South Padre Island is a delightful resort town located just off Texas' southern Gulf of Mexico coastline, known as a top beachfront destination in the region. Couples can explore maritime attractions in the area such as the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, which offers stunning views of migrating bird populations, and the South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Sealife Center, which offers guided boat tours and touch tank exhibits. After exploring the island's lovely natural areas, couples can choose from a variety of acclaimed seafood restaurants serving up authentic Gulf Coast cuisine alongside gourmet land fare.

1.Cafe on the Beach at The Palms Resort

Cafe on the Beach at The Palms Resort
© Cafe on the Beach at The Palms Resort

Cafe on the Beach at The Palms Resort is the premiere dining destination of South Padre Island's beautiful Palms Resort, which is located directly on the island's beachfront and offers modern amenities combined with the rustic charm of classic beachside inns. The stylish waterfront oasis offers delicious dining experiences directly overlooking the region's famed dunes and surf, including al fresco dining experiences on a lovely covered deck area. High-quality seafood fare is served up throughout the day at breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, highlighting menu favorites like cold water lobster tails, snapper Veracruz, blackened mahi mahi, and fried coconut shrimp. Fried seafood baskets are also served up, along with delicious beef and veggie burgers and sandwiches. A fine wine selection pairs with elegant coffee and after-dinner drink choices.

3616 Gulf Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, Phone: 956-761-2703

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F&B SPI is a delicious first-class dining experience opened in 2018 by executive chef Walter Greenwood and restaurateur Brandi Hackett, serving up elevated Gulf Coast offerings at bar and communal table seating. The restaurant features a constantly-rotating menu based on seasonal availability, offering indoor and outdoor seating throughout the year. Diners can enjoy a plethora of fresh Gulf seafood offerings at lunch and dinner, including favorites like lobster or braised duck tagliatelle, coastal shrimp boils with Andouille sausage, and whole salt-crusted fish of the day offerings with ginger, citrus, and coconut. Land options tend toward steakhouse fare, ranging from Tomahawk veal chops to 45-day dry-aged ribeye steaks with roasted fennel and maitake mushrooms.

3109 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, Phone: 956-772-8114

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3.Gabriella's Italian Grill and Pizzeria

Gabriella's Italian Grill and Pizzeria
© Gabriella's Italian Grill and Pizzeria

Gabriella's Italian Grill and Pizzeria has become one of South Texas' most popular dining destinations since its opening in 2003, ranked as one of the top restaurants on South Padre Island by TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating throughout the year, serving up delicious lunch and dinner offerings with traditional Italian flair. Couples can enjoy Italian pasta favorites like linguine pomodoro, roasted garlic tortellini, and pasta a la Tonno prepared with sun-dried tomatoes and flaky yellowfin tuna. Staples like chicken piccata, veal saltimbocca, and five-layer lasagna are also offered, along with delicious land and sea offerings like 10-ounce Angus Bourbon Street steaks with sweet bourbon glaze. Pizza dough and sauces are prepared in house daily, served up in variants like Milano white pies and traditional Roma pizzas topped with smoked gouda and Italian sausage.

700 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, Phone: 956-761-6111

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4.Liam's Steak House and Oyster Bar

Liam's Steak House and Oyster Bar
© Liam's Steak House and Oyster Bar

Liam's Steak House and Oyster Bar has been voted as South Padre Island's top shrimp joint, owned and operated as an extension of a bait stand by the Salazar family since 2003. The restaurant serves up elegant steaks and seafood dishes throughout the week in a stylish dining space, which features a full-service bar offering wines, cocktails, and after-dinner drinks. House specialties include red snapper Rockefeller prepared with spinach, bacon, and three-cheese cream sauce, orange wine Gulf shrimp with sauteed broccoli, and cedar-plank salmon with roasted lemon beurre blanc sauce. Fried seafood platters showcase local fish, oysters, and shrimp, served up alongside pasta favorites like blackened shrimp fettuccine alfredo, tuna red pepper pasta, and rosemary lemon-grilled chicken with angel hair pasta.

202 W Tarpon St, South Padre Island, TX 78597, Phone: 956-772-4700

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5.Marcello's Ocean Grille and Spirits

Marcello's Ocean Grille and Spirits
© Marcello's Ocean Grille and Spirits

Marcello's Ocean Grille and Spirits is housed within South Padre Island's former Lighthouse Grocery store and meat market building, known as one of Port Isabel's most iconic landmarks since the mid-20th century. The space was converted into a restaurant in 1984 by Manuela Stevenson and is overseen today by executive chef Bettina Tolin, recently rebranded as an elegant steak and seafood destination. Diners can enjoy high-quality Gulf Coast cuisine crafted with locally-sourced ingredients, including daily fish and seafood catches. Delicious seafood favorites include jumbo lump crab cakes with citrus cream sauce, shrimp carbonara tagliatelle with fresh pasta and smoked bacon, and seared diver scallops meuniere with lemon butter sauce. Land entrees range from Italian classics like chicken marsala and parmigiana to pot roast pasta crafted with spinach and baby heirloom tomatoes.

110 N Tarnava St, Port Isabel, TX 78578, Phone: 956-943-7611

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6.Sea Ranch Restaurant and Bar

Sea Ranch Restaurant and Bar
© Sea Ranch Restaurant and Bar

Sea Ranch Restaurant and Bar has been a top dining destination on South Padre Island for more than three decades, known as the restaurant's premiere family dining experience. Couples can enjoy romantic dinners in the restaurant's elegant dining room, which offers unparalleled sunset views of the nearby bay and marina. Seafood specialties include wild-caught red snapper, king crab legs, and Sea Ranch scallops, paired with grill selections like tenderloin kebabs and chargrilled chicken breasts. Handmade pasta dishes are also served, including vegetarian selections like grilled veggie pasta marinara. The restaurant's full-service bar serves up signature Sea Ranch Swirl margaritas, along with a full selection of wines, beers, and liquors.

33330 State Park Rd 100, South Padre Island, TX 78597, Phone: 956-761-1314

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7.The Meatball Cafe

The Meatball Cafe
© The Meatball Cafe

The Meatball Cafe is a lively family-friendly restaurant opened in 2015 by married duo John and Rhonda Ferrone, serving up casual Italian dishes crafted in house and cooked to serve. The charming restaurant prepares all of its meatballs, pizzas, and sauces in house daily from scratch, serving them up in indoor and outdoor dining spaces and at its full-service bar. Hearty Italian favorites served up throughout the day include veal marsala, chicken piccata, and eggplant parmigiana, paired with house specialties such as Mediterranean Dorado infusing grilled mahi mahi with kalamata olives and Venetian Gulf shrimp in garlic white wine sauce. Paninis, pizzas, and build-your-own calzones are also offered, along with a full children's menu for couples traveling with young children in tow.

2412 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, Phone: 956-299-4605

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7 Best Restaurants on South Padre Island, Texas