Photo courtesy of Margaritaville Resort South Padre Island

Dallas Parrotheads have a new coastal destination for frozen concoctions and cheeseburgers in paradise: Margaritaville has debuted its first-ever Texas beachfront resort on South Padre Island.

Opened June 12, it's the second Margaritaville Resort in Texas. The first, in landlocked Lake Conroe north of Houston, opened with much fanfare in covid-y 2020. There's also a Camp Margaritaville RV resort in the Galveston area.

According to a release, the family-friendly Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island is located just off the causeway in SPI, and offers all-ocean view rooms, several eateries, a spa, direct access to the beach, and the largest beachfront hotel pool on the island.

“We are thrilled to bring Margaritaville to the South Texas coast, allowing locals, guests, and visitors alike to experience a one-of-a-kind oasis,” says Rone Middler, the resort's general manager, in the release. “An easy drive or plane trip from the major metro areas of Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston and convenient access to Mexico, Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island provides the perfect getaway for guests of all ages looking for fun, relaxation, and adventure.”

Highline Hospitality Partners invested more than $30 million to transform the old Pearl Hotel South Padre into the new, bright turquoise Margaritaville Resort.

Highlights include:

  • 200 guest rooms and 50 beachfront condos with one-, two-, or three-bedroom configurations featuring rainfall shower, plush bedding, 55-inch TVs, mini fridges, St. Somewhere bath and body products, and more.
  • three restaurants and bars: LandShark Bar & Grill, with indoor and outdoor patio seating overlooking the Gulf of Mexico; the Salty Rim Bar & Grill, a swim-up bar mixing signature cocktails and bar noshes; and Joe Merchant‘s Coffee & Provisions, a grab-and-go spot for coffee and quick bites.
  • the largest hotel beachside pool on SPI, heated and surrounded by private cabanas and a separate kids' zone.
  • Hammock Row, featuring hammocks that swing and sway in the Gulf breezes under sky-high palm trees.
  • Sapphire Spa, with a menu of luxe treatments, a full hair and makeup salon, and fully equipped fitness center.

The resort concierge desk can arrange numerous beachside adventures, they say, from windsurfing and parasailing to offshore fishing and dolphin watching. Onsite beach chairs and umbrella rentals are available, and live musical entertainment is offered nightly.

They'll also host destination-meetings, special events, weddings, and more in their 8,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor event space.

And, in a fun South Padre twist, space enthusiasts can witness thrilling views of Space X activity on nearby Boca Chica Beach, without even leaving the hotel.

The resort is opening with a number of special packages that throw in fun extras like dining credits, cabana rentals, and more. According to the website, rates start around $275 per night.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

National restaurant magazine meticulously chooses San Antonio's best rising chefs

in good taste

Another week in San Antonio, another opportunity to celebrate chefs. But this time, it's insider praise, and trying their specialty dishes may lead to prizes.

Restaurant industry magazine StarChefs has named its 2023 Austin-San Antonio Rising Stars, which will appear in a print issue coming out in December. It promises "recipes, industry trends, business intel, beverage knowledge, new techniques, and a fresh dose of culinary inspiration," and features a frame-worthy Texas-themed cover.

To celebrate, it is also hosting Rising Stars Restaurant Week from December 1-15. Among this year's winners are 23 food and beverage professionals, making up the third class in Austin and San Antonio, and the 84th class nationally. Restaurant Weeks participants who order one of their featured dishes and post on social media may win a $100 gift certificate. There will also be a fan-voted plating competition between award winners.

If this sounds familiar, perhaps it's because CultureMap has a category of the same name in our annual Tastemaker Awards. CultureMap's Rising Star Chefs are usually sous and executive chefs who don't yet own their own restaurant but might soon; for StarChefs, it seems more like a blanket term for chefs who are very active in any stage of their careers. Kareem El-Ghayesh made both lists, but the rest are unique.

To ensure a careful choice, these awards are based less on StarChefs staff's memory of their cooking, but in a series of tastings and interviews with more than 100 professionals. The judges also take characteristics like food philosophy and leadership in the industry into account.

