Gulf Seafood Guide

Houston’s Best Old-School and New-School Seafood Joints

From classic to cutting-edge, these 12 restaurants represent the Bayou City’s best of both worlds.

By Katharine Shilcutt March 1, 2016 Published in the March 2016 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Fried shrimp with homemade remoulade sauce at Christie's Seafood & Steaks


Christie’s Seafood & Steaks

Year founded: 1917
Claim to fame: The city’s oldest family-run restaurant and a favorite of both George H.W. Bush and former Secretary of State James Baker
Don’t miss: Fried shrimp with homemade remoulade sauce; chargrilled Greek snapper basted with lemon, olive oil and herbs

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Soft-shell crab and grits at Brennan's

Brennan’s of Houston

Year founded: 1967
Claim to fame: The site of Aurora and Garrett’s lunch date in Terms of Endearment, the film for which a room in the restaurant is now named
Don’t miss: Blue crab-stuffed Texas flounder; Gulf fish Pontchartrain topped with jumbo lump crab, J&J shrimp and crispy Matagorda Bay oysters

Connie’s Seafood

Year founded: 1979
Claim to fame: Large fish counters filled with fresh catches on ice; pick your favorite and Connie’s will cook it to order.
Don’t miss: Your choice of fish prepared a la parrilla (grilled) or vapor con ajo (steamed with garlic) with a side of fried rice; the eye-opening vuelve a la vida seafood cocktail with a chamoy margarita

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Gulf blue crab cake at Landry's


Year founded: 1980
Claim to fame: The first Landry’s opened in Houston—okay, technically Katy—in 1980. In the mid-’80s, Tilman Fertitta bought it (and all of the other Landry’s and Willie G’s locations in the Houston area), and an empire was born. Today he employs over 60,000 people across 40 states.
Don’t miss: Oyster Bar Trash (shrimp and blue crab with beurre blanc and steamed rice); blue crab cake and barbecue shrimp with andouille-pepper-jack grits

Tony Mandola’s

Year founded: 1982, as Tony Mandola’s Blue Oyster Bar on the Gulf Freeway
Claim to fame: The Mandola family itself, which has shaped Houston’s dining scene since Sam and Margherite Mandola arrived in Houston from Palermo, Italy, in 1913
Don’t miss: Sopa Tomas with shrimp, avocado and pico de gallo; snapper Martha with shrimp, crawfish tails and Gulf blue crabmeat in a basil-wine butter sauce

Goode Co. Seafood

Year founded: 1986
Claim to fame: The converted passenger train car, purchased by late—and beloved—family patriarch Jim Goode, that houses the original location on Westpark Dr.
Don’t miss: Whole stuffed flounder with fried onion strings; campechana de mariscos with shrimp and crab 

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Shrimp-crusted flounder at State of Grace


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Oysters on the half-shell at SaltAir

SaltAir Seafood Kitchen

Chef: Brandi Key
What’s new: The hip Upper Kirby spot features a gargantuan oyster bar and chalkboard menu listing the day’s fresh Gulf catches, from whole yellowedge grouper to soft-shell crabs.
What to get: Snapper crudo with finger limes and fennel; red fish on the half shell with chermoula and tabbouleh


Chef: Graham Laborde
What’s new: By night, this elegant yet unpretentious Heights hideaway offers serious gumbo and oyster-shell martinis with ocean-water tincture; at brunch, look for fried-shrimp-and-oyster po-boys and cold-smoked oysters.
What to get: Grilled snapper with grits and roasted carrots; the I-10 platter with oysters, blue crab claws, pickled shrimp, smoked bycatch dip and much, much more

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The I-10 Tower at Bernadine's


Chef: Hugo Ortega
What’s new: The Galleria-adjacent seafood-centric restaurant of famed Mexican chef Hugo Ortega uses a wood-fired oven to roast everything from oysters to whole fish.
What to get: Ceviche con chile rojo with red snapper; pan-seared catch of the day with tomatillo-caper sauce

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Gulf Coast tom yum with J&J shrimp, blue crab and consommê at State of Grace

State of Grace

Chef: Bobby Matos
What’s new: The first Houston restaurant for Atlanta celebrity chef Ford Fry—who grew up in River Oaks and graduated from Lamar High School right across the street—blends Texas Gulf Coast influences with Korean, Mexican, Thai, even Italian and German cuisines.
What to get: oak-roasted whole snapper with crispy herbs and a Thai vinaigrette; yellowfin tuna pozole with blue crab and Gulf shrimp


Chef: Mark Holley
What’s new: The Midtown dining destination attracts everyone from downtown desk-jockeys to hungry Houston Texans linebackers, who manage to make the Thai-style fried snapper for two look like a meal for one.
What to get: Blackened grouper with lady cream peas and kimchi greens; striped bass on the half shell cooked in banana leaves with arepas and curtido


Chef: Bryan Caswell
What’s new: The darling of Houston’s seafood scene now has a second location of sorts at IAH, 3rd Bar, where you can enjoy a few Gulf appellation oysters before jetting off.
What to get: Crispy-skin snapper with sweet-and-sour chard; red fish on the half shell with fried mac ‘n’ cheese


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