We might be most famed here in Texas for our knowledge of how to make the most perfect rack of baby-back ribs, but we know our seafood almost as well as our barbecue – and that’s saying something. From fancy, upscale restaurants to hole-in-the-wall joints right on the Taylor Bayou, we’re no stranger to good surf ‘n turf, and we serve up the best no matter what your preference. Here are 16 of the best seafood restaurants in Texas.
16. REEF (Houston)
I tend to stray from the fancier places because the best food is most often found where you'd least expect it, but I had to include REEF. It's known nationwide for its exquisite, fresh as the day you order it seafood. Favorites include jumbo crab cakes, crispy skin snapper with a tomato brown butter, and red fish served with their famous side that might be more popular than the seafood - fried mac n cheese. It's every bit as glorious as it sounds.
15. Crawdaddy's (Corpus Christi)
Crawdaddy's has everything from etouffee to cod with remoulade sauce and cajun coleslaw to coconut crusted shrimp, but the real star of the show is all-you-can-eat crawfish and other sea creatures (accompanied by the standard corn-on-the-cob and boiled potatoes, of course). Such a simple meal, but you really can't go wrong with it. Especially when it's bottomless.
14. Charlotte Plummer's (Rockport)
Charlotte Plummer's has been serving up some of the best seafood around since the 1970's. Kick back with a drink in hand and enjoy your meal with a beautiful waterfront view. The menu is very diverse: PoBoys, flounder stuffed with crab meat, or a huge platter of all the favorites - fried shrimp, oysters, blackened fish, and/or crab cakes. And you can't leave without trying their new appetizer pictured above: a tower piled high with lump crab meat, avocado and pico de gallo, served with tortilla chips. Yum!
13. Sartin's (Beaumont)
The specialty at Sartin's is something so revolutionary, you won't believe it. They've taken two Texas favorites - BBQ and seafood - and combined them for an epic flavor explosion. Yes, I'm talking about BBQ crabs. Everyone in Southeast Texas has either had them or is getting there as fast as they can. They also have all the standard fried (or grilled) favorites, plus PoBoys, crab cakes, and shrimp and crab dip. There's something for every palate at Sartin's.
12. Pier 99 (Corpus Christi)
It doesn't get much better than a meal with a view of the water (and the USS Lexington!) Pier 99 is the place to go for a fun night out, that's for sure. Live music and the largest patio on the coast is a recipe for a good time - plus delicious food, of course. From gumbo to snow crab to a "family seafood boil" consisting of shrimp, crab, sausage, corn, new potatoes, and toast, your belly and heart will be full at the end of your dining experience.
11. Al-T's (Winnie)
Being from Southeast Texas, I can assure you we know good Cajun food when we see it - and Al-T's definitely deserves that title. Etouffee, dirty rice, catfish straight from the Taylor Bayou, and all your fried favorites make for a menu complete with all the essentials.
10. Stingaree (Crystal Beach)
You can't go wrong with choices like stuffed shrimp, fresh gulf fish, Galveston Bay blue crabs, or East Bay oysters (yes, the second picture is oysters...mmmm.) And you definitely can't go wrong with a view of where your food came from while you eat! In fact, if you're out on the bay fishing, you can pull your boat up to the marina with your catch and have it cooked up for you right before your eyes! It doesn't get any better than that.
9. Pine Tree Lodge (Beaumont)
This restaurant is right on the bayou - if you're lucky, you might see some gators! Just don't get too close! Fried shrimp, oysters, gumbo, blackened tilapia, shrimp and grits...or if you have an appetite bigger than an alligator's, take on this mammoth whole fried catfish and see how long it takes you to get hungry again.
8. Snoopy's Pier (Corpus Christi)
Dinner on the pier...does it get any better? At Snoopy's, it comes with a history richer than buttery oysters. The restaurant is, quite literally, the offspring of the Redfish Wars in the late '70s, a battle over commercial fishing rights
7. Executive Surf Club (Corpus Christi)
Although not exclusively a seafood restaurant, they sure know what they're doing with their surf 'n turf. Like this shrimp wrap with avocado and a side of hand-battered fries. Yum!
6. Cap'n Roy's (South Padre)
Cap'n Roy's serves up phenomenal seafood and Mexican food, fused together perfectly or enjoyed separately in their own respective ways. From traditional fried fare to shrimp or blackened fish tacos, Southern Mexican shrimp or fish Vera Cruzano dinners to their signature dish - winning the World Shrimp Cook-Off four years in a row - marinated bacon-wrapped shrimp with pineapple cream cheese and jalapeno, wrapped, rubbed, smoked, and glazed with a sweet BBQ sauce. Just typing that made my mouth water uncontrollably.
5. Gilhooley's (Dickinson)
You better be hungry for some huge Gulf Coast oysters when you come to Gilhooley's! They serve 'em up in ways you'd never imagine (think shrimp stuffed). But, if you've seen Alice in Wonderland too many times and eating oysters rubs you the wrong way, their etouffee and stuffed crab are to die for as well.
4. Topwater Grill (San Leon)
Topwater has some seriously top-notch seafood, y'all. Whether you're in the mood for a lighter meal of lobster bisque and blackened shrimp tacos, a heartier plate of pecan-encrusted catfish (pictured), or a stick-to-your-ribs dinner of all your fried favorites, you'll find what you're looking for here.
3. King's Inn (Riviera)
Three important things to say about King's Inn: 1) All the fried seafood ever. 2) Avocado salad (because greens cancel out the aforementioned fried food, right?) and
3) Tartar sauce. That is all.
2. The Boiling Pot (Rockport)
If you love Cajun-style seafood - that is, heaps of boiled crawfish, corn, and potatoes - this is your place. They also have gumbo, red beans and rice, sausage, and blue crab.
1. Gaidos (Galveston)
This famous Gulfside restaurant just had to be number one. They've been serving up the finest seafood since 1911, so rest-assured you'll be given a quality meal with love and passion in every bite no matter what you order. Gulf shrimp, a variety of fresh fish including pecan-encrusted red snapper (pictured), stuffed crab, oysters, and my personal favorite, the jazz martini: a martini glass full of lump crab meat, avocado, and hearts of palm, adorned with shrimp around the rim. Anything and everything you decide on here is a winner.
Mmmm, I think it’s about time I make a trip out to Galveston – good thing I only live half an hour away! Have you tried any of the restaurants on this list? What are some other places to get great seafood in Texas? Share your thoughts in the comments!