike.

The interior is reminiscent of a Manhattan area hole-in-the wall pizza place with the exception of a giant cutout of the state of Texas in the colors of the Italian flag and a star indicating Galveston. This elicited questions from the 5 year old. We decided the message was "Texas loves Italy."

This is a great place to take the little ones. The waiter immediately brought a booster for the 3 year old and both boys were fascinated with the "flying pizzas". The kitchen is open so they could watch the dough being expertly tossed high in the air! The pizzas arrived quickly so no one got restless. And they were delicious--plain cheese for the boys and Mike's favorite Mama Meaty Pizza. I would love to try some of the other offerings--like Greek pizza, Tuscan Chicken or the Sombrero.

The menu is broader than pizza so you can indulge in traditional Italian fare if you like, but I just went with the pizza program Saturday night. Afterwards I recommend a short walk down Postoffice Street to Hey Mikey's Ice Cream. They have very small 2 ounce cups of ice cream just the right size for the little guys!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Spectacular Sunset over Galveston Bay Friday, September 23

Review of Waterman's Restaurant

So Mike and I left our comfort zone in Galveston's East End and drove to the West End to sample the offerings at Waterman's restaurant. Waterman's is right by the Galveston Country Club and is an older place with an awesome view of the sunset over Galveston Bay. The decor is Driftwood Chic.

What were the odds it was a seafood place? (100 to 1).

We seldom drink a cocktail but were intrigued by the Lafitte Splash, a rum/triple sec/fresh strawberry/lemonade concoction that was light and refreshing. I had their lobster bisque which reminded me of Gaido's Watkins bisque but more lobster-forward and Mike had their gumbo which was dark and just as it should be.

My entree was the Southwest Snapper which is coated with tortilla crumbs and topped with lump crab, pico de gallo and avocado. Delicious and perfectly cooked! Mike seems to be on a fry-kick so he had fried shrimp which were chicken-fried style with a substantial coating but he pronounced them excellent.

It was well worth the drive down the island--funny how it seems a long way when you are in Galveston but you would think nothing of it in Houston!

UPDATE: This weekend we recommended Waterman's to friends who were in Galveston. They tried it and liked their fish entrees, but Jenny, who is a self-confessed creme brûlée snob, thought their version was too watery

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Taps at Sunset: Corner of Postoffice and Moody Streets

Every evening at sunset an old Marine veteran plays taps at the corner of Postoffice and Moody Streets. Last Saturday night Mike and I were fortunate to be at that intersection at the right time so I filmed the video above. The event begins with a constable driving up sirens blaring and lights flashing. He blocks the intersection with his car, gets out and salutes. Then the bugler begins to play. A crowd has gathered and most put their hands over their hearts or salute. After he finishes the crowd applauds and disperses. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Spectacular Pink Sunset Over the Gulf


This is NOT retouched or photoshopped in any way. The beach, water and sky were just this dramatic shade of pink at sunset. The effect lasted about 5 minutes. So awesome!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Review of Shy Katz Deli and Bakery

The word "bakery" tempted Mike and me to venture over to the Shy Katz Deli and Bakery for lunch. It's located in the East End residential area between Broadway and the Seawall and is clearly a popular spot for the neighborhood.

Inside the decor is eclectic/hippie/Christian and it's a good thing there is so much to look at on the walls because Shy Katz operates on Island Time. It's a very friendly and homey atmosphere.

Mike had soup and salad and reported the tomato basil soup was good but not as good as Sunflower Cafe's version and his egg salad and bacon sandwich was done well. I had their chicken salad sandwich on croissant since it is a speciality but found it too bland for my taste.

Bakery offerings are slim (a couple of different varieties of cupcakes, cake slices and scones) but looked good. We didn't try any on this trip in the interest of our waistlines, though. 

Breakfast is served all day and I think that is probably the place's strong suit after seeing what others were having and the interesting breakfast items on the menu. We will be back to try those.

August 5, 2016 Harborside Mercantile 

Your faithful Galveston reviewer is back! Once Mike heard there was an interesting new restaurant on the Strand I knew duty called, and we checked it out on a recent stay in Galveston.

