Waterfront Dining

Three great island restaurants you can dock and dine or park and play

By Esther Davis McKenna
Placeholder image 

Boating around the bay and craving a meal of fresh Gulf catch? Maybe you’re looking for bait and a burger to go? Want to gas up or grab a great meal before a sunset cruise? Throw on a cover up and a pair of flip flops, and pull up to one of these waterfront eateries.

All three of our featured restaurants offer menus ranging from fine dining to casual fare in a relaxed atmosphere. Each one is accessible by land or by boat. Each one of them offers unique characteristics that you will only find on Galveston Island.

If you’re looking to enjoy a great meal, a tropical cocktail or a cold beverage at an eatery with an island vibe and spectacular seaside views then please read on.

Jean Lafitte 

This island-famous restaurant and fish market is family owned and operated. A locally sourced menu of homestyle seafood dishes is featured at this unfussy eatery by the bay.

Placeholder image“We are the only restaurant in Galveston that is boat to table,” General Manager Brett Otteman said. “Every fish on the menu is our own fresh catch, caught, and processed on our own boats.”

You want a whole snapper cooked to order? A staff member will run down and grab it off the dock, literally. If you want to know where your meal was last swimming, ask your server - he or she can tell you where it was caught and the name of the boat and its captain.

Owner Buddy Guindon keeps the business all in the family. Son Derrick Gutierrez oversees the restaurant and sums up the rest: “One of my brothers runs the fish market and another, the fishing fleet. My dad owns it all. And the business was named after my mother,” he said.

Enjoy a sea breeze while dining on the covered patio outside, and watch the activity of the busy harbor, including Galveston’s historic Mosquito Fleet, the cruise ships that set sail from the Port of Galveston and the dolphins who visit often. The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum is visible from the restaurant and just a short walk from the entrance.

The main dining room is air controlled and spacious and the restaurant offers several areas for special events. There are seven transient slips for boaters. There is ample parking in front of the restaurant and in the lots across the street - just have your server validate. Katie's Seafood House is located at 2000 Wharf Road. For more information and to make reservations call 409.765.5688 or visit www.katiesseafoodhouse.com.

Jean Lafitte 

This seaside stop offers stunning, unobstructed views of the sunset from the west end of the island. It's a unique place where you can fill up with gas, grab some bait and beer, and sail off into the sunset or dine in one of several indoor or outdoor locations.

Placeholder imageA full-service marina and restaurant combination overlooking the bay, Waterman’s offers top-of-the-line seafood and steaks and a full-service bar with an extensive wine list. They also have the only public boat launch in the area for the nominal fees of $20 per boat and $10 per kayak.

Enjoy a meal with a view cooked by an award-winning kitchen staff and cocktails mixed by creative bartenders in every dining room. Three floors of dining areas offer casual to chic seating locations and private waterfront balconies for the ultimate romantic setting.

General Manager and island resident Larry Collie describes the menu as having “Everything from great burgers to Texas-style reds and the steaks and chops you would expect in a Texas restaurant.”

Enjoy Wine Wednesdays, karaoke on Thursdays, and live music Friday through Sunday during summer months.

The outdoor patio caters to your canine companions with a dog-friendly food and drink menu. Seafaring visitors can tie up in any one of 15 transient slips. Flags and a daily recording announce the availability of bait and gas. Ample parking is available in front of the restaurant and across the street.

Waterman’s Restaurant and Marina is located on Lake Como in Pirates Cove at 14302 Stewart Road. For more information and to make reservations call 409.632.0233 or visit www.watermansrestaurant.com. You can also view a live video feed of Lake Como on the website.

Jean Lafitte 

This waterfront jewel is tucked into the west end subdivision of Sea Isle and celebrates casual dining with an island vibe - one of the many reasons it was voted “Best Kept Secret,” in a poll by Galveston.com in 2021.

Placeholder imageThe menu runs from burgers and po’boys to fine dining and is available in all five dining areas: the Sandbar Grille, the Tropicana, the Dunes, the Palapa Restaurant and the Mermaid Bar/Restaurant. You can also grab a tropical cocktail and listen to beachy music while waiting in the Oasis Cabana Bar.

“We just added a new char grill,’ General Manager Billy Bunch said. “When a burger is grilled over an open flame, it adds a great depth of flavor.”

Enjoy your specialty sandwiches, steaks or fresh-caught seafood fare in dining rooms both indoor and open air. Sing along to karaoke with Larry on Friday nights and dance to the sounds of DJ Norty on Saturday evenings. Live bands play once a month in the Sandbar Grille.

A 100-foot, marine-themed, custom mural covers the wall of the Palapa Restaurant. Stay cool in this open-air dining room equipped with misters and high-speed fans in summer. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the big screen televisions located throughout all of the dining rooms.

A short jaunt from the Intracoastal Waterway, this on-the-water oasis makes a perfect respite for traveling boaters. The gas station has two new pumps and four hoses for fast service. The marina store is stocked with hats, shirts, sunblock, cigarettes, ice, beer, wine, water and other assorted sundries.

Captain Steve sails out of the bait shop daily to bring back fresh bait - check flags for availability. If you’re there while the bait shop is open, bring the kids to see the fresh shrimp swimming in the oversized bait well. They will love it.

There are a dozen spots to tie up your boat at this marina restaurant with ample parking in front of the restaurant and an additional lot across the street.

West End Marina & Restaurants is located at 21706 Burnet Drive in Sea Isle on the west end of the island. For more information and to make reservations call 409.497.4152 or visit www.westendmarina.com.

Whether you’re an island resident, vacation renter or a day tripper, these three Galveston restaurants welcome you by boat, car or golf cart. All have laid-back, open-air options or casual, air-controlled dining rooms. Or enjoy the best of both worlds and dock and dine on your own boat; they will deliver your order dockside.

A few things that readers should take note of: It’s prudent to check ahead for happy hour and daily food specials and the hours of operation. Make your reservations early. Summer months are busy on the island, so expect wait times. Four-legged friends are welcome to join you at an outdoor table at each of these restaurants, as long as they are leashed.

Visit Latlong.net for GPS coordinates to each location.