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If I said “there’s tacos and margaritas at the beach”, how fast could you pack a bag? I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t hesitate to head toward the coast before the sun went down. I did the same as soon as I heard about the 2021 Taco & Margarita Trail happening in Port Aransas.
The 3-day event was planned alongside the Port A Live Music Fest on the weekend of September 17-19, 2021, with 8 restaurants creating music-themed street tacos and flavorful margaritas to match.
I thought to myself, “If there’s a weekend that screams ‘end of summer’, this is IT and I’m not missing it.” I couldn’t wait to get my flip flops sandy, and dig into some street tacos and margaritas in the salty air.
To participate in this fun island adventure, I downloaded the Visit Port Aransas app and selected Trails, then clicked on the Taco & Margarita Trail. The 8 participating restaurants were listed and we needed to check-in at each location to achieve that location’s objective. Each restaurant was offering a specially-crafted street taco and small specialty margarita for only $7, all weekend long.
Once we checked in at 3 restaurants on the list, we were eligible to receive a Taco & Margarita Trail pin from the Port Aransas Welcome Center. And if we checked off 4 spots, then we also could earn the Port A Live Music Fest pin too. Challenge accepted!
The Port A Live Music Fest kicked off the weekend’s festivities with the Landsharks: A Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band concert on the lawn at Palmilla Beach. The upbeat island jams could be heard for blocks (and from the beach), so we all enjoyed dancing to the tunes. Live music performances were scheduled all weekend long across the island, but to be honest… We came for the tacos. And if those tacos came with music-themed names and complimenting margaritas, all the better.
1st stop: Jay’s Seafood & Spaghetti Works
We’re big fans of Seafood & Spaghetti Works in our family (or Jay’s, as locals call it), so this was inevitably our first stop. Their “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” fried shrimp taco and house margarita combo had us saying, “Oh yes, this trail is going to be fun.”
A corn tortilla stuffed with fried shrimp and cilantro avocado sauce is impossible to resist, and that house margarita went down easy. Admittedly, I ordered a second shrimp taco. Delicious!
Explore Seafood & Spaghetti Works’ lunch and dinner menu here. After your meal, step inside the in-house boutique, Stephanie’s Stuff, for some great clothing and home finds.
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2nd stop: Bluewater Cowboy Saloon
Our second stop that day was Bluewater Cowboy Saloon, the three story restaurant on Beach Street with an awesome back-of-the-boat bar. Their “Baja Citrus and the Teaser” taco and margarita combo was so nice and light that I easily could’ve ordered another. On that warm day, the pineapple salsa on the shrimp taco tasted amazing.
The frozen margarita was smooth and very refreshing. We even enjoyed a round of chips and queso while we were there. What better way to round out tacos and margaritas than with queso, right?
Explore Bluewater Cowboy’s lunch, dinner and sushi menu here. And don’t forget to stop in their Bluewater Cowboy Mercantile shop downstairs next to the restaurant for some great shopping.
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Stonewall Kitchen Pineapple Chipotle Salsa 2-pack, $23
3rd stop: Castaway’s Seafood
Our third stop was Castaways, which I was excitedly anticipating because I hadn’t visited the restaurant in over a year. Their “Mango Marley & the Mahis” fish taco and margarita combo was easily one of my favorites so far on the trail.
The blackened Mahi-Mahi was served on a corn and flour blend tortilla with chimichurri sauce and spicy Mayo. The taco was ‘can’t-put-it-down’-level good and the mango margarita with tajín was almost too pretty to drink. Almost, but I drank that beauty happily. So good!
Explore Castaway’s lunch, dinner and kids menu here. Be sure to walk around and view the beautiful island art and beach paintings displayed on the walls of the restaurant.
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Gaucho Ranch Chimichurri 2-pack, $20
4th stop: Stingray’s Taphouse & Grill
Stingray’s is always a happening hot spot with TVs on every wall, and the restaurant serves up some unexpected culinary gems. Their “Mango Tango” taco and margarita combo served up a delicious chicken fajita taco with mango salsa.
The beautiful golden margarita they brought to our table looked and tasted like liquid sunshine, even though it was served frozen. I hope this one is on their year-round menu, because I’d order it again any day.
Explore Stingray’s lunch and dinner menu here. And if you’re looking for a great spot to enjoy a dog-friendly lunch, their patio is perfect for your four-legged friends.
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Other restaurants along the trail
Despite our best efforts to eat ALL the tacos in town, we made it to 4 of the 8 participating restaurants on the Taco & Margarita Trail in Port Aransas that weekend. There were 4 more local hot spots that offered up $7 street tacos and frosty drinks with creative beach-worthy names and full flavors.
Here’s the other restaurants participating in the Taco & Margarita Trail.
5. Black Marlin Bar & Grill
The Black Marlin’s “Jimmy Buffet’s ‘Margaritaville’” taco and margarita combo featured a pork carnitas street taco on a charred corn tortilla with cilantro, onions and mango pick de gallo, with a jalapeño pineapple margarita (want to make your own? Try this jalapeño margarita mix).
Explore Black Marlin’s dinner menu here. They have a great outdoor bar and patio that’s perfect for meeting up with friends, sitting around the fire pit, and listening to occasional live music.
LAVA Spicy Jalapeño Margarita Mix, $17
6. La Playa Mexican Grille
La Playa’s “Yucatán and the Man” taco and margarita combo offered a pulled pork taco with onions, cilantro, pineapple and pickled onions, as well as their Signature Margarita made with a silver tequila made especially for La Playa.
Explore La Playa’s dinner and kids menu here. We stopped by at lunch hoping to grab a taco, but learned they’re only open for dinner. Plan ahead, as they get busy at night, but the good food is worth the wait.
7. Moby Dick’s Restaurant
Moby Dick’s “Rockin’ Margarita & Rollin’ Taco” combination featured a blackened flounder taco on a corn tortilla, and a pomegranate-flavored sweet and sour margarita with a sugar rim.
Want to make your own? Try this pomegranate simple syrup.
Explore Moby Dick’s lunch, dinner and drinks menu here. Moby Dick’s is great for large families and groups, plus it’s very kid-friendly. Be sure to shop their fun gift shop for beach-themed gifts and custom printed t-shirts after your meal.
Sonoma Syrup Pomegranate Simple Syrup, $19
8. Trout Street Bar & Grill
Trout Street’s “Smoke on the Ceviche Tacos & Fire in the Cantaloupe Margarita” combination offered up a smoked red snapper taco with Asian chilis and cabbage and tomatoes tossed in lemon oil. Their featured margarita is made with agua de jalapeño melon, brandy and tequila (Want to make your own? Try this jalapeño craft puree). Such rich flavors!
Explore Trout Street’s lunch, dinner and kids menu here. Enjoy a waterfront dining experience indoors or on the patio and watch the sun set over the marina while you dine.
Amoretti Jalapeño Craft Puree, $30
Would I do the trail again?
Absolutely! The idea of a scavenger hunt-style exploration of restaurants around town is a fun way to try out some new-to-you restaurants in Port Aransas, and revisit some old favorites. The 2021 Taco & Margarita Trail took us from one end of town to the other on a beautiful September weekend with few crowds.
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The challenge offered via the Visit Port Aransas app was fun and easy, and the specifically-crafted food and drinks were encouragement to try menu items I wouldn’t have otherwise thought to order. I’ve discovered some new favorite seafood dishes and want to try more tropical drinks to complement my island appetite.
And now I can officially say that mango salsa is my new favorite taco topping. It’s a win-win!
To learn more about live music events and future “trails” to explore in Port Aransas, visit the Port A Live Music Fest.