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DAL: Seafood, what am I missing and Fish on Fire

On Sunday, we ate at the 3 star DMN rated Fish on Fire in Addison and the food was barely mediocre. I had their house speciality "Mexican shrimp cocktail" which wasn't special, and the tilapia tacos, again weak and average tortillas, rice, slaw, and some bland tasting fish. My wife had a bowl of gumbo and hush puppies and ate NONE of it. Again, the gumbo was average and the hush puppies were the frozen, pre-formed logs.

I'll take the hit on picking this place because trying a new restaurant is always a roll of the dice (see Scott's CFS journey). Just like everybody has their neighborhood Mexican fave, I'm still looking for the same when it comes to affordable seafood restaurants. Why aren't there more choices like S&D Oyster Co (closed on Sunday) and Fish City Grill (when is it NOT crowded)? I like Pappadeux's but the portions are enormous and it can get pricey. It seems like most Dallas seafood restaurants fall into two categories: high end (Cafe Pacific, Oceanaire, McCormick and Schmick's, etc.) or the down home, pseudo fish house (Aw Shucks, Fish Bone, Hook, Line & Sinker, etc).

Anybody have any good recs?

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  1. If seafood with a Mexican twist is of interest, the original Calle Doce on 12th street (there's another one further north) is wonderful, in my book. It's in an old house with lots of character and has outstanding food, as well.

    1. I was gonna mention that. Scary part of town, but good food.

      You're right on the dichotomy though. There really aren't good mid-priced seafood places. In addition to the places you listed, you could try Chamberlain's Fish Mkt & Truluck's.

      TT

      1 Reply
      1. re: TexasToast

        La Calle Dolce's second location is in the Lakewood neighborhood (east of downtown) on Abrams at around La Vista. The food is the same as the Oak Cliff location, the neighborhood may be more to your liking (one of the more popular, trendier areas in Dallas), and the decor is is a little more uptown than the converted house on 12th Street.

        Fish City Grill and its sister restaurant, Half Shell, continue to be my favorite seafood spots in Dallas. I understand that Fish City Grill is opening more spots in the Dallas area and is looking at the franchise market. Rockfish is also good, and not terribly pricey; the owner used to be partners with the the Fish City Grill Owners, and you will note some similarities in the menu.

      2. I like the older one, the new one's next to the Pour House, right? Doesn't have much character.

        Yep, Fish City Grill is good, esp the one at Preston/ Royal?

        Had a bad experience at Rockfish once and haven't been back since.

        TT

        1 Reply
        1. re: TexasToast

          Fish City Grill at Preston and Forest is my fave seafood joint in town. We were there at least weekly when we lived in the neighborhood.

          I know what you mean about the decor at the Lakewood La Calle Doce not being the same as the comfy old house on 12th Street; it's pretty standard Dallas modern. Still, it doesn't offend, and the food is of the same quality. I must say, though, they've made some changes to the paella, which used to be my favorite dish there but is not anymore.

        2. La Javita, on Harry Hines, just north of Inwood, is really good, priced right it helps if you can speak a little spanish, or you can just point to things on the menu. Their shrimp cocktails are good, they have a couple of really flavorful soups, and the last time I was there I had a garlic infused scallop dish that was good.

          1. Maybe I just got lucky. But I have been there about 10 times over the last 7 or 8 months and haven't had a problem.

            1. Yoli's up on skillman, north of LBJ is also good.

              1. I finally tried Fish City Grill today ( Flower Mound location ) after reading positive comments here, and hearing good things from other sources. The place was clean and the service was prompt, but the food was a huge disappointment. The server said that I had to have the fish tacos, that they were the most popular item on the menu. The "fish" consisted of tiny pieces of mushy catfish inside of giant wads of breading covered in melted cheese. The roasted jalapeno soup ( also highlighted on the menu and recommended by the server ) was just strange, and not in a good way. What is so good about this place? Did I just order the wrong things? Menu recommendations anyone?

                3 Replies
                1. re: Steven T

                  I don't know what to tell you. The only one I've ever been to is the one on Preston and Royal. On our very first visit, they were touting the fish tacos. I tried it and wasn't impressed but then again I don't order that dish very much so I didn't know what to expect.

