Port Aransas, TX Hotel
Don and I drove from Houston to Port Aransas to check out this 100+ year old hotel. After more than a year of isolating, we were more than ready to let the adventures begin.
We booked a night at the inn and made dinner reservations.
Tuesday in May
There was lots of parking room when we arrived on a weekday in spring.
There was lots of space for parking horses, back in the day. This hotel history goes back to 1886.
It was our iconic 1950 cookbook, that actually lured us to the hotel. Page 181. Tarpon Inn's Sea-Food Cocktail Sauce recipe!
As always, I packed the book for the trip and looked forward to pulling it out as a converstaion piece, at dinner.
After being the first to park in front, we headed up the steps to the lobby. Samantha greeted us from behind the desk. She wore a face mask, but she couldn't hide her enthusiasm for the hotel's history.
She pointed out the mounted fish, behind her on the wall. The tarpon's name was Fred, I believe.
Then she pointed to the wall that held over 7,000 signed, fish scales. I asked if she knew which was oldest and she pointed to a guy named Roy, in 1892!
On another wall, Samantha showed us photos of FDR, when he came to Port Aransas in 1937.
He didn't stay at the inn, but he did a lot of tarpon fishing and handed over a signed scale, from his catch. 77 pounds!
In the Courtyard
We headed through the lobby and peeked out at the courtyard.
The pale green cottage looked very inviting, with a large outside deck.
I'm not sure where meals were served at Tarpon Inn 50 or more years ago. About 5 years ago, this sweet building was enlarged and opened as Roosevelt's.
The structure was part of the original complex and survived the 1919 hurricane. We could have sat out on the deck for a while, but there were some mighty (hurricane style) winds picking up during our stay. The umbrellas did not go up.
Dinner at 7:30
We were told that reservations might be a good idea. Roosevelt's is popular with the locals.
Don and I arrived for our reservations and were surprised that there was not a face mask in sight, on a guest or an employee. That felt a little odd on May 18, 2021. Don and I were both vaccinated and not really worried. But this was our first indoor dining experience since March 2020.
Cheers to Dining Again!
The host seated us at a table right below a giant tarpon. I was pretty pleased with that!
We toasted to the fun of eating inside at a restaurant after 15 months! Then we started off with Oysters Rockefeller!
Fish and More
Don went for the Citrus Grilled Mahi Mahi. His glazed fish was served over Savoyard potatoes and served with lobster cream sauce. His asparagus was fresh and healthy... his cheesy, seasoned potatoes were not. I loved them.
My Chicken & Shrimp Involtini was mouthwatering! I'll just quote the old menu... "chicken breast filled with baby spinach, jumbo shrimp and dredged in panko served over orzo Florentine, finished with jumbo lump crab and citrus beurre blanc" and the seasonal veggie happened to be brussels sprouts. Wow!
I had a feeling the old cookbook was not going to impress our waiter. He was young and new to the job and busy. I waited until we were almost finished eating and the dining rush was over. I pulled out the book and showed him the recipe page. "Oh no. We don't served cocktail sauce." I was tempted to say, "That's not the point."
Instead, I found some other waiters who might be interested. Before long there were surprised faces and cell phones snapping photos of 70 year old recipe. "What! Where did you get this book?" It was not a cookbook fail at all!
Meeting the Owner
We lucked out, because the owner of Tarpon Inn happened to be dining at a table in the corner. One of the waiters tipped him off and he introduced himself.
I told Lee Roy Haskins how much we were enjoying our stay and our meal. Then I asked if he could guess how we ended up coming to Tarpon Inn. When I showed him then book he gave the proper response and laughed over the yellow book with the mostly bland recipes. We ended up talking for nearly a half hour.
We have 4 of these Ford books and we've used them like treasure maps. The recipe pages have guided us to at least 50 different restaurants.
We laughed with Lee Roy over the vintage book, but then he put the book on the table. Then it was time for swapping a few stories. We talked about our favorite iconic old hotels in Texas. Lee Roy talked about his work with oil and gas and drilling all over the world. He talked about how owning the hotel and restaurant was a labor of love. "You don't make money off of something like this." We asked about famous guests and heard a funny story about Tommy Lee Jones... who was not very nice, when he dined at Roosevelt's.
We left feeling full and happy. Our first inside dining adventure, after the the pandemic started! It was a satisfying one.
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.