Where new owners are upping the steaks
The aura of yesteryear still burns strong at this classic American restaurant and bar, which is in a downtown Galveston building constructed in 1844 and from which everything from groceries to ice cream to cigars has been sold. The building also once operated as a rooming house and a saloon before becoming a fine-dining destination, making The M&M Restaurant & Bar a place to drink in some of the island’s history. The restaurant’s balance of preservation and evolution makes guests feel as if they’re existing a little bit outside of time and it’s a delightful limbo in which to be.
Once inside, The M&M has an alluring ambience. Dark wood and deep booths with an antique bar flanking an entire wall emanates cool and calm. Model ships give a nod to the nearby port. Rat Pack standards play faintly in the background. If it weren’t for the main dining room’s windows looking out onto the street, patrons might suspect they’ve stumbled into a speakeasy.
The food is straightforward and delicious; the drinks are strong. The restaurant’s award-winning Avocado Pancakes, served warm and topped with jumbo lump crabmeat and fresh pico de gallo, are a standout on an appetizer menu. The Shrimp Campechana, another starter, beckons on a balmy evening. Served with freshly fried corn chips, this chilled Mexican seafood cocktail has a hint of heat and chunks of creamy avocado. Both choices pair well with The M&M’s weekday happy hour.
The M&M’s lunch menu draws inspiration from its building’s history. Joe “Moose” Maffei once operated an infamous saloon and sandwich shop where women weren’t welcome and picked up their sandwiches from a side window. His establishment shuttered in the early 1980s. Today’s patrons can choose from a dozen savory sandwiches, burgers and po’boys. Lighter portions of the restaurant’s surf-and-turf dinner dishes also are available midday.
Patrons arriving for dinner can select hand-cut U.S. Department of Agriculture certified Black Angus steaks and USDA aged prime filets and bone-in rib-eyes cooked to order. Mouthwatering toppings, including Bleu Cheese Fondue, are available. Multiple preparations of fresh Gulf snapper, grouper and tuna, in addition to bay-caught shrimp and crab, make for a satisfying seafood meal. The generous tray of fried oysters is deceivingly simple and wildly tasty. The chef’s deft use of seasoned batter doesn’t mask the briny flavor of these local bivalves. Traditional chicken and pasta dishes make it easy for anyone to order a delicious entree.
A classic restaurant may be hard to define, but the simmering ambience, food, service and style at The M&M can transport guests to a different decade altogether.
The M&M Restaurant & Bar
2401 Church St., Galveston