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Crab Place - on the Ship Channel 30 yrs ago

p
pickypicky Mar 31, 2010 11:45 AM

Does anyone remember 30+ yrs ago eating crabs, drinking beer at a dive on the ship channel? It was a rustic, crude place with outdoor splintery wooden tables and the tankers were so close you could see the faces of the crews. I'm fantasizing that the place is still there. . .

  1. TXStingray Apr 1, 2010 12:27 PM

    Can you remember a general area???? Cross street perhaps?

    1. j
      James Cristinian Apr 1, 2010 02:55 PM

      Could it have been The San Jacinto Inn? While I wouldn't call it a dive rustic does fit the bill. It was right on the ship channel next to the battleship Texas, and featured family style all you can eat seafood and chicken, with crabs in the summer and oysters in the winter. I think it closed in 1987, and if you look carefully, the building is still there. I googled it and found an article on channel 55's Houston website.

      1. d
        dexmat Apr 1, 2010 03:59 PM

        The famous eateries along the ship channel were Athens Bar and Grill, Brady's Landing, Shanghai Red's and San Jacinto Inn, all inside the Loop except the last.

        SJI was AYCE white table cloth service. There was a veranda but I don't remember that people ate out there.

        Athens was before my time and I'm not exactly sure where it was or even if it was right on the channel. I think some people would describe it as a dive from what I've read. It was purportedly a Greek sailor's hangout with belly dancers, etc.and somewhere in the ship channel/waterfront area; again, don't know about outside eating.

        Shanghai Red's I don't know much about but I think it was very close to Brady's which is the only one still in existence. I just went to Brady's once; we could see the stern of a tanker just 20-30 yards outside the window but if there was any crew on board we'd have to have bent over and looked up to see them. I don't know about outside eating there either.

        Then again, it sounds like you may have known of an unheralded place.

        http://www.bradyslandingrestaurant.com/

        -----
        Brady's Landing
        8505 Cypress Street, Houston, TX 77012

        1 Reply
        1. re: dexmat
          s
          SLadd Dec 5, 2010 03:48 PM

          Oh, I do remember going to the Athens Bar when I was young and dumb. It was a great time there. Really a place to party, but one always went with another couple...and, Shanghai Red's was so perfect for watching the ships and it did have good food. Jimmie Walkers was also perfect for watching the pleasure boats coming and going. Ah, the boardwalk before Ferttia.
          Did make the Jacinto Inn.
          Someone below spoke of Jamail's...used to go there cause they had a coke machine that was $.10 forever. Do miss the good ole days of Houston.

        2. p
          pickypicky Apr 2, 2010 06:38 AM

          Y'all make me want to cry. A big hug for your responses. I haven't lived in Houston or TX since 1978 but am now back in TX and making trips to see friends in the Houston area. One friend remembered the crab place but nothing more. From your comments, I can tell you a bit more. Yes, it was unheralded. Houston was like that then. We went and ate in communal hash houses that served the refinery workers. Ninfa's was in one room and amazing. Las Cazuelas was 24hrs and amazing any hour of the day or night. Oh, thank you for naming the Athens Inn. I danced on tables there myself with my girlfriend. The most fun of my entire life maybe. Sailors from all over the world. Wild good fun, but I was never frightened.

          No, it was not the SJI, because I remember eating there, too. Outstanding. Not disgusting great platefuls of fried food, but excellent biscuits and rolls. Fine fresh seafood and yes, white tablecloths.

          So now I'll check out Brady's link and the Shanghai place. Wish I could help with a cross-street, but all I remember is the splinters of the seating, the newspaper? on the tables, the crabs, and very very cold beer. (and my astonishment that they served little else. . .) Reading the names and nationalities of the tankers. And my former husband's sunburned face.

          -----
          Las Cazuelas
          109 Little York Rd, Houston, TX 77076

          Ninfa's
          3601 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77098

          23 Replies
          1. re: pickypicky
            d
            dexmat Apr 2, 2010 10:16 AM

            Brady's Landing and Shanghai Red's were right next door to each other on Brady Island in the Ship Channel, just off Broadway.

            I found this quote on another board about BL posted 4 years ago: "I was at Brady's Landing this afternoon. They do have a grassy knoll and some wooden decks outside of the restaurant with better views of the ship channel that they'll let you have a picnic on. I'd recommend that experience, but advise folks to bring their own food."

            Also a discussion of SR said it was a more romantic place with a fireplace.

            There was also a Zorba the Greek which was popular with sailors. It's last incarnation was at 202 Tuam, just down from Harry's in the Montrose area but I think I've heard it was formerly located in the ship channel area, too.

            -----
            Brady's Landing
            8505 Cypress Street, Houston, TX 77012

            1. re: dexmat
              p
              pickypicky Apr 2, 2010 11:02 AM

              bless your heart, dexmat. you're makin' an ol' lady feel good. Nope. Brady's Landing's site sez it's been there 25 years. I'm thinking the place I remember may have been a fish market. . . there were no niceties. But I love you for bringing up Zorba's and Harry's. I knew the original Harry and his son George. Their food was better than mom's and fed me in all the right ways when I was young and poor.

              -----
              Brady's Landing
              8505 Cypress Street, Houston, TX 77012

              1. re: pickypicky
                j
                James Cristinian Apr 5, 2010 01:02 PM

                Zorba's lives, sort of. Former waiter, Johnny, now owns One's A Meal on lower Westheimer. I went to the old location a few years ago and he remembered me from the old days, and I've heard similiar stories. I found an old Houston City magazine from the late 70's, and in the restaurant listings it stated that it would be a sad day when you could not go to Zorba's for great fried shrimp and a cold glass of retsina. Indeed. The ads in that magazine were great, all the old disco clubs and polyester, incredible. One's A Meal does a great