Houston has always had a reputation as a great spot to live or visit— a little wilder than Dallas, a little cooler than San Antonio, and a city that has something to offer just about anybody.
Residents and visitors alike can take advantage of Houston’s sprawling fine arts scene, taking in everything from local DJs to internationally known symphonies and the Houston Grand Opera.
There really is something for everyone here.
Its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico (not even an hour’s drive away from downtown Houston) means seafood in this vibrant city comes in fresh, delicious, and big.
Well, some of it, anyway. Gulf shrimp and Gulf oysters are famously enormous compared to many from the West Coast.
Living there or traveling there, missing out on some seafood would be a travesty, so don’t drop the ball here.
To help you decide which of Houston’s innumerable seafood joints, we’ve put together a list of the best seafood restaurants in Houston to help get you started. Bon apetit.
2200 Post Oak Blvd #160, Houston, TX 77056
Just north of the Galleria, you’ll find Caracol, a Mexican restaurant that leans into the fact that much of Mexico abuts an ocean at some point. We don’t often conflate Mexico with seafood, but we should.
So full disclosure, I grew up in Houston, moved away in the late 1980s, and have returned for regular visits.
I was raised on the Mexican food permeating this great city and on seafood. Caracol puts them together? Count me in.
And how’s this for a vote of confidence: I only want my oysters on the half-shell but was convinced some time ago to try Caracol’s Ostiones Asados— wood-roasted oysters— and had to adjust my worldview after eating them.
Best of all? Sunday brunch. The Blushing Mimosa (pomegranate and guava) complements anything you could possibly think to order. Terrific food, too. Get your brunch on before heading to the Galleria for weekend shopping.
Goode Company has a presence near Memorial and a restaurant in a railroad car perched north of Bissonnet near Rice and West University.
If you’ve never eaten in a converted railroad car, it’s something you should do at least once.
The mesquite-grilled salmon is a can’t miss, and any seafood joint in Houston will have some big, fat Gulf oysters that no one should ever miss the opportunity to eat.
But if, for some bizarre reason, neither of those is your speed, take the advice of your server if they make recommendations.
The last time I was here, I took a woman who had never been to Texas and wasn’t all that well-versed in seafood (she’s a very kind woman, so cut her some slack). Our server pitched the Mexican seafood cocktail to her. Simple. Done well.
Being in the train car is pretty great, too—it kind of appeals to the inner child.
You’ve got a few choices as to which Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette you visit, but they’ll all serve you well. First of all, if you’ve got a group with you, spring for the Liberty Stacked Tower.
As an appetizer, it’s pricey, and it’s big, but holy murky Gulf Coast, Batman. You’ll get an actual stack of seafood.
Of course, there’s a dozen oysters, but also a handful of cocktail shrimp, avocado crab cocktail, and a pound of lobster.
For an entree, if you’ve got any room left after that, not much on the menu falls below being quite delicious, but the Scottish Salmon is to die for in its lemon beurre blanc.
This isn’t fast food, and the prices reflect that, but the oyster bar alone is a no-regrets zone.
Eddie V’s has a presence in 14 states, and two of their restaurants are in Houston. They’ve got a terrific wine list, and Eddie V’s is well known for its steaks.
If you’re not into seafood, you can’t go wrong with one of them, but you’re here to read about seafood restaurants in Houston, so I’ll shut up about the red meat now.
The last time I ate there (in early 2021), I ordered the Parmesan Sole because it seemed intriguing.
I thought about going with the South African Lobster but ended up getting a lovely piece of sole with a parmesan crust accompanied by an exquisite sauce of lemon-garlic butter. I can’t remember ever having bad garlic butter sauce, but this one is delicious.
Also, it’s not seafood, but you’ll do yourself a disservice by not ordering the truffle macaroni and cheese as at least one of your sides.
And the bananas foster dessert? You’ll already be uncomfortable full when they bring it to you. Take my word for it: fight through the pain and eat the dessert.
1640 W Loop S, Houston, TX 77027
A little south of the sprawling Memorial Park and a couple of miles west of downtown, Willie G’s offers a terrific menu with decidedly innovative twists.
This isn’t run-of-the-mill seafood, and the chefs seem to have been given free rein to experiment and design menu items that go above and beyond.
In particular, the hot rock dishes. The Hot Rock Ahi Tuna comes with cucumber shishito and peanut slaw and is so good, you’ll want to slap your mamma. I mean, don’t, but you’ll want to. There are also cold options like a tuna poke and sushi.
There’s a pretty impressive wine list, too, so don’t forget to order some. There’s something to go with anything on the menu, even if you order a burger.
I don’t know why you would when you could have seafood, but the one I saw get served to a nearby table looked terrific.
191 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007
Located on Heights Boulevard near I-10, 1751’s oyster bar seats only six, but if you can get one of those spots, you’ll be in for a treat.
Not that you can’t eat oysters at your table, but watching the guys behind the oyster bar is almost as nice a treat as the oysters themselves.
The grilled octopus stands out as one of the star entrees, and for good reason. The octopus itself comes from Spain, so the dish features related flavors— lime, cilantro, coriander— and tastes better than anything that looks like an octopus should be allowed to taste.
If eight limbs are too many for you, 1751 has seasonal offerings that will more than make up for your lack of daring.
You’ll also find that 1751 loves its gin. They’ve got a wide selection of gins for more gin-based cocktails than I knew existed.
3258 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
They had me at “Oyster Happy Hour”— $1.50 oysters from 5-6 pm Monday through Thursday and 11 am-6 pm Friday—this River Oaks-adjacent spot has a lot more than seafood on its entree list, but that oyster bar is the real seafood lover’s paradise.
