Catfish and shrimp basket at Flying Fish.

Few things can excite a 2-year-old like a kids' meal box shaped like a tugboat.

On Friday night, I brought the family to Flying Fish, the Dallas-based seafood eatery that recently opened in the Heights. On a checkered tablecloth inside a bustling dining room we feasted on fried and grilled catfish, shrimp, and trout, plus hushpuppies and French fries. And my daughter, ever the observant toddler, caught a glimpse of the tugboat puttering her way. In it were chicken tenders and fries. She was happy.

Don't take Flying Fish too seriously, especially considering it's the only restaurant you'll find in Houston that actually wants your Big Mouth Billy Bass plaques. This is a down-home seafood shack with plenty of indoor (and some outdoor) seating and decent food.

Most people will want the fried combo baskets or grilled plates. I had a basket of four shrimp and a catfish fillet, finding that not all crustaceans are created equal (one was the size of my thumb) and were a little too breaded. The catfish, meanwhile, had nice flakiness and held up in the batter. The fries were just okay, tasting more like carnival-grade fare, while the hushpuppies were a little dry. Still, it was a decent dinner, and $12 wasn't too bad for the dish.

The grilled rainbow trout, meanwhile, scored a lot higher. The dish came with grilled squash, beans, and rice. You can opt for one of three preparations—traditional, snappy (with heat), or garlic butter—and we got snappy. It had just the right kick without overdoing it.

I also ordered a bowl of grits and gumbo, which had a moderately thick and deep, dark broth and both a smoky and fresh-fish taste. The sausage was well-cooked. While I wanted more creaminess out of the grits, the gumbo was pretty good.

Flying Fish also serves beer, wine, and margaritas. Just beware of ordering draught—they pour the beer into a frozen goblet. Unless you're getting cheap, watery stuff, you do not want to do this.

But you will want to check out Flying Fish. Bring a group and try a bunch of things. You're bound to find something you like here, even though you might not enjoy everything. And if all else fails, there are paper tugboats.

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