The Gnarly Gar

18200 Lakepoint Cove
Point Venture, TX 78645
(512) 267-1845
Sun-Thu: 11:30am-10pm
Fri-Sat: 11:30am-Midnight

So Lake Travis is down a little bit this summer! So what’s a few feet among friends, and preferably friends with boats? Because friends and boats are what you’ll find at the neatest little floating restaurant north of Margaritaville. It’s called the Gnarly Gar at Point Venture Marina and it is a flat out blast.

Named after the Gar, one of the lake’s more interesting fish, you can access this cozy restaurant via boat or from land. Take 1431 to Lago Vista and then follow Lohman’s Ford to Point Venture.

The beauty of the Gnarly Gar is that the food is really quite good. Better than you’d expect from a little joint on the water. The first taste of the appetizers bear that out. The Pork Sliders feature roasted pulled pork a nice slaw, BBQ sauce and dill pickles. But the key is the moistness of the pork. It makes the sandwich work! Another fun dish is their take on Shrimp Diablo. I like the addition of the roasted Serrano peppers along with the traditional bacon. Also the strawberry dipping sauce offers a unique and pleasing flavor. The Gar also has one of the better Chile Con Queso dishes among waterfront spots. The queso is mellow and has a really nice texture. I prefer the version sans the ground beef. And the Mixed Garden Basket featuring fried Okra, Mushrooms and Zucchini is a fun and tasty concoction. It’s never over-fried and the homemade chipotle ranch dressing goes beautifully.

I would not expect a little restaurant on the lake to have a seriously good Cubano sandwich. But that’s exactly the case at the Gnarly Gar. This is the classic Cubano made of pulled pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, wonderful mustard and dill pickles on grilled, pressed French bread. This is a great sandwich. I also like the Cheese Steak. This is your vintage thin-sliced ribeye, with sautéed mushrooms, onions, bell peppers and importantly a nice white cheese. The tastes are authentic and the flavor is very good. And then there’s the Lobster Roll. That’s right, you heard me! These are Rock Lobster tails (warm water lobsters) resonate with a bit of mayo and big chunks of lobster served on a freshly grilled hot dog roll. The taste is engaging as all get out and a deal at $13.95! And the burgers here are really quite tasty and original. For example, when’s the last time you had a Peanut Butter Burger? Don’t ask me why but it works. I loved it! The Bacon and Mushroom Burger is likewise delicious, if a bit more traditional!

My favorite entrees at the Gnarly Gar fall into the fish category, and given its location, why not? The Fried Catfish is quite good and the corn meal breading absolutely works. The texture of this dish is excellent and that’s the key with Catfish. And do sample the Fried Shrimp. These are near prawn size and that size does nothing to deter the flavor. I think it enhances it! They make a neat tartar sauce at the Gar as well. And I am very partial to the blackened Tilapia. The chef really gets the right way to cook and present this popular filet.

So high water or low water, the lake is still the lake. And the Gnarly Gar is a fixture here. Eat, drink, listen to live music, and have a blast. We always do!

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