Balinese Room

November 2011
"And everybody knows
It was hard to leave.
And everybody knows
It was down at the Balinese."

ZZ Top
Dusty Hill; Billy Gibbons; Frank Lee Beard

Balinese Ballroom -

Being a bit of a student of history the loss of the Balinese during the onslaught of the infamous storm, known as Ike, was a true heartbreak.

Balinese Room

The Balinese Ballroom has a long and infamous history. It was frequented by some of Hollywood's most elite, as well as some of the nefarious types one would expect in speakeasies and illegal gambling establishments.

They knew how to have fun at the Balinese. The gangsters that frequented the Balinese gave it a shady flavor that was un-irresistible to many.

Margarita named after Peggy Lee

As you see by the photograph, the Balinese claims fame for inventing the Margareta. I know there is a bar in El Paso that makes the same claim.

I don't care too much one-way or the other; I am too busy being impressed with the folks that entertained and hung out at the Balinese. Bob Hope, The Marx Brothers, George Burns and Frank Sinatra. Howard Hughes liked to hang out there as did Sophie Tucker. The list is a Hollywood's who's who - they all came to the Balinese.

Sam, Rose and Frank Maceo bought the Chop Suey Cafe in 1922. Before it was called the Balinese everyone knew it as Sui Jen. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the name was changed to Balinese.

The game that was played between Sam Maceo and the Texas Rangers is what legends are made of. It would take the Rangers, who had set up an office across the street from the restaurant, a while to get through the big glass doors at the entrance. By the time they walked the hundreds of feet to the end, the gaming tables had all been secured away in secret panels and the band was playing "The Eyes of Texas."

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Many will say that the doors were finally closed because the Rangers sat in the restaurant all day and discouraged the customers. There are others that will say it was due to Sam Maceo's death in 1951. Nobody could run a business like Sam.

The Balinese Room opened again in 2001. It was never the huge attraction it once was. It broke a lot of hearts to hear that on September 13, 2008, the Hurricane, known as Ike, totally wiped the building out.

Anyone Hungry? -

The advantage of knowing someone in an area you are visiting is they know the very best places to eat. After we established that I was not a picky eater and I love all foods, my hosts took me to a Greek restaurant.

Olympia Grill

Little did they know that Mediterranean is one of my all-time favorite cuisines. The Olympia Grill is on Seawall Boulevard just across from the 1900 Hurricane monument. They serve traditional as well unique Greek dishes. I have a thing for gyro so that is what I ordered. It was suberb and I have had only one better. One of my companions had the lamb. I had never seen lamb look quite like the serving they brought out. It very much resembled BBQ. I thought about it for a minute and it seemed perfectly normal for a Greek chef in Texas to prepare a fall-off-the-bone lamb to their patrons. Luckily I was given a sample and it had me wondering - "Gyro, what was I thinking?"

While we're on the subject of BBQ - The next night I thought I'd be on my own but no, my friends called me back from a photo shoot so I could join them for dinner at Queen's Bar-B-Que. It is slightly off the beaten path so take the address along with you.

Queen's was voted best BBQ in the county for their hickery-smoked Que. The sides were excellent. I enjoyed several and the slaw stood out as Biker - A
Olympia Grill

3428 Avenue S, Galveston, TX 77550 - (409)762-3151

After two nights out, I figured that I really was going to be on my own. Once again, that was not to be the case. When my friends learned it was by birthday, they insisted on taking me to another, non-tourist, restaurant. So far I'd had wonderful Greek and tantalizing Southern Que, so what would be next?

Ma Ma Mia - Di Bella's

1902 31st Street, Galveston, TX 77550 (409)763-9036

I drop down on my knees and bless the Italians for making such fine, fine food. Everything was prepared to perfection. Biker-A+

Well Buckaroos - There is much more I could write about Galveston Island but I think you get my point. Thinking of a little get-away? Put Galveston at the top of your list.

Ride em if ya go em!

Bonus PIX

The Balanese
Balanese before Ike

Ready to Invest?
Want to go into business?

Historic Landmark
Balanese After Ike

Reach for the Sun
Reach for the Sun

Margarita Invented
Margarita Invented

Bishop's Palace
Bishop's Palace

Purity Ice Cream
Not still in business

Bishop's Palace
Bishop's Palace

Galveston Home
The House that Lestat must have lived in
(A reference to the Anne Rice vampire character)