                  Most of the time I stay with the straight running fried platters.

                  1. re: Scagnetti

                    I had the fish tacos from Fish City Grill (Tollway & Frankford location) and thought they were excellent. They're more like a burrito than a taco but I really thought the combination of the flavors was pretty interesting. The dirty rice that came with it wasn't half bad, either.

                    1. re: donnaaries

                      I really don't have a problem with Fish City Grill. I've been there several times and the food is good and fairly priced. The closest one to me is at Preston and Royal and I've never gone there in the evening when there wasn't a wait, even early in the evening. This strikes me as odd since it is in an affluent nabe and you would think places like FCG would not be that popular.

                2. i'll second the motion for Rockfish. i used to dismiss it, but i went through a spell of going there last year (they had the much-touted copper river salmon at a cheaper price) and found that they had many decent and varied options (not just fried catfish, but baked, etc) that weren't as expensive as the (excellent) Oceanaire.

                  while i'm here, i like the fish & chips at Picardy's in snider plaza - they use real cod - and they have other fish stuff that ain't hugely $$$

                  and lastly, i know there's been discussion about Chris Svalesen's new place Sage, which might be inconsistent but it's not as expensive as some of his prior restaurants (nor is it as "fine dining"). he's deliberately made Sage not-fish-centric, but i like how he cooks fish

                  1. Yes, well, eating raw oysters is a risky proposition, no matter where you go. I sure don't do it anymore.

                    I'm not saying Rockfish is excellent. (I saved that word for Oceanaire.) We're in a landlocked city. Getting ANY decent fish here at all is a miracle, in my opinion. Given all that, if you're looking for fish at a mid-priced place, I think Rockfish is a good option.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: teegee

                      I only eat raw Texas bay oysters in January and February when the water temperatures hit the 50's and stay there for a few weeks. Oysters stay alive for quite awhile in the shell, so if you have a reliable supplier up there, I would not hesitate to eat them.

                    2. The original Daddy Jack's on lower Greenville still puts out very good New England style seafood. I know the area can be a pain to get to on weekends but if you go early enough or during the week it is not that bad.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: skruffy

                        y'know, i'm from new england, and what daddy jack's does has never struck me as familiar at all. crab legs, shrimp with ritz cracker stuffing ... not stuff i grew up with. i'm not saying they don't possibly do good fish (i don't happen to care for it) and i know they tout their chowder, but otherwise, i don't think of it as "new england style seafood". not to be argumentative. just clarifying. i like the other two daddy jack's way better - the one in deep ellum and the one up in coppell. (i've never been to the one in FW)

                        1. re: teegee

                          Is that the best chowder in the area then, teegee?

                          TT

                      2. If you like Pappadeaux's, you might like Big Easy in Plano off 75 (same shopping center as Fishmonger's). I went there last month and the crawfish weren't as good as I remembered them but maybe it was too early in the season. But at least everything's reasonably priced.

                        I don't think catfish makes good fish tacos. I believe I had fish tacos at Chuy's when I first moved to town and found them to be pretty good. And I've been told the ceviche at Machu Picchu is good.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: luniz

                          Sorry, this is a bit of thread drift. I read in Cooks Illustrated about catfish and tilapia having some substance that can give it a "dirt" taste. You can soak them in buttermilk for a while before cooking to counteract that. Seems like catfish and tilapia are the most popular fish for fish tacos, but they can have an offputting taste unless prepared properly.

                        2. Of the mass market fish places, flying fish is probably best of breed over all. Aw shucks is good for special cocktails etc., but flying fish has them on fish tacos and pretty much everything else.

                          1. Keep in mind that three stars from the Dallas Morning News is not hard to get.

                            We like Mainstream Fish House at Preston and Forest. I think it's owned by the same people who own Mi Cocina. Lunch is a pretty good deal dollar-wise. Dinner is more pricey, but with large portions.

