Grapevine’s got ‘great’ tuna tacos

South Texas Flavor

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Tuna fish tacos at Grapevine, located at 100 E. Swordfish St. on South Padre Island. (Travis M. Whitehead | Valley Morning Star)

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Fish tacos with corn.

Fish tacos … with corn?

I have never seen fish tacos with corn and I have never even conceived of such a pairing, but I’ve come to the Grapevine Café and Coffeehouse and I see before me that most intriguing dish.

More specifically they are tuna tacos, and they are one of many tantalizing listings on the menu. The menu also includes pork belly tacos, fajita plates, loaded nachos, the “Island Burger” and the ahi yellowfin tuna sandwich.

It’s mid-afternoon on a Sunday at the Grapevine at 100 E. Swordfish St. and this lively café will soon close, but customers eager and happy fill many tables and enjoy their meals. As I walk in, two or three groups of diners follow me into the restaurant, and I know such dedication can only come from good food.

A young man and his lovely female companion sit at a table next to a white brick wall beneath images of a dorado and a redfish. A waiter in his 30s or 40s speaks to them casually and in a familiar manner and it begins to appear that Grapevine has a regular clientele.

I would normally expect to find a familiar clientele in some of the café that have spent decades serving locals in the mid-Valley or San Benito or Harlingen but I think Grapevine on South Padre also has regulars. But I I think these regulars are people who travel here and when they are here they like to eat at Grapevine.

It’s a friendly and energetic place, very South Padre in its ambience, with light music and smooth vocals and a baseball game on a big screen TV. The music gives me cause to consider that I know very little about contemporary music. The music at Grapevine this afternoon is very good with great percussion and eloquent guitar licks and voices that blend very well.

Perhaps I should know more about contemporary music.

The tuna tacos are very good but then I notice they are a little pink in the middle. I pay it little mind at first, comparing it to sushi which I like very much. But as I drive back to Harlingen I become somewhat concerned. I message a friend along with a picture of the pink tuna and he advises purchasing ivermectin across the border in case the tuna has parasites. However, a friend who is a nurse says in fact it’s just like eating sushi and not to worry about it.

I later speak with Pastor Nathan Wendorf at St. Paul Lutheran Church and he says that in fact this is how tuna is supposed to be prepared and served, seared well on the outside and a little pink underneath. So, I realize I have had a new experience at Grapevine. Tuna tacos with corn, and the discovery of tuna and how it is to be prepared and consumed.

This has been a fine experience, and I look forward to returning.