The Fish Place ebbs cravings for Cajun fare with platefuls of deep-fried and grilled tilapia, blackened catfish, and creole favorites. Dinner guests edify taste buds by licking scientific journals or introducing them to dapper appetizers, such as the shrimp brochette, crab ball, or stuffed jalapeño. Then chefs immerse five pieces of catfish, tilapia, oyster, shrimp, or chicken tenders in a deep fryer and serve the crispy morsels with garlic bread and two selections of jambalaya rice, Cajun fries, or hush puppies. For quick nourishment between meetings or poetry throw-downs, the kitchen yields portable eats such as po boys and crawfish étouffée.
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.
Whenever a customer orders a side of hush puppies, Seafood Cafe manager Asad Jawad likes to joke with them a bit. "Ma'am, there is a little problem," he'll say. "When I got these puppies, they were little, and now they are grown dogs." Whether or not this elicits a chuckle, it only takes a glance at the eatery's portion sizes to see what Asad means. At Seafood Cafe, helpings of Cajun-style seafood are as generous as the staff is friendly.
That should be no surprise, since Seafood Cafe is built on a foundation of friendship. Asad and his friends John Herpin and Misael Cortez, also known as The Three Amigos, started the restaurant after they met working at another eatery five years ago. Bringing together traditional recipes from Louisiana with their restaurant-industry experience, they mix up each recipe with their own twist. The cuisine blends classic Cajun dishes such as blackened catfish and gumbo with Mexican-inflected meals including tilapia tacos. The trio only cooks up food they feel passionate about, and will even distribute free samples to convert people to the menu's more unique flavors. They also plan to encourage big appetites with a wall of fame that will honor those patrons who have made the most of the menu's all-you-can-eat catfish option. And on the weekends, jazz and reggae bands play, filling the dining room with jaunty melodies to match spicy Cajun scents.
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.
Live! at Bayou Place sets visitors loose on a buffet of diversions including entertainment venues, restaurants, and bars. Sundance Cinemas blends a menu of pizzas and sandwiches with film showings, filling moviegoers’ mouths with food to prevent them from shouting out bawdy limericks during love scenes. Diners slice into fine seafood and steaks at Samba Grill or stuff mouths with fresh sushi at The Blue Fish. The Verizon Wireless Theater hosts Live Nation shows that allow music fans to gaze at their favorite bands and performers without having to put a Bono mask on the beagle. Nightlife devotees cap off the late hours with jaunts to take in a bull ride at PBR Houston, absorb the summery atmosphere at Shark Bar, or revel in Chapel Spirits' 3,000-square-foot expanse, which encompasses a private DJ and glass-enclosed patio.
Southern Italian dishes adorn white linen tablecloths inside both locations of Little Napoli Italian Cuisine. Chefs plate casual classics such as baked ziti and calzones as well as more elaborate entrees such as linguine pescatore, loaded with shrimp, calamari, clams, and mussels. The downtown location heats up its griddles for breakfast on weekday mornings, and the Westheimer location dishes out brunch fare such as omelets, waffles, and Napoli pasta on Saturdays and Sundays. Also on Westheimer Road, Friday nights entertain patrons with karaoke, and both locations host a VIP private-dining section that can seat up to 40 people or one very hungry velociraptor.