                            1. S & D Oyster Company is still my favorite after all of these years..affordable delicious seafood...I was not impressed at all with Fish City Grill, McCormick and Schmick's....No, there, to me, is no comparison

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: jinet12

                                Hey everyone- So I am from New England and so far have not found a TRUE New England seafood place. No harm to anybody from here but just like you think you're TX food is the best, we Newenglanders feel the same about our seafood. Soo I ask this question; is there a resturants that serves true New England seafood in the Dallas/Forth Worth area?

                                1. re: mikelberry231

                                  Are you kidding? I am also not a native Texan and I just leave the state when I want to eat seafood. I got tired of asking my neighbors to recommend a good seafood place in Dallas. They get all excited when a national chain opens up in the strip mall around the corner. Texas will never be renowned for anything food related. These are the same people who brought us fried twinkies at the state fair.

                                  1. re: MissingNOLA

                                    Oh, forget the twinkie. The corny dog is the real claim to fame! ;)

                                    Have you tried S & D Oyster Co. on McKinney in Dallas? They've been around since the mid '70's and for the longest time used a distributor out of Biloxi. That distributor didn't exactly survive Katrina, but may be back now. In any case, when I was in there about a year ago, I was told at that time, the seafood was coming out of Houma.

                                    A lot of people try to make S & D into a Cajun place - it is not nor does it try to be. They offer a simple menu with shrimp, oysters and fried or broiled (boney) fish. Sneaking in a bit of Cajun, they offer a rich, dark brown gumbo. http://www.sdoyster.com/dnn/

                                    1. re: CocoaNut

                                      But they just haven't been the same since they stopped serving Redfish. Of course everybody else stopped as well due to fishing issues. When they served Redfish it was by far the best fish in town.

                                      1. re: irodguy

                                        You know I agree as I was in there last summer and ordered the snapper (I assume that's the "redfish" you are speaking of) and it was horrible - It didn't even resemble in looks what a gulf snapper fillet looks like - it tasted even worse. The "fillet" was larger and more like a portion cut from a larger variety of snapper (Asian perhaps?). Anyway, I called 2 weekends ago and asked where they were getting their snapper. They told me the US gulf, but the guy I spoke with couldn't say what part specifically. I went and somewhat reluctantly ordered it and it was just as it had been in years past - Very good

                                        I know the season in the MS area just opened a couple of weeks ago and per my dad, it's very limited this year on duration and how many they can bring in. That said, I still recommend S&D, but would call before making the trip into Dallas. I've also been told that the shrimp is scarce this year from that same area. No doubt, the effect from Katrina will be felt for years.

                                        1. re: CocoaNut

                                          I've been thinking about you saying Redfish, which I know is it's own species (?) apart from red snapper. I've eaten there regularly since they opened and have never seen Redfish on the menu and the menu has remained virtually the same since inception, with never any specials. They do what they do, day in and day out, which is proably why they've remained over the years. I think the only thing that's been added is the New Orleans bbq shrimp, or whatever it's called. I've never tried it, but have heard mixed reviews on it.

                                          1. re: CocoaNut

                                            Actually these are red drum or red sea bass. They served these up to the early 90s when commercial fishing was pretty much disallowed. Red snapper is what they replaced the red fish with in the early 90s.

                                  2. re: mikelberry231

                                    I'm also from New England. I was thrilled to find the Lobster Rolls at Sea Breeze in Plano. Very meaty with chunks of tail and claw, not too much mayo, a legit New England hot dog bun grilled in butter.

                                2. It can get a bit pricey at Sea Breeze in Plano but that is where I go when I want perfectly cooked fish and don't want to get dressed up for it. I like the fact that it doubles as a market also so you can request some fish or if you have any questions you can ask the owners.

                                  I think Sea Breeze is the good middle ground for both high end and fish shack type places. They do have good fried items but also have awesome smoked, blackend and grilled items.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                    We are currently splitting our fish restaurant eating between Seabreeze and Fish Shack (15th) We go to to Seabreeze and have Lobster rolls and their fish specials. We go to Fish Shack for grouper po-boys, crab cakes and shrimp cocktails. We will see how this progresses with cooler weather since the porch at Fish Shack is pretty darn nice.