From left, whole grilled snapper from Tampico, grilled octopus from La Fisheria, and Tostones de atún from Caracol.

Image: Kate LeSueur

Caracol Restaurant with its “Mexican Coastal Cuisine” is nothing like the typical Mexican seafood joints most Houstonians know. Start with a creative ceviche as an appetizer: We love the sea bass with passionfruit, radishes and serrano peppers, while the signature Caracol features marinated conch with pineapple and ginger. Impressive entrées crispy duck with a fig and apricot mole and seared scallops with pistachio mole. The delicate oysters roasted in a wood-fired oven are impossibly juicy.

It’s not surprising that Connie’s and Mambo Seafood each offer Mexican seafood dishes at great prices. After all, both have the same owners. Not only do both offer Vuelve a la Vida soup with shrimp, fish, oysters, and octopus, they also serve tasty fried-fish platters, huge seafood cócteles, and ceviche tostadas of similar look and taste.  

Inside La Fisheria's downtown digs you'll find cutting-edge Mexican cuisine that impresses with vibrant dishes like blood-red beet risotto with rich, buttery lobster tail and a clam chowder with squash blossoms and nopales. The three-ceviche sampler includes a classic version with fish marinated in lime juice with onions and cucumbers, another with a green sauce made with tomatillos and Seville oranges, and a luscious ceviche enclamatado (fish cured with lime and Clamato).

Tampico, which got Houston hooked on Mexican seafood back in 1996, is justly famous for whole Gulf red snapper cooked a la plancha (griddle-cooked with onions) and delivered to your table on a sizzling comal. The place has a market feel, as fish of various sizes are displayed on ice at the front counter, where you can pick out the one you want, pay for it by weight, and tell the restaurant how you want it cooked. Add a pound of shrimp, octopus, scallops, or whatever is featured in the case and create your own seafood platter.

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