From its paradisiacal perch on North Padre Island, Black Sheep Bistro spices up its menu of fresh seafood, steak, and pasta dishes with an array of international flavors, ranging from Mexican to Martian. Rich, flavorful appetizers like Nacho Ordinary Crab ($8)—a savory pile-up of toasted corn tortilla chips and fresh blue crab meat, topped with pepper jack cheese—complements the Bistro's warm, colorful ambiance and gives taste buds a seamless segue way to entrees such as the locally famous Little Joe ($25), a filet smothered in blue cheese and caramelized onions, and the Pescado La Ticla ($15), the catch of the day grilled over mesquite coals and slathered in pico de gallo. Diners with ample post-prandial stomach space can close with a slice of Grandma's Homemade Apple Pie A La Mode ($4.50). Otherwise, savor a glass of Napa Valley wine on the outdoor patio and feel the ocean breeze playfully muss your hair as you indulge in a little people watching, fleeing-people watching, zombie watching, and zombie fleeing.
Though chef Daniel Nemec specialized in classic French cuisine at the Texas Culinary Academy, his heart lies in the smokehouse. As the leader of Woodfire Kirby’s kitchen, he draws from his experiences growing up in Corpus Christi, where steaks and barbecue pepper the culinary landscape and are considered legal tender.
Nemec imbues hickory flavor in ribs, chops, and sirloin burgers, but demonstrates the wood’s versatility with a menu that also includes wood-fired soups and thin-crust pizzas. New york strip steaks and blue-ribbon fillets are cooked to a choice of six temperatures, including classic medium rare and charred-yet-red pittsburgh. Available raw, grilled, or poached, seafood showcases spices that range from asian to argentine to creole.
A private room welcomes up to 48 visitors with a high-definition TV and four banquet menus, and the dining room attracts nighttime guests with handcrafted cocktails and a buzz as vibrant as a birthday party inside a hornet nest.
A high-quality cut of beef really lets chefs express themselves, and Ounce Steakhouse’s owner, who works closely with cattle ranchers throughout the country, provides his chefs with handpicked USDA beef and renowned Akaushi beef. Akaushi grades three levels above prime and is raised in Texas in the strict tradition of Japan’s highly sought-after Kobe beef. With a menu of Akaushi, Angus, and USDA Prime, the restaurant’s chefs find plenty of inspiration for high-end dining techniques and rock operas about Meat Loaf and other fine beef. Among stone walls, original artwork, and sleek, modern decor, diners also relish equally elegant entrees of Chilean sea bass, Australian rack of lamb, and cabernet-braised short ribs. The restaurant strives for the highest fine-dining experience, complementing dishes with wine from vineyards across the globe while keeping small-batch, handcrafted California cabernet sauvignons as its main focus.
Originally founded in 1929, The Grey Moss Inn Restaurant gives the impression that the world has spent the last several decades growing around it. A canopy of Texas oak branches practically conceals the eatery's outdoor patio?complete with a low stone wall?and main dining room. At night, this canopy bursts to life as strings of colored lights flicker on above diners' heads.
The views are no less impressive during the daytime though. Whitetail deer, wild turkeys, and other animals occasionally meander across the nearby expanse of lush, green meadowland and blooming flowers are almost always within sight. "The number of couples who have held secret rendezvous here must be astronomical," posited Texas Monthly "But how could they resist? Romance fills the air like incense at this oak-shaded cottage in the woods."
The Fiery Heart of the Restaurant
The most eye-catching set piece on The Grey Moss Inn Restaurant's patio also happens to be the eatery's most used feature: a circular stone grill filled with smoldering mesquite charcoal. Originally, this pit served as the building's main water well. However, it was eventually capped off and converted into a massive pit where the chefs can roast everything from free-range chicken and lamb chops to Choice rib eye steaks and Pacific salmon. The subtly sweet smokiness of these freshly grilled meats helps lend a distinctively rustic and traditional charm to the menu of refined southern cooking.
Comfort Food With an Elegant Touch
There's no reason for the chefs to completely change the classics, although they do elevate these dishes whenever possible. Using organically grown herbs from the restaurant's own gardens, the chefs follow recipes that haven't changed in decades as they prepare everything from cumin-tinged squash casserole to chocolate pecan pie. At the same time, they are willing to experiment with new flavors to create entirely new dishes, such as the roasted Texas quail stuffed with homemade chorizo.
The selection of more than 500 wines?which earned a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence?features premier cru Burgundies alongside local Texan wines, similarly demonstrating the restaurant's dedication to refined dining.
Crowned the 2009 Readers’ Choice Best of the Best New Restaurant in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Johnny D’s features a menu of daily seafood specials, racks of lamb, and other American-style eats. Open for dinner only, Johnny D's silences the cries of hungry stomachs with its popular blackened ahi tuna, seared rare and thinly sliced and served over a wasabi-beer sauce with jasmine rice and baby bok choy, cabbage's adorably tender offspring ($21). Steak offerings range from tender filet mignon rubbed in a house blend of coffee and spices ($21) to foot-pedaled car topplers such as the 12 oz. béarnaise-topped rib eye ($23).
For close to a decade, the stylists at Salon Divine have done much more than transform hair with services such as extensions and texturizing treatments—they've made a difference in their community. In September of 2011, the team paired with Driscoll Children’s Hospital during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to help people donate their hair to make wigs for young cancer patients. They also recently hosted a benefit for a client with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Their care and compassion is reflected in the attentiveness they show to clients' hair, nails, and skin. They soothe tired feet with fragrant peppermint, citrus, or rose salt scrubs, and enhance the stress-reliever manicure with a hand and wrist massage, loosening joints that are stiff from rehearsing one-man sock-puppet shows. As a further tribute to client comfort, the salon boasts leather furniture and elegant, dark wood accents throughout. Bright pops of magenta from the backlit ceiling and strategically placed floral accents add a whimsical vibe that permeates the team's creative hairstyles.