As the capital city of Texas, Austin is the figurative heart of the Lone Star State. However, given is location, Austin is also almost the geographical heart, existing directly between the state’s wide-open deserts and its miles of lush coastline. As such, seafood fans – especially Austin culinary graduates – have access to wide array of options, from traditional fish markets to eateries that give a new spin to fish, shrimp and more. Here are just a few of the spots that should reel in true fans of fresh, tasty seafood:
1. Truluck’s: With two locations in Austin – one at the Arboretum and the other Downtown – Truluck’s is a sizable part of Austin’s greater seafood community. In fact, the owners are so committed to fresh seafood that they own their own fisheries. Located at the Isle of Capri outside of Naples, Florida, the fishery delivers fresh crabs to each eatery in under 24 hours. As such, crab is featured heavily on the menu, including the Pacific Northwest dungeness and Dutch Harbor red varieties. Yet the Truluck’s menu includes so much more seafood, including several lobster plates, Idaho trout, sea bass, salmon sardou and redfish with Pontchartrain sauce. There are also appetizers like a tower of tuna tartare and crunchy deep-fried shrimp.
2. Eddie V’s Prime Seafood: Much like Truluck’s, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood features a couple of locations in Austin, namely the Arboretum and a newer spot on 5th Street. And though Eddie V’s doesn’t tout its own fishery, the restaurant does have a unique ambiance, a kind of low-key vibe similar to the famous jazz clubs of the 1920s and ’30s. In fact, the Arboretum location even has several live performances from a full band every week or so. Even with the passion for jazz, Eddie V’s real commitment is fresh seafood. Menu standouts include yellowtail sashimi, lobster and shrimp bisque, swordfish steak, jumbo Gulf shrimp, ahi tuna, Florida grouper and scallops. Eddie V’s also has a line of signature cocktails and a seasonal selection of wines.
3. Pacific Star Restaurant & Oyster Bar: Hidden away just off a frontage road in the middle of Austin, Pacific Star approaches seafood with a decidedly down-home flair. With distinct influences of both Cajun and Tex-Mex cuisine, Pacific Star fashions itself as a traditional Gulf Coast oyster bar – albeit in the middle of the city. For appetizers, the restaurant prepares traditional gumbo, a mixture noted for its flavor and intensity. Other starters include catfish nuggets, fried crab fingers, calamari rings and shrimp wrapped in jalapeno and bacon. The main course offerings, meanwhile, feature a slew of oyster plates alongside specialties like crawfish etouffee or pirogue, blackened catfish filet and shrimp skewers. Pacific Star staff suggest you enjoy your oysters with a glass of cold beer.
4. Finn & Porter: On the restaurant’s website, the staff of Finn & Porter like to tout their modern ethos and love of fresh ingredients. The restaurant has developed something of a luxurious bent as well. For one, Finn & Porter is located in the Austin Hilton, an especially swanky Downtown hotel. Head chef Peter Maffei also has experience with other upscale eateries, including stints at New York eateries like Zoe, Del Frisco and Frederick’s. Yet perhaps it’s that dedication to freshness that should lure in most patrons, as the menu is chalk full of great selections. Standouts include grilled octopus, Gulf shrimp, branzino, poached lobster and a signature spicy shrimp tempura. Don’t forget to end your night with a dessert, like apple bread budding or goat cheese cake.