Helping Galveston Recovery

Want to help? Think Galveston when you’re planning a weekend getaway or a day off from the city, spend money with the merchants who are in recovery, and donate to Galveston’s suffering nonprofits.
By Deb Murphy • Photos by Yvonne Feece


2009072sign66[1]The biggest contribution anyone can make to Galveston’s recovery is to come on down! Galveston depends on tourists for its very survival, so one of the first things we did is make sure our visitors will be comfortable and happy. Some of the changes are sad, but many of the changes are good. Just goes to show, nothing is so bad that something good doesn’t come out of it.

Back in Business

We’ve lost the diner on 61st Street, the Balinese Room, and the Flagship Hotel, but we’ve still got our great beaches—cleaned up and waiting for you—and nearly all the restaurants, bars, and attractions that have made Galveston a great vacation destination.

Murdoch’s Pier is rebuilding as we go to press. This ever reliable vendor of grass mats, styrofoam beach toys, and tacky souvenirs will be reopening shortly. Moody Gardens is back in full operation, as is the quirky Galveston Duck Tours. Starting at 25th and Seawall, the amphibious Duck trucks meander over to Offatts Bayou, where you smoothly go from rolling on the road to cruising the water—corny, but remarkably fun, and the best way to tour the island and see the rebuilding in progress.

Many of the events we all know and love have already returned. Dickens on The Strand, Mardis Gras, Lone Star Ralley, Oktober Fest, and Bear Watch are among the favorites.

One thing, please consider patronizing the businesses that advertise in this magazine. For many of them, spending money on ads seems as much of a prayer as a business decision.

Rebuilding Public Spaces

The historic Rosenberg Library was badly damaged by flooding and mold.

The Rosenberg Library, one of the finest libraries in Texas and home to a one-of-a-kind collection of Texas history, was badly damaged by flooding and mold. You can donate to the General Library Fund or the Children’s Library Fund or become a Friend of the Library. Visit rosenberg-library.org and help restore this great Galveston institution.

Everyone I’ve talked to from Houston has noted how Hurricane Ike damaged the beautiful live oaks lining Broadway. Eighty percent of Galveston’s tree canopy, including these trees, was lost as a result of wind and salt water. Removal of dead trees and replanting efforts are under way. The Galveston Community Recovery Committee has partnered with the Galveston Nature Tourism Council to raise money to replace our trees. It will cost about $250 to replace a tree and care for it during its crucial first two years. You can donate to the effort by sending a check to GINTC, Post Office Box 1469, Galveston, TX 77553. Please note “trees” in the summary line. GINTC promises to have a website up soon, but please go ahead and write a check today.

Galveston has a great many small museums, some of them unique gems. Some of the wounded ones have not gotten much press. So please check on your personal favorite, see how they fared, and consider making a donation.

We also need your help in keeping up the pressure on the state and federal governments. Although the island looks mostly “normal,” we’ve got a lot of work left to do.

And one last thing. Be patient with those of us still trying to recover our personal lives, and encourage your friends who live on the island to make a plan for leaving if the National Hurricane Center ever again issues a face-certain-death bulletin. Remind them that their lives are way m ore important than their stuff.



Mosquito Café’s Stephen Rennick with one of his signature sandwiches.

Favorite PLACES
Now open on the island


The Galvez, 2024 Seawall Blvd, 409/765-7721 • Built by area businessmen after the 1900 storm, this historic hotel weathered Ike just fine. 409/765-7721.

San Luis Resort and Conference Center, 5222 Seawall Blvd, 409/744-1500 • Built on old Fort Crockett, this place is so tough it’s where the people who need to remain on the island stay during storms. In great shape and open for

The Tremont House, 2300 Mechanic, 409/763-0300 • After being badly flooded by Ike, the owners took the opportunity to refit the entire hotel. The lobby is once again a great place to people watch while enjoying the afternoon adult beverage.

The Victorian Resort, 6300 Seawall, 800/231-6363 • Long a community tradition, this beautiful resort property overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and has just undergone $1.6 million in renovations and upgrades. In addition to a great location, the Victorian continues to offer the best in west-side people watching.

Many other condos, hotels, bed and break-fasts, and private rentals are available. For additional lodging and rental information, visit www.galveston.com.


Here is a short list of a few of our favorite dining spots on the island. For a listing of additional eateries go to galveston.com

DiBella’s, 1902 31st Street, 409/763-9036 • A post-Ike fire had us all worried we’d lost this traditional, family-dinner gem. Recently rebuilt and reopened, DiBella’s continues to offer Italian cuisine and steaks in an elegant setting.

