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an overhead shot of Galveston, with colorful buildings and the beach.
Galveston offers a weekend getaway for Houstonians.
Shutterstock/Eric V. Overton

Eat Like a Local at These 20 Galveston Restaurants

Where to find lunch, brunch, dinner, or drinks on the island

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Galveston offers a weekend getaway for Houstonians.
| Shutterstock/Eric V. Overton

Located just 50 miles away from Houston’s city center, Galveston Island is a beach oasis that’s always within reach yet universes away from Clutch City culture. Every year, the island welcomes millions of tourists and travelers, some of which stick around to take in attractions like Moody Gardens, Schlitterbahn, and of course, the beach. Others are headed to the cruise ship port, en route to their dream vacations, while many call the island, billed “the free state of Galveston,” home.

Founded by pirates, the working-class town is a unique mixture of retirees, artists, and people within the food and hospitality, deep-sea fishing, and oil rigging industries, proving that the local food is as diverse as the people.

For Houstonians heading for a weekend getaway or an off-the-beaten-path date night, strolling along the beach or taking in the tourist trap that is Pleasure Pier are likely on the list. But, once that’s crossed off the list, be sure to check out these Galveston restaurants, which offer diverse cuisines and atmospheres ranging from casual seafood shacks to upscale New American eateries.

Removing Number 13, Brews Brothers Brew Pub, Eatcetera, Leon’s World Finest Bar-B-Que, the Poop Deck, Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar, Shy Katz, Mosquito Cafe, Smooth Tony’s, and Porch Cafe makes way for more local favorites, like Trattoria la Vigna, Bambu, Mel’s Blue Plate, Press Box, Mama Theresa’s Flying Pizza, Pho 20, the Gumbo Diner, Henry’s, O’Malley’s Stage Door, and Cajun Greek.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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La King's Confectionery

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Candy doesn’t exactly count as a meal, but don’t be surprised to end up eating your weight in La King’s saltwater taffy or pecan logs. This sweet shop has been around for nearly 100 years, and there’s plenty of old-fashioned tradition still in play. Thick shakes and malts are served at the 1920s soda fountain, along with more than 20 options for ice cream and frozen yogurt made in-house.

The window at La King’s Confectionary.
La King’s Confectionary serves milk shakes and malts at its 1920’s soda fountain.
La King’s/Facebook

Trattoria La Vigna

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One of the best things about Galveston is its quality Italian food. Trattoria la Vigna stands above as a quaint and quiet spot with delectable, world-class options like spaghetti and clams or seafood risotto.

Mama Teresa's Flying Pizza

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Looking for a cheesy slice of pizza that’s walking distance to Downtown’s dive bars or the cruise ships? Here’s your stop. Try the uniquely Texan snapper parmigiana, or the Cattleman’s Pizza, topped with chicken, bacon, and barbecue sauce.

Black Pearl Oyster Bar

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Gulf oysters are (obviously) abundant in Galveston, but this bar is a legendary spot. In addition to the fresh, well-shucked bivalves, the cooked preparations, like oysters Haelen, topped with crab meat and cheese, are equally stellar.

O'Malley's Stage Door

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Not exactly a restaurant, O’Malley’s is a bar with a secret weapon: sandwiches. Aficionados will revel in the Reuben, which is packed with hot corned beef piled high on dark rye, and topped with mild sauerkraut, Swiss, and Russian dressing. Be sure to hit up happy hour for a few drinks and conversation at one of the island’s classic dives.

Rudy & Paco’s Restaurant

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An island paragon, this upscale Galveston steakhouse features grilled meats and seafood with plenty of South and Central American influence. Ceviche, plantain-crusted Gulf snapper, and a selection of steaks offer a swanky dinner option that is also totally delicious. Pro tip: If you’re headed to Rudy & Paco for dinner, wear pants — shorts are only allowed during lunch and at the bar.

Maceo Spice & Import Co.

