Review: Beaches Cafe & Bakery
118 Beach Street
Port Aransas, Texas
Hours: Sun – Thurs 7:30 am – 9:00 pm
Fri & Sat 7:30 am – 10:00 pm
Sometimes it’s nice to get out to the beach in the summer, especially given my close proximity to it anyway, and a trip to Port Aransas is usually a good time, even if it was just to get my baby girl’s picture taken with a monkey in from of a souvenir shop. Anyway, the point of all of this is that I found myself in Port Aransas, a couple of hours after lunch time, hungry and with a hungry little girl and a couple of other hungry adults. My general opinion of most of the places that I’ve eaten at in Port A in years past has been that they are extremely overpriced tourist places. Many of the old local joints that I used to enjoy when I was out there all the time are no longer there. It was time to try someplace new. After a little driving around, we all decided to stop at a touristy looking place called Beaches Cafe & Bakery.
One thing I’ll give it credit for right away is that it was very clean, and decorated in the manner you’d expect from a town that’s main interest is beach tourism. As a local, it’s something I’ve seen done to death, but that kind of decor isn’t aimed at my business or tastes, it’s all for the tourist that expect that kind of thing when they visit the beach. I’m good with that. For what it was, it was done as tastefully as any other place, and I like that the building had a lot of windows which gave it a very open and airy feel despite the fact that it wasn’t outdoors, although they do have outdoors seating available. Honestly, it’s was too hot to sit outside. The service, however, is a completely different story. We were there between the classic lunch and dinner rush times, and while there were other customers, it wasn’t packed, and there was no long line waiting to get in, despite that, it seemed that our waiter was overwhelmed and found it difficult to be attentive to our needs as customers. It wasn’t that he or the other assisting waitresses or hostesses were intentionally rude, it just wasn’t what I would term as even good, professional service. Not bad, but not good.
After looking over the menu and some discussion, a couple of appetizers were selected: the brisket nachos and the crab stuffed jalapenos. Let me get the bad out of the way first. The stuffed jalapenos weren’t good. I don’t know if they make them from scratch in house or not, but they taste and have the texture of brought in frozen from a food service place. If that isn’t the case, I would suggest to them that they revisit their recipe and improve it’s quality. I wouldn’t pay for them again, nor would I suggest anyone else order them. The crab filling tasted mostly like filling and not very much like crab, and the coating was standard at best and poor at worst. Having said that, the brisket nachos were excellent. This one thing that I don’t say very often but I really enjoyed the flavor of the brisket. That’s a rarity for me. Most places in Corpus Christi that pretend to be barbecue places serve up bland or barely flavored brisket that is often tough or dry or both, even when marbled. Brisket is usually a great disappointment to me. Not the case at Beaches. The brisket here can be easily recommended. The nachos weren’t perfect. I thought the black olives were not needed at all, and I would have preferred that the chips not be the colored ones which really didn’t add anything to the presentation at all. All that aside, it is certainly a dish I can recommend to anyone that likes brisket and nachos and a dish I look forward to having again, hold the black olives.
For my entree, I ordered the Beaches Brisket & Pork Ribs which came with a roll and two sides. For my sides I ordered the mac and cheese and a baked potato. The mac and cheese wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t badly done, but it wasn’t on my top ten of all time list either. The baked potato was again, done correctly but nothing special. I admit I’m picky with baked potatoes. I like them done just a certain way, and it’s rare that anyone does them that way anymore. Overall, the sides were fine. Nothing terrible, but nothing to write home about either. The roll was excellent. It said homemade on the menu and I have no reason to doubt that it was made onsite. Very well done. As far as the actual meat portion of the plate, I received a good serving of brisket, but only three very small ribs. Now it does say three ribs on the menu, but for the price if all that is being presented on a regular basis is those three tiny ribs, I’d say that I couldn’t recommend this combo plate to anyone else. To be clear, the brisket is very good, and the ribs are very good as well, but there isn’t value here when considering the difference in price between the brisket plate and this combination plate. I would recommend going out to Beaches for the brisket plate however. My little one got the children’s fried shrimp plate. She liked the shrimp after she pealed the heavy batter off of them. Overall, while she didn’t hate Beaches, it doesn’t get her baby stamp of approval. She did enjoy the mac and cheese, although as noted previously I found it to be rather standard.
Sometimes I do have dessert. Not always, but occasionally. I noticed on the menu that they had key lime pie, and not only that but they said that their desserts were made in house. That always gets my attention because I love key lime pie and if I can try one that isn’t just thawed from frozen I’m always game. So I ordered a piece of key lime pie and was presented with a very large slice topped with whipped cream. I can easily say that this key lime pie was one of the best I’ve had anywhere. The texture and flavor were very good, the sweetness level was balanced perfectly between dessert sweet and lime tart, and the graham cracker crust was done just as it should be. It was also only five bucks, which for an in house dessert is a great value. I was very impressed and would not only order it again, but I might go out of my way to get it. It was that good.
While the visit was one that wasn’t perfect, I will recommend Beaches Cafe & Bakery with a few caveats. The stuffed jalapenos and sides are very lackluster. Not terrible, but nothing special. I wouldn’t recommend getting the stuffed jalapenos at all actually. On the plus side though, the brisket nachos are great, the brisket and ribs are tasty and the key lime pie is definitely worth a trip out there to get. Having said that, I think that for the portion size as applies strictly to the ribs, it was way too few/small to justify the price of the combination plate and in the future I’d just get the brisket plate. Sadly, my little one didn’t care too much for the fried shrimp, so Beaches won’t be getting the baby seal of approval, although she did like the mac and cheese which again, I found to be incredibly mediocre. After all is said and done, I would definitely go back to Beaches, and I recommend them for anyone that wants a nice, flavorful brisket or a wonderful key lime pie.