One of the many things that we love about traveling is to experience the local food scene in the area we are visiting. Some of our favorite memories revolve around our experiences with food. Whether it is trying an awesome Scotch whiskey in Scotland, tasting local cuisine in Dublin, or eating gelato in Venice, food is a staple of any good trip. So naturally, Marty and I wanted to experience the local food scene while visiting Galveston, Texas recently. And we knew that taking a food tour like The Taste of the Strand food tour would be the perfect way to find great places to eat in Galveston.
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Finding Great Places to Eat in Galveston with Taste of the Strand
Supporting local business is so important to Marty and I, so we were super excited to find the Taste of the Strand Food tour while in Galveston. When I called and spoke to the owner, Karen, I was so glad to hear that supporting the local food establishments on this great island is a passion of hers as well. Marty and I were delighted for our tour and couldn’t wait to try some great places to eat in Galveston, from a local!
What is the Strand, Galveston?
The Strand in Galveston is a National Historic Landmark District located in downtown Galveston. We love the Strand so much! The Stand in Galveston is a major tourist attraction and is home to some of the most popular festivals on the island, including Mardi Gras and Dickens on the Strand. Here you will find Victorian buildings that now house shops, boutiques, restaurants, and bars.
The Strand in Galveston is easily walkable and is a great place to spend the afternoon while visiting the island. We were super excited to know that the Taste of the Strand food tour would allow us to explore this area in a whole new way.
Old Strand Emporium Shop
We began our tour at the Old Strand Emporium Shop. Walking in, I could tell that I was going to love this shop. The shelves were filled with unique Texas products including Texas foods, candy bins, and more. I mean they had everything from hot sauces to homemade jams. In the back of the store, you will find a great little sandwich shop that feels more like an old-fashioned soda shop. There is a long oak table right in front of the sandwich shop that Davey Crockett once sat at!
This is where we met the great group of people that would be joining us on our food tour for the day. Our group of 8 seemed like the perfect amount of people to me.
Shortly after arriving, our hosts greeted us and welcomed us to the tour. We were given our “Taste of the Strand” beads to wear and the tour began. I was so excited to find out that the owners, Karen and Vernon, would be our guides for the day. After giving us some brief history on the Strand and the Old Strand Emporium, the first food of the day was served, a muffuletta sandwich.
Honestly, a muffuletta is a hard sell for Marty and I as we have eaten muffuletta’s where they originated in New Orleans. Our friends on the tour seemed to enjoy it though and it was fun to be in the Old Strand Emporium Shop so I was fine with skipping this first sample.
The Marketplace at the Peanut Butter Warehouse
After leaving the Emporium, we made our way to the Marketplace at the Peanut Butter Warehouse. The old Peanut Butter Warehouse has been transformed into a mixed market with a variety of vendors. Here you can find a small bar and with vendors that include women’s clothing boutiques, local artisan booths, antique dealers, furniture, and much more.
You’re probably wondering why we went here if this is a food tour. Well, that is because one of the vendors is Go Nuts and Beans, a gourmet peanut butter and coffee shop. Guys, they have so many amazing flavors of peanut butter. You really won’t believe it! We tried jalapeno peanut butter, sea salt caramel peanut butter, and crunchy toffee peanut butter. All of their peanut butter is made using natural ingredients and it was so fresh!
Olympia Grill at Pier 21
Next, we made our way to Olympia Grill at Pier 21. Marty and I had visited Olympia Grill a few days earlier on our own and had a great time. So, when Karen said we were visiting today, boy was I ready!
Karen secured a great table by the water for the group and informed us we were in for a treat here at Olympia Grill. While we waited for our food, we were able to order drinks (at our own expense) if we chose to do so. Hearing that the Olympia Grill had a great cosmo, I took it upon myself to order one and man, was it delicious. As we sipped our drinks, Karen filled us in on some of the food we would be sampling here at Olympia Grill as well as some of the history and attractions of the area.
Once our food arrived, I was thrilled. We each received a sampling of Meditteranean foods including lamb, tzatziki sauce, hummus, pita bread, olives, and feta cheese. I was in food heaven with this delicious plate and my perfectly made cosmo. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Karen informed us that we were in for a treat here, a fabulous dessert. That’s when the waitress brought out a huge piece of cheesecake topped with baklava! Yes, you read that correctly, CHEESECAKE TOPPED WITH BAKLAVA! Does it get any better?
You should also check out the happy hour at the Olympia Grill. They have a featured $5 cocktail that changes every day!
Stranded Corner Galley
Our next stop was at Stranded Corner Galley. I have to be honest. We would have probably never ventured into the Stranded Corner Galley if it had not been for the Taste of the Strand food tour.
We went up the red stairs to the very back of the store and were greeted by a small counter with a few tables that comprised the Stranded Corner Galley. Looking at the menu, the Texas girl in me was immediately intrigued. It was fried food heaven! I mean, seriously, I thought I was at the Texas State Fair y’all!
They had fried mac and cheese, fried tamales, pepperoni poppers, fried pickles, homemade chips, and even Reuben fritters (a.k.a. a fried Rueben sandwich). Karen purchased the sampler platter for us that included a little bit of all of these! While each was unique and different in their own right, I absolutely loved the fried tamales and Marty enjoyed the pepperoni poppers. We were so glad to be introduced to such a fun local restaurant that we wouldn’t have normally even known about.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
Now, I know, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is a chain. It was still part of our tour and it is a fun place to eat in Galveston if you’re in the mood for a sweet treat. I mean, who can resist those giant caramel and candy apples? I mean, they are topped and coated with anything you can imagine. We were allowed to sample the freshly made fudge and it melted in your mouth!
