$13 at Bayou City Seafood & Pasta on Richmond

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: Bayou City Seafood & Pasta, 4730 Richmond, 713-621-6602

What $13 gets you: A damn fine seafood lunch.

Thirteen smackers won’t buy you supper at Bayou City Seafood & Pasta, where even the “small”-sized portions of seafood-filled pastas and fish entrees start at $15.99. Lunch, however, is another story.

The 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. specials include half-pound burgers ($6), po boys ($9.99 for shrimp, oyster, catfish, alligator or crawfish; $10.99 for soft-shell crab) and an array of N’awlins specialties such as crawfish etouffee and shrimp creole (all $9.99), served with a basket of fresh, warm garlic toast.

Recommended? For lunch, absolutely.

First time I went to Bayou City Seafood & Pasta, I barely got through the front door. It was a Friday evening and a line had formed outside the restaurant. I stepped in, asked for a menu, saw that pretty much everything cost more than this cash-strapped reporter could afford and said, something to the effect of, ‘Fuck this, we can get good, cheap seafood down the road at Ragin Cajun.’ And off I went, family in tow.

It took two years before I gave the place another shot, and I’m sure glad I did. I arrived for a late lunch, ordering the blackened catfish with jambalaya ($9.99), which included two large, well-seasoned fillets and a generous portion of moist, scrumptious jambalaya loaded with shrimp and crawfish. It was the best meal I’d had in what felt like a very long time. I ate it slowly.

The interior at Bayou City is warm and inviting with brick walls, dark wood and a fireplace – none of the loud kitsch and looping zydeco at Ragin Cajun. I can definitely see why the place is a popular dinner spot on weekends. But if you want to save your scratch, lunch is the way to go.

Bonus point: Daily happy hour specials include $2.50 pints and $3.95 for a pound of boiled crawfish. – Todd Spivak

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