Fulton Beach, TX

I love this rustic shrimping village on the coast near Rockport. With dozens of shrimp boats working out of here, you’d think there would be a thriving gumbo shack, the kind where you walk up to a screened window and order a cup of shrimp gumbo like it was a cheeseburger. Not so. Alice Fay’s, a local restaurant on the bay, serves gumbo – that is, if the chef feels like cooking gumbo and if it’s your lucky day.  Alice Fay’s is just across the road from where we stay, Fulton Beach Bungalows. The bungalows are a 1940s tourist court that owners Juli and Gene are patiently restoring, bungalow by bungalow. Every time we visit, they’ve outfitted another bungalow with reclaimed decor or spruced up another part of the tropical grounds with interesting yard art – from crab nets to boat floats to old fishing gear. The perimeter of the property is delineated with lengths of rope strong enough to hoist an anchor for a tanker. I always wondered where Juli and Gene get their decorating treasures – eBay, garage sales, estate sales, auctions, pricey decorator? I discovered their secret while searching for a bowl of gumbo. Alice Fay’s chef wasn’t in the mood, so I figured, maybe just by chance, Charlotte Plummer’s, the touristy seafood restaurant down the road, might serve gumbo.  We asked for a table with a view so husband could watch the fishing boats. We got a corner view – forty-five degrees of boat dock and forty-five degrees of parking lot and dumpster. Charlotte Plummer’s doesn’t have gumbo on the menu – but the action around the dumpster was well worth ordering something else just to keep our seats. Playing out before our eyes, a city employee appears at the dumpster brandishing a handsome teak and brass whaling harpoon and begins to stab away at the contents of the dumpster. Seemingly interrupted, he leans his harpoon against the dumpster, looks towards the boats and turns and walks down the pier. Just about then our deviled crab arrived, and the dumpster action accelerated. We see Gene drive up and stop his pick up next to the dumpster. Like a man searching for something specific, he climbs out, walks around the dumpster, leans inside the dumpster, shakes his head “no” to the passenger in the truck, walks around the dumpster, shrugs his shoulders, casually examines the harpoon, picks it up and tosses it into the tailgate — one dumpster diver’s loss is a bungalow’s gain. Traveler’s Tip:  If Alice Fay’s chef isn’t in the mood, Big Fisherman, a big buffet on the way to Aransas (Port A, as the locals call it), serves gumbo which is surprisingly good for a seafood feeding trough the likes of Golden Corral. And there are some sights to behold there, too.

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About thegumbodiaries

On the search for the perfect gumbo!
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