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Gators and Gumbo

Enjoy the Tex-Cajun cooking at Al-T's — just don't ask too many questions about it.

There's a vaguely take-it-or-leave-it quality to both the food at Al-T's and the people of Winnie and the surrounding areas — either you love them or you don't, and if you don't, well, don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. At first this attitude may appear dismissive and uncaring, but it's really the exact opposite — Al-T's will celebrate 25 years in business this year and is understandably proud of the food and service it provides to locals and visitors alike. The staff is always friendly and welcoming, but a complaint from an outsider that the food is too bland or too spicy will undoubtedly yield a polite nod and smile, but probably not much more.

This spirit of independence and irreverence is best exemplified in what many consider to be Al-T's signature dish — the Dirty Herbie. Named after the restaurant's founder, Herbert Thibodeaux, it's a riotous mishmash of all that is wonderful and good in Al-T's interpretation of Tex-Cajun cooking — a thick bedding of fragrant dirty rice smothered in a creamy layer of shrimp or crawfish étouffée, crowned by cooked-to-order chunks of marinated rib-eye steak.

It's a dish of decadent layers in both texture and flavor (not to mention culture). The whole thing is kicked up with a dusting of chile powder somewhere in one of the layers. And to top it all off, the salty/fatty juices from the rib-eye steak conveniently drench the lot of it.

If you want to sample the menu, get the Al-T's Special.
Troy Fields
If you want to sample the menu, get the Al-T's Special.

Location Info

Map

Al-T's Seafood & Steakhouse

244 Spur 5 Highway 124
Winnie, TX 77665

Category: Restaurant > Cajun

Region: Outside Houston

Details

Hours: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays; 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

Chicken and sausage gumbo (cup):  $4.95

Fried boudin nuggets: $6.95

Fried catfish dinner (large): $13.95

Al-T's Special: $19.95

Dirty Herbie: $20.95

244 Spur 5 Highway 124 in Winnie, 409-296-9818.

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If you're still hungry, then Al-T's has a full selection of homemade pies. The pecan pie is as sweet and fresh as any you'll find in a cafe in pecan-laden central Texas. A unique addition to the menu is the "Mystery Pecan Pie," which is a traditional pecan pie with a layer of cream cheese thrown in for good measure. It's a decadent fusion of pecan pie and cheesecake.

I asked our server who makes the pies. "They're made by a lady in Winnie," she replied, with a nod and a smile. I fished deeper and asked again, wanting to know how I could get a whole pie in case I needed one on the way to a family event in Beaumont or the beach at Bolivar. "They're made by a lady in Winnie," she repeated politely, as if protecting a closely guarded trade secret. She volunteered that if I needed a whole pie, I could always call ahead to Al-T's and one would be waiting for me.

And that, in a nutshell, exemplifies the visitor's experience at Al-T's in Winnie. You'll be welcomed with open arms, treated like family and served good food, but it's best not to ask too many questions. The secrets of Al-T's 25 years of success will stay in Winnie, and as an outsider, you're strictly on a need-to-know basis.

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