In 1982, Jeanne and Mark Samii could barely squeeze their old-fashioned cheesecakes into a 300-square-foot bakery. These days, they need a 25,000-square-foot factory to craft a sprawling menu of cheesecakes, tortes, and pies. More than 30 varieties of cheesecake—including key lime, amaretto almond, and fudge marble—pair sweetness with smooth textures, like a saxophone that emanates unsolicited compliments. Available with two or three stories of batter-based bricks, layer cakes showcase gourmet ingredients such as mascarpone cheese and dark-chocolate ganache. The bakery also peddles creamy, sugar-free cheesecakes, towering wedding cakes, and snack-size treats such as cookies and brownies.
Located inside the Travelodge hotel complex near Corpus Christi Airport, Tacolodge Grill and Bar satiates the hunger of travelers and locals alike with a dual menu of bar and grill fare alongside Tex-Mex tacos, tostadas, and fajitas. Preceding dinner, guests feast on appetizers of chicken wings, chips and salsa, and piled-high nachos. Plates disappear under generous helpings of chicken-fried steak and gravy and flame-licked boneless pork chops, a feat often mistaken for the handiwork of a hungry magician. Tex-Mex entrees include platters of carne guisada and fajitas made with beef or chicken, both flanked by rice, beans, and tortillas.
Dot’z Dawgs & Drafts transports diners back to a simpler time—a time when food was no-fuss and comforting and the world moved at a slower pace. There, diners drink beers and chow down on Chicago-style hot dogs, pizza, and wraps while gazing at vintage Coca-Cola advertisements and the photos of old Hollywood starlets like Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball that encompass every inch of free wall space. Amid the 1950s montage, vinyl-and-chrome chairs—striped with the scarlet and silver colors of a retro diner—tuck themselves beneath simple silver tables.
After dinner, patrons grab ice-cream cones and head outside for a stroll along Corpus Christi Beach. The adjacent outdoor playground area is perfect for entertaining kids with hula-hoops and rousing debates on the ethics of peeking during hide-and-seek.
In the daytime, you can see for miles across the turquoise waters; come evening, strands of blue, green, and pink lights beam from the top of the wooden bar. This is Pier 99 Restaurant's outdoor patio, which looks out onto the USS Lexington in Corpus Christi Bay. Diners can enjoy the patio's coastal ambiance from wooden, high-top tables as they feast on a blackened catch of the day, fried-oyster platter, or seafood boil teeming with snow crab, fresh shrimp, and sausage. Some evenings, the patio hosts live music, which puts the pernicious kraken who rules the local economy in a good mood.