Back To Life, Back To Sea

Our 13 Favorite Gulf Coast Seafood Spots

Enjoy oysters, shrimp, and more at these local restaurants.

By Timothy Malcolm Published in the Summer 2021 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Acme Oyster House

If YOU'RE NOW LOADED UP with that personal antivirus software, go be shellfish—yes, we realize just how lame that was. The point: Houston has awesome restaurants serving fresh seafood. Pay a visit to a
few this summer. 

Acadian Coast

Opening in 2020 in the East End is this swashbuckling spot for all kinds of Gulf hits with a Louisiana twist. Along with fresh and grilled oysters (the loaded Bienville are tops) are plenty more Creole and Cajun staples. There’s a certain swagger to dishes like blackened catfish with dirty rice and alligator in tomato gravy with smoked Gouda grits. You can also get your shrimp, catfish, or alligator fried. Why not?

Acme Oyster House

Now blasting its crimson-hued presence on Montrose’s restaurant row (at the old Tower Theatre...or El Real, depending on your reference point), this French Quarter favorite opened in April and immediately had folks lining up for oysters, seafood étouffée, and fish Pontchartrain in butter cream sauce. From crab cakes to oyster Rockefeller soup, the options here are dizzying. Maybe just splurge on the Captain’s Platter, combining all of the sea-things—fried oysters, shrimp, fish, and soft-shell crab—with a serious array of carbs and coleslaw. MONTROSE |

BB's Tex-Orleans 

Late afternoon on a summer Saturday and you’re just not sure—you want a drink but nothing too fussy to eat. In fact, some fried catfish would hit the spot. Just direct your gaze to BB’s. All 10 locations of this Cajun stalwart serve up a fine, simple meal: fried catfish, shrimp, or oysters with fries, hush puppies, slaw, and garlic bread. Of course, po’ boys, redfish with Gulf shrimp, and, when in season, darn good crawfish with a hit of garlic paste also await.

Eugene's Gulf Coast Cuisine

Image: Leah Wilson

Eugene's Gulf Coast Cuisine

When Danton’s Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen had to leave its home, owner Kyle Teas moved across the neighborhood and recreated surf-and-turf magic with Eugene’s, named after his father. Here you’ll get redfish stuffed with crab meat, Texas catfish, and Gulf shrimp and oysters, which can be grilled, fried, pan-broiled, or blackened. Or maybe you want oysters sautéed in lemon garlic butter sauce. That’s oysters Kyle, one of Danton’s staples that also made the move to Eugene’s. Sometimes it’s best to keep things just the way they were. MONTROSE |

Field & Tides

One of Houston’s cutest casual neighborhood restaurants, Field & Tides offers Southern comfort with a gourmet lift. Gulf Coast blue crab is paired with brie in a delectable fondue, for example, and fried oysters with crispy cornmeal crust get some fresh brussels sprouts. Of course, raw Gulf oysters come by the dozen, and you’ll get impressive entrées of redfish, snapper, and flounder—the latter paired with black-eyed peas and shishito chowchow to really bring the warm and fuzzies. HEIGHTS |

Gilhooley's Restaurant and Oyster Bar

Welcome to the Margaritaville of oyster bars. Gilhooley’s, which has served Galveston Bay oysters by the boatful in San Leon since 1988, has a big ol’ outdoor area with picnic tables, plenty of inexpensive beer (by the bucket, too, if you’d like), and a staunch no-kids policy. So, get wasted away with raw and grilled oysters headlined by—naturally—oysters Gilhooley, which are cooked in garlic butter and parmesan. Throw in some fresh Gulf shrimp cocktail, too. SAN LEON |

Goode Co. Seafood

First things first: the campechana. This Mexican seafood cocktail with a spicy mix of shrimp and crab, diced avocado, Anaheim peppers, and pico de gallo is the embodiment of Jim Goode’s seafood restaurant, a tribute to his childhood on the Gulf. Of course, the smoked redfish dip, raw and grilled Gulf oysters, seared tuna with creole mustard sauce, fried fish platters, and stuffed crab also make Goode Co. a necessary visit for any seafood fix. MEMORIAL, WESTPARK |

La Fishería

Houston’s original upscale Mexican restaurant is now a veteran of sorts, though its impressive dining room’s sky blue and cobalt blue tiles still sparkle. Along with campechano and ceviche, you can find aguachile with Gulf shrimp and bay scallops, plus Galveston Bay oysters in soy sauce and lime vinaigrette. The sweet and briny combination of tomatoes and olives brightens a grilled red snapper entrée, and the sweet corn tamales with sautéed shrimp is a must. DOWNTOWN |

Liberty Kitchen

For nearly a decade the Liberty Kitchen name has been part of the Houston culinary vernacular, though its ownership and menu recently changed. Its locations—Memorial and River Oaks—are still shucking oysters from Texas and Louisiana. But now you can find the grilled Texas redfish and jumbo Gulf shrimp with grits whipped with cheese and ultra-rich Irish butter. For ultimate indulgence, spring for the Liberty Stacked Tower: a dozen oysters, eight cocktail shrimp, a pound of poached lobster, and avocado crab cocktail for $115.

Image: Kimberly Park

Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House

San Leon’s Pier 6 is a classic sit-down seafood date night, a fine counterbalance to Gilhooley’s buckets of beer. Former Brennan’s executive chef Joe Cervantez runs the show here, sourcing seafood from local waters—its oyster distributor is Prestige Oysters, whose vice president owns Pier 6. So, the raw bivalves are top-notch, as are the oysters Rockefeller and Bienville. Outstanding entrées include pan-seared grouper with charred tomato and
coconut sauce and cornmeal-crusted snapper with shrimp étouffée. SAN LEON |

1751 Sea & Bar

Nothing goes better with gin than vermouth. A close second is fresh seafood, which chef J.D. Woodward produces in spades at the gleaming 1751 on the cusp of the Heights. Start with a round of Gulf oysters before diving into locally sourced shrimp cocktail with a booming, hot cocktail sauce. Often Gulf-caught fish may be grilled here, though Woodward loves searching other parts of the world for entrée fare (Maine lobster, anyone?). No matter how you enjoy your meal, you’ll find the right gin pairing with exactly 100 varieties at the ready. HEIGHTS |

State of Grace

Chef Ford Fry’s fascination with recreating childhood memories started in 2014 with State of Grace, his ode to the neighborhood meeting place with a dash of class and a nod to the Gulf’s local bounty: bay scallops with salsa matcha, blue crab meat mixed into a salad with asparagus and artichoke, and of course a dizzying array of oysters—Murder Point, Mon Louis, Bayou Pearls. For those, head to convivial oyster bar in the restaurant’s front nook between 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and get ’em for the sort-of-throwback price of $1.50 each. RIVER OAKS |

Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen

Especially if you’ve been around for a couple of years, chances are you have some memories involving Tony Mandola’s. Part of the local culinary scene since it opened as Tony Mandola’s Blue Oyster Bar in 1982, the restaurant has long specialized in classic Gulf Coast fare like snapper topped with shrimp, crawfish, and jumbo lump crab—also known as snapper Martha. And hits including shrimp scampi, fried catfish, and oysters are as strong as they were nearly 40 years ago. HYDE PARK |
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