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Fab Food and Fab Five on Kemah Boardwalk

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The concept of Sunday Funday is alive and well, and – especially during these glory days of spring and presumably fall – living on the Kemah Boardwalk. With temperatures mild during the daylight hours and turning chilly only after dark, the destination on Galveston Bay that used to be for bikers-only has been turned into a kind of Magic Kingdom for restaurants associated with Tilman Fertitta. And in the spirit of a lovely afternoon, that’s not a bad thing.

The modern version of Kemah lets you know it’s a Magic Kingdom because you have to get there by boat – if you want free parking, that is. The lot that doesn’t charge is connected to Tilman’s Boardwalk Empire by a “boat shuttle” that, instead of a 30-minute ride across a lagoon to Mickey’s place in Orlando takes about four minutes to cross maybe 30 feet of not-so-open water. Best of all, the boat deposits you and yours on the boardwalk beside (or maybe behind) the Aquarium Restaurant.

Appropriately on the waterfront, almost every eatery on Kemah Boardwalk serves seafood in some form, much of it delightfully deep-fried. There’s a Landry’s, of course, the place that launched a thousand concepts, in addition to the Aquarium – where you actually watch fish swim around even as you eat their kin. Still, the idea of Tex-Mex sounded right to our little group, launching us in the direction of Cadillac Bar. And that launched us in the direction of this Tortilla Soup, some of the best we’ve ever tried.

The thing about Tex-Mex: it always tastes a lot better than it looks. Here, for instance, is the cheese enchilada plate named for the border town of Laredo – and since the original Cadillac Bar was born on the border, it just kinda made sense. There are several types of enchiladas offered with several types of sauces (including the chili con carne with chopped onions so beloved here in Texas), but this one had more of a red chili (or chile) gravy bookended by rice and refried beans. 

And oh yeah… we shouldn’t forget the reason we thought of this Sunday Funday on Kemah Boardwalk in the first place. We wanted to see the Fab Five, one of the better Beatles tribute bands around. In the course of their almost four-hour set (after a performance by Elvis impersonator Vince King, who we want to catch next time), the Fab Five played not only the Fab Four but lots of non-Beatles British Invasion plus even some hits from Motown. Long after the sun slowly sank in the West, folks were dancing and clapping their hands, no doubt feverishly trying to work off the all-too-edible handiwork of Tilman Fertitta.

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About John DeMers

I've been a journalist and author forever. My favorite single word in the English language is "foodandwine." This spirit drives my 45 published books and my weekly radio show heard in Houston, Dallas and Austin.

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