Harborside Mercantile is in one of the vintage buildings on the Strand and inside its decor is shabby chic, reminiscent of the style of Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame on HGTV. Which matches the "Southern Comfort Food" theme of the menu.

Mike had fried oysters and grits--the oysters were really creamy, large, and deliciously covered with a light cornmeal breading. The grits were heavy on the cheese but with a tangy flavor.

Speaking of the cornmeal breading, I had a field green salad that was notable because of the chunky fried green tomato croutons and their crab cake which was pure lump crab with tiny bits of yellow and zucchini squash--light and perfect on a summer evening.

For a moderately priced restaurant they have an extensive wine and beer list. And one of the desserts available is milk and warm chocolate chip cookies which would delight the kids.

We plan to return and I recommend you give it a try if you are in the mood for some good old Southern/Cajun seafood.

July 17, 2016 Art Walk and Hey Mikey’s Ice Cream

Your intrepid Galveston reviewer is back this morning with a word on something different: Art Walk. Mike and I attended this event several times, including last night after dinner. 

Art Walk takes place several times a year on Postoffice street where most of the Galveston art galleries are located. The galleries are open, serving refreshments, and crowds turn out to enjoy the evening and wander in and out of the galleries. 

Lots of families and dogs were sighted and Mike may have indulged in a white chocolate raspberry ice cream cone from Hey Mikey's Ice Cream! But I'm not telling....If Art Walk is on when you are in town, I think you will enjoy it.
May 16, 2016  After the Storm, an original opera

Your humble Galveston restaurant reviewer is now going to try her hand at an opera review. Last night we saw "After the Storm" at the 1894 Grand Opera House in Galveston. HGO commissioned the opera and this was one of the 2 world premieres. 

The story is about a woman who is a descendent of survivors of the Hurricane of 1900 that wiped out Galveston. Another hurricane is approaching Galveston and her daughter, now living in Houston, urges her to "hightail it up 45" to her home.

Tying together events from 1900 and Hurricane Ike, the story is compelling and dramatic. The music was very evocative of the storm and the cast was excellent. It was only 80 minutes long so Mike stayed awake (that's for you Catherine McKay) and even raved about how much he enjoyed it.

I don't know when it will be staged again, but I highly recommend it to you if it is.
February 15, 2016 The Gumbo Bar

Mike took the picture of me that I've got on this blog yesterday at the Gumbo Bar on Postoffice street in Galveston and insisted I post it along with another review from your humble Galveston reviewer.
We dodged a cadre of marathoners (there were 3 races in Galveston yesterday--a marathon, a half, and a 5K) to indulge in oysters and gumbo at lunch.

The Gumbo Bar is a hole-in-the-wall place that serves several kinds of gumbo and poor boys along with other Gulf seafood. It has a Louisiana vibe, including the music it plays, and there are huge steaming pots of gumbo on the bar.

Its the TRUE gumbo which means the roux is very dark and just this side of being burned. None of that sissy pale stuff! Mike had the shrimp/oyster Lil Daddy (which is more than enough) and I had fresh oysters which were just perfect! Prices are good and its a fun casual place that we go to often. Highly recommended!
January 1, 2016 Galvez Bar and Grill

Here's my first Galveston restaurant review of 2016 and Happy New Year to all! Mike and I came down today to check on some things at the condo and decided to eat dinner at the Gálvez Bar and Grill. We figured they would be open when many restaurants are closed on New Year's Day.

The Gálvez is a beautiful historic hotel on the Seawall--known as the "Queen of the Gulf." We've been there for the hotel's brunch but not for dinner The Bar and Grill is on the first floor. There was a live jazz duo in the bar and we sat far enough away to enjoy but not be overwhelmed.
The menu is short and clearly emphasizes local seafood. We had the catch of the day--red snapper. Mine was blackened and Mike's pan roasted and both were perfectly cooked. The accompaniment was a tasty Gorgonzola potato soufflé and we had the house salad which Mike finished so you know it was good. If you go, stick to the seafood.

All in all a lovely way to start 2016. And valet parking is free if you eat there.

