One Friday down, seven more to go. This past week, the 40 days of Lent began. For many, it's a time of prayer, atonement and -- most important for the purposes of this article -- meat-free Fridays. This can be quite difficult, especially in a city where fantastic burgers, juicy fried chicken and pork-stuffed-everything are tempting you at every turn.
But have no fear, Houston! These seven drool-worthy seafood sandwiches will have even the most meat-centric of us forgetting that this is a time of sacrifice:
1. Lobster Roll Where to get it: Maine-ly Sandwiches
Maine-ly Sandwiches' owner, Buddy Charity, hails from Biddleford, Maine, so right off the bat you know the shop's lobster rolls are legit. Another reason? Charity has the fresh lobster shipped in straight from Maine every week. Stop by one of two locations for a taste of the buttery-crisp, griddled buns filled with hunks of plump, tender lobster ($9.50 for a big-enough half-sandwich). The lobster is dressed simply in lemon-mayonnaise and salt and pepper, allowing the fresh-out-of-the-sea flavor of the meat to shine.
2. Fried Fish Sandwich Where to get it: Fountain View Fish Market
For a classic fried fish sandwich that will kick any fast-food version's sorry behind, look no further than Fountain View Fish Market. Choose from hot and crisp shrimp, oyster, codfish or catfish served simply on an old-fashioned hamburger bun with bright tarter sauce, lettuce and onion. The meal is just $4.99 with a choice of side (onion rings, coleslaw or french fries) and a drink.
3. Po-Boy Combo Where to get it: Goode Co. Seafood
Goode Co. Seafood's mesquite-grilled shrimp po-boys trump nearly every other version in town, but that's not to say the crunchy version isn't just as awesome. And adding catfish and oysters to the sandwich only makes things that much better. Stuff your po-boy with two of the three and choose either fried or grilled for $11.95 and $12.95, respectively. Or head to the seafood joint during lunch hours for a half-po-boy and shrimp, crab or seafood gumbo combo that can't be beat ($12.95).
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4. Bagel w/ Lox Where to get it: New York Bagel & Coffee Shop
Ask any bagel aficionado where to find the best bagel in Houston and he or she will send you straight to Meyerland's New York Bagel Shop (with River Oaks' Hot Bagel Shop as a close second). The authentic East Coast-style joint pumps out all the lox, bagels and cream cheese you can dream of...and like any good bagel shop, they do it on the cheap. Get a bagel with lox spread for around $2, or add a full slice of the smoked salmon for another $2.85. If you want the "works," go for the Lox or Nova Fish Box (pictured above). It'll run you around $10, but it comes packed with thick, meaty slices of lox, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, olives, cucumbers and a heap of cream cheese.
5. Tuna Melt Where to get it: Lankford Grocery & Market
Sometimes, you just want a good old-fashioned tuna melt. Mom-and-pop shop Lankford Grocery & Market has been serving up down-home comfort food since it opened as a grocery in 1939. At $6.75, the mega-stuffed, buttery and crisp tuna melt fresh off the famous griddle is one of the best in town.
6. Salmon Burger Where to get it: Conscious Café
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Third Ward hangout Conscious Cafe's gourmet salmon burger is one of the place's most popular dishes...and we can understand why. The wild-caught Alaskan salmon is thick and just as fresh as the housemade bread it's served on. Piles of ripe tomatoes, crisp lettuce, safflower mayo and the cafe's signature sweet onion sauce help the flaky salmon sandwich shine.
7. Crab Daddy Bao Where to get it: Fat Bao
Fat Bao's soft-shell crab-stuffed bao is one of our favorite versions of the puffy steamed buns in town. It's even on our very own Kaitlin Steinberg's list of 100 Favorite Dishes. She probably says it best: "It's a small, fried soft-shell crab nestled in a bed of Asian-inspired slaw and topped with spicy mayo. The crunchy crab is warm and textural against the puffy, yeasty bao, which also serves to temper the hint of heat in the slaw and mayo."
Get one for $5 and add on either the tempura-fried Fish Bao ($3.50) or the salmon-stuffed New Yorker Bao ($4) to round out the meal.