Places to Eat

Black Pearl Oyster Bar: Galveston’s Delicious Seafood

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Galveston’s Black Pearl Oyster Bar has some of the best seafood on the island. Their oysters and other seafood are extremely fresh. Plus the friendly folks who wait on customers in the small restaurant/bar always bring out heaping platters of whatever you order from the menu.

My favorite dish is the seafood gumbo, available either by cup (($8.95) or bowl ($12.95). My husband and I first tried the Black Pearl at lunchtime eleven years ago. After a BOTI (born on the island) friend told us Black Pearl’s gumbo was his favorite, I couldn’t wait to try it. But when I ordered a bowl of gumbo, our waitress tried to warn me. She said it’s really a big bowl, maybe you’d rather try a cup instead? I told her if I couldn’t eat all of it, we’d take it back to our apartment. Or maybe my husband could help me with it.

Big Bowl of Gumbo!

Black Pearl Oyster Bar: Galveston's Delicious Seafood

Photo: Jo Ann Holt

When our diminutive waitress staggered back to the table with a huge bowl of gumbo, I saw what she meant. People all around were pointing and laughing (even my husband). A few were taking bets on whether I could finish that big bowl of gumbo.

I took their challenge. And to everyone’s surprise—including mine—I ate the whole thing. Or almost the whole thing. Black Pearl’s Cajun-style seafood gumbo has a rich roux, and brims over with crab meat, oysters, shrimp, and sausage. I gave my husband some of the sausage and my garlic toast, but nothing else. Although he kept hinting for more.

Black Pearl Oyster Bar: Galveston's Delicious Seafood

Photo: Jo Ann Holt

We journey down to Galveston four times a year, since one of our first purchases as a couple was a timeshare on the West beach. Galveston is our favorite get-away spot. There we unplug and do nothing but walk on the beach, read a lot, and eat at our favorite restaurants.

Thanks to their gumbo, Black Pearl quickly replaced several of my longtime favorite Galveston restaurants. Owned by local restaurateur Rudy Betancourt (The Press Box and Safari), Black Pearl is probably best known for their oysters. Ranging from raw to fried to Diablo, Haelen, and Rockefeller; or order an Oyster Three-Ways platter ($18.95). I love their fried oyster po-boy ($13.95), which (like most of their dishes) could easily feed two people. A side order of their giant onion rings could feed a family of four.

Black Pearl Serves Fresh Seafood

Black Pearl Oyster Bar: Galveston's Delicious Seafood

Photo: Jo Ann Holt

Fresh, grilled Gulf seafood ranges from flounder to snapper and tilapia. Catfish and salmon are also on the menu, along with giant shrimp cocktails, BBQ shrimp and shrimp po-boys. Fish tacos, crab cakes, and surprisingly, ribeye steaks, are also popular menu items. Their Louisiana roots show in items like Muffuletta sandwiches, Crawfish Etouffee. and Gator bites.

The Black Pearl is located a few blocks from the strand at 327 23rd Street. It’s not a very large restaurant, and stays packed from happy hour on through the night. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. Since we’re in Galveston to relax, we usually go right after they open for lunch so we don’t fight the crowds. Another bonus to having lunch at the Black Pearl is you can probably take home enough food for dinner!