A cursory glance at the menu reveals oysters coming to your plate and palate from literally all over North America. I didn’t even know a Canadian oyster was a thing. But it totally is.
Lots of steaks beckon from the menu, but if you skip the oak roasted mahi-mahi, well, that’s on you. The smoked trout roe sends an already terrific dish into the stratosphere.
3300 Smith St, Houston, TX 77006
Brennan’s sits just outside of downtown Houston just east of Montrose, but even if you’re out in Sugar Land, the drive will be worth it (and that’s even factoring in Houston’s legendary traffic).
Offering lunch, brunch, and dinner, Brennan’s brings oysters to the same table as a bowl of snapping turtle soup, which I devoured even though I still have nightmares about a run-in with a snapping turtle in one of Houston’s bayous when I was a kid. Maybe I was taking my revenge.
Lots of places offer some variation of Redfish on the Halfshell (it’s not really on a shell; the redfish skin hardens during grilling and ends up kind of shell-ish), but Brennan’s is something of a cut above. The bell pepper slaw, along with the roasted fennel, mean it makes an impression on you.
10501 FM 1960, Houston, TX 77070
Go for the food. Stay for the micheladas (think Mexico’s version of a Bloody only with beer).
The boat-shaped restaurant sits in northwest Houston, off the Cypress Creek Parkway between Perry and Jones Rd.
This is a place you order fried shrimp and then thank your higher power you draw breath. Also, $8 for a dozen oysters. No, that’s not a misprint or typo. Eight dollars, 800 pennies.
You’ll get a little bit of shrimp hidden in the crab you order, and you will not regret the wait time you’ll probably have to endure before you get a table— it’s small, and it’s popular. But it’s worth it.
4712 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77027
Even if the food were just okay, the exposed brick on the inside is pretty dang charming. When you find it (nestled near the intersection of 610 and the Southwest Freeway), you’d be a fool not to order the Alligator Po-Boy and a cup of gumbo.
Don’t want to eat a sandwich made out of a dinosaur? I get it. I had trouble deciding between the Crawfish Fettucine and the Dakota Special, but for me, ahi tuna always eventually wins out, so I ordered the latter. And I wasn’t sorry.
You can also choose from a list of fresh fish and have it blackened, grilled, or fried. If you do this, take advantage of the Cajun toppings portion of the menu. Add Rem, Courtboullion, Etouffee, or another to your dish, then mail me a thank-you note.
1985 Welch St, Houston, TX 77019
I have only ever had brunch at Eugene’s, but I feel like I still had the best thing offered: Shrimp and Grits Montrose pairs shrimp and grits and bacon, and I don’t think I need to write another word about that.
When you’re around Hyde Park in Houston, especially on a Saturday or Sunday late morning or afternoon, stop in for brunch.
Make sure you have Bloody Danton, a Bloody Mary with gumbo roux and Sriracha. It may ruin you for a regular Bloody ever after, but worth it.
The website specifies a business casual dress code, and while I’m not a backward baseball hat kind of guy, I did find it peculiar that they specify hats can only be worn in the bar and only with the bill facing forward. Hey, do you want good seafood or not, man?
213 Milam St, Houston, TX 77002
If your evening includes a stop at the Alley Theater or Jones Hall, La Fisheria’s close and would make for a terrific start to your evening of the fine arts.
Make certain that before you go to the ballet or whatever, you order the Pulpo Ensenada. You’ll get some grilled octopus in a garlic confit, and it’s a revelation.
For starters, you have a variety of cocktail dishes to choose from, each with Acapulco sauce (I don’t know what’s in it, but I want more) and a spicy xni-pec sauce. Choose from shrimp, octopus, bay scallops, or oyster cocktail.
Great food, lovely atmosphere, close to Jones Hall. Yes, please.
11301 I-45 N, Houston, TX 77037
Pappas sits just south of Greenpoint Mall, and I remember eating there in high school in the 80s, so it’s been around long enough to have earned a stellar reputation.
The Atlantic Salmon and Scallop dish is seared, so it’s crispy on the outside and filled with salmon-y goodness inside.
The sauteed spinach was a surprise. The bigger surprise was what a nice touch that addition was.
The cold bar serves Gulf Coast oysters by the half and dozen. Remember before you order too much that Gulf Coast oysters are big, and a half dozen might be enough for you.
19550 TX-249, Houston, TX 77070
Some of the best calamari you’ll ever eat will come from the Red Fish. Seriously. Not a hint of that rubbery texture calamari can lean toward (even when prepared well).
You’ll be almost to Tomball when you pull into the parking lot, so unless you live in northwest Houston, budget your time for the drive.
Anyway, did I mention the calamari? The best entree we had at our table was, hands down, the Halibut and Shrimp in Cedar Boat.
Anything baked in cedar is almost always automatically delicious, and this fits in well. Crabmeat stuffing sits atop the halibut, and it’s a lovely experience.
Get your oysters here, too, because it’s Houston, and oysters are a thing there. Don’t miss out.
If you choose not to have oysters, at least get the Ahi Tuna and Watermelon. I had my doubts. I was wrong.
5061 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77056
Three words that no one has ever put together before the Oceanaire: Chicken Fried Lobster. This is a mind-blower. The chefs use truffle honey, and then you get cheese grits.
Honestly, you’d be happy with this even if there were no lobster. But thank goodness, there’s lobster.
This is such a quirky thing and so worth the risk you will feel like you’re taking when you order it.
Past that, there’s a collection of fish you can order just brushed with lemon butter and prepared simply.
This can be a real winner because, with a fresh fish, you can usually just let it speak for itself, and the Oceanaire does just that.