How do I love fresh, Gulf of Mexico shrimp? Let me count the ways. I love them boiled, sautéed, blackened, grilled, and fried. I love them crusted in coconut or pecans. And I love them wrapped around pepper jack cheese, simmered in peanut butter sauce, and pressed into quesadillas.
Any restaurant that does all this can only be called Shrimp Haus. And the fact is, Shrimp Haus, the appealing seafood restaurant at South Padre Island’s Schlitterbahn waterpark, does all that and more.
Now in its eighth year, Shrimp Haus has 31 shrimp dishes on the menu—26 entrées and five appetizers—and also offers shrimp sandwiches and buffalo shrimp (large, butterflied and fried shrimp served with 50 different sauces). “Those [sauces] range from very mild to they’ll-take-the-skin-off-your-tongue,” says Shrimp Haus food and beverage director David Clark. With this lineup, the restaurant easily lives up to its “101 Ways to Eat Shrimp” motto.
It’s tough to decide what kind of shrimp to have, so it’s probably good that the eatery is a short walk from the Schlitterbahn parking lot. You can mull the options as you trek across a long, covered wooden footbridge over beach, native wetlands, and a small pond. Finally, you reach the stairs or elevator (your choice) that will take you to the restaurant, on the second floor of a massive structure overlooking the waterpark and the Gulf of Mexico.
Schlitterbahn hosts visitors full-time from late May through early September, but the restaurant serves food year round. In summer, when the park is open, you can eat on the covered outdoor patio or side veranda, which together seat 300 people, and watch park revelers getting doused by buckets of water, shooting out of coiled tubes, or surfing one of the country’s largest man-made wave machines. After dark and in the off-season, most people sit indoors unless there’s a special outdoor concert or another event. With the park so quiet, the ambiance is that of a tranquil resort getaway.
From the June 2009 issue.