“In both Austin and San Antonio, we saw cities experiencing immense growth—with food and beverage professionals hustling to keep pace, matching the new energy with eagerness and innovation," said StarChefs managing partner Will Blunt in a press release. "And, more importantly, the Central Texas hospitality [industry] seems to be managing to ride the wave of rapid evolution while staying anchored in the community and true to the best version of itself.”

StarChefs coverThe print issue features cute grackles enjoying a plate of Texas barbecue.starchefs.com

The winners are divided into several categories. The primary category is "Chefs," dominated by Austin chefs: Kareem El-Ghayesh of KG BBQ, Geoff Ellis of Mum Foods Smokehouse and Delicatessen, Rich Reimbolt of Better Half Coffee & Cocktails, Keith Rzepecki of Hestia, and Amanda Turner of Olamaie. San Antonio was represented by a single winner: Emil Oliva of Leche de Tigre.

Arjav Ezekiel and Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel of Birdie’s (in Austin) are frequently included in best-of lists, and this time is no different. The couple was selected as "Game Changers," presented by S.Pellegrino, meaning that their efforts have an innovative twist. Here's what the click-through bio says on the official winners list:

"Their relaxed counter service model, along with the caliber of their wine program — and the execution and hyper-fixation on seasonality in the food program — serves as a bastion for a new way of thinking about elevated service. Tracy and Arjav are able to offer their employees [livable] wages, extensive paid time off, and a number of other benefits due to their commitment to their reimagined business model."

San Antonio turned the tides in the "Restaurateurs" category, presented by Jade Range. All three winners were from San Antonio: Nicola Blaque of The Jerk Shack and Mi Roti; and Andrew Ho and Sean Wen of Curry Boys BBQ, Pinch Boil House, and Wurst Behavior. Individual chefs can't be two places at once, but these powerful players have demonstrated that their ideas will keep contributing to the local scene as they build them out.

"You know, we never really like to call ourselves restaurateurs, or any sort of title, cause we never feel like we deserve that sort of title," wrote Ho and Wen on Instagram in response to the win. "So, instead, we just gonna send a huge shoutout to everyone that comes by and supports our restaurants (@pinchboilhouse, @wurstbehaviortx, @curryboysbbq)! We genuinely appreciate the love we get from y’all. We spend our lives tirelessly thinking about how we can give the community badass, unique experiences and these are the moments that it makes us realize it mayyyy be worth it 🫠😉!"

Both cities shared the spotlight in the "Community" category, presented by Resy. According to the release, it "Recognizes professionals who are deeply connected to the local hospitality community, dedicate their time to community outreach, and are ultimately catalysts for involving members of the culinary community in important initiatives." The award went to Dustin Baker of Roadmap Brewing Co., and Edgar Rico of Nixta Taqueria.

The rest of the categories contained only Austin professionals:

  • Concept: Brian Batch and Ryan McElroy of Bird Bird Biscuit
  • Pastry Chefs: Derrick Flynn of Este and Suerte; and Casandra Perez-Martinez of Comedor
  • Bartender: Erin Ashford of Holiday
  • Sommeliers: Alex Wheatley Bell of Aviary Wine & Kitchen; and Rania Zayyat of Bufalina
  • Artisans: Ben and Phoebe Hollander of Casper Fermentables; and Will Jaquiss of Meanwhile Brewing Co.
  • Mentor (cohort voted): Fiore Tedesco of L'Oca D'Oro.

Even if a restaurant is not on your list to visit, it's worth it to check out the interactive winners list for recipes. Find those and order the 2023 Austin-San Antonio print issue ($5) at starchefs.com.

'Hottest comic in America' Sebastian Maniscalco heads to San Antonio in 2024

Funny Guy

Comedian, actor, and podcast host Sebastian Maniscalco will soon embark on the huge It Ain’t Right tour, an all-arena jaunt that includes a stop at San Antonio's Frost Bank Center on Sunday, August 11.

The tour is Maniscalco's biggest to date, traveling to 47 cities over the course of five months. In addition to San Antonio, the tour will stop in Houston on August 8, Austin on August 9, and Dallas on August 10.

