Manuel’s – Port Isabel, TX

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?
Manuel's - Port Isabel, TX

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
(956) 943-1655



  • 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: ★★★★☆


11 thoughts on “Manuel’s – Port Isabel, TX

  1. there are several places in Port Isabel that serve these behemoth tacos…I guess they’ve been trying to out-whataburger each other….Though Manuels is probably the biggest & best of the bunch.


  2. yeah.. multitoods of issues with the site all at once.. slowly getting back to normal.. the webmaster’s job is never done tho..
    praise jah.

  3. A lot of places in the Rio Grande Valley have tacos that are TO DIE FOR.. none of that tex-mex yellow cheese crap. I recommend going to Matamoros one of these days (if you haven’t already… I havent looked around that much)… the taquitos are the best.. especially after a night of drinking. Salud!

  4. I went to S. Padre for Labor Day weekend last year with my friend who is from Port Isabel. I have to say the breakfast burritos there are AMAZING, I couldn’t believe how big they were.

  5. Manuel’s has great tacos however I do believe that Isabel’s Cafe started the “con todo” trend with their tacos.

  6. I have not lived there for over 20 years now and Manuel’s is still my favorite place to eat!!!!!

  7. Head back to the island for the yearly trip can’t ait to get to Manuel’s for tacos and coffee, every morning.

  8. Just ate at Manuel’s yesterday and they do in fact use the “Burger King” line. While the tacos certainly are yum, the guacamole had us barking like dogs.

  9. Travel Tip:
    When my husband and I leave Paradise (Port Isabel)…we
    order 2 breakfast tacos for the road. I ask Joe to cut them in half and wrap them separately in foil….! There is nothing
    better for a road trip!

    We vote them The BEST HANDMADE Flour Tortillas in Town!
    Tina P.

  10. Lived in S. Padre for years….in the 90’s…and am glad to hear Manuel’s is still great. My favorite place to eat! The contodo is perfect and a meal for two. I will be visiting soon and its on my priority list. If u are visiting be prepared to wait but is worth it. Mark Austin

Leave a Reply