5 Ways to Bask in History at Tarpon Inn and Roosevelt's
Turn off your cell phone and take off that watch, you’re on Tarpon time! Named for the area’s once teeming abundance of the mighty fish, the Tarpon Inn and sister restaurants have lured anglers from across the globe – one of the most notable being President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
1. Fish Tales You Don’t Even Have to Fib About
Over 7,000 tarpon scales cover one of the lobby walls at this legendary Port Aransas site, all signed and dated by anglers who made the catch (FDR’s is kept in a frame and pointed out upon guests’ arrivals).
Port A’s tarpon heyday lasted only until the mid-1950s. Nowadays, tarpon guides know when and where to follow the feisty fish on their migration a few miles offshore in the gulf. Aside from tarpon migration season, the area is loaded to the gills, year-‘round with great fishing. The Inn is conveniently located in the heart of all the action: Fisherman’s Wharf is just a stroll away, and Dolphin Docks, Roberts Point Park and the pier at I.B. Magee Beach Park are nearby.
Q: Why do tarpon swim either clockwise or counter-clockwise around the Gulf of Mexico on their annual migrations?
A: Because they can’t walk.
2. Unplug, Relax and Recharge
Tropical hues, rows of swaying palms and simple pier-and-beam coastal elegance are the Tarpon Inn’s welcome mat. Rooms here come sans-telephone-and-television by design*, perfect for embarking on a quest for peace and quiet. The inviting rocking chairs aren’t merely quaint reminders of a time gone by, they’re meant for reading a book, taking a snooze or jawing with the neighbors.
*(Rooms in the inn’s expanded Tarpon Flats section have TVs and phones, and the entire property offers Wifi.)
3. Fish Tales Over Cocktails
What do you mean this building looks Key-West-style? In Key West, we'll have you know, they call this particular form of architecture Coastal Bend-style! OK, we may have made that up, but in any case, this is the place to enjoy warm hospitality and a frosty bevvie. The Tarpon Bar & Grill is a friendly, two-story café, with a top deck perfect for throwing back a cold one while enjoying a balmy breeze.
Site kitchen manager Daniel mixes a mean blackberry mojito to complement the wow-worthy menu featuring shrimp ceviche tostadas, shrimp and grits and a pineapple bacon burger that’s as taste-bud poppin’ as it sounds.
4. Dining Fit for a Prez
Roosevelt’s Fine Dining is a cozy, intimate establishment worthy of being named after America’s New Deal president, who came to the island aboard the U.S.S. Potomac, aka the “Floating White House,” to relax and fish.
Chef Clint oversees the classic menu featuring palate pleasers like a warm spinach salad that hits that perfect spot between garden-fresh and comfort-food oomph, tempting bacon-wrapped Firecracker Tenderloin appetizer, to-die-for Chicken Involtini, and a Ribeye that might make you cry.
And if you get us started on their deep wine list, the desserts (oh my, Key Limon Pie – a Texas take on that tangy classic) and the attentive staff, well, we might just not ever stop.
5. In Keeping With Innkeeping…
The Tarpon Inn was first built in 1886 (and don’t mind us as we humble brag that it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places). The structure itself has experienced some serious shifts due to fire and hurricanes. Current owner Lee Roy Hoskins purchased the inn in 2008 and has been designing improvements ever since, evident by the number of return customers (approximately 70% repeat Texans) each year.
Breezy new innkeeper Candy joined the crew in the summer of 2016. She’s been in the field for two decades at a number of inns in New England and the Southwest. As she gets to know the area, she noted that a lot of Tarpon’s guests go in for shopping, fishing, or a day out on St. Joe’s Island.
Come say hi to Candy and the gang, and plan to make some of your own history in the Coastal Bend.