The palatial, airy expanse of Drillers Restaurant & Bar provides plenty of space for big groups and intimate conversations alike. Brick walls, high ceilings, and a slick wood bar and floor shape the room with rustic cleanness, while the mouthwatering fragrances of steak, ribs, and wings compete for hungry diners' attention. Over beer or appetizers, sports fans glue their eyes to flat-screen TVs, while music lovers time their visits with the restaurant's regular live entertainment.
It only takes one visit to town to become acquainted with Crab-N Seafood Restaurant, a local mainstay. Travel + Leisure reports that "Repeat travelers to Rockport know to head to this popular eatery ... for their first supper in town," then adds a caveat: "If you can beat the locals [there]..."
In an area rife with seafood restaurants, it's clear that Crab-N has the recipe to success: sourcing the freshest catches and preparing them in interesting ways is likely what's given the restaurant years of loyal patronage (in this case, nearly 40). The menu includes inventive dishes such as shrimp with crabmeat stuffing, pecan-crusted flounder, and pan-seared sliced tuna over avocado with a ginger/citrus sauce. Even plain cuts are dressed up with the restaurant's homemade sauces, such as the crab-and-roasted-pecan relish. Anyone arriving with their own fresh catch can bring it in, too. As long as it's been prepped, Crab-N's kitchen will cook it for you?but probably not feed it to you.
After years as a nurse in an ICU, Rachael Miller wanted a career change and the chance to run her own business. So, she traded in her scrubs for an apron and founded The Cupcake Shoppe. Rachael always loved to bake, and now it's the first thing she does every day; she rises early to prepare the batter for her cupcakes, which she bakes in seven signature flavors available every day. These always-available staples include chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and red velvet. But Rachel also gets creative, adding two additional specialty cupcakes to her menu every morning. These more unusual recipes often borrow flavors from other desserts—Oreo and snickerdoodle cupcakes, for example, have bits of cookie infused into them, while Boston cream cupcakes evoke the flavors of the cream pies American revolutionaries once threw in the faces of colonial soldiers.
In Hemingway's Bar & Grill's bustling kitchen, Chef Jason West crafts rotating weekly menus inspired by seasonal produce and fresh catches. The seafood cache pairs pasta and vegetables with a sautéed or artfully blackened fillet, which, like Ebenezer Scrooge, is warm and tender beneath its toughened demeanor. A signature gnocchi of the day joins chops and bowls swirling with house-made soups, and lavish Sunday brunches greet the day with pastries, omelets, and curlicues of peel-and-eat shrimp. Hemingway's full-service bar, the Blue Marlin, pours domestic and imported beers alongside flights and bottles of wines, which often headline their own tasting events. Hemingway's Bar & Grill also caters special events throughout the Corpus Christi area.
Outside La Playa Mexican Grill, a hand-painted, sky-blue sign depicts conch shells and silver dollars, hinting at the maritime feasts that await guests inside. Fresh seafood stars in many of the house favorites, such as daily fish specials, ceviche samplers, and shrimp- and crab-stuffed enchiladas. Familiar Tex-Mex dishes round out the menu and include quesadillas, soft tacos, and burritos stuffed with beef or chicken. Diners customize a perfect margarita more than 70 types of tequila and a life-size replica of the Great Salt Lake.
The home of "increasingly famous burgers," Wild Horse Saloon & Grill spreads out tasty pub fare in a building that previously served as a church and a community theater. After finding a seat, guests can grab a handful of free peanuts, fling the shells to the floor in slow motion, and check the menu for potential edibles. The Stampede burger's hand-pressed, one-pound patty of Angus beef is smothered in a slew of toppings including bacon, four slices of cheese, peppers, and chili and arrives with a heap of hand-cut french fries ($12.45). Diners can also blow their tongues' minds with a "somewhat famous" chicken sandwich ($7.45) or bite into the eatery's "completely obscure" fish entree, the grilled mahi mahi sandwich ($7.95). Thin-crust pizzas ($5.95–$17.95) can be ordered from a selection of signature styles, customized with an array of fresh ingredients, or quickly stacked into a pizza-cake in the event of an impromptu wedding.