Port Arthur Texas is an oil town. The oil business drives the economy and supporting businesses, such as the restaurants. Port Arthur is also a large seaport and local seafood is abundant and fresh, making for some great eating opportunities!
Besides eating, other things to do in and around Port Arthur Texas include: Tour Pompeiian Villa and McFaddin-Ward House, both are mansions built and lavishly furnished with oil money. Visit the Museum of the Gulf Coast with great displays of local music and sports halls of fame. Drive through the oil refineries to get to the magnificent Sea Rim State Park for some fun kayaking, hiking (gator spotting), and 7 miles of Gulf of Mexico shoreline. Explore the cattail wetlands at Tyrell Park in Beaumont.
McCool Travel 2020 update: while restaurants are not hosting guests during the social distancing paradigm, many of the following and other great Beaumont restaurants are serving the community with carryout service. Please support them and all Texas restaurants as often as possible.
The Schooner serves classic southeast Texas seafood dishes, and has for over 60 years. The menu is extensive so ease into your culinary research with a margarita. I decorated mine in true Mardi Gras fashion.
While I enjoyed the popular Shrimp Étouffée, I saw waitresses delivering many plates of grilled and blackened fish. Try to visit The Schooner between 11am and 3pm, when the lunch menu is in effect.
Larry’s French Market
During our Larry’s French Market dinner visit, 95% of the diners did one of two things: visit the Cajun buffet and/or order mega trays of crawfish.
We did neither since we had a large lunch (at The Schooner). Larry’s French Market still amazed us. We ordered a grilled fish entree and a few appetizers from the menu, while enjoying the local vibe around us. Several large groups, mostly families of professional fisherman (the Elite Redfish Series was in town) created a lively and festive atmosphere.
While waiting for our food, we explored the space and watched the line dancers on the other side of the building. Too much fun!
Tacos La Bamba, Beaumont
My Port Arthur tourism contact warned me that the tacos in Beaumont are outstanding. After a morning tour of the McFaddin-Ward House, we walked across the street to Tacos La Bamba for amazing Mexican food.
Three of us (not just me!) shared a pork platter and two taco samplers; create your own taco plate by selecting individual varieties. Everything tasted so good and reminded me of Southern California taco places.
Our visit to the area focused on the Southeast Texas Mardi Gras festival, which conveniently occurred on the Saturday prior to Mardi Gras. Convenient because we then experienced a second Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, Louisiana. You are welcome to ask me to compare the two!
With so much Mardi Gras going on, I definitely had to find some King Cake. My Beaumont tourism contact suggested a stop at Rao’s Bakery, a few blocks from Tacos La Bamba.
I did not expect to see so many varieties of king cakes. Besides being different sizes, the king cakes had various fillings. Rao’s was so good that the next day we had breakfast at their Port Arthur location.
Every time I left or entered my hotel—Holiday Inn on Jimmy Johnson Boulevard—I saw the below sign in the distance. Gotta love a place that flaunts like this.
Ironically, you guessed it, they did not have shrimp when we visited. OK, we did sneak in the place just before closing and it was a big day (the evening after the Southeast Texas Mardi Gras). Instead, we had drinks and an order of Boudin balls—melange of rice, meat, peppers, and seasonings, covered with bread crumbs, then deep fried and served with dipping sauces. I just discovered that the Bayou Cafe in Port Arthur is now closed but there is a Bayou Cafe in Beaumont.