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Balinese Room, Galveston, TX (restaurant)

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Name:Balinese Room
Street:2107 Seawall (21st St. at the beach)
Phone:(409) 762-9696
Status: as of Hurricane Ike - No longer operational (see pics below)

The Balinese Room, located at the end of a looong pier over Galveston waters, has had many periods in its history.

1.) It was a grand casino/restaurant/bar/supper club from 1941-1957. You can read its story on their website (and see scads of photos in the History section), but suffice it to say that when you have the likes of Sinatra, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, George Burns & Gracie Allen, Duke Ellington, Tony Bennett, Jayne Mansfield, Gene Autry, Howard Hughes, and Diamond Jim West frequenting the stage and/or casino floors, you're talking a BIG DEAL. One of the many origin-of-the-Margarita stories holds that Balinese head bartender Santos Cruz invented it for Peggy Lee in 1948. Stories abound of Galveston County Sheriff Frank Biaggne's being on the take and telling the casino when the Texas Rangers were planning a raid. By the time the Rangers got to the end of the long breezeway, the tables were dumped off the balconies or (more likely) folded and hidden away.

Asked why his men never raided the place, Biagge told the legislative reform committee (before being booted out of office), that he never raided the Balinese casino because the place was a private club, he wasn't a member and he couldn't get in. :lol:

My favorite story is of the band's launching into "The Eyes of Texas" when the cops moved in, thus impeding their entrance substantially; we Texans will always stand to sing the national song of Texas, natch :wink: The story goes that the new sheriff did not play ball, and thus a final raid closed The Balinese Room until:

2.) It was re-opened as a supper club from 1965-1985.

  1. ) After almost two decades of neglect, Houston lawyer Scott Arnold recently bought the Balinese and re-furbished it to its former glory. Its stage is a thing of bamboo beauty and the room is filled with tall copper and neon :roll: palm trees. Tikis are minimal but present; I counted 3 on my last visit. Tropical murals adorn the walls. I have only been there by day and have not had the opportunity to sample the bar's work. At the seawall (the street entrance), there is a store selling typical beach/tropical wares, plus there's a nice display of photos from the club's illustrious history. Local cover bands are the featured entertainment now. Not exactly Sinatra, but if it will keep the place open, I'm not going to complain. Openly.

One more cool point:
Just as they did with the best little whorehouse in Texas ("La Grange"), local boys ZZ Top wrote a song about this spot: "Balinese" (1973)

Note: there was a thread on here long ago about the Balinese, But "Search" seems unable to pull it up.

[email protected]

[ Edited by: Formikahini 2006-12-29 11:26 ]

[ Edited by: Formikahini 2011-03-19 15:00 ]


The Balinese Room fell to IKE's furry last night.

The South Seas Showroom (a.k.a. The Balinese Ballroom) sounds like a total loss.

Here are two news stories about the destruction;

Balinese Room, Galveston Landmark, Destroyed

Landmark Texas nightclub destroyed by Ike's surge

And the home page of the Balinese Room, with lots of historical information. Plenty of historical galleries to explore.

Sad. :(

Thanks for the update Sabina!!

Cheers and Mahalo,


One of my favoruite ZZ Top songs "Balinese" is about the place...yes, I like ZZ Top.

This is very sad, as this place was legendary.

Another Tiki Landmark disappears.


Can you hear my heart breaking from here :(
SO glad I saw it.....

I heard the Swiss manager of the Balinese interviewed on the radio. She was digging through the wreckage looking for any salvageable parts. I wanted to be doing the same. I was envious.

Is that really really wrong?

[ Edited by: Formikahini 2008-09-18 15:22 ]

The great Tiki gods just were not content with the lack of tiki bars in Texas. :(

On 2008-09-16 12:15, Formikahini wrote:
I heard the Swiss manager of the Balinese interviewed on the radio. She was digging through the wreckage looking for any salvageable parts. I wanted to be doing the same. I was envious.

Is that really really wrong?





Lots of people were doing the same from the radio show. Wanting to take a literal piece of the place home.

After looking at the web link history, this LP seems to fill in some missing time about a mid sixties rebuild of the location. This one sided lp is narrated by radio commentator Fred Nahas. He talks about the opening night festivities (May 21 1966) honoring Phil Harris & Alice Faye for their help with the Variety Boys Club of Galveston Texas. The rebuild was financed by oilman Johnny Mitchell. The history of the room is discussed........The Balinese Room , "where you can get any kind of drink you had ever heard of. From a Bloody Mary to a Zombie with with six kinds of Rum"

Wow! Can you say "architectural rendering" !? Yummy! - glad there is some evidence of it left.


That sounds like an interesting album, is there any music or just the narrative?

Here is the color version of the rending that is on the album cover.


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2011-01-08 06:29 ]


DC...nice color rendering. LP is narrative with orchestration behind part of it.

A matchbook from the Balinese Room . Does anybody have photos of the interior?



What's really maddening is that the Balinese survived quite a few hurricanes much more powerful that Ike. But they were fast-moving. Ike just sat there, pounding Galveston for hours and hours. They'd just completed a significant restoration less than a decade before. We drove by the place every time in Galveston, but never stopped despite intentions to do so.

Thanks for the link above. Great stuff!


Yes, Ike was certainly a force to be reckoned with. After making landfall, it eventually cut a path through northern Arkansas. Although it was no longer a hurricane, it caused immense damage. Personally, we lost seven old oak trees including one that crashed into our kitchen. :(

phinz posted on Fri, Jun 1, 2018 10:28 AM

My grandfather was one of the members spoken of in the original post who used to go gambling at the Balinese. He used to tell stories of the enforcement raids. We used to drive by the Balinese all the time and when I watched the news the morning after Ike and saw the storm had done I was devastated. The Balinese, The Flagship Hotel and SeaArama Marineworld were all icons of my childhood and all are gone now. Two wrecked from the storm and one destroyed by time and neglect.

[ Edited by: phinz 2018-06-01 10:29 ]

Pages: 1 17 replies