Galveston – When it comes to playing in the surf and sun of Galveston Island, one eventually has to find time for some seafood and for a lot of folks, that stop is Gaido’s.
“We absolutely love the seafood, the absolute best in town,” said local Michele Ballard.
“You know that service going to be good. You know the food is going to be good,” said diner Betty Chandler.
“I hold our restaurant as it is one of the best in Galveston,” said Nick Gaido, the 4th generation of G men that have operated this family restaurant that’s been a part of Galveston Island since 1911.
“Growing up, I never really thought about it. To us it was just kind of the family restaurant,” said Nick.
Nick’s great grandfather San Giacinto Gaido opened the doors to the restaurant originally in part of Murdoch’s bath house. And in the 1930’s they situated the restaurant on the side of the seawall and have never left.
“It’s actually pretty crazy, I’ve never been to a restaurant that’s been here for this long, and to have seafood that fresh being served for that long. And it’s just a great place to come. Love it,” said Michele.
“Well, we’ve been coming since 1970 off and on,” said longtime customer Steve Letbetter.
The key to keeping customers hooked? Consistency. “My grandfather and my dad taught me the expression, ‘Find out what the guest wants and then serve it.’,” said Nick. “That same cup of bisque that you’re eating today, it’s the same recipe and procedure that was made 60 years ago,” said Nick.
Being a Gaido, Nick wasn’t a big fish when he got caught up in the family business. He had to learn things from the seafloor to the surface and that all started when he was a boy. “My first summer I was 12 years old, peeling shrimp, washing dishes, busing tables, eventually graduating to be able to grill food, fry food. So I’ve spent a lot of weekends and spring breaks and summertime here,” explained Nick.
With so much history and lore here, there is one Texas sized tale I wanted to try to reel in, the gigantic blue crab sitting on the roof of the restaurant. “We get phone calls about it. You’d be surprised, but we get phone calls about it, but I’m sticking to my story. It was caught in Galveston Bay. I’m going to stick to that. We haven’t had anybody try to tell us otherwise,” said Nick.
Considering just about everything served here is caught out in the Gulf, I’ll allow it. Keeping things fresh is what kept Gaido’s such a go to on Galveston for so long and I was ready to get a taste so Nick first got things started on their Oyster Deluxe Combination, a dish that features all of their famous oyster preparations.
As that dozen bake, Nick prepares a few oyster brochette. “What else is better to cook oyster than bacon fat,” joked Nick. And then a few fried oysters. As the oysters are fried, this station always brings back memories for Nick.
Nick puts the massive amount of mollusks on a dish and we start preparing the red snapper. “They were cutting this snapper here at the bar this morning,” stated Nick.
After being seasoned with a parmesan crust, a little bit of butter is put in a pan to sauté the snapper. Once finished, a beurre blanc sauce is added with jumbo lump crab meat on top. As the fish finished up, Nick plates it up and I’m ready for a meal featuring the spoils of the sea. Well, with a deluxe combination platter, it’s safe to say we are eating like a king down in Galveston!
First up, a dozen oysters with six different sauces, asiago style being my first bite. Then baked, which combines butter and cracker crumbs. Wonderful oyster with a delicate finish. That is very good!
“We do love the oysters,” said Michele.
Onto the Beanville. Shrimp, mushroom onions, white wine, seasoned breadcrumbs, cayenne pepper, and Parmesan cheese. It’s a whole lot going on in this one. Very unique flavor. Monterey has shrimp, cream, sherry and cheddar cheese. That is like old school oyster flavor right there, Sherry and oysters man.
And then Ponzini. And that just might be the tastiest scheme I’ve ever been a part of.
Finally, go to baked oyster, the Rockerfller which does have a hint of jalapeno. Amazing, oh my goodness gracious, great balls of fire. And finally, a little bit easier work with the oyster brochette. Great bacon flavor on that one.
As for the redfish, the beurre blanc sauce just comes off that fish and tastes sensational.
Well, if you’re looking for a great place to take a date down on Galveston Island, just guide her on over to Gaido’s, because it’s well worth a stop on The Texas Bucket List.
“It’s fresh. It’s delicious,” stated Michele.
“It is a perfect way to end a day, enjoying great, fresh seafood,” said Steve.
“You need to come down and experience the Gulf. You need to see the water. You need to enjoy this experience and go back home and appreciate where you’ve been,” stated Betty.