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Opened in 1944, Maceo Spice is a Galveston institution. In addition to the array of spices and sauces perfect for cooking at home, diners will also find a solid menu of sandwiches during lunch. The muffaletta is big enough for two, or go for the Spaisano, which features ham, capocollo, sopressata, provolone, and Maceo’s excellent olive salad on Italian bread.

Gypsy Joynt

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This hippie haven is less likely to be packed with tourists during the summer, making it a total hidden gem. Sandwiches, salads, wild pizza concoctions, and other standard American fare is on offer, all excellently made. Highlights include the cadre of big burgers topped with things like sweetened pecans and pear vinaigrette, and the Sleazy Mac and Cheese, made with crawfish, bacon, asparagus, topped with avocado. Don’t sleep on those cakes, cookies, and pastries, either.

Press Box

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This A+ dive features the best mushroom Swiss burger, and a French dip sandwich and patty melt both worth bragging about. Not a burger person? Opt for the robust salads or bar bites like wings and chicken strips.

If you’re chasing a good bowl of pho, Pho 20’s vegetarian bowl of soup is an explosive combination of tofu, veggies, and a thick broth with a depth of flavor. Try the bun cha, which is loaded with vermicelli noodles, grilled pork, and carrots and cucumbers.

Henry's Mexican Restaurant

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Don’t let its painted exterior full of international soccer icons fool you. Inside harbors some of the best, and most affordable food on the island, including pupusas with crunchy bits of cheese and the baleadas that overflow with grilled pork or steak.

A local’s best-kept secret, Bambu serves up some of the best Mexican food on the island, including what could be Galveston’s best “surprise” burritos — a combination of scrambled eggs,  cheese, bacon, refried beans, and potatoes. Their carne asada and barbacoa tortas are also worth the trip.

Shrimp N Stuff

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Around since 1976, Shrimp n’ Stuff’s original location on Avenue O’s charming, blue facade is enough to make you peek inside without even knowing what’s on the menu. Rest assured, though, the crispy catfish po’ boy will absolutely not disappoint.

BLVD Seafood

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Swing by this casual, modern restaurant for excellent Gulf seafood that doesn’t require fancy pants. Feast on Gulf red snapper that’s crusted in pecans or blackened, and don’t forget to order a dozen oysters done BLVD style with blackened shrimp, crab, parmesan, and bread crumbs. Choose from the gigantic wine list or the cocktail list, featuring a perfect negroni.

The Spot

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It might be a bit of a tourist trap, but who can say no to bloody marys and beer by the beach? With five different venues in one space (including a tiki bar) the Spot is a sort of one stop shop for drinking and dining on the Seawall. Try the crispy fried coconut shrimp, and treat yourself to a giant pitcher of pina coladas.

An exterior shot of Galveston’s the Spot.
Located on Galveston’s seawall, the Spot is home to five different venues in one, including a restaurant and tiki bar with views of the ocean.
The Spot

The Gumbo Diner

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Everywhere on the island, someone is claiming to have the best seafood gumbo. It’s up to you whether or not you believe them, but the Gumbo Diner is the perfect place to kick off that quest.

Gaidos Seafood Restaurant

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A perennial Galveston favorite that’s been open since 1911, Gaido’s boasts white-glove service and a view of the sea, with dishes like pecan-crusted Mahi Mahi, crawfish asiago, and a classic cocktail menu that’s perfect for celebrating just about anything.

A plate of oysters cooked seven different ways.
Gaido’s offers a range of seafood favorites, including pecan-crusted Mahi Mahi and oysters cooked several different ways.
Gaido’s

Yamato Japanese Restaurant

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This long-standing sushi and hibachi spot has served up some of Galveston’s freshest Japanese fare for 20 years. Alongside the extensive selection of sushi rolls, find fried soft-shell crab, yakinuku-style steak, and teriyaki salmon. Fried green tea ice cream or Mississippi mud pie makes for a sweet finish.

