Gulf, sustainable, and imported seafood
Lobsters, crabs, oysters, shrimp, prawns, clams, and some shellfish you’ve probably never heard of are all on display here, along with the best finfish from the Gulf and most of the rest of the world. If you’re looking for a whole tuna or a giant red snapper—and if you worry about sustainability or the safety of imported seafood—this is your counter. The American red snapper and grouper, for example, are “Gulf Wild” tagged fish, while the farm-raised salmon comes from an aquaculture company in Patagonia that uses low-density pens and enlightened feed sources in their sustainable fish-farming program. Central Market buyers travel the world to physically inspect the boats and fishing methods; seafood that passes the test is flown direct to Texas and delivered by refrigerated trucks under the watchful eye of HACCP, a voluntary third-party food safety program that tracks the seafood from boat to display counter, monitoring temperature and handling at every step. Seafood doesn’t get much safer than this.
1841 Richmond Ave.
Gulf seafood, oysters by the sack
The name is a carryover from the original store, which opened on Airline Drive in 1948; it was also located on both West Alabama and Shepherd during its 60-something-year history. This is Houston’s favorite seafood market—the prices are lower and the fish fresher than at the grocery store—and it specializes in Gulf seafood, including wild-caught shrimp, red snapper, flounder, redfish, drum, and amberjack (although fish from other waters are also available), while offering hundred-count sacks of oysters from Misho’s Oyster Company (see sidebar). The fishmongers here would be delighted to custom-cut your fresh whole fish into steaks, filets, or any other style you like.
Rose’s Seafood Inc.
415 11th Ave., Seabrook
Fresh shrimp and live crab
Before it was a waterfront amusement park, Kemah was a fishing village. Just across the channel from the boardwalk, on 11th Ave. in Seabrook, a few fishmongers still carry on the seafood tradition, offering astonishingly low prices on fresh-caught shrimp, live crabs, and Gulf fish. Rose’s isn’t the only shop along here, but it’s the largest and usually the best stocked.
Oysters by the Sack
Misho’s Oyster Company
1515 10th St.
You can buy a sack of oysters in Houston, but it takes a couple of days to make it from a boat on Galveston Bay to a seafood store. Luckily, the harvest date is printed on the bag tag, so you can always see exactly how long the mollusks have been out of the water before buying them. By the time they’ve been out of the water for a week, oysters begin to lose liquid and shrivel up.
If you’re having a party and want to buy several sacks of really fresh oysters to shuck at home, it’s worth your time to drive down to Misho’s Oyster Company in San Leon. (You have to call and order them one day in advance.) You’ll get a much better price, but more importantly, oysters that are fresh off the boat. Stay away from the enormous “boat sacks” (around 220 unsorted oysters) unless you feel like spending a day removing the tiny mussels that attach themselves to oyster shells, and breaking apart stuck-together clusters with a hammer. Stick with the groomed hundred-count sacks—that’s what the oyster bars buy.
While you’re there, think about buying a quart of shucked oysters, too. It’s a great excuse to make seafood gumbo, oyster pan roast, or a stew.