Search The South Padre Island Flip Flop Foodie Blog!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Marchan's White Sands Motel, Marina, and Restaurant

(See update at bottom of post)

A friend of mine sent me an email asking me to review Marchan's in Port Isabel.  I thought "oh dear" because I had only eaten at Marchan's once and I wasn't overly impressed.  While the view was very enjoyable, it was crowded, the items my husband and I had were unmemorable, the service was slow...I never went back.  That, however, was over 18 months ago.  My sister and her husband and sons think Marchan's has the best breakfast tacos in the area but I'd just never made it back after my one lukewarm trial.  If I mention it, my husband gives a quick "nuh uh", as in no way.  So, this morning I decided, as I was on my way to the island to check out the storm damage and scan the area for breakfast options, to instead make a quick u-turn and go to White Sands Marina/Motel, the home of Marchan's instead.  It's a scenic little place - the old fashioned drive-up-to-the-door motel geared to fishermen.  The marina has a gas pump and a bait stand and it is where my sons always go to meet Captain Jack Barton for their fishing excursions.  The restaurant is fairly nondescript from the outside but does have a great water view of the Port Isabel deep water canals.  Always lots of gulls and pelicans lurking about - so, scenic in a non-South Padre kind of way.  (Not touristy is what I mean by that comment)  The one time we went it was filled to the brim with locals and gritty looking fishermen (and fisherwomen) and it was a lot bigger on the inside than I expected.  Definitely a locals joint.

Anyway, I pulled in to the restaurant parking area and it looked like there was only one other car there besides mine.  It is a Wednesday morning, the first week of "off season" and past the time folks stop in on the way to work or on the way out to fish.  Perfect...I was in the need of a little quiet and I had a book.  I was open-minded and ready to relax.  Boy, am I glad I made THAT decision!

The server told me to sit anywhere so I took the table in the middle - the only other patron was on her cell phone and obviously just finishing up.  I ordered coffee and perused the menu.  The coffee was good and the cream was not skim milk (that's a good thing) and was in an icy cold little stainless pitcher.  I like half and half in my coffee and I despise when I ask for cream and I get skim milk.  I'd rather skip the coffee if that's the way it is.  So, off to a good start.  One of the first things I noticed was a plaque on the wall from Coastal Living magazine naming them one of the Best Seafood Dives.  I thought that was a good sign!

They had a good menu selection - basic breakfast combos (eggs, meat, potatoes, and toast), breakfast tacos in burrito-sized tortillas, omelets, migas, breakfast gorditos (a kind of Mexican pocket bread) are the items I remember off the top of my head.  The server brought my attention to the dry-erase board for the specials of the day - biscuits and gravy for $1.99 and sausage and egg taco for $2.50.  Once I'd confirmed the taco with sausage and egg was not involving chorizo (not my favorite), I decided to order that and had cheese added for an extra 50 cents.  My sister's family said to order the breakfast tacos...I assumed they knew what they were talking about!

While I waited for my food, more patrons arrived - 2 older fishermen on the last day of their fishing trip, a couple of older ladies who were obviously local and known to the server, an older couple who looked like they had just rolled out of bed...I like to people watch as much as I like to see what they order :-)  My food came out fairly quickly and it was a gigantic taco filling up a 12 inch ironstone platter.  My waitress brought a squeeze bottle of obviously freshly made salsa and a squeeze bottle of catsup.  Diner style - love it.  The taco was so huge there was no way to pick it up daintily so I went for the open face method.  I squeezed a bit of salsa to the side to make sure it was to my liking - it was quite good - had a burn but not vicious.  I hate it when the burn destroys my taste buds and i can't taste my food.  So, I gave the taco a good slathering of salsa on half of it and got to work.  It was DELICIOUS.  The ground sausage was tasty and not greasy and still in good sized chunks.  The cheese was cheddar and melted to stringy deliciousness.  The eggs were fluffy - not too wet and not too dry... just right.  The best though... the tortilla.  It tasted freshly made and had been lightly grilled - just the way I like it.  I ate and ate and just couldn't finish it.  I was starving when I arrived but I couldn't eat more than 2/3 of it (see picture of what I couldn't handle).  Normally one takes pictures of the just served food.  Truly, though, when I thought about doing that I though "hmm, it just looks like a taco" so I blew it off.  At the end of the meal though, I was so in love with it, I needed a photo to remember it by!

Then, the good part - my total bill was $5.25 - more food than I could eat and a good cup of coffee - for $!

Just goes to show you - always try, again, a restaurant everyone says is wonderful - even if your first try is not so wonderful.  Now, I'll have to go for a lunch and a dinner...but maybe not Sunday lunch like we did before...when it was packed and rushed.  Marchan's reminded me of the places my parents took us for breakfast when we travelled.  It's old school - nothing fancy - far from it.  The boats coming and going, the pelicans swooping in to land (less than gracefully), and the people chattering all around will keep you entertained - and now I know, the breakfast is DEFINITELY worth returning for!

Side note - I saw someone's biscuits - they were open faced and grilled - just like at Grapevine Cafe.  Is this a Rio Grande Valley thing?  Or have I just missed out on this concept?  I'm still inclined towards fluffy biscuits - but thought I'd mention it since I saw it on a plate going by!

2.5 – A satisfactory meal –I’d try it again

Updated Rating Due to Below:
1 – Okay – but I’ve definitely had better – not sure that I’d return

December 19, 2010 UPDATE

We had some errands to run in Port Isabel at the noon hour and my son asked if we could eat lunch "at that place we go fishing".  I asked "Do you mean White Sands - where you meet Captain Jack?"  He replied affirmatively and I said, "the restaurant there is Marchan's - you want to go there?"  He again said yes, so in we rolled. 

At 12:30 on Sunday I was surprised to find only a few tables filled and the water front area wasn't even open.  Huh.  So, we took a booth with a decent view of the water from afar, commenting on how smooth the bay was after days of choppy, windy weather.  Our waitress was really nice, prompt, and friendly.  I ordered Carne Guisada plate with corn tortillas and the teen ordered a burger and fries as usual.  Our food came out really quickly.  The menu said mine came with a salad - but there was just beans and rice (both were dry) but the carne guisada looked good and I didn't really care about the salad so I didn't mention it.  The tortillas were flour instead of corn - but oh well - I wasn't in a complaining mood and I didn't instantly see our waitress so I just started with what I had.  The teen and I were having a lively conversation and I didn't want to upset the flow (it's rare that we have a lively conversation at a restaurant - but this one had no background noise - so it was possible to converse!).  All was well until I bit into a twig of something...I thought maybe it was from some thyme or some other herb (not that I could see ANY visible herb in the sauce).  Two bites later, something else felt funny in my mouth and I pulled out "something" - again, favorably thinking of the cooking process, thought maybe it was part of a dried chili pod.  THEN, two bites later...a big piece of plastic was pulled out of my mouth...and that was the end of that.  I let the waitress know when she brought my check - by pointing out the items on my napkin.  She looked appalled and snatched it up and said she would let the kitchen know - that was absolutely NOT okay.  She then brought me a revised bill with the carne guisada plate charge removed.   Fairly disappointing meal but excellent and appropriately responsive waitress.  Here's a photo of the two bigger "items" in my food.  Diners beware!  I know that "stuff happens" in kitchens - but really - 3 different ickies???

Items found in my Carne Guisada Plate

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated - you should see it within a few hours if approved! Spam or marketing comments are immediately deleted. Thank you!!!