An Eccentric Houston Tradition

Segari's on Shepherd

Get a bowl of gumbo—and don't ask about the prices

By Robb Walsh April 2, 2013

Segari's Restaurant on Shepherd Street, a block south of I-10, is named after its late owner and founder Sam Segari, a Houston eccentric who refused to play by the rules.  Sam started out in business in 1971 with a piano bar called Sam’s Song and subsequently ran six or eight different joints before he ended up at his last little restaurant on Shepherd. For years after the restaurant smoking ban went into effect, he attempted to call Segari's a private club for smokers. A sign on the door at the Durham location banned anyone who couldn't tolerate tobacco smoke. He eventually gave in and removed the ashtrays from the tables.

The place is famous for the enormous U8 shrimp that are served in shrimp salads, shrimp cocktails and fried shrimp. And then there is Segari's deep, dark seafood gumbo--arguably the best in the city.

When his restaurant on Durham a few blocks away burnt down, he moved across the block to Shepherd.  Sam had paid a sign fee to the city for the place on Durham, and he thought the fee ought to transfer across the street when he moved. The city insisted on a new fee. So Segari's went without a sign. If you didn’t already know him, you probably weren’t going to eat at his restaurant anyway, he told regulars.

Sam’s daughter Angela runs the place now. She has more social graces than Sam. And the gumbo is better than ever. But she has continued a few famous Segari traditions. The place is still sort of a club for regular customers who understand Sam's legacy. The menu doesn't list any prices--you will be charged according to the market price of seafood and the whim of the management.

If you don't approve—go eat somewhere else.

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