The original Ragin' Cajun joint opened in 1974, treating visitors to hearty po' boys, red beans and rice, and authentic Louisiana boiled crawfish. Today, visitors make the pilgrimage to one of five area locations, including the Woodlands location, newly-opened in 2014, plopping down at tables to sup on meals of Gulf Coast shrimp and crab, gumbos, rib eye, and homemade bread pudding. The intense flavors and cuisine of southwestern Louisiana unfold in a dining room decked with vintage signage, college-sports memorabilia, and buzzing neon. Ragin' Cajun also keeps customers in the know with a Craw Club and can customize catering packages for off-site Acadian feasts, filling banquet halls with food, DJs, and live zydeco bands.
Towering palm trees, shady cabanas, and flickering tiki torches help create a distinctively Caribbean ambiance in El Pueblito Patio's outdoor seating area, distinguishing it from the rest of the dining area and earning the restaurant the award for Best Patio from Houston Press in 2007 and 2008. The chefs also look for inspiration beyond the borders, combining Mayan, Aztec, Spanish, and African culinary influences that typically characterize Guatemalan and Mexican cuisine. Fried plantains, fiery salsas, and a closely guarded blend of house spices help to lend iconic Latin flavors to the menu of grilled redfish, sautéed gulf shrimp, and roasted chicken. Large fronds and domesticated clouds shade the patio, which encourages diners to enjoy their meals out in the fresh air while savoring a drink with one of the bar's numerous tequilas.
Ever since Houston was founded where the White Oak and Buffalo bayous meet, water has played a significant role in the city’s history and cultural identity. Houston claims many nicknames—Space City, H-Town, and Clutch City all come to mind—but the most enduring is a reference to those two streams: Bayou City. Bayou City Seafood & Pasta celebrates its hometown’s history with a menu of Southern-inspired seafood dishes. The restaurant casts its nets into fresh water and salt water alike, pulling up perennial favorites that range from crawfish bisque to blackened frog legs. As the name’s latter half implies, there are also more than a dozen pasta dishes to choose from. One highlight is the Pasta Thor, a combination of asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, goat cheese, and jumbo shrimp cooked under a lightning bolt.
The tone at Fish Place is informal—customers order from chalkboards and hand-painted signs, pop open BYOB bottles, and dine against the backdrop of brick walls and corrugated tin. It’s an appropriate setting for cuisine that you might devour at a neighborhood crawfish boil or a bayou-side porch. To prepare that food for guests, chefs fry, grill, or blacken catfish, shrimp, and oysters, and serve the crispy morsels with sides such as french bread and hushpuppies. They also stuff seafood into po’ boys and tacos, which feature savory housemade sauces such as rémoulade and spicy smoked chipotle. And for dessert, the team fries beignets, a New Orleans classic made from fried dough and the heat energy left in the air by tourists.
One look inside The Fish Place, and it's clear that restaurant lives up to its name. Chalkboard menus brim with all manner of Cajun and creole seafood, and within the restaurant's open-air kitchen, chefs fry oysters and fill bowls with seafood gumbo and and blacken shrimp. They construct inventive po' boy sandwiches, such as The Fish Place Original: fried or grilled catfish and shrimp served atop a french roll and covered in housemade rémoulade. The chefs also cook chicken, mainly because no one has told them yet that it isn't actually a fish.
The saying “writing on the wall” typically refers to bad omens, but at Fish Place, it takes on a positive, and literal, connotation. Words such as “salad,” “gumbo,” and “shrimp” appear all over the wallpaper, foreshadowing the Cajun-style cuisine to come.
In addition to stirring up signature seafood gumbo, Fish Place’s chefs fill baskets with cooked-to-order crawfish, catfish, oysters, and shrimp. The chefs accompany their fried or blackened entrees with hushpuppies, french bread, or red beans and rice, rather than the traditional seafood side, sand. Tacos and po’ boys round out the menu.