Restaurant Reviews

Sharky's: Waterfront Dining in Kingwood

A Texas Melt and a frozen drink by the lake is a happy time.
A Texas Melt and a frozen drink by the lake is a happy time. Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Houston in the summer means sizzling pavements, 100 percent humidity (without rain, somehow) and  weather patterns that range from extreme drought to sudden, torrential downpours. While many Houstonians escape for a week or two to some less ferocious climate, there's still the rest of the season to contend with, unless one can afford to summer in Nantucket. That ain't we, babe.

So, we must make do with the little respites across our city's sprawl. There's Lake Conroe way north for boating, fishing and lakeside dining. There's Galveston down south for beachy things. Then, closer in, there's Lake Houston. And for Kingwood/Humble/Atascocita folks, there are a few dining spots along the lake that have become popular havens for a family dinner or couples night out.
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King's Harbor survived Hurricane Harvey.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
One of the local favorites is Sharky's Waterfront Grill. Owned by Rosa and Ronald Perez, it's located in King's Harbor Waterfront Village, next to another of the couple's restaurants, Chimichurri's South American Grill. They also own Sharky's American Grill in Vintage Park and more recently purchased J. Christopher's Pizza-Pasta, an Italian restaurant that has been open in Kingwood since 1980.

The restaurants and retail businesses at King's Harbor, 1660 W. Lake Houston Parkway,  took a major hit during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. Many of the businesses, which experienced terrible flooding, took a year or two to reopen. The Perez's reopened Chimichurri's in August 2018 after extensive remodeling. Then the couple purchased Sharky's next door and reopened it in July 2019, saving the Kingwood hangout from its probable demise.

And they also tweaked a few things, making it a nicer experience with better food. I don't remember much of my first visit to Sharky's years ago but the food didn't make an impression. It was a fun place to hang with friends and that's about it.

A few months ago, needing conversation and cocktails with my bestie, Big Hair Kim, I made the drive to her side of town so that we could sit by the water at Sharky's and enjoy the spring weather.
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The Shark Attack after a few sips.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Sharky's has a nice enough interior (and an excellent fish tank) but it's really the outdoor space with views of Lake Houston that are its lure. There is covered dining on one side that gets a decent enough view but we prefer the tables overlooking the lake. We got a primo spot and gave our order to the server. Big Hair Kim, or perhaps I should call her Kingwood Kim, has lived in the Kingwood area much of her life. Sharky's is a favorite of hers and she knew exactly what she wanted to drink. She chose the Shark Attack margarita and trusting her judgement, I did the same. It usually works out for me.

The regular is $10.99 while the grande is $16.99. We opted for the regular which is a 16-ounce glass filled with frozen rita made with Patron silver, Patron Citronge, Pama liqueur, sweet and sour and lime juice. Normally, I stick to house frozens because I don't see the need for premium tequila in a frozen margarita. However, the different liquors in the Shark Attack made for a tasty drink. The Pama, a pomegranate liqueur, gives it a pretty touch of sunset pink.
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Big Hair Kim loves the Sand Bar platter.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Since my friend is a regular customer, she opted for her usual Sand Bar ($17.99) platter. She chose the parmesan crusted chicken, but there's an option of broiled as well. Her crispy chicken cutlets were topped with artichoke hearts, spinach and mushrooms, which were delicious, but her favorite part of the platter was the accompanying side. It's fresh green beans and carrot sticks that are tender but still have a bit of bite to them.

Unlike my friend, I love seafood, but I wasn't feeling it that day. I instead ordered The Texas Melt and I was glad I did. The half-pound CAB beef was cooked medium, which is perfect for my burger preference. There was a melty layer of Swiss cheese, but it was the Cowboy Candy that really made this sandwich stand out. The sweetness of the candied jalapenos was not overpowering. It shined against the fattiness of the meat and cheese. And the Texas Toast that is was served on stood up to the juices.

The Texas Melt ($12.99) comes with fries that are served in a wire basket which keeps the hand-cut, skin-on, thin-sliced potatoes crispy. All together, this could be my favorite version of a patty melt meal. 
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Escape the hustle and bustle of Houston with a cocktail and a view.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
As the sun began to set over the lake, we ordered a second round. This time, I wanted to try something different. I went for the Hammer Headbanger ($10.99). The mix of vodka, Malibu rum, melon liqueur and fruit juice was refreshing but a tad sweet for my taste. Of course, those ingredients are bound to be sweet, so that's on me.

Big Hair Kim and I made a second trip to Sharky's last week, accompanied this time by my husband, Classic Rock Bob, plus her teenage son and my teenage son. It was a Sunday evening and pleasant enough skies. There weren't many tables sat in the restaurant but when we asked about the wait, we were told by a young man that its would be about an hour. It seemed odd considering the lack of people inside.