It was here that Karen snuck us out the back door into a beautiful old building. She gave us some of the history of the place and how it used to be a jazz bar. We were escorted upstairs to a whole new view of the Galveston trumpet as well.
La Kings’ Confectionery
Another sweet store to visit if you have a sweet tooth is La Kings’ Confectionery. I love this place. The old 1920s soda fountain vibe had me won over immediately!
La Kings’ is so much more than a soda fountain though. Here you will find a gourmet coffee bar, a huge gourmet candy counter, an ice cream parlor, a soda fountain, and my favorite part a taffy making demonstration!
Yes, they make salt water taffy right in front of your eyes. The taffy is pulled, spun out, and packaged right in front of you and then the “taffy guy/girl” throws it at the crowd. It is so much fun! Of course, I almost squashed a kid trying to catch a piece-sorry kid!
For the tour, we were given a small brown paper bag and told to put our name on it and then fill it with as much taffy as we could and then bring it to Karen. Karen then sealed our bag and carried it around for us until the end of the tour!
*Insider Tip**-If you like the flavor that is being pulled for the day, you can ask for some right out of the basket, fresh and hot!
Shrimp N Stuff
One of the popular places to eat in Galveston is Shrimp N Stuff. There are multiple locations, but of course, this tour takes you to the downtown Shrimp N Stuff. The smell of delicious seafood hits you the moment you step through the door. We were treated to a small portion of a catfish po’boy with homemade tartar sauce. This little sandwich was full of flavor and was such a treat despite the fact that I felt like I was going to explode at this point in the tour!
After leaving Shrimp N Stuff, I was just about as full as could be, but we weren’t done yet! We still had a few more stops to make, one of which was the Gypsy Joynt. This funky cafe is brimming with personality from its eclectic, colorful decor to its delicious coffee menu. I felt right at home in the Gypsy Joynt.
Our food here included BBQ sliders, of which I didn’t partake in because they had onions and I HATE raw onions. Marty tried them out and said they were good. They had a sweet sauce and the meat was nice and tender. I will, however, return for one of those fun lattes on another day!
Island Pour House
We ventured into the Island Pour House next. This cozy little wine bar was exactly what I needed after all of that food. If you read our blog often, you know that I am no stranger to wine. Marty and I love exploring the wineries in Fredericksburg and I don’t think I turned down a glass while we were visiting Italy. LOL!
I ordered up a glass of cabernet sauvignon and took a load off for a few minutes. Karen told us that they make a mean cheese board but we didn’t try one out on this stop we were all feeling pretty full. I did make a note to come back though! Instead of eating more, we took the opportunity to chat with our new friends and get this fun picture of all of us.
Our final stop on this incredibly filling food tour was Yaga’s Cafe. Located right on Strand Avenue, I knew I would like Yaga’s from the minute I set my eyes on it. There is a cute outdoor patio and the whole place just has this fun Jamaican vibe to it. The eclectic atmosphere is so energetic and fun. I can easily see why people on the island love Yaga’s.
Karen told us a story about how Yaga’s caught on fire and burned during Hurricane Harvey. She said everyone was so upset because Yaga’s had been a staple on the island for so long. Despite that, you can tell that Yaga’s is back and going strong! Apparently, they have live entertainment every weekend from 10 pm-2 am and $2 drink specials on Friday night from 10 pm-11 pm.
For our experience on the food tour, Karen suggested we try to Hurricane (at our own expense). She said it was the best on the island, so of course, I couldn’t pass that up! For the food tour group, she ordered us seafood flautas. The flautas were so delicious. There was delicious seafood in a creamy sauce surrounded by a flaky egg roll type crust with a delicious dipping sauce. Too bad Marty is allergic to shrimp and didn’t get to try them. The Hurricane was on point also. You could tell it was made with fresh juice instead of a hurricane mix. It was fruity and delicious but not too sweet.
I will definitely be returning to Yaga’s Cafe!
Other Stops on the Tour
Another unique aspect of this tour is that Karen pointed out a lot of local places along the way. Now granted, we didn’t go inside and sample something at every place, but she did let us know they were there and let us know what their specialty was.
We popped into the Beef Jerky Outlet where we sampled some beef jerky and then to the Spice and Tea Exchange where there were some tea and spices available to sample as well.
One of my favorite stops that did not include food was the Rooftop Bar at the fabulous Tremont Hotel. Anyone can go to the Tremont’s Rooftop Bar even if they aren’t staying in the hotel, so don’t be shy! As long as weather the weather permits, it is open. It is here that you can relax with a cocktail and enjoy some great views of Galveston Island.
We had a great time on our Taste of the Strand food tour. Karen and Vernon were so nice and personable. It is obvious that they are passionate about sharing their love for food and Galveston.
The tour was paced out in a way where you felt as though you were getting a break from eating every now and then. The tour is easily walkable and other than a few stairs, I felt as though anyone could easily participate in the tour! Keep in mind though that you are going to eat ALOT of food. We ate so much that I didn’t want to eat for days! In my book, that means I got my money’s worth. LOL
DISCOUNT ALERT!!!! When booking your tour, be sure to call the office directly and tell them you heard about it from That Texas Couple!!!
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