Corpus Christi is an amazing place to get away from it all for the weekend. The coastal town is home to water parks, aquariums, museums, night life, music, fishing, and some amazing beaches. In an effort to find some of the best places to dine, I asked the locals and discovered some of Corpus Christi’s favorite hot spots.
JB’s German Bakery and Cafe
Our internet search lit up with positive reviews of JB’s German Bakery and Cafe. Many diners go out of their way to post beautiful and colorful pictures of their plates online, so I took a trip down to Corpus to check it out for myself. What I found was this amazing little hidden restaurant on South Padre Island Drive with more delicious cakes, pies, strudels, and breads than I could possibly imagine. It is a carb lover’s paradise.
In 2011, German Master Baker Juergen Kazenmayer and his wife Brigitte moved to Corpus Christi from Germany and opened their lovely little restaurant. They brought with them an enormous and fascinating wood-fired oven which they keep at their main restaurant and use every morning to make the most amazing breads and rolls. Sometimes a diner or two will come early just to watch the whole bread making process.
I spoke with some of the regulars and asked what their favorite things were; most people said the strudels, which come in a vast array of flavors like black forest, peach cream,pumpkin cream cheese, and tiramisu. I personally loved the brezels (pretzels) which Brigitte recommended you fill with cold butter and eat for breakfast, the German way to eat them.
Other people liked the cheese pie, which is cut into hearts. However, JB’s is also known for their fantastic cakes and pies such as their Blueberry Custard Pie, the Raspberry Whipped Cream Cake, and their Egg Liqueur Butter Cream Cake. Still, JB’s is not just about pastries. They also serve quiches and various lunch items like their Reuben Sandwich, a Ham and
Cheese Brezel, or the Jägerschnitzel, which is roasted pork with brown gravy, bell pepper, and mushroom.
Some patrons of JB’s like to stop in every morning on their way to work, and other folks specially order cakes or pies for a celebration. One Corpus local recommended watching the sunrise over the water and then stopping in at JB’s for coffee and pastries afterward. I personally recommend a stop into JB’s German Bakery and Café for an amazing treat that you truly cannot get anywhere else, but make sure to give yourself an extra ten minutes to mull over which bit of deliciousness to try first.
Andy’s Country Kitchen
Another local hotspot I checked out was Andy’s Country Kitchen. The restaurant is full of cool old photos and various types of Texas and Americana décor. It has a quaint, homey feel, and the waitstaff are amazingly friendly. There is a little G-scale train that runs overhead on a track around the full length of the restaurant that adults find charming and kids find entertaining.
Andy’s has high quality, home-style American food like biscuits and gravy with eggs, chicken fried steak, and pork chops, and the crumb-topped blueberry muffins that come complimentary to each table are made fresh every single morning. They also have treats like hand-made, fun-shaped pancakes to keep the kids happy. Locals gush over their favorite comfort foods, and insist that at Andy’s, each plate is perfectly cooked every time.
One of the local favorites is Chicken N’ Waffle, which one regular suggested eating topped with cinnamon and pecans, for a special twist that he said will change your life. Another patron highly recommended the Eggs Benedict. The Country Fried Steak & Eggs is crispy, delicious, and almost too big for one meal; whatever you eat when you come to Andy’s, prepare to eat heartily.
Originally opened in 1958, Andy’s is so popular that some of the locals come in twice a day, and there is usually a bit of a line. One diner said that just watching the waitstaff navigate the busy restaurant is like watching a ballet, because everyone is always spinning around one-another and smiling. Yet, no matter how busy the restaurant is, the employees always make their customers feel like they belong. That is the thing that sets Andy’s apart from the rest: their amazing customer service.
“I’ve been coming here for over 20 years,” said Corpus Christi resident Judy Herndon. “All of the people who work here are like a family and the food is good. They have older customers that some of the staff will actually drive to doctors’ appointments, or help them when they cannot get out, and when they are not here, the staff actually calls to check on them and make sure they are okay.”
Andy’s Country Kitchen has received very good reviews from some famous folks as well. Rachel Ray, The Food Network, and “The Daytripper” Chet Garner are all fans of Andy’s. At the top of many travel web pages’ favorite things to do in Corpus Christi, Andy’s is a must-eat establishment.
