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Deer Lease Chic at LA Bar

LA Bar offers comfortable food and surroundings, especially for men who like sports, hunting, fishing and golf.

I shouldn't have been surprised, though. The extended Mandola family runs some of the city's most notable Italian restaurants, from the giant Carrabba's chain to the demure Damian's, which recently turned 30 years old. That red gravy is silky and buttery, coating each fat strand of pasta, with the sharply acidic bite of tomatoes slicing through it all. But if ordering spaghetti at a Cajun restaurant seems too weird, you can get that same sauce — along with homemade meatballs and melted Provolone — on one of LA Bar's po-boys at lunch.
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When LA Bar first opened, I wondered how it would distinguish itself from both its big sister and nearby competitors like Pappadeaux and Bayou City Seafood. The former has far better Hurricanes and a much more elegant dining room, while the latter boasts outstanding gumbo in addition to better happy-hour deals and a "power lunch" special that gets you in and out quickly and cheaply. Both are Houston stalwarts, and Ragin' Cajun itself is right up there with them.

Since opening less than a year ago, however, LA Bar has done a good job of making itself stand apart from the pack. Beer choices are better here, for example, and the well-priced wine list provides an option that Ragin' Cajun certainly doesn't. (Try the unexpectedly good Mandola family's Pinot Grigio from Slovenia with your oysters on the half shell, but watch the price on those curiously expensive Gulf bivalves; they're far cheaper elsewhere.)

You can't go wrong with LA Bar's meatball po-boy or chargilled oysters.
Troy Fields
You can't go wrong with LA Bar's meatball po-boy or chargilled oysters.

Details

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sundays.
Dozen raw oysters: $12
Mandola's pasta and meatballs: $13
New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp: $16
Chargrilled oysters: $20
Seafood platter: $24
Blackened catfish: $24

READ MORE
SLIDESHOW: LA Bar: Where the Boys Are
BLOG POST: LA Bar: A Cajun Restaurant with an Italian Heritage

LA Bar

4302-A Richmond, 713-355-2227.

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LA Bar is comfortable without being too divey; it's neat and clean without being too uppity; and even if some of its dishes are total misses, the rest are very solid to above-average seafood entries in a coastal market that usually (and happily) will find more room for fried oysters and boiled crawfish in its dining rooms.

It also occurred to me in that moment during my last visit, surrounded by bowhunters and golfers and SportsCenter anchors, that I am probably not the target demographic for LA Bar's heaping platters of fried seafood; enormous rounds of cheese-topped, chargrilled oysters; or overpriced barbecue shrimp. But the demographic it does serve — quite ably, it seems — is one that's curiously overlooked in today's dining market: the man who wants to hang out with his buddies at a guy's-club-style spot that's neither a sleazy breastaurant nor so overtly masculine that he can't take his wife or girlfriend for a nice dinner and doesn't mind dropping a few extra bucks to do so.

LA Bar is exactly that restaurant.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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3 comments
texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

K, I frequent LA Bar, and most evenings the dining room is filled with tables of couples and families , not just men.....(Unless its Sunday and there is a Texans game on)

I would say try the Stuffed Jalapenos on the app menu, as well as the meatball sliders....

OldGoat7
OldGoat7

Blackened catfish for $ 24.00? You have got to be kidding. 

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

When the Mrs. and I were broke college kids, we walked to RC on Richmond then to the Westchase location. We maintained the tradition, driving in from Pearland for lenten treats. Got to the point I thought we were paying for the new building in Sugarland with cray-cray priced crawfish & po-boys. We had to stop.

 
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