Hailed by The New York Times as the "hottest comic in America," Maniscalco has been performing for over two decades, ramping up from small clubs to arena shows. He has starred in six comedy specials for Netflix, Showtime, and Comedy Central.

He's also proven to be a force in film, television, and podcasting. He has a new series, Bookie, premiering on November 30 on MAX, and he's recently been seen in movies like The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Somewhere in Queens with Ray Romano and Laurie Metcalf, and About My Father, a film which he co-wrote and which was also his first role as a leading man.

Maniscalco currently co-hosts two podcasts, Daddy vs. Doctor and The Pete and Sebastian Show, and is the author of the best-selling memoir, Stay Hungry.

Tickets will be available starting with artist presale beginning on Wednesday, November 29. Additional presales will run throughout the week ahead of the general on-sale beginning on Friday, December 1 at 10 am via Ticketmaster.


  • Thu Jul 11 – Norfolk, VA – Norfolk Scope Arena
  • Fri Jul 12 – Raleigh, NC – PNC Arena
  • Sat Jul 13 – Asheville, NC – ExploreAsheville.com Arena
  • Thu Jul 18 – Jacksonville, FL – VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena
  • Fri Jul 19 – Savannah, GA – Enmarket Arena
  • Sat Jul 20 – Atlanta, GA – State Farm Arena
  • Sun Jul 21 – Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
  • Thu Aug 08 – Houston – Toyota Center
  • Fri Aug 09 – Austin, TX – Moody Center
  • Sat Aug 10 – Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center
  • Sun Aug 11 – San Antonio, TX – Frost Bank Center
  • Thu Aug 15 – Phoenix, AZ – Footprint Center
  • Fri Aug 16 – San Diego, CA – Viejas Arena
  • Sun Aug 18 – San Francisco, CA – Chase Center
  • Thu Sep 12 – Orlando, FL – Amway Center
  • Fri Sep 13 – North Charleston, SC – North Charleston Coliseum
  • Sat Sep 14 – Charlotte, NC – PNC Music Pavilion
  • Wed Sep 18 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
  • Thu Sep 19 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
  • Thu Sep 26 – Pittsburgh, PA – PPG Paints Arena
  • Fri Sep 27 – Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center
  • Sat Sep 28 – Washington, DC – Capital One Arena
  • Sun Sep 29 – Wilkes-Barre, PA – Mohegan Sun Arena
  • Thu Oct 03 – Albany, NY – MVP Arena
  • Fri Oct 04 – Boston, MA – TD Garden
  • Sun Oct 06 – Hershey, PA – GIANT Center
  • Thu Oct 17 – Winnipeg, MB – Canada Life Centre
  • Sat Oct 19 – Edmonton, AB – Rogers Place
  • Sun Oct 20 – Calgary, AB – Scotiabank Saddledome
  • Thu Oct 24 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
  • Fri Oct 25 – Seattle, WA – Climate Pledge Arena
  • Sat Oct 26 – Portland, OR – Moda Center
  • Wed Nov 06 – Milwaukee, WI – Fiserv Forum
  • Fri Nov 08 – Chicago, IL – United Center
  • Sat Nov 09 – Chicago, IL– United Center
  • Sun Nov 10 – Dayton, OH – Nutter Center
  • Thu Nov 14 – Youngstown, OH – Covelli Centre
  • Fri Nov 15 – Rochester, NY – Blue Cross Arena
  • Sat Nov 16 – Buffalo, NY – KeyBank Center
  • Sun Nov 17 – Syracuse, NY – Oncenter War Memorial Arena
  • Thu Nov 21 – Montreal, QC– Bell Centre
  • Fri Nov 22 – Toronto, ON – Scotiabank Arena
  • Sun Nov 24 – Ottawa, ON – Canadian Tire Centre
  • Wed Dec 04 – Estero, FL – Hertz Arena
  • Sat Dec 07 – Tampa, FL – Amalie Arena
  • Thu Dec 12 – Omaha, NE – CHI Health Center
  • Fri Dec 13 – Peoria, IL – Peoria Civic Center Arena
  • Sat Dec 14 – St. Louis, MO – Enterprise Center
  • Sun Dec 15 – Des Moines, IA – Wells Fargo Arena

Hot Houston hotel deals guarantee a merry and bright vacation this holiday season

Home For the Holidays

It's the time of year when downtown Houston transforms into a shiny, sparkly, magical holiday wonderland, and you won't want to miss it.

