3rd Coast Foodie
STINGRAY'S Port Aransas, TX
Horace Caldwell Pier on the Gulf waters in Port Aransas TX is just a quick 30 mile drive for us, yet once we get there it feels like we are a thousand miles from the pressures of home and work. Port A, as we all so lovingly refer to it, is our local touristy town where the beach carts and bikes out number personal vehicles and it doesn’t matter what day of the week or time of the year it always feels like vacation! I’m not sure if it’s the sounds, the sights, the sand, wind, or surf, but a day or three totally renews us and we try to have at least one day a month in Port A!
One of the best things our family enjoys is a nice dinner out and we prefer to have live entertainment or watch a game. Of course there are a few other criteria that a restaurant has to meet during our mini-vacation… The place has to be kid friendly and pet friendly is a bonus, be as close to the beach or our hotel room as possible, and serve a wide variety of yummy fresh food and drinks. And although Port A offers lots of restaurants, live entertainment, and sports on TVs, only one meets all of our criteria… Stingray's Tap House and Grill! Not only do they have 22 TVs with sports going every minute of their day and trust me that’s important especially during NASCAR, MLB, and NFL seasons , but Thursday through Saturday (and Sundays on holiday weekends) they host live music with bands from all over South Texas! The menu holds a few secrets too! Like “The Sky Box” section featuring high quality ribeye, fillet mignon, Ahi tuna, and jumbo shrimp! Besides the extensive spirits list which includes a bloody Mary bar, they have 24 beers on tap and numerous bottled beers the carry, Stingrays also has an amazing wine list fine wine connoisseurs will find intriguing.
There are two more things that make Stingrays Tap House and Grill stand out; first, they have and use a wood-fired brick pizza oven – the only one around and believe me… It makes a difference! And two, where it got the name. At first thought you might think of the creatures in the Gulf that is at the end of Beach Street (literally walking distance!), but as you are sitting and enjoying one of their signature drinks (the Stingray Shuffle is amazing!) you look up to realize there are two perfectly good Stingray Corvettes parked above the bar. Yep, I said parked above the bar! So what is Stingrays really like? Well, if you picked it up and dropped it in San Antonio, Austin, Houston, or Dallas it would fit in perfectly. Basically, Stingrays is a big city sports bar in little ol’ Port A!
Since Stingrays’ opening in October 2013 the owning partners who conceived the business, Shawn and Sandy Etheridge as well as Chad and Kimber Gorczyca, have sought experienced staff that could help them succeed. This includes general manager Vanessa Garcia who joined Stingrays before it opened to help develop the business and Stingrays Chef, Tim Metzner. Chef Metzner is a highly experienced and classically trained and has worked everything from fine dining to major convention centers. He has been an opening consultant and lead chef for Hard Rock Cafe among other accolades. He was chosen by the owning partners because of his vast culinary knowledge and he was asked to develop a concept presented by the owners which is fine food with a casual feel. He has selected quality ingredients and trained his staff to present a quality product consistently. From the wait staff to the bartenders to the kitchen staff, everyone not only enjoys their work but is knowledgeable about all the items on the menu and our waiter, Ryan, made suggestions that totally hit it out of the ballpark!
Chef Metzner has taken care to ensure that everything is fresh! If the boats come in without the right fish – there’s no fish on the menu. They hand bread and batter the oysters, shrimp, fish, and onion rings. The pizza dough is made every morning, and the French fries and onion rings are hand sliced in the kitchen! Now that doesn’t happen often!
We started our meal with Chicken Bites (lightly fried bites of chicken wrapped with bacon and stuffed with jalapeno slices and tossed in an avocado ranch dressing), a sampler of the Smokehouse Ribs which were smothered in BBQ sauce and ready to fall off the bone, and the onion rings. Seriously to die for! I think I could have stopped there, but no my eyes were too big! Next we had two of their specialty pizzas. I personally am a traditional pizza topping girl, but as I said our waiter, Ryan, had other ideas! We had the PO Boy Pizza with fresh hand breaded shrimp, tartar sauce, pickles, Mozzarella, Romano, and Parmesan cheeses, lettuce and tomato; and the Smokehouse BBQ Pork Pizza with BBQ sauce, pulled pork, red onions, smoked Gouda, Mozzarella, and Romano cheeses, pickles, and cilantro. First both were amazingly good! Second, I don’t think I’d ever had pickles on a pizza before this, but I think I can do it again! And if this wasn’t enough we also had the Colossal Club and I do mean colossal! Three pieces of Texas toast with ham, turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, Swiss and Cheddar cheeses, mayo and mustard. Not to mention a mound of those hand sliced fries in the middle of it all! At this point we were full, almost stuffed. So, of course we ordered one of their Perfect Endings desserts! I really wanted the Key-Lime Cheesecake, but the kids won out and we had the Chocolate Chip Skillet (a chocolate chip cookie baked in a skillet and served warm with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream). Wow! Yep, that’s all I can say… Wow!
Good food, good friends. What more can you ask for? See you at Stingrays Tap House and Grill!