It's Lent, which means many folks in the Houston area are likely abstaining from certain luxuries. Now, foregoing meat on Fridays is always popular during this religious observation, which lasts until Palm Sunday, April 9. With that in mind, the Houston Press has gathered together the best new seafood dishes we've seen about town lately.
Even if you're absolutely not giving up meat for the next month, these dishes are still worth a try, and quite representative of some of the most promising new restaurants in the city, with a range of cuisines and flavors on offer. Here now, the best new seafood dishes to try in Houston.
Poke at Ono Poke, 607 Richmond
From the build-your-own poke bowl to the trustworthy spicy yellowtail poke bowl, Ono Poke on Richmond really has the poke drill down, with quick service even when there's a line out the door. Bowls, including the specialty versions, will set you back $10.50 for regular size or $11.95 for large.
Seared Scallops at Field & Tides, 705 East 11th
If you're the type of person who's a sucker for scallops on the menu, chef Travis Lenig's preparation will be your new jam. Pan-seared and served over creamy shrimp and crab risotto, the scallops at this family-friendly but chic Heights restaurant come topped with a chive beurre blanc and the feeling of familiar homestyle comfort ($23). The spot also cranks out a number of seafood specialties from fish dip to she-crab soup to entrée preparations of snapper, flounder and more bounty from the Gulf "tides."
Gulf Fish Karaage at Riel, 1927 Fairview
Even though Lent might be a somber time for reflection, this is pure party fish, people. Squeeze that lemon on and pop those deep-fried bites of red fish right into your mouth. It's the housemade dill Ranch that really sets this dish apart from your typical Friday fish fry ($12).
Uni Panna Cotta at One Fifth Steak, 1658 Westheimer
Chef Chris Shepherd's new restaurant — which will actually morph into five concepts over the next five years, rotating into a new eatery every summer — is currently in its first incarnation, as a steakhouse, but don't let that fool you. One Fifth Steak is actually all about the seafood as well. With a rockin' raw bar that boasts a "big" and a "bigger" seafood tower and oysters galore, you'd be remiss to order only off the meatier side of the menu. One raw bar showstopper is the rich uni, or sea urchin, panna cotta ($22), sweet and nutty with its accompanying benne seeds — it has potential to be a Houston classic.
The Ahi Tuna Burger at Hopdoddy Burger Bar, 5510 Morningside, Suite 100, 4444 Westheimer
This is kind of like eating the best tempura sushi roll of all time, but on a bun ($12.50). Something about the crispiness of fried nori, the lush crunch of unctuous sunflower sprouts and the spicy wasabi aioli atop a medium rare hunk of ahi tuna is midday magic. Plus, FYI, the new location of Hopdoddy is incredibly family-friendly, with a large outdoor seating area that on the day the Houston Press stopped by was already being utilized by a few industrious kids playing a game of keep-away.
Octopus, Shrimp and Mussel Linguine at Osso & Kristalla, 1515 Texas
The seafood linguine in diavola sauce ($18) at Astros owner Jim Crane's casual downtown trattoria lands on the lighter side when it comes to the menu of housemade carbo-loading filler, from pizzas to cacio e pepe to arancini. The sauce has a fair amount of heat, but doesn't overwhelm the seafood. Pair it with a frozen Negroni or a local craft beer while planning out your next half marathon.
Ostiones Asados at Xochi, 1777 Walker
There's a lot to love seafood-wise from chef Hugo Ortega's newest eatery, located downtown in the Marriott Marquis, but the signature wood-roasted oysters with mole amarillo, cotija cheese and breadcrumbs are one of the finer points, especially if you love a deal. At happy hour, daily 3 to 6:30 p.m., these wood-roasted wonders are half-price at $7 a half dozen or $13 for a dozen.
Tempura Fried Shrimp Taco at Fusion Taco, 4706 Main
This shrimp taco ($3.98) touts a wasabi ranch for an Asian-meets-Tex Mex twist, but if you're not in the mood for anything fried, the menu also features seared ahi tuna on a baby kale salad ($12.01). The new Heights location also features a lunch special, including two tacos, a side and a drink for $10.95, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
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Chargrilled and Raw Oyster Happy Hour at The Oyster Bar at Prohibition, 1008 Prairie
Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m. daily at this newly revamped oyster bar in downtown, which means 50-cent raw and chargrilled oysters from the Gulf and the East Coast. New executive chef Jordan Economy also brings a slew of chargrill variations, including a chimichurri preparation and the Spicy Campechana, which features Gulf shrimp, jumbo lump crab, avocado, serrano chile, roasted tomato cilantro and blue corn chips.
Fried Calamari at Sozo Sushi, 1700 Post Oak
At $7 during happy hour (or $8 regularly), the fried calamari at six-month-old Sozo comes with a side of creamy cilantro sauce for dipping and arrives, as our reviewer Cuc Lam describes it, "fried just right."