It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is in Texas, a trip down to the Valley to visit South Padre is always well worth a stop. The island is full of things to do and it has a smorgasbord of places to eat including Mahi Nic, who is reeling in some big flavors.
“The goal is to surprise people,” said Billy Nichols, who owns Mahi Nic alongside his wife Wanda.
Billy and Wanda are originally from Kansas, but they were ready for a change of scenery when Billy’s mom decided she too had enough of the mid-west and headed for sunny South Padre. “My mom lives down here and she’s getting older, so we moved down to keep her out of trouble,” Billy said.
Once they arrived they realized they needed something to do. “Our neighbor is like, ‘Hey, did you know there’s a restaurant for sale on the island?’ And we looked at each other and we’re like, ‘let’s try it.’ It looked like it had potential and so here we are,” Billy explained.
What makes Mahi Nic’s so unique is its location. The only building is the kitchen, and all the seating is right on the dock under a big blue awning allowing the sea breeze to skirt right on through. “The breeze; it’s amazing, the ambiance and everything, it’s everything,” said customer Janelle Verry. “Luckily, the weather on the island is pretty nice. Sometimes it gets cool and that’s not so bad. At that time of year, you got all these people down here from Minnesota and stuff and they’re going, ‘Oh, this is a wonderful day.’ We’re [shivering],” Billy said.
The good news is you can get you a hot meal at Mahi Nic. Known for several dishes including Mahi of course, a massive burger, and some of the most ridiculous fries I’ve ever found. “These aren’t fries. These are potato logs,” customer Janelle Verry commented.
Well, Billy did say…“We try to do our best to surprise people.”
“Everything is done in-house,” Wanda explained.
Wanda took me into their tiny kitchen to watch their incredible team Christian, Sandy, Andrea, and Missile! Yes, his name really is Missile. “This is important that we do it right and so quality, and these guys have nailed it,” Wanda said.
Wanda wanted to show off a few of their signature sandwiches, so she started with the Mahi Mahi, an 8-ounce filet that’s blackened a cooked in a cast iron skillet. “It’s a skill and I think that flavor, it just makes it even more rich and intensifies that flavor,” Wanda explained.
Wanda also wanted me to take their Big Chief Burger for a spin. The burger starts with two scoops of meat measuring a quarter pound a piece. They get smooshed, seasoned, flipped, and cheesed up while the sweet sourdough buns get toasted. As the fish gets a little fire finish, the fries make their much-awaited entrance into the fryer. “We can probably get about a half a potato on a plate and most of our customers always say, ‘oh my gosh, you gave us so many potatoes,’ Wanda said.
The Mahi closes out its cooking with a butter topped finish on the flat top and is then placed on a bun with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. The burger gets the same bun with the addition of mustard, ketchup, and pickles.
So, we have two gargantuan offerings at Mahi Nic, and we’re going to start with the mahi-mahi. The mahi-mahi is blackened to perfection, add in that sweet sourdough bun, and it makes an incredible combination with a little spice and a little sweet. Fantastic!
“That’s delish. It’s a got a lot of fish on it,” said customer Dan Martinez.
The fries were so good, I couldn’t wait to dip them in the homemade ranch which is perfectly creamy and zesty.
“My goodness. Everything is big in Texas, but the French fries here at Mahi Nic’s, they’re bigger than Texas,” said customer Dan Martinez.
Well, now we had to make some room for the big chief. The hefty hamburger is only supposed to be half a pound, but it’s definitely more than that. It is probably the most picturesque burger I’ve ever seen.
“The food is delicious. Like fresh. I can’t even think of another word to describe it, but it’s amazing,” said customer Janelle Verry.
Well, if you’re looking for a little surf or happen to be looking for a little turf, coming into Mahi Nic on South Padre Island is well worth a stop on the Texas Bucket List.
“We like nothing better when somebody says, ‘that’s the best mahi sandwich I’ve ever had,’ or, ‘that’s the best hamburger I’ve ever had,’” Billy said.