Category Archives: Galveston

Galveston’s Opera House

I poke fun at Texans for a variety of reasons. Its OK though, they poke back and in the end, they DSCN2285know who they are and they aren’t afraid of a little criticism, particularly since verbal sparring in Texas is more a form of entertainment.

Like all mature people, we acknowledge the positives and negatives in our philosophies. One thing I like about Texans is the connection they feel to their history; they go to great lengths to preserve that history. Case in point, the Galveston Opera House, built in the late 1800’s, severely damaged 3 times by some of the state’s worst hurricanes, neglected for decades due to regional economic fallout,  but rebuilt by the donations of Texans who refused to let it decay. Good on them.

While the architecture is nice and the physical preservation is admirable, that the opera house is still standing and in operation says something noteworthy about the people.

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Galveston’s East End

I read Galveston had some older Victorian homes GTX_EndEndbut I didn’t realize it would be a 10 block area of very well-kept Victorians. I didn’t quite make it through the whole Historic District, as it’s branded on the street signs, however I liked what I saw. The Historic District is centered around Post Office St from Downtown to the east about 10 or so blocks.

The nice thing about the Historic District is that it is wedged in between two areas dense with restaurants and bars. Walk a street to one end, have lunch. Walk back on another street, have a beer. Repeat. Its a nice way to spend the day.

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Gumbo Bar

In all the times I’ve lived in Houston, I’ve never traveled the entire hour south to the island of Galveston. Today some friends were leaving from the port of Galveston for a cruise so I thought why not see them off and spend a little time exploring. Glad about that. I had bookmarked another restaurant but it was not open so I poked Trip Advisor and found Gumbo Bar. Glad about that too.

Gumbo Bar is wildly popular with locals and tourists alike but if you are a table for one you will find no wait and better service at the bar. Its also easier to see the selection of beers in the glass front cooler at the bar and you’ll definitely want one or four of those to cool down.

Atmosphere
Galveston is terminally casual and tourism has quite the large presence so the atmosphere everywhere is extremely relaxed. Gumbo Bar is upscale diner with a mixed bag patronage. I saw an elderly couple with walkers seated next to a couple of scary-looking biker dudes (who ironically would later help the elderly couple out of their booth and into their walkers).

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Beer
I was surprised by the variety of local-ish beers, most of which were from Texas and Louisiana. I tried one from each state; Southern Star’s Bombshell Blonde Ale and Abitas Amber Lager. Abitas is a small brewery north of Lake Pontchartrain, LA. Their Amber Lager is smooth, malty with a light caramel flavor and pairs surprisingly well with peppery-hot and salty. Southern Star is a small brewery from Conroe, TX, which used to be a separate town but has now been sucked into the gravitational pull of the HTX (aka Houston, for non-locals). Their Bombshell Blonde is blunt and squeaky clean with a slight “biscuit” flavor, it did not stand up to the hot-pepper as well as the Abitas but it was great with salty.

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Food

All wins.

Fried Pickles with Ranch. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a state law in Texas that anything fried must be served with Ranch dressing. Fried Pickles are something I had never tried but I’m a fan now. The pickles must have been partially dried before frying since there wasn’t a drop of pickle juice when I bit into these. The casing was a grease-less cornmeal mix; pleasantly crunchy giving way to an even crunchier pickle. The combination of creamy ranch and salty pickle is surprisingly good, even if your blood pressure will hate you for your sodium-intake indiscretion.

Seafood Gumbo. But can she make a roux? The most common quip I heard from boys about girls when I was partaking of New Orleans nightlife. Not sure who is making the roux at Gumbo Bar but they can make a serious roux, which you might know, is the flour and butter fry up serving  as a foundation for all things gumbo. Surprisingly, the gumbo, while super rich, dark and ridiculously dense with seafood (oysters, shrimp, fish and crab) was not the least bit salty. I had a choice of four hot sauces, so I tried them all in succession. Alas, my favourite was the least interesting – Tabasco – straight up, no Jalapeno, Garlic or Chipotle distractions.

Service
Outstanding. Again, there is very little wait at the bar. I was seated immediately, the bartender was on the spot with beers, actually talking me out of a couple of choices which would have been too heavy for my meal. My food order started coming out in 10 minutes. I  felt neither rushed nor overlooked.

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Moderate and worthy

  • Beers, $5 a pop
  • Fried Pickles, $5
  • Seafood Gumbo, $10

I’ll be making more trips to Galveston; I like the casual, leisurely beach culture, the surprising 10×10 block of well-kept Victorian houses and the food scene seems good for a town of only 50,000.

Lunch: 3 August 2013

Gumbo Bar | 2105 Post Office St. | Galveston, TX 77550