Black Diamond Oyster Bar
Black Diamond Oyster Bar is a small, down-home seafood restaurant that is unexpectedly delightful. It is a no-frills kind of place with a friendly atmosphere and live music featuring some of the best local Corpus Christi artists on the weekends. In addition to their small, main dining area, Black Diamond has an outdoor patio dining area where the bands play, and where patrons unwind with one of Black Diamond’s signature drinks from the tiki bar.
What makes Black Diamond special is their high-quality upscale seafood without the luxury price tags. Black Diamond offers all of the frills of a great, top-of-the-line meal, but has the casual atmosphere of a diner. Whether patrons show up in suits or in a pair of shorts and flip-flops, they all fit right into this surprisingly relaxing restaurant. And if you slide up to the bar, Owner Derrell Pollard will most likely come joke around with you until you feel right at home.
One of the favorite items at Black Diamond is the Blackened Mahi-Mahi with lemon cream sauce, which I personally thought was the best fish I have ever eaten. Then there is the Crawfish Bisque, the Fried Oysters fresh from the gulf, Seafood Gumbo, the Seared Ahi Tuna, and the Crab Stuffed Flounder, to name a few.
Even more fantastic is the fact that the menu also has some great burgers, fries, nachos, chicken, and shrimp, which means that a seafood lover can go out and have a great meal while still satisfying that one picky eater in the family who just is not willing to experiment with delicacies of the sea.
Furthermore, Black Diamond also offers catch and cook, assuming the fish is filleted and cleaned. After a long day of fishing on the pier, some locals bring their catch-of-the-day down to Black Diamond to have the chef turn what is left of a fish story into a fantastic meal, making a long day of fishing on the pier even more satisfying.
“The oysters always seem to be fresh, not too meaty and not too small. They have a really good taste to them. Anytime I come into town, I like to steal away and come here,” said Wimberly resident and Black Diamond regular Roland Knoblauch.
While the decor at Black Diamond is rather basic, the friendliness of the waitstaff, the taste and price, and the freshness of the seafood really stands out and makes Black Diamond a memorable experience.
Another of Corpus’s favorite restaurants, and also new on the scene, is Ginger Cafe. It is a Mediterranean and South Asian inspired restaurant that has a little bit of everything on the menu. Owners Ramsey and Jordan Jardat, whose family is originally from Jordan, bring a colorful and tasty mix of various different international favorites to create their own unique cuisine that is almost too beautiful to eat . . . almost.
One of the things that makes Ginger Cafe special is that they try whenever possible to use all fresh and local ingredients, because Jordan Jardat said that the quality of the ingredients are what really make his dishes shine. Jardat also said that all of the dishes are both kosher and halal, and that they try their best to offer items that are vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free so they can please every type of customer.
“I oversee everything in the kitchen,” Jardat said. “It’s not about business. It comes out of my heart. It’s all about pleasing the customer. I satisfy everybody.”
Some of the most popular menu items include a less common meat: lamb. Jardat explained that lamb has less fat and is juicier than other types of meat; he always trims the fat and makes sure to purchase only the highest-quality meat, which really makes a difference. Diners who have never had a good lamb steak are always pleasantly surprised when they try one at Ginger Cafe and often say that they never knew that lamb could taste so amazing.
However, Ginger Cafe has more than just lamb. They also have an excellent Beef Shawarma Platter, a tasty Hummus Shawarma with Chicken, and a good variety of vegetarian items like the Lentil Soup. They make their own Ginger Ale in house, and serve seafood dishes, pastas, and traditional American cuisine, a fact that makes it easier for diners to get out and try eating something more exotic while still pleasing more finicky eaters.
One patron told me that Ginger Cafe was the best restaurant in Corpus and the only restaurant he recommends to his friends. Another diner said he never misses a chance to come by and get the best lamb he has ever tasted, but highly recommended that I save some room for the Tiramisu and some Turkish Coffee. At Ginger Cafe, the food is delicious, beautifully presented, and downright memorable.