Somehow, despite being impossibly far from the ocean, or any other water feature of consequence (sorry, Trinity), Dallas is a bit of a seafood town. And in the last two years, new restaurants have added more options for chowdah heads, oyster lovers and fish-and-chips addicts. Some offer dishes you'd never expect from a seafood restaurant in the South, like northern oysters, lobster rolls and even ramen.
Here are our five favorites.
20 Feet Seafood Joint (pictured above) On the surface Marc Cassel's 20 Feet might be just another seafood shack, except of course Marc Cassel is working the fry station. The former chef of the Green Room has a reputation for excellent kitchen skills, and when they're applied to simple seafood classics, very good things tend to happen.
Anything that emerges from his deep fryer is golden (literally), and quirky specials will keep you entertained no matter how many times you return. When was the last time you saw ramen alongside po'boy sandwiches on a menu? Come to think of it, when was the last time you saw ramen this good anywhere in Dallas?
Spoon There is something about Spoon that makes you feel like John Tesar has finally settled in -- that he's in his element. The Commissary, his former Arts District spot, was a great place to get a burger, but it wasn't a good fit for a chef with seafood skills like these. Spoon offers ingredients from the ocean that are transformed into something new without becoming overwrought or noisy. It's respectful yet inventive cooking.
Rex's Seafood Market Rex's opened in 2006, but the space has the feel of a casual seafood restaurant with a lot more history. Lovers Lane locals have come to rely on the place, and it's mobbed during lunch. Don't pass up the oysters -- they sell a lot of them and they're consistently fresh. Go on and get a split of Champagne and make an event out of it, or maybe a bottle? You didn't want to go back to work anyway.
TJ's Market and Grill Just look at these guys. You know you want to buy a lobster from them. TJ's has been a North Dallas institution for years, but the new location on Oak Lawn Avenue picks up where the original left off. There's a dining room, for starters, so you can pick just about anything out of the seafood case and eat it immediately.
The wine program isn't too shabby either. Grab a glass of white -- something crisp and bright -- and order up some northern oysters while you wait for a grilled fish sandwich. This is the seafood joint of choice for the Park Cities.
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Sea Breeze Fish Market Should you find yourself in the hinterlands, Sea Breeze is the place to sate your needs for all things briny. There are all the classics you'd expect (even a lobster roll) and a sizable seafood counter where you can peruse ingredients to take home. Not that you'd want to. All you have to do is sit down at the bar and grab a beer -- the kitchen at Sea Breeze will take care of the cooking for you.