Star Drug is a local gem that’s survived three hurricanes and a fire. Previous owners have used hooks from the ceiling to pull cabinets and display cases off the floor when it flooded. It’s also rumored to be haunted (of course).
Opened in 1917, Star Drug Store is arrayed around a U-shaped tile soda fountain counter. Lining the walls are pharmacy items that run a gamut of desires. Back when it was a working pharmacy, drug buyers would retire to the mezzanine level and lie down on cots so the druggist could observe their reaction. Today, the mezzanine displays novelty signs for sale and offers a bird’s-eye view of counter.
The menu is simple Americana: sandwiches, salads (of the potato and pasta variety), burgers, and soups. A Reuban variation called the Raquel is made of turkey, garlic slaw, Swiss, and 1000 Islands dressing. Its rye is just the right thickness, and griddled to a satisfying crunch. With the Raquel, we get a Caesar side salad with a twist: feta cheese. The dressing tastes homemade, and the feta mellows things out.
A turkey and grilled cheese sandwich is simple and comforting: American cheese, buttery bread, thin slices of turkey. We enjoy it with the Star’s non-traditional tomato soup, which includes chopped tomatoes, bacon, croutons, and oregano. It’s as if tomato and minestrone got together with bacon and kept all the good bits.
A Monday special meatball sub has the right amount of meatballs (only a tiny bit of bun is left at the end). I wish there was a touch more sauce, but it’s that kind of cozy comfort food that feels so good on a chilly spring afternoon. We get it with a traditional tuna salad. Everything comes with a dill pickle spear.
Star is a soda fountain, so we can’t leave without a few sweets. Our waitress tells us how she and the owner tried five different recipes for an egg cream until they got it just right: it’s got a little less chocolate syrup, and includes a touch of Coca-Cola.
Chocolate lava cake sundae is a chocolate-lover’s dream: spongy dark chocolate cake filled with hot molten chocolate topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, three cherries, and chocolate syrup. We can only take down a quarter of it.
Outside, the Coca-Cola sign is one of the oldest porcelain neon signs of its kind in existence, and it’s fully restored. But the true treasure at Star is the service, which is kind and unforced. It probably started with previous owner George Clampitt, who desegregated the Star’s lunch counter in the 1950s. It was the first in Galveston, and undoubtedly led others to do the same.
We take our check to a cheerful woman at the front who looks like Judi Dench’s twin sister. She is pleased that we had a great meal, and encourages us to come back soon. We shall!