You're welcome!
November 29, 2015 Trattoria La Vigna

I'm back with another Galveston restaurant review--drumroll please! Last night we ate at Trattoria La Vigna, a lovely Italian restaurant near the Grand 1894 Opera House where we went after dinner to see Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits. By the way, that's a great show and he's still a wonderful entertainer.

But I digress!Trattoria La Vigna has expanded since our first visit a couple of years ago. The chef makes her own pasta and they have a nice wine list. Service was prompt and friendly.

We had the daily specials--cannelloni with shrimp, crab and scallops with a side of grilled shrimp and asparagus and baby shrimp with fettuccini and grape tomatoes. Followed it with a shared panna cotta. Delicious! Highly recommended and we will be back.

One caution: I wouldn't take very young children here. There's no pizza or children's menu. If you are taking the whole family for Italian I recommend Marco's Seawall Italian and Pizzeria.

You're welcome!
November 24, 2015  Black Pearl Bar and Grill

A pre-Thanksgiving Galveston restaurant review, brought to you by Mike who needed to come down to retrieve a jacket he left here and wanted to wear Thanksgiving.

So since it is oyster season we decided to try the Black Pearl Bar and Grill on Market and 23rd street. Of course we both had oysters: mine were the oysters 3 ways (Rockefeller, with shrimp and parmesan cream sauce and with crab and cheese sauce) and Mike's were fried. Two thumbs up!

Black Pearl is a small, cozy neighborhood place that seems a favorite with locals. The prices are great--a dozen oysters on the half shell for $1/each! Great beer list and reasonable wine list for this type of bar.

August 9, 2015 Porch Cafe, Galveston Bookshop and The Pelican Club

Your humble self-appointed Galveston reviewer is back with recommendations after a rare stay without grandchildren.

First up: The Porch Cafe near our place on the East End serves lunch! We had a flatbread pizza with shrimp and a Wagyu beef hot dog with house made yummy potato chips on the porch under a bunch of fans. They also serve dinner and brunch on Sundays but are only open Thursday-Sunday.

Second stop: Galveston Bookshop is just the quirky kind of independent bookstore you would expect near the Strand complete with store tabby cat. We went because a local author was signing her book on Galveston Cemeteries (for Mike the extreme history buff) and found the store stocked with books by Galvestonians and books about Galveston and Texas.

Third stop: The Pelican Club for dinner. This used to be a private club behind Gaido's opened in the days of Prohibition and when liquor could only be served in Texas in private clubs. Its now open to the public. We visited a couple of times when it first opened but found the ratio of trendy to delicious too high. But we loved it this time--more Gulf seafood on the menu with interesting twists on old recipes. Pricey but worth it.

UPDATE: The chef left and The Pelican Club is now closed. Sad face.
July 11, 2015 The Bryan Museum

I'm back with another Galveston review: this one is of the newly opened Bryan Museum which Mike and I toured this afternoon. The museum is in the beautifully restored Galveston Orphanage building and while still a work in progress, it houses a stunning collection of historical artifacts and documents, many from the personal collection of the founder who is a descendant of the sister of Stephen F. Austin, and Southwestern art. Interactive exhibits are not complete and at this time visitors have to visit in groups with a docent. Not to be missed! We plan to return when we can browse.
July 5, 2015 BLVD and Shearn’s

Mike and I continue our selfless service as your humble Galveston Island restaurant reviewers. This weekend we went to BLVD , a brand new restaurant at Seawall and 28th, and Shearn's, which is in the Moody Gardens Hotel. Thumbs up for both places! BLVD is moderately priced and has its own parking lot--a plus on the Seawall. We went for lunch and loved the shrimp sliders and matchstick fries. Will be back for dinner which has a different menu. Shearn's is expensive and a special event venue but food, service and view were all outstanding. You're welcome.

I've been sharing reviews of Galveston restaurants and other interesting things on the island with friends on my Facebook page. Recently a couple of them suggested that I find a way to organize those reviews for later reference. 

So I've created this blog, Part-time Islander, for that purpose. As I write new reviews I will post links to this blog on my personal Facebook page. Each review will be labeled by the name of the restaurant, event or place that I cover so they can be easily found in the archives. 

I will begin with my past reviews and hope you enjoy exploring Galveston Island with me--on a part-time basis!