Each new year brings forth an array of top notch restaurant concepts for eager Coastal Bend foodies to enjoy. Allow us to introduce some of them!
It’s spelled “8TE” and pronounced like the words “eight” and “ate.” “I’m a sucker for puns and a play on words, and in my culture (born and raised in CC, but my family is Chinese) the number 8 is very lucky,” explains owner Megan Datlee. Naturally, she figured she should be open from 8am – 8pm to keep with the theme. So for 12 hours a day, delight in this new local restaurant that has a focus on American dishes with a modern twist. Inspired by casual cafés found in bigger cities, the team at 8TE is ready to offer Corpus Christi a fresh spot for locals and visitors to enjoy! They pride themselves in being as homemade and from scratch as possible. Only open a few months now, Datlee always felt that Corpus was lacking a casual spot like 8TE. When given the opportunity, she knew she wanted a place with simple, classic food that didn’t encourage customers to over-analyze or scrutinize dishes too seriously. Creating the menu herself with this in mind, she then added in her love for industrial interiors with a bit of shabby chic. To pay homage to the local economy, Datlee sources her large selection of beer and wine from Texas craft beers and Texas made wines. She’s always trying to cycle in new Texas breweries/beers for customers to try. Datlee completely believes good food should be without any crazy techniques or theatrics. “In good food we trust.”
James and Susan Gonzales found inspiration for their new restaurant, The Post, from their travels across the United States. “When my husband and I travel, we love nothing more than to indulge in great food and drinks. And during these travels, we saw a change in the food industry- there was a push for a gastropub,” explains Susan. A gastropub is a British concept: A pub that specializes in high-quality food, with a condensed menu. These menus are designed to be enjoyed in a communal setting and each dish, well it may read as a side dish, is in larger portions and meant to be shared (alongside a cocktail or beer of course!). The concept and execution was not something that came over night, but more over the course of a couple of years. The goal is to support other locally owned businesses such as the weekly Downtown Farmer’s Market, where Chef Robert Flores buys many locally-grown produce and ingredients. Flores also has a great relationship with several locally owned vendors and famers. With its outstanding Lamar Park Shopping Center location, the Gonzalez family saw that it was lacking a place for food and drinks, a place that one could come to after shopping to relax with a glass of wine or cocktail while enjoying time with friends of family. The Post was named in honor of the original use of the location- the Lamar Park Post Office. It was converted into a retail spot years ago, but they loved the history of the space and couldn’t be happier to be opening here. What can you expect to eat? American Fusion! Corn Dog Batter Fried Shrimp, Philly Cheesesteak Eggrolls, and Funnel Cake Fries are just a few little teasers.
Angry Marlin Restaurant & Palapa Bar
Reinventing an old space, this flavorfully-colored new restaurant promises that there’s NO way anyone can miss it! Ricky Nichols and Glenn Williams, the owners and mastermind behind this new island restaurant, are attributing their years of restaurant experience and love of the sea to the future successes of the Angry Marlin. “I have wanted to open this concept since 2007 so that The Island would have a restaurant that offered a true island experience, much like I experience every time I have visited the Florida Keys,” Nichols says. The main focus of the restaurant is to offer a dining experience that will encompass about four different concepts at one location. This way, each guest has something to occupy their whole evening, whether it’s dining inside or having a drink in the lounge, or dining outside in the beautiful landscaping, then moving out into the cigar lounge for an after-dinner drink and a cigar, or going to watch the live entertainment and dance on the other side of the property. For extra authenticity, the dishes are made from scratch, and the Chef/Owner Williams incorporates some great southwest items such as Green Chile, Hatch Chile, and a blue corn flour. Belly up to the bar, as the bar top changes as often as the island sunsets!
Rock & Rolls Sushi Lounge
Sit at the bar, sit at a table, or sit at the sushi bar! Owner David Lee doesn’t care where you sit, as long as you’re there – because you’ll always find Lee there. At 27 years old and over 10 years in the restaurant industry, Lee lives, eats, and breathes the new venture, working at least 90 hours a week, right alongside his employees. But it’s in his blood! Lee’s grandfather and father were both restaurant owners in Corpus Christi. After beginning as a dishwasher and working his way up to sushi chef at what was, ironically, the previous sushi restaurant to occupy the space, it’s finally Lee’s turn to run the show. At Rock & Roll, he’s dishing out the most delectable and delicate fish from islands all over the world, and snapper from here off our coast. Lee created the entire food and drink menu. Delight in a “sound check” or cold appetizer, an “opening act” or hot appetizer, then “plug in” for some rolls and sashimi! The Wagu Beef Tacos and Snapper Tacos are top sellers, and the Cucumber Martini is a hot ticket! Feeling like skipping all that? Hit the “after party” and dig into something sweet. On January 27th, we’d like to wish Rock & Rolls Sushi a happy One Year Anniversary!
