Nestled next to the lighthouse in Port Isabel (neighboring to South Padre Island), Manuel’s is truly a landmark for this region of Texas. Its an unassuming place, a small restaurant where the walls are adorned with football memorabilia, Scarface and the Godfather movie posters, and team photos from the local high school.. The service quick and well rehearsed. First off they’ll make sure you know about their tortillas. Fresh-made 18 inch flour tortillas filled the ingredients of your choice. “It’s like Burger King, you can have it your way,” the waiter mentioned on both of my visits.. More like taco heaven if you ask me..
The choices are endless, my buddy Svenson even had his filled with steak (uncut) and eggs! I chose the shrimp on my first visit and it was not a bad choice at all, considering the locale. When the taco comes, you cant believe how big it is. it doesnt even fit on the plate.. You are forced to eat the fillings for a while before the taco can even be closed.. and picked up for traditional munching.. Truly a wonderous taco experience.
Manuel’s solidified its world-class stature when it earned mention in Texas Monthly’s article “63 Tacos You Must Try Before You Die.” The magazine sited their machacado beef as a standout so I thought I would give it a try on my second trip. Machacado beef is dried beef, somewhat like a cross between the best parts of roast beef and beef jerky.. It has that chewy, slightly crunchy texture that is curiously delicious. When mixed with eggs, its achieves the same dynamic as bacon, you get the chewy & salty alongside the soft & fluffy – whats not to like?
To summarize, if I had a private jet, I would fly in to Port Isabel just to cure a hangover at Manuel’s.. its a magical place for taco lovers.. The beach and beautiful women of South Padre would be just an after-thought.
313 E Maxan St
Port Isabel, TX 78578
- Food Quality: 9 (hard to beat)
- Salsa: 6 (average)
- Atmosphere: 7 (low key)
- Service: 7 (a little above average)
- Price: 9 (alot of bang for your buck)
Total: 76% Rating: