Situated near the shore at Port Aransas, the hospitable gourmands at Pelican's Landing serve up a blend of fresh seafood and steaks, including a special seafood option—diners can bring in their own catch for the chef to fry up and serve in a bed of market rice, mango salsa, and steamed broccoli ($10 for up to 12 oz./person). For a meal without a DIY portion, delve into the standard menu for appetizer fare such as the spicy twice-baked potato ($5). Specialties of the house include doors and a roof, as well as entrees such as the saucy hickory-barbecue danish ribs and fries ($22), a jumbo lump-crab-cake burger, topped with a hearty dollop of jalapeno tarter sauce ($15), and USDA-Prime rib eye, served in a 16-ounce slab grilled to order ($36). A slice of Pelican's key lime pie closes the meal with a fusion flourish, housing its fruity cargo within a pecan pie crust ($8).
The dough wizards at Papa John's hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.
Chicago Street Pizza owner Emin Aljic wants you to have as many toppings on your pizza as you want. Though it takes 40 minutes for each deep-dish pie to bake, he makes sure the wait is worthwhile by letting patrons choose any number of his 16 available toppings for one fixed price. In addition to the monstrous Midwestern-style pies, diners can also pile thin-crust pizzas with their favorite ingredients or let the chefs anoint either crust style with one of their specialty topping combinations. A BYOB policy rules the dining room, which reflects the menu's Chicago vibe with Cubs and Blackhawks posters and italian-beef sandwiches delivered to tables via ferris wheel.
Owner Shawn Danapong spends a lot of time in Thai Pan’s kitchen, where he proudly observes his team of chefs doing what they do best: seasoning curries, stirring pots of soup, and baking heaps of shrimp in a clay pot. The resultant plates of steaming Thai fare make their way to a dining area filled with soft music and small plumes of vapor that swirl above pad thai, fried rice, and stir-fried veggies doused in oyster sauce. As diners dip into the generous portions and help themselves to BYOB libations, a small fleet of televisions flickers to life with sporting events.
Con Queso slakes Sonoran thirsts with a menu of contemporary Latin fare. Diners can alleviate appetites with a chimichanga, a flavorful deep-fried flour-tortilla pouch stuffed with your choice of grilled beef or chicken strips, onions, and bell peppers, and served with sour cream, homemade roasted salsa, and guacamole ($8.99), or the pollo monterey, a tasty dish of marinated chicken served with spinach and mushrooms snuggling atop a poblano-pepper bed, under a blanket of monterey jack cheese ($9.99). Con Queso maintains an inviting atmosphere ripe for a celebratory bite to eat after surviving a self-performed root canal.