The young woman helming the hostess stand then told us that it would be 20 minutes rather than an hour. Apparently our earlier host was in training and not-too-familiar with seating times. The person in charge was soon approached by a server who said she needed to go home because she had forgotten her hair tie. We could see the jaded frustration on our young hostess' face as she told the other very young lady to just pull her hair through the back of her cap opening. " It's always something with that one," she said.
The Mako Shark Burger is piled high with yummy ingredients.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
The staff on hand were young. The only person who seemed remotely over 21 was the bartender. Eventually, we were given an outdoor table that I would say was the best seat in, or out, of the restaurant. It was a cushioned banquette against the outdoor wall, facing the lake. They must have known it was my birthday.

Though we were a little concerned about the youthful crew, our server was a bouncing, friendly guy with a welcoming spirit. We adults each ordered the grande Shark Attacks. My friend had already designated my 19-year-old son as the driver.

We ordered some onion rings and queso and chips while we perused the menu. The onion rings were freshly battered and tasty but there were only four in the order. For $4.99, one would expect a little more. Food costs may have gone up but onions are still pretty cheap.

The chips, salsa and queso starter was a bit sad. There was a small plastic ramekin of salsa and a small plastic ramekin of queso. The queso was fine, but I didn't care for the salsa which tasted like Ranchero sauce. Classic Rock Bob and Big Hair Kim disagreed with me, but what do I know? I'm just the food writer. What I do know is that the queso appetizer is listed on the menu as Wipeout and for $8.99, the two little ramekins of dip were a wipeout. The chips, however, were thin and crispy.

We placed our orders, with BHK going with her go-to Sand Bar platter. CRB ordered the St. Charles Louisiana Catfish ($17.99) while I, the birthday girl, ordered the Whale Shark Fried Platter ($23.99). My son vacillated between a burger or the Texas Melt. He loves Whataburger's patty melt so I convinced him to go for Sharky's delicious version. My friend's son opted for the Mako Shark Burger ($12.99).
Fresh veggies balance out cream sauce.
Photo by Bob Ruggiero
While we waited for our meals, we enjoyed the view of the lake and our frosty drinks. Our food arrived in good time and looked way more appealing than our starters. Big Hair Kim was, as always, satisfied with her Sand Bar chicken. Classic Rock Bob's catfish was a little bland to me and definitely needed more blackening, though I really liked the shrimp and andouille cream sauce on top. It also came with fluffy rice and fresh carrots and green beans.

I took a bite of my son's Texas Melt just to make sure it was as good as the last time and it was. My friend's son's burger looked amazing but I wasn't going to ask a sixteen-year-old boy for a bite of his food. The Mako Shark Burger had huge strips of Applewood-smoked bacon hanging out of the brioche bun and oozed with American cheese. Next visit, I might have to order that and compare it with the Texas Melt.

My Whaleshark Fried Platter was loaded with fried goodies and I realized that the frozen drinks were taking a toll on my appetite. I could barely manage to get started. I did my best, saving quite a bit of my meal for the next day. I gave my husband a couple of the cornmeal-crusted oysters and a seafood-stuffed crab ball. The crab balls were seasoned well and full of crab and shrimp. The fried shrimp were butterflied and split so that more of the surface area of the shrimp gets coated. It actually worked because the crispy coating adhered to the shrimp, never getting soggy.
It's a whale of a platter of fried food.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
The large seafood-stuffed shrimp was also filled with well-seasoned seafood and breadcrumbs, not too heavy on the bell pepper, though there was one large chunk of onion that I had to remove. The hushpuppies were fluffy and more of the bread type with corn kernels inside. Because my friend dislikes seafood, she never gets to enjoy hushpuppies, so she stole one from my plate, along with some of my fries. Always be suspicious of tablemates who order veggies.

There were two items on the platter that fell flat. I love coleslaw but the accompanying ramekin of tasteless, dry cabbage slices did not impress. Also, the fried catfish was flavorless and a bit soft inside. The crispy outer cornmeal crust could not save it. However, most of the platter was spot on with the frying and the seasoning, especially the shrimp and crab balls.
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A calming view over Lake Houston is a pleasant way to spend an evening.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
When it came time for a second round of drinks, I went for the regular size Shark Attack versus the grande. I would recommend sticking with the regular size because my somewhat scientific observation showed that there wasn't more than a couple of ounces difference between the two, despite the grande being an additional $6.

It was a fun and relaxing evening as the sun set over the barely rippling water. Our server, who reminded us a bit of Keanu Reeves' character from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, laughed at our old people humor even if our own sons did not. The view of the lake, the potent Shark Attack margaritas and the solidly good food made it a nice waterside escape on a summery Houston evening.

Sharky's Waterfront Grill
1660 W. Lake Houston Parkway
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Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.