You'll be spoiled for choice at this California-based seafood paradise, where the menu boasts pretty much any seaworthy delight you may be craving. Find over a dozen varieties of oysters, four different types of crudo plus shellfish platters brimming with everything from Dungeness crab to sea urchin. And that doesn't even begin to cover cooked options, which range from house-made orecchiette with Ecuadorian white shrimp to Brittany Dover Sole and steamed live lobster. Add to the equation a vast selection of wines by the glass, twenty local beers on tap, handcrafted cocktails and an inviting 2,000-square-foot patio with a retractable roof. No wonder this place is popular.
Recommended for Seafood because: Water Grill offers the largest selection of raw oysters and chilled shellfish in Dallas.
Ilene's expert tip: Score great deals on beer, wine and cocktails plus oysters and bar bites during Happy Hour, from 3 to 6 p.m., Monday-Friday. Valet parking is available and there is also metered parking (free after 6 p.m.)on the street.
This Highland Park Village seafood institution has been serving the city's créme de la créme for over thirty years. The setting is elegant, the vibe is sophisticated and the menu features everything you'd expect from a place like this. There's escargot bourguignon, Ossetra caviar and fresh lobster flown in daily from Nova Scotia. Less decadent options include dishes such as grilled Texas Gulf snapper and pan-seared Diver scallops over mushroom risotto. Easier on the wallet is the lunch menu where you can find everything from crab Louie salad to lobster rolls and seafood crepes. The pecan ball is a must for dessert.
Recommended for Seafood because: Café Pacific is where to go for power lunches and special-occasion splurges.
Ilene's expert tip: Cafe Pacific offers a smaller bar menu for those who want to just stop in for drinks and a snack. Valet parking is available. Also note the dress-code: No T-shirts, shorts or flip flops are allowed.
This lively and convivial Park Cities hot spot serves up some of the greatest seafood hits of the Northeast. The menu features everything from jumbo lump crab cakes and lobster rolls to maple planked salmon, shrimp scampi and a fresh Atlantic catch of the day. This place is also well known for its specialty towers which include raw bar favorites like oysters, tuna tartare, salmon crudo, cracked king crab, shrimp cocktail and whole lobster. Oh, and they claim to serve the world's coldest martinis. Slide-in between 4 and 6 p.m. when you can check out a variety of them for half price.
Recommended for Seafood because: Hudson House is the best place in Dallas for seafood towers.
Ilene's expert tip: Snag martinis & bellinis as well as East Coast oysters and cheeseburgers for half price during Happy Hour, from 3-6 p.m. daily.
Tucked in an off-the-beaten-path shopping strip near White Rock Lake, this no-frills spot is a local fixture for fresh catches hailing from the East Coast. Here, you can dive into everything from fresh Bluepoint oysters to New England clam chowder, fried Ipswich clams and some of the city's best lobster rolls. And it doesn't stop there. Also worthy of your attention are blackened shrimp scampi with Parmesan grits and fried oysters & chips. Beyond the regular menu, expect to find daily specials like sautéed line-caught Hawaiian swordfish with lemon butter and grilled Bay of Fundy salmon with udon noodles and peanut sauce. Don't sleep on the garlic-rosemary fries.
Recommended for Seafood because: 20-Feet Seafood is best known for its lobster rolls and fried oysters.
Ilene's expert tip: Everything on the menu is priced at $20 or less plus there's a dog-friendly patio and it's BYOB.
Not only does this casual Uptown eatery serve Cajun-inspired seafood, but it also cranks out an array of Vietnamese influenced seafood options as well. Expect to find dishes such as drunken calamari, sea salt shrimp and scallop sate in addition to New Orleans-style gumbo, crab claws and fried catfish. Also on the menu are raw gulf coast and east coast oysters as well as fresh lobster, blue crab, king crab legs, mussels, and of course, crawfish, when it's in season. Chase it all down with beer and wine or cocktails like their blueberry spritz, made with Western Sons Blueberry Vodka, St-Germain and sparkling wine. Did we mention there's a drag brunch going down every other Sunday?
Recommended for Seafood because: Crab House Seafood & Oyster Bar is the one of the only places in Dallas to find Cajun and Vietnamese-style seafood.
Ilene's expert tip: Score discounted drinks and food all day on Crabby Tuesdays.
