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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

TED'S RESTAURANT


In the early 90's my mom worked as a house mother for a University of Texas fraternity in Austin.  While there, she had a Ben E. Keith food salesman named "Ted" who was more than "just a salesman".  He and his son helped her out with the BBQ for Parent's Week-end and just made sure she was had the best food provisions service possible.  I told Mom we were going to go to South Padre Island, instead of our usual Port Aransas, for a vacation (1990) and she said "oh, you have to go to Ted's Restaurant - my salesman owns it...or used to own it...and his sister runs it now".  So, we went and it was the beginning of many happy years of breakfast for the whole family at Ted's.  Located on the bay side of Padre Blvd, next to a boat ramp, we often waited in quite a line to have our breakfast with "the locals" and "the tourists"...while we were in the second category.

Then, something changed.  I don't know what - but the family felt the food stopped being as fabulous as we recalled from year to year...and we just stopped going.  Then we moved here.  We just never resumed our usual habit of going to Ted's.  Unfortunately, in the restaurant business, it just takes one or two mediocre meals to throw the whole thing off kilter in your mind.  Still, I missed the vibe of Ted's.  My husband calls it a dive...I call it a locals joint.  Whatever, nothing else on the island quite replaced it for our breakfast pleasure.

Then, I started reading The Padre Puzzle, and the author and his wife, in real life, apparently love those Pecan Pancakes at Ted's.  I thought to myself that I needed to go back and check it out.  Maybe those few B- meals were a glitch.  I'd hate to be missing out on a once-beloved eatery over a glitch!

Today was my first free day following the Spring Break inundation and I headed East towards the island after dropping the teen at the high school.  The sun was gorgeous, the sky was clear, a little windy...but hey, it's March on the Gulf Coast...breezy is the norm.  It was just wonderful driving over the bridge without a thousand cars surrounding me and the streets were nearly empty on the island. 

I got to Ted's and it was easy parking (not always the case) and went in.  Not a dang thing had changed...the same posters on the walls, the same chalkboard showing pies, specials, and notifying you of their award winning fajitas.  I have to say...it felt like coming home.  At least 3 of the tables were filled with "familiar" folks - although I didn't really know anyone.  One lady came and took my drink order - looked really familiar - and commented on my book "that's a good book!" to which I responded "it IS, I can't hardly put it down!".  I ordered coffee which came in a charming mug (I looked around and all the mugs were different...just like at my house!).  Pitcher of creamer on the table so I was set.  Good coffee.  That's a good start!

I ordered the Island Breakfast - 2 eggs; choice of bacon, ham, or sausage; hash browns, and choice of toast, biscuits, or English Muffin.  I ordered my eggs over-medium, bacon, and biscuit.  My idea of a perfect American (or Island) breakfast.  I read my book and listened to the easy banter going around.  Everything was comfortingly familiar... and when the food got to my table, joy of joys, all the quality had returned to the way I remembered it...two fluffy and deliciously tender homemade-style biscuits, tasty crisp bacon, perfectly cooked eggs...a wonderful breakfast.  On top of it all, total $7.37.  Hard to beat :-)  With tip, under $10...that's the way I like it.  I must say, I cleaned my plate and drank two full cups of coffee.  It was wonderful.



So, then I'm outside taking a photo of the building when the familiar woman comes out...the one who took my order.  I stopped her and asked if she was the owner of Ted's Restaurant?  She said, yes, she owned the business.  We chatted a bit and I introduced myself and explained my connection with Ted via my Mom and asked if she was Ted's sister by chance?  She said yes and we chatted for a while longer.  It's really amazing to find a family-owned business that has hung in through thick and thin on South Padre Island.  They have been open since 1978 and she took over around 1982 or 83.  She said the land was originally owned by her parents but over time the land and building had been sold and she leased it to run the business.  We had a good chat and it was good to meet her.  Like any family, they've gone through hard times and good times...and to stay open for over 30 years in a resort town is quite the accomplishment.  Like I said, it was a pleasure meeting her and hearing a bit of Ted's Restaurant history.

I'll certainly be resuming my regular jaunts to Ted's Restaurant.  It is definitely a place the locals love! And, I surely do love being considered a local these days!  :-)

SPI FLIP FLOP FOODIE RATING:

3 – Pretty Yummy - I feel my flip flops wanting to head back from time to time!

Oh yeah, just a side bar... I went to the beach and looked to the left and to the right...not a soul present at that particular moment.  Ahhh...so begins one of my two favorite times of the year...post Spring Break pre Summer!!!
Bright sun, empty beach...Kite boarder had the beachfront to himself...the waves were rough though!
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