Cajun Greek

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Offering some of the island’s most inventive, yet classic seafood fare, Cajun Greek is a sleeper hit with items like the creamy “ultimate” salmon mac and cheese or the Crabber’s Choice seafood soup — a spicy Texan take on the classic cioppino.

Mel's Blueplate & Seafood Express

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Located inside of a Valero gas station, this hidden gem offers up Southern-fried favorites like a fried fish platter and fresh hush puppies, along with staples like burgers and gumbo. Dig into the dessert specials, including Mel’s beloved pineapple upside-down cake, if it’s available. The menu changes almost weekly. 

La King's Confectionery

The window at La King’s Confectionary.
La King’s Confectionary serves milk shakes and malts at its 1920’s soda fountain.
La King’s/Facebook

Candy doesn’t exactly count as a meal, but don’t be surprised to end up eating your weight in La King’s saltwater taffy or pecan logs. This sweet shop has been around for nearly 100 years, and there’s plenty of old-fashioned tradition still in play. Thick shakes and malts are served at the 1920s soda fountain, along with more than 20 options for ice cream and frozen yogurt made in-house.

The window at La King’s Confectionary.
La King’s Confectionary serves milk shakes and malts at its 1920’s soda fountain.
La King’s/Facebook

Trattoria La Vigna

One of the best things about Galveston is its quality Italian food. Trattoria la Vigna stands above as a quaint and quiet spot with delectable, world-class options like spaghetti and clams or seafood risotto.

Mama Teresa's Flying Pizza

Looking for a cheesy slice of pizza that’s walking distance to Downtown’s dive bars or the cruise ships? Here’s your stop. Try the uniquely Texan snapper parmigiana, or the Cattleman’s Pizza, topped with chicken, bacon, and barbecue sauce.

Black Pearl Oyster Bar

Gulf oysters are (obviously) abundant in Galveston, but this bar is a legendary spot. In addition to the fresh, well-shucked bivalves, the cooked preparations, like oysters Haelen, topped with crab meat and cheese, are equally stellar.

O'Malley's Stage Door

Not exactly a restaurant, O’Malley’s is a bar with a secret weapon: sandwiches. Aficionados will revel in the Reuben, which is packed with hot corned beef piled high on dark rye, and topped with mild sauerkraut, Swiss, and Russian dressing. Be sure to hit up happy hour for a few drinks and conversation at one of the island’s classic dives.

Rudy & Paco’s Restaurant

An island paragon, this upscale Galveston steakhouse features grilled meats and seafood with plenty of South and Central American influence. Ceviche, plantain-crusted Gulf snapper, and a selection of steaks offer a swanky dinner option that is also totally delicious. Pro tip: If you’re headed to Rudy & Paco for dinner, wear pants — shorts are only allowed during lunch and at the bar.

Maceo Spice & Import Co.

Opened in 1944, Maceo Spice is a Galveston institution. In addition to the array of spices and sauces perfect for cooking at home, diners will also find a solid menu of sandwiches during lunch. The muffaletta is big enough for two, or go for the Spaisano, which features ham, capocollo, sopressata, provolone, and Maceo’s excellent olive salad on Italian bread.

Gypsy Joynt

This hippie haven is less likely to be packed with tourists during the summer, making it a total hidden gem. Sandwiches, salads, wild pizza concoctions, and other standard American fare is on offer, all excellently made. Highlights include the cadre of big burgers topped with things like sweetened pecans and pear vinaigrette, and the Sleazy Mac and Cheese, made with crawfish, bacon, asparagus, topped with avocado. Don’t sleep on those cakes, cookies, and pastries, either.

Press Box

This A+ dive features the best mushroom Swiss burger, and a French dip sandwich and patty melt both worth bragging about. Not a burger person? Opt for the robust salads or bar bites like wings and chicken strips.