This coastal-chic restaurant at The Shops at Legacy in Plano takes sustainable seafood seriously, which means most everything here has been carefully sourced from small, privately-owned fisheries. To that end, expect to tuck into items like seared Scottish salmon from Loch Duart in north-west Scotland, King Crab legs from Red King Crab fishery in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and blackened redfish from Texas-based Copper Shoals Red Drum farm. Don't overlook the shrimp and white cheddar grits or the grilled whole branzino. Ditto for sides like lobster mac-n-cheese. They also have a great weekday happy hour and offer half-off bottles of wine on Mondays.
Recommended for Seafood because: The Keeper is a perfect spot for business dinners, date nights or meet-ups with seafood loving friends.
Ilene's expert tip: Head here for the Keeper Hour (Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m.) when you can score $6 cocktails, draft beer and wine by the glass plus $6 appetizers like seafood campechana, calamari, mussels and artichoke & spinach dip.
There's always a fresh catch to be had at this eatery-cum-fish market where the oceanic fare is flown in from all over the world six days a week. On the menu are oysters plucked straight from the Gulf and East coasts along with items like tuna nachos, lobster rolls, blackened redfish BLTs and fish tacos. More substantial selections include a terrific grilled Alaskan halibut served with homemade pineapple/jalapeño salsa. Besides lunch and dinner, Rex's serves a weekend brunch that includes red-velvet-battered fried cod and Belgium waffles, served with balsamic fig reduction, strawberries and whipped cream.
Recommended for Seafood because: Rex's is a popular place to slurp down fresh oysters.
Ilene's expert tip: Score $1 and $2 oysters as well as discounted food, beer and wine during Happy Hour; from 3-6 p.m., Monday â" Friday. Note that Rex's has two locations: The Market Shops in the Dallas Farmers Market and at 6713 W. Northwest Highway.
If lobster rocks your boat, then you're going to want to hit Dock Local, a casual new eatery in Uptown by Maryland native Brett Curtis. On the menu is an assortment of starters, sandwiches, tacos, salads and sides featuring seafood culled from the waters around Maine and the Canadian border. As for the lobster, you'll find everything from lobster bisque, lobster loaded fries and lobster mac-n-cheese to three types of lobster rolls, including one that comes stuffed chunks of lobster meat, blue crab and shrimp. Other hits include Maryland style crab cake sliders and a grilled fresh catch of the day. Best of all, everything rings in under $15.
Recommended for Seafood because: Dock Local is where to go for a casual meal of lobster-laden treats.
Ilene's expert tip: There is a free parking garage located in the West Village. The owner also operates a food truck around town as well as stall in the Food Hall at Crockett Row in Fort Worth.
When it comes to finding fresh seafood, sushi is usually a solid choice. But James Beard award-winning chef Tyson Cole's restaurant, Uchi, offers much more than nigiri and sashimi, though they have that here, too. Expect also to see a lineup of inventive small plates that include standouts such as hirame usuzukuri (thinly sliced raw flounder with candied quinoa) and the machi cure, composed of smoked yellowtail, yucca chips and marcona almonds. If raw fish isn't your jam, then you can delve into cooked items like diver scallop hot rock and grilled seabass with leeks and coconut. Don't even think about skipping the fried milk for dessert.
Recommended for Seafood because: Uchi is where to go when you want innovative Japanese-influenced seafood dishes.
Ilene's expert tip: Score small plates and libations for $3 to $10 during Uchi's Sake Social, offered daily between 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Also note that the restaurant keeps around 40% of its tables available to walk-ins.
With multiple daily deliveries of pristine seafood from all over the world, it should come as no surprise that this family-run seafood market and restaurant serves some of the city's best fresh catches. In addition to a boatload of fish, shellfish and prepared items for purchase, TJ's serves a host of dine-in options, ranging from oysters on the half shell to ceviche, shrimp tacos, lobster rolls and grilled fish. Speaking of lobster, every Monday they feature a New England-style lobster bake which includes a 1.25-pound lobster and the whole shebang ( mussels, clams, corn and potatoes) for $45.
Recommended for Seafood because: TJ's is Dallas' favorite one-stop shop and eatery for all things seafood.
Ilene's expert tip: Enjoy half-price beer & wine from 2-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. There's also a late-night Happy Hour from 9-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, plus you can score $2 oysters every Sunday from 6-9 p.m.