Diners outside La Playa Mexican Grille

“Tacos + Margaritas = Happiness”

So says the handwritten sign that greet post-Harvey diners at La Playa Mexican Grille, a testament to owner Greg Villasana’s optimism.


222 Beach Ave, Port Aransas TX 78373
Open Tuesday-Saturday
(361) 749-0022

La Playa’s roof collapsed during Harvey and had to be removed. “Our restaurant was like a convertible,” recalls Villasana. Rain and wind pounded the interior, but the cinderblock walls held, as did the restaurant’s striking 4-by-6-foot painting of a man and woman by the late local artist Tiddle Caylor.

As the restaurant celebrates its 15th anniversary, La Playa’s menu options—one-half Tex-Mex and one-half seafood—draw crowds that form into lines on weekends. Both cuisines converge in one of La Play’s most popular dishes—crabmeat enchiladas with a roasted cream poblano. As for beverages, “We have one kind of gin and one kind of vodka, but 75 tequilas,” Villasana notes.

Villasana returned to Port Aransas after Harvey by a small boat when highway and ferry access was closed. His 1970s home was a total loss, eventually to be demolished, but La Playa seemed salvageable. Villasana and his son found temporary quarters in a townhouse with other restaurant owners, while he allowed a less fortunate resident to erect a tent on his vacant lot. During La Playa’s renovation, “We didn’t change much,” he says, wanting it “to feel like it always was.”

Amiable and soft-spoken, he says of La Playa’s revival, “I guess I felt really relieved. We were able to open and put people back to work.”

From the May 2018 issue
The March 2024 cover of Texas Highways Magazine

Get the Magazine

Save up to 62% off the cover price


Sign Up for Our Newsletters

Sign up for magazine extras, upcoming events, Mercantile specials, subscription offers, and more.