Larry Walker knows seafood. The co-owner of The Oasis at Joe Pool Lake has sought game fish in more than 20 countries across the world and some of his greatest catches even adorn the eatery’s walls, including a massive black marlin that he snagged near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. These maritime touches fit right in at a restaurant that floats atop the surface of Joe Pool Lake and serves a menu of pan-regional seafood dishes.
In addition to making shrimp gumbo and New England–style clam chowder, the chefs also create Tex-Mex fish tacos and beer-battered fish and chips. The selection even includes a handful of Southern staples from the land, such as barbecued brisket sandwiches and chicken-fried steak.
With the waters of Joe Pool Lake lying just beyond its walls, The Oasis at Joe Pool Lake features an outdoor patio area overlooking the surrounding shoreline. The eatery keeps diners engaged by hosting live entertainment in the form of bands and DJs, which get crowds up and dancing beneath the festively colored lights strung above the outdoor tables.
A staple in the Dallas eating scene since before the first location in Oak Cliff was cool, La Calle Doce opened in 1981, just ten minutes from downtown. Set inside a renovated former home, the original location on 12th Street is near to bursting with relaxed charm. Each cozy, wood-floored room offers up a couple of white tablecloth spots for simple dining, while sunlight pours in and homey touches – think hutches filled with china, decorative wallpaper – round out the experience. Offering some of the best Tex¬-Mex food in town, La Calle Doce pushes plates of saucy seafood and fresh ingredients, served in tacos, sopas, cocteles or as standalone plates.
Ruggeri’s Italian Kitchen’s experienced culinary crafters whip together an expansive lunch and dinner menu brimming with homemade Italian dishes. A plate of thin spaghetti ties tongues in a web of noodles and slow cooked bolognese sauce ($16) while a meal of italian sausage and peppers serenade mouths with a harmonizing trio of bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes ($18.95). The pescatore diavalo ($19.95), a savory blend of shrimp, calamari, mussels, scallops, and artichoke hearts, bobs in a pool of marinara sauce to give land-locked tongues a more authentic taste of the sea than a fricasseed ship hull. Though Ruggeri's offers an array of meat options, including chicken, veal, and beef, plantivores can sink their bicuspids into a tomato & blue cheese salad bedecked with fresh basil vinaigrette and shallots ($8).
In the Oscar-winning movie Forrest Gump, one of the title character's best pals, Bubba, lists more than 20 ways one can cook shrimp. Though the chefs at Fish Bone Grill—which is now celebrating 30 years in business—don’t cover them all, they come pretty close. The Fish Bone team tends to stick to a few staples—crab legs, catfish, and oysters in addition to shrimp—but there’s hardly a lack of variety on their menu. Patrons can order the fresh seafood in any number of ways, including golden fried, blackened, sautéed in a New Orleans–style stir-fry, mixed in an étouffée, or hidden inside a piñata. The chefs also incorporate additional fresh seafood, such as salmon, mahi-mahi, tilapia, sea scallops, and alaskan snow-crab legs into a few of their specialties, and they even throw in a few land-faring meals such as chicken-breast sandwiches and chicken tenders. Regardless of your order, the portions are always generous, encouraging you to grab a beer and stick around to enjoy the fun, vibrant atmosphere of this modern throwback to an old oyster bar.
Chef and owner Franchesca Nor caters to health-conscious Park Cities crowds at stylish Dive Coastal Cuisine in Snider Plaza. Order at the counter, then grab a sleek white or metal table in the bright, airy dining room and await your food. As the restaurant’s name indicates, the menu is heavy on seafood, and decidedly fancier than you might expect from a fast-casual space. Starters include striped bass ceviche with housemade plantain chips and fried calamari with spicy Sriracha aïoli. A selection of sandwiches and wraps includes the popular ahi tuna wrap, a colorful arrangement of seared fish, coconut rice, avocado and ginger slaw tucked into a spinach tortilla; there’s also simple grilled fish with lemon, or shrimp tacos with jicama slaw and spicy lime ranch. Surprisingly, seafood haters will find plenty to like here too, including a pulled pork sandwich, turkey burger or white bean hummus with pita.