Pho 20

If you’re chasing a good bowl of pho, Pho 20’s vegetarian bowl of soup is an explosive combination of tofu, veggies, and a thick broth with a depth of flavor. Try the bun cha, which is loaded with vermicelli noodles, grilled pork, and carrots and cucumbers.

Henry's Mexican Restaurant

Don’t let its painted exterior full of international soccer icons fool you. Inside harbors some of the best, and most affordable food on the island, including pupusas with crunchy bits of cheese and the baleadas that overflow with grilled pork or steak.

Bambú

A local’s best-kept secret, Bambu serves up some of the best Mexican food on the island, including what could be Galveston’s best “surprise” burritos — a combination of scrambled eggs,  cheese, bacon, refried beans, and potatoes. Their carne asada and barbacoa tortas are also worth the trip.

Shrimp N Stuff

Around since 1976, Shrimp n’ Stuff’s original location on Avenue O’s charming, blue facade is enough to make you peek inside without even knowing what’s on the menu. Rest assured, though, the crispy catfish po’ boy will absolutely not disappoint.

BLVD Seafood

Swing by this casual, modern restaurant for excellent Gulf seafood that doesn’t require fancy pants. Feast on Gulf red snapper that’s crusted in pecans or blackened, and don’t forget to order a dozen oysters done BLVD style with blackened shrimp, crab, parmesan, and bread crumbs. Choose from the gigantic wine list or the cocktail list, featuring a perfect negroni.

The Spot

An exterior shot of Galveston’s the Spot.
Located on Galveston’s seawall, the Spot is home to five different venues in one, including a restaurant and tiki bar with views of the ocean.
The Spot

It might be a bit of a tourist trap, but who can say no to bloody marys and beer by the beach? With five different venues in one space (including a tiki bar) the Spot is a sort of one stop shop for drinking and dining on the Seawall. Try the crispy fried coconut shrimp, and treat yourself to a giant pitcher of pina coladas.

An exterior shot of Galveston’s the Spot.
Located on Galveston’s seawall, the Spot is home to five different venues in one, including a restaurant and tiki bar with views of the ocean.
The Spot

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The Gumbo Diner

Everywhere on the island, someone is claiming to have the best seafood gumbo. It’s up to you whether or not you believe them, but the Gumbo Diner is the perfect place to kick off that quest.

Gaidos Seafood Restaurant

A plate of oysters cooked seven different ways.
Gaido’s offers a range of seafood favorites, including pecan-crusted Mahi Mahi and oysters cooked several different ways.
Gaido’s

A perennial Galveston favorite that’s been open since 1911, Gaido’s boasts white-glove service and a view of the sea, with dishes like pecan-crusted Mahi Mahi, crawfish asiago, and a classic cocktail menu that’s perfect for celebrating just about anything.

A plate of oysters cooked seven different ways.
Gaido’s offers a range of seafood favorites, including pecan-crusted Mahi Mahi and oysters cooked several different ways.
Gaido’s

Yamato Japanese Restaurant

This long-standing sushi and hibachi spot has served up some of Galveston’s freshest Japanese fare for 20 years. Alongside the extensive selection of sushi rolls, find fried soft-shell crab, yakinuku-style steak, and teriyaki salmon. Fried green tea ice cream or Mississippi mud pie makes for a sweet finish.

Cajun Greek

Offering some of the island’s most inventive, yet classic seafood fare, Cajun Greek is a sleeper hit with items like the creamy “ultimate” salmon mac and cheese or the Crabber’s Choice seafood soup — a spicy Texan take on the classic cioppino.

Mel's Blueplate & Seafood Express

Located inside of a Valero gas station, this hidden gem offers up Southern-fried favorites like a fried fish platter and fresh hush puppies, along with staples like burgers and gumbo. Dig into the dessert specials, including Mel’s beloved pineapple upside-down cake, if it’s available. The menu changes almost weekly. 

Related Maps