Ready to experience the magic of the holiday season in Houston? Here's what to see and where to stay.

City Lights Downtown Holiday Magic
Take a stroll through 11 themed holiday villages, which encompass everything from life-sized chocolate sculptures to the state's biggest mistletoe to ice skating under the stars.

Grab a free ride from village to village in one of the festively decorated pedicabs provided by Downtown Houston+. Locate the holiday pedicab pickup stations at Discovery Green, Lynn Wyatt Square, POST Houston, Trebly Park, and Market Square Park.

For a nominal fee, guests can ride in a holiday-decorated double-decker trolley to five downtown stops: Trebly Park, Heritage Society, Avenida Houston/Discovery Green, Market Square Park, and POST Houston.

You'll also want to pick up a holiday passport from Market Square Park, Trebly Park, or Heritage Society for the chance to win awesome prizes, including a downtown holiday staycation package with a one-night stay at Hotel Icon, four tickets to a Theater District performance, and four tickets to a Houston Rockets game.

Happy hotel deals
Whether you're in town on vacation or keeping it close for a staycation, you'll want to bookmark these incredibly festive hotel offers.

Marriott Marquis Houston
Experience Texas Winter Lights at Marriott Marquis Houston at the Altitude Rooftop & Pool, famous for its Texas-shaped lazy river. Through December 31, 2023, it is transformed into an interactive light experience with thousands of twinkling lights and winter-themed activations. Guests can enjoy immersive light displays from 5-10 pm nightly.

The basic experience is complimentary for all hotel guests, but if you want a real VIP experience, upgrade your experience at Texas Winter Lights with promo code HOL, which includes VIP access to Texas Winter Lights for up to four people (including the brand-new interactive experience, the Virtual Reality Ride), $25 food and beverage credit, and upgrade to the pool-view guest room.

Hilton Americas-Houston
Get into the holiday spirit with the ´Tis The Season package, which includes a daily breakfast buffet, one complimentary Green Mountain Energy Ice ticket for ice skating at Discovery Green next-door, and a child’s treat upon arrival. Valid through January 28, 2024.

Hallmark enthusiasts will be enchanted by Hilton’s most festive collab of the year: an incredible partnership with Hallmark Channel to bring guests the most joyous, fun, and fabulously decorated two-bedroom Hallmark Holiday Suites. Inspired by the original Hallmark holiday movie premiere of Haul Out The Holly: Lit Up, these festive suites feature jaw-dropping holiday designs and light treatments throughout, including a holiday village, a gingerbread and cocoa bar, takeaway holiday gifts, and more (through December 31, 2023).

Other holiday offers at Hilton Americas-Houston you might want to checkout include Breakfast, Parking & WiFi: Enjoy your getaway with a full breakfast buffet for two, self-parking for one car, and WiFi; Park & Stay: Get daily parking each night of your stay; Experience the Stay: With an on-property credit and additional perks, like premium WiFi and early check-in.

Four Seasons Hotel Houston
Houston Getaway offer, valid for selected dates and with a minimum two-night stay, includes 20 percent off the room rate along with valet parking.

With Residents Retreat Package, you receive 10 percent off the room rate, daily full American breakfast for two served at Toro Toro or through in-room dining, and valet parking for one vehicle. Proof of Texas or Louisiana residency is required at check-in.

Advance Purchase allows you to save up to 25 percent on the room rate when you book your stay at least seven days in advance.

Don’t forget to visit The Spa and get a Peppermint Peace Massage, available only through the holiday season, to revitalize, hydrate and brighten the skin. You will also receive a travel-size peppermint scrub as a gift to continue the holiday spa experience at home.

