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Sister Act

Galveston’s Farley Girls Cafe
Written by June Naylor. Photographs by Will van Overbeek.

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"You need a dose of Farley Girls,” came the recommendation from a wise Galvestonian that Saturday morning.

Farley Girls Cafe is at 801 Postoffice St., in Galveston. Call 409/497-4454. Hours: Mon-Fri 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat-Sun 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Just the night before, my friends and I had finished a late night of wine and conversation on the Tremont House rooftop lounge, topping off a merry evening of dinner and music on The Strand. But my local contact, a longtime Galveston resident who knows every nook and cranny of the island city, led me to precisely the kind of breakfast required for kicking off another day of touring.

Heading to the East End Historical District, we arrived at a spot within easy walking distance of the University of Texas Medical Branch, the island’s medical school and hospital. Our destination was Farley Girls Cafe, which occupies a two-story, yellow Victorian building, its columned porch decorated with hanging baskets of ferns. Outside, families and couples—some with leashed pups in tow—already gathered over morning meals.

Inside, sunlight flooded through windows onto exposed brick walls, washing over an expanse of casual seating that leads to the order counter. Like everyone visiting the first time, I felt my jaw drop when I spied the descriptive menu offerings. My party of four agreed we would each try something different so we could share.

Settling into our table with cups of strong coffee and a carafe of mimosas, we admired a poster-size photo on the wall of two smiling young girls—the Farley Girls, we assumed. Soon, our attention shifted to our dishes, which arrived in short order accompanied by our coos of approval.

And just like that, our chattering table went quiet as we sank into the delight of enjoying food that tastes even better than it looks. My huevos rancheros arrived in a wide, shallow dish: a pair of over-medium eggs atop crispy corn tostadas, with layers of pepper-jack cheese, avocado slices, black beans, pico de gallo, and a nubby red salsa—each bite better than the next.

My husband’s “Hangover Helper Bowl” combined everything he likes in a stick-to-your-ribs breakfast, with a foundation of crumbled bacon and sausage with fried potatoes, covered by scrambled eggs, pepper-jack cheese, guacamole, and salsa. A clever variation on the breakfast-brunch idea came in the lox pizza, a thin and crispy crust with puffy, browned edges slathered with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon ribbons, capers, and tiny bits of purple onion.

As we finished our meal with a shared bowl of honey-drizzled fresh fruit with Greek yogurt, a woman stopped by the table to see how our breakfast was going. She introduced herself as Ryanne, and I realized she was the grown-up version of one of the two adorable girls pictured on the wall above us.

“You’re a Farley girl!” I ventured. She laughed and nodded, explaining that Farley was her mom’s maiden name, and that she and her sister Rosmond chose it as the name for their café when they opened it in 2012. It rolls off the tongue more easily than their maiden name, Duzich, after all.

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That the sisters came to the restaurant business was practically inevitable, as for years their parents owned and ran a handful of Galveston restaurants, including Fisherman’s Wharf, Fish Tales, and The Spot. Because Ryanne was six and Roz was 10 when the family moved from Corpus Christi to Galveston to embark on their new restaurant venture, the sisters truly grew up in the business.

Their parents have since sold their restaurants to pursue another dream, but Ryanne and Roz found their calling in familiar territory. Both chose culinary school for their studies, with Roz in Miami and Ryanne in Austin. Their specific interests landed Roz in the kitchen and Ryanne running the front-of-house restaurant operations, and eventually the two returned to Galveston to make their mark together. They’re both keenly interested in fabulous food, which inspires the choices found at Farley Girls Cafe.

“Our entire menu came from the notion that if we were to come into a restaurant at any time of day or night, these are the favorites we’d want to find there,” says Roz with a smile. “I giggle watching Ryanne dream about food. She’s like a comic strip, with little idea bubbles going off like crazy. It’s my job to create those foods for her.”

The sisters considered a number of ideas before landing on their concept. When the vintage building in the East End became available, they realized that they could have a ready clientele in medical-school students and em-ployees who needed a quick, delicious lunch. That tourists also seek it out is icing on the cake.

The menu’s evolution is something Roz calls “an interesting twist of taste buds.” At lunch, salads are as popular as mashed potatoes topped with meat loaf, fried onion strings, and barbecue sauce. At brunch, favorites include the chicken and waffles, as well as the gut-busting “OMG,” which consists of a pancake topped with chicken-fried steak, sausage gravy, and a fried egg.

Since that first visit, I’ve returned so frequently that Farley Girls is now my most serious Galveston tradition. Each time I cross that long causeway from the mainland to the island, my first stop is for another of the sisters’ meals. On one memorable trip with a group of girlfriends, we took a break from the beach to spend a long lunch lingering over pizza and wine on the Farley Girls porch.

And on our last visit, my husband and I took friends from New England for their first brunch upon arriving in Texas. Nothing would do but to introduce them to grits riddled with Gouda cheese, sautéed spinach, and mushrooms, topped with over-easy eggs. Their favorite dish, however, was something called the “8th and Post Office,” which is named for the restaurant’s location on the corner. Upon finishing their bowl of pulled pork-potato hash, crowned with a fried egg, the new-
comers declared themselves Farley Girls fans, too.

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