McElroy’s Harbor House Seafood Restaurant, Biloxi
What to expect: Big windows overlook the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor. Start with the seafood gumbo (thick, flavorful), proceed to the broiled fisherman’s platters, and finish with Key lime pie.
Check it out: 695 Beach Boulevard; 228/435-5001
Ole Biloxi Schooner, Biloxi
What to expect: Local favorite serves tasty po’boys at lunch and seafood platters at dinner. Hurricane Katrina destroyed this local institution, but it has reopened a few blocks west of its original location―still serving great food and Barq’s root beer.
Check it out: 871 Howard Avenue; 228/435-8071 or olebiloxischooner.com
Lil’ Ray’s, Gulfport
What to expect: No need to stray from the house specialty: the po’boy, a French bread sandwich filled with fried oysters, fried shrimp, or something equally delicious.
Check it out: 500 A Courthouse Road; 228/896-9601 or lilraysrestaurant.com
Harbor View Café, Long Beach
What to expect: Hurricane Katrina destroyed the original location across from the harbor in Pass Christian. The new location lacks the water view but retains the excellent fried seafood and friendly service.
Check it out: 19099 Pineville Road, Suite 105; 228/867-8949
Bozo’s Seafood Market & Deli, Pascagoula
What to expect: You give your order to a man at a back-corner table. He writes it on a white paper sack, which he plops on an adjacent counter. You help yourself to a soft drink from a cooler or the soda fountain and browse the seafood market in back or the shelves of spice mixes and locally made cane syrup. Then you pick up that same sack, now filled with fresh fried seafood, or perhaps a po’boy, and eat at a paper-towels-equipped table against the opposite wall. It doesn’t get any more down-home. Or delicious.
Check it out: 2012 Ingalls Avenue; 228/762-3322
Shaggy’s Harbor Bar & Grill, Pass Christian
What to expect: Lots of good non-fried options.
Check it out: 120 South Hiern Avenue; 228/452-9939 or shaggys.biz
What to expect: Heavenly thin-fried catfish, plus excellent gumbo, fried shrimp, and fried oysters.
Check it out: 75 Manchac Way; 985/386-6666 or middendorfsrestaurant.com
Voleo’s Seafood Restaurant, Lafitte
What to expect: Amazing Cajun and Creole food in a gritty town on the Intracoastal Waterway.
Check it out: 5134 Nunez Street; 504/689-2482 or voleosrestaurant.com
Morton’s Seafood Restaurant, Madisonville
What to expect: Good food, fun atmosphere.
Check it out: 702 Water Street; 985/845-4970 or mortonsseafood.com
Sid-Mar’s of Bucktown, Metairie
What to expect: Try the fried oysters, shrimp, or catfish, the po’boys, or the not-too-spicy but seafood-packed gumbo. Savor the boiled crawfish while you can; their season ends as summer heats up.
Check it out: 1824 Orpheum Avenue; 504/831-9541 or sidmarsofbucktown.com
Acme Oyster House, New Orleans
What to expect: Great raw oysters, and try the oyster po’boy and shrimp Gumbo Poopa, too.
Check it out: 724 Iberville Street; 504/522-5973 or acmeoyster.com
Casamento’s Restaurant, New Orleans
What to expect: This 1919-vintage favorite serves wonderful oysters and other great seafood from its original, tiled-inside-and-out Uptown storefront. Unfortunately, Casamento’s closes during the warmest months (June through August). Cash only.
Check it out: 4330 Magazine Street; 504/895-9761 or casamentosrestaurant.com
Mamie’s, New Orleans
What to expect: Windows make up three walls of the slightly wobbly main dining room, providing views of hardworking fishing boats. The food reflects the restaurant’s location―heavy on coastal catches (excellent broiled seafood) and Louisiana spice.
Check it out: 20844 Chef Menteur Highway; 504/254-0252
R & O Restaurant, New Orleans
What to expect: Hurricane Katrina demolished many of the seafood restaurants in the Bucktown area on Lake Pontchartrain. Fortunately, R & O survives and thrives, serving great po’boys, fried seafood, gumbo, pizza, and other delectables in an ultracasual, ultra-friendly atmosphere.
Check it out: 216 Metairie Hammond Highway; 504/831-1248
Executive Surf Club, Corpus Christi
What to expect: Surfboards for tables and a nice shrimp burger.
Check it out: 309 N. Water Street; 361/884-7873 or executivesurfclub.com
Pier 99 Restaurant, Corpus Christi
What to expect: Opt for the shrimp plus fried calamari, gumbo, or clam chowder against a backdrop of the museum ship USS Lexington and views of Corpus Christi Bay.
Check it out: 2822 North Shoreline Boulevard; 361/887-0764 or restauranteur.com/pier99
Snoopy’s Pier, Corpus Christi
What to expect: Great fried seafood in a bright blue building under the bridge to Padre Island.
Check it out: 13313 South Padre Island Drive; 361/949-8815
Esther’s Cajun Seafood & Steaks, Port Arthur
What to expect: Locals lunch here, which is always a good sign. The building arrived in the late 1980s by barge from Cameron, Louisiana. Now decorated with hunting trophies, it turns out solid, dependable seafood in a friendly atmosphere.
Check it out: 7237 Rainbow Lane (under the Rainbow Bridge); 409/962-6268 or estherscajunseafood.com
Marchan’s White Sands Restaurant, Port Isabel
What to expect: Nothing fancy, just fresh, well-prepared, plentifully portioned seafood and lots of local fans.
Check it out: 418 West Highway 100; 956/943-2414 or the-white-sands.com
The Spot, Port O’Connor
What to expect: Enjoy the grilled flounder, or bring your own catch. The Spot will fry it, grill it, or blacken it for you.
Check it out: 14th and Jefferson Streets; 361/983-2775
The Boiling Pot, Rockport
What to expect: Mounds of boiled seafood dumped on your table.
Check it out: 201 S. Fulton Beach Road; 361/729-6972 or theboilingpotonline.com
Gilhooley’s Restaurant, San Leon
What to expect: Great oysters in innovative combinations (such as barbecued with garlic sauce and shrimp). Nice gumbo, too.
Check it out: 222 Ninth Street; 281/339-3813
Dolphin Cove Oyster Bar, South Padre Island
What to expect: Garage-door walls roll up, providing breezy views of boat traffic. The menu includes only three seafood items, but they're outstanding: oysters, shrimp, and seviche (fish and veggies marinated in spiced lime juice).
Check it out: Isla Blanca Park; 956/761-2850 or spisland.com/dolphincove
Topwater Grill, San Leon
What to expect: This restaurant-bar overlooks an obscure patch of Galveston Bay southeast of Houston. Go for the locally harvested items, such as shrimp, oysters, crab, and black drum. And don't overlook the thick, spicy crab-and-corn chowder.
Check it out: 815 Avenue O; 281/339-1232 or topwatergrill.com
Wanna Wanna Beach Bar & Grill, South Padre Island
What to expect: Beachfront tiki hut. Cold beer, fried shrimp.
Check it out: 5100 Gulf Boulevard (at Wanna Wanna hotel); 956/761-7677 or wannawanna.com
Updated May 2009