Eat cetera, 408 25th Street, 409/762-0803 • Relatively new to the island dining secene, this sparkling downtown eatery features gourmet sandwiches, paninis, salads, and desserts.

Gaido’s, 3900 Seawall, 409/762-9625 • Going to Gaido’s remains a tradition. Happily, nothing has changed. The view is incomparable, the service superb, and the food to die for.

Leon’s Barbeque, 5427 Broadway, 409/744-0070 • Leon’s simply puts out the best BBQ in Texas. Tender, smoky meat, authentic homemade sides, smiling service, and homemade tea cakes make this one of my island favorites.

Luigi’s, 2328 Strand, 409/763-6500 • One of my favorite treats is when my neighbor invites me to dinner, decides she doesn’t feel like cooking, and says, “How about Luigi’s?” Offering elegant Tuscan-style Italian dining and classic European service, Luigi’s is sure not to disappoint.

Mod Coffee House, 2126 Postoffice, 409/765-5659 • Okay, so this really isn’t a restaurant. It really is the place to hang out, chat with friends, or enjoy the people watching on Post-office. I was ecstatic once I realized this iconic hangout reopened.

Mosquito Café, 628 14th Street, 409/763-1010 • This is one of the places I was really afraid we would lose. Fresh ingredients, a vivid imagination, and great skill combine to make memorable meals. Everyone can find something they like on the often-changing menu.

Olympia Grill, 4908 Seawall Blvd. 409/766-1222 and Olympia Grill at Pier 21, 409/765-0021 • Olympia’s promise is that it will maintain the integrity of the family recipes, which have continued to please for four generations.

The Original, 1401 Market, 409/762-6001 • Traditional Tex-Mex food served in a family atmosphere. Eating here is a habit I don’t want to break. Try the pork tacos for something spicy and a little different.

Saltwater Grill, 2017 Postoffice, 409/762-3474 • Incredible gourmet cuisine in a quaint atmosphere, just steps away from the Grand 1894 Opera House.

The Spot, 3204 Seawall, 409/621-5237 • This is really several places in one location. You have the original Spot, where everyone who lives on the island goes to see their friends. There is a Tiki/ Sports Bar combo (only in Texas) for those wanting to watch the game and eat bar food. And the recently opened Drip, which takes advantage of this prime location while trying to attract an upscale crowd. Although it sounds strange, the Ralph Burger is worth the trip.

Star Drugs, 510 23rd Street, 409/750-9136 • This old-fashioned drug-store is the best, cheapest breakfast on the island.

Taco House, 5001 Broadway. 409/762-5777 • Finally, the cheese enchiladas that dreams are made of are once again available.

Yaga’s Café, 2314 Strand, 409/762-6676 • An eclectic, fresh menu and a fabulous setting. Ask the waitstaff to tell you about how the building “shrinks” with each storm. Still the best fish tacos in town!


Robert’s Lafitte, 2501 Avenue Q (at Rosenberg), 409/765-9092 • Open 10 a.m.–2 a.m.; patio open every day • Special events : drag shows on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

The Pink Dolphin, 904 Seawall Blvd, 409/621-1808 • Open Monday thru Friday, noon–2 a.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m.—2 a.m. • Special events : Friday—free pool until 9 p.m.; Karaoke with David, 9 p.m. Saturday—Show of Shows, 10:30 p.m. Sunday—Karaoke with David, 2—6 p.m. • Hot dogs and fixins, 6 p.m.; Super Sunday Show, 7 p.m.

3rd Coast Beach Bar, 31st and Seawall Blvd, 409/765-6911 • O pen every day from noon—2 a.m. • Special events : Wednesday—Western Wednesday with Texas Hold ‘Em. Friday—Female Illusionist Shows, 10:30 p.m. and midnight. Saturday—male dancer, 9:30 p.m.–1:30 a.m.

Club Groove, 2409 Market, 409/789-9134 • Open Tuesday thru Sunday, 6 p.m.—2 a.m. • Special Events : Tuesday and Thursday—TnT Karaoke. Wednesday—’70s and ’80s disco. Friday—Bump and Grooves, 10 p.m. and midnight. Saturday—Groovetts, 9:30 and 11 p.m. Sunday—bartenders in drag. — Deb Murphy

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