C. Baldwin
With a Short & Suite package at the urban-chic C. Baldwin hotel, enjoy 15 percent off the best available rate for any of the suites and relish in the comfort of a sophisticated stay. And if you are traveling with your furry friend, check out the Pet Package — it includes waiving the pet fee, delicious treats, and complimentary overnight parking.

Hotel ZaZa Houston Museum District
For an exotic and unforgettable party on December 31 (10 pm-2 am), reserve the NYE at ZaZa package. It includes overnight accommodations, two NYE party wristbands at check-in, and New Year’s Day elevated brunch for two guests per room, including mimosas and more.

Dress to impress in your best cocktail attire and dance to today’s hottest hits. Enjoy wine, beer, and cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, decadent activations, heightened experiences and spectacular entertainment, and a lavish midnight countdown and bubbly toast. NYE party and brunch are exclusive to overnight guests of Hotel ZaZa.

Westin Collection - Houston Galleria
You don't even need to leave the building to shop in one of the largest malls in America, if you stay at The Westin Oaks Houston at The Galleria or The Westin Galleria Houston, two hotels directly attached to The Galleria mall, Houston's most celebrated retail and dining destination with over 400 stores, 70 of which are unique to the Houston area.

Through December 31, both hotels offer the Holiday Shop-cation Getaway, which includes deluxe accommodations, complimentary Wi-Fi, free valet parking, and a $50 gift card to use at the mall. Use promo code ZJL when booking.

JW Marriott by The Galleria
Make precious family memories with the Indoor Ice Skating package at the completely renovated JW Marriott Houston by The Galleria. In addition to luxury overnight accommodations and complimentary self-parking, you'll receive two tickets for admission to the indoor skating rink at The Galleria Mall along with vouchers for skate rental. Use promo code 11P (valid until December 11, 2023).

The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa
Perks & Presents package (available through December 30, 2023) lets you step into a magical wonderland this season, with twinkling trees, splendid décor, Houston's largest mistletoe kissing ball, and a Merry Mansions gingerbread house display above the Great Room Lobby's 30-foot fireplace.

Enjoy holiday entertainment by the fire, a menu of delectable holiday cocktails, and a collectible Kitty Keller ornament to hang on your tree. This holiday package includes specially priced guest room accommodations, two complimentary holiday themed cocktails at The Bar at The Houstonian per stay, a hand-painted glass Merry Mansions holiday ornament ($36 value), complimentary transportation to The Galleria and River Oaks District for holiday shopping and dining, complimentary holiday coloring books and crayons for children in-room, complimentary self-parking, late check-out on Sunday if applies to stay, and access to the exclusive Houstonian Club with three temperature-controlled pools. No resort fees and convenient 48-hour cancellation policy.

Hotel Zaza Memorial City
Hotel Zaza Memorial City, a haven of oversized, well-appointed accommodations — including Concept Suites and The Magnificent Seven Suites — and thought-provoking art, has created the perfect Winter Wonderland Spa Package to treat yourself after an incredibly busy year.

Indulge in a 120-minute session featuring a hot stone massage to help you relax and ease tense muscles, and a holistic facial to give your skin a pleasant refresh (available through December 22, 2023).

The Moran CityCentre
Located at the heart of one of Houston’s favorite shopping, dining, and lifestyle destinations, The Moran CityCentre is offering its Citycentre Steakation Package. This special offer includes a $100 restaurant gift card for every night of your stay. Use your gift cards at The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, or Yard House, all steps away from the hotel, and experience the vibe of CityCentre.

Blossom Hotel Houston
This new hotel, inaugurated in February 2022, is located near Texas Medical Center and NRG Stadium. Stay two-plus nights and receive 15 percent off with the Stay Longer & Save Package.

Texas residents enjoy 10 percent off the best available rate plus two welcome drinks in the lobby lounge with Texas Resident Rate offer. A Valid Texas ID is required at check-in. Suite Promotion allows you to receive a one-time $100 food and beverage credit when you book a three-night stay in one of the luxurious suites.

Explore this Houston Hotel Guide and more hotel deals in Houston.