The Phoenix Restaurant and Bar
From Cafe Phoenix to The Phoenix Restaurant and Bar, owner and head chef Tiana Worsham took a stand to expand from her previous restaurant at 30 seats to 260 at her new restaurant. This international bistro/nouveau American fine-quality cuisine is prepared daily using many ingredients from the Corpus Christi Farmer’s Market creating a constantly eclectic seasonal menu. Guests can choose to sit indoors or outdoors. Foodie menu favorites include the sushi, Tuna stack, scallops and rack of lamb. This restaurant has been a long time in the making and a true labor of love. They work to source products that are fresh, unadulterated and healthy for the patrons. Wherever possible, they bring in organic, non-GMO, hormone-free, free range, fair-trade products. Every person is unique, just as their menu items. The mission is to create an exceptional dining experience for all of their guests. With 3 bars and live music Friday and Saturday nights, the party is here!
Stingrays Taphouse and Grill
This “industrial-chic elite sports bar” attracts the sports fans, the car enthusiasts, and the foodies alike! Owners Shawn and Sandy Etheridge and Chad and Kimber Gorczyca guarantee to provide a unique dining and entertaining experience, with two Corvettes at the center of it all. The perfectly running Corvettes (‘70 & ‘77) hoisted over the bar were bought by Shawn and Chad, but as the story goes, their wives said “sell the cars, make room for the bar!” As all good business men can find a solution to any problem, they decided to keep their cars and display them; hence the name Stingrays. “We love watching people’s reaction when they notice the cars. Sometimes people don’t notice them until they read the menu.” Their black drum comes from a local fisherman and most of the menu ingredients are made in house, such as their pizza dough, and all sauces and dressings. Plus, the brick wood-burning oven is a great conversation piece. Great food, friendly service and the best brews at the beach are here for you! They also love their customers and describe it as a “thrill to talk to them when we bring their food or drinks!” As Manager Dawn Dickinson says, “When there is a hot game on, the energy from the fans is electrified. It’s a site to see and be part of.” Bring the kids and your pets – their patio is pup and Pampers friendly!
Described as Rockport’s premier dining experience, owners Lou and Valerie Manendez and son Lou, III, or just simply known as ‘Third,’ say they pride themselves on serving only made-from-scratch fare. Friends and family were always coming over, as dinner at the Manendez house was too good to miss. They were encouraged to open the restaurant, but to do it as homey and refined as possible. The Groove is an open kitchen concept, with eclectic dining and a boutique ambience. Specializing in prime steaks, prime seafood and wood-fired pizzas, there’s a little something for every discriminating craving. Nothing in the restaurant is ever frozen, and they made a conscious decision not to invest in a fryer. Fish is delivered daily, and their number 1 best seller is the Chilean Sea Bass. They often use the wood fire pizza oven to bake the fish, giving it a very special sear. This is a classy place with special attention given to every detail from the live music, to spectacular recipes, to the hostess and wait staff in black apparel. Every night, the owners like to walk around to each table, introduce themselves, and make sure all is to their guests’ liking. The best compliment Lou says he’s ever received is when a guest told him “For a minute, I forgot I was in Rockport.” Perhaps small in size, they are BIG in service and flavor.
The Grille (Ingleside)
The bright neon “Open” sign invites you to step in and enjoy the good, fuss-free food. Serving up specials nearly every single day for lunch and dinner ensures you’ll always have the variety that IS the spice of life. Owners Mike and Bob Lynch opened The Grille in March of 2015 on a tiny budget and lots of elbow grease. They sold their restaurant in Bandera to move back to the Coastal Bend and be closer to most of the grandchildren. Mike had just taken a brief hiatus from “chef-ing” after the birth of his youngest daughter, so it seemed like a good time to have a meeting of the minds. The Grille is based on a concept and menu that Mike’s parents have used on and off since he was about eight years old. With a few additions from Mike like the specialty burgers, jalapeño bottle caps, and cheese steak omelette, at The Grille, you’ll find great, American cafe food at a low price. Try a burger, because the patties are handmade from scratch, as are their soups. There is a fair amount of their ingredients sourced from around Texas, but they look forward to moving toward true Farm to Table dinners. The Lynchs would like to give a special shout-out to Justin Butts, Downtown farmer’s market, and Corpus Christi Aquaponics!