The San Jacinto Inn was a Houston area favorite, offering seafood dishes and its family-style meals. They were served in huge portions and designed to be shared among the others at the table.
On the Menu
The restaurant’s menu was all-you-can-eat, including shrimp, crab, oysters, and fish, as well as chicken dishes. Vegetables included mashed potatoes, green beans, and corn on the cob. And the biscuits – oh, the biscuits!
A Bit of a Trek
The San Jacinto Inn was located near the San Jacinto Monument in La Porte, Texas, which is about 25 miles southeast of Houston. The inn actually pre-dated the monument. In fact, the restaurant often supplied food to workers during construction of The San Jacinto Monument.
This is the site where, in 1836, the Texians defeated Santa Ana to effectively gain Texas independence from Mexico. It is also the location where the Battleship Texas was anchored during the lifetime of The San Jacinto Inn. (The battleship has since been moved.)
It began as a small eatery on the north side of the Houston Ship Channel opened by Jack and Bertha Sanders in 1918. Fire wiped out the first place, which had only five tables. The couple moved to a new location which would one day place it near the Battleship Texas. That building, too, burned to the ground in 1925. At last, in 1927 they built the iconic, two-story structure that served countless area families until it closed in 1987.
Over the years, the restaurant expanded its menu to include a variety of other dishes, but seafood remained a specialty. In addition to its food, the San Jacinto Inn was known for its unique setting, which included a large dining room, filled with Texas-themed décor, and vaulted ceilings. Linen napkins and table clothes adorned the tables, with the wait staff wearing ties and white aprons. Many of the staff continued to work at the Inn for decades. The fixed price started at $1 apiece, but was doubled in the 1930s to $2. Despite the depression, the crowds still came.
This writer remembers fasting for days during college at Rice University in the 1960s in order to make room for the massive intake awaiting him at the San Jacinto Inn. It took another couple of days following the food orgy to return to normal. Thus, it is hard to imagine why such a treasure would eventually close. No doubt the moderate pricing made for thin margins. Also, the passion of the original owners is hard to sustain with succeeding management. Alas, we can only still enjoy the San Jacinto Inn in our memories.
- Year Started: 1918
- Year Ended: 1987
- Origin Of Name: Descriptive
- Location Sales: Houston Area
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Jack and Bertha Sanders
- Owner While In Use: Jack and Bertha Sanders
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: The Monument Inn
- Naics Code: 722511
- Location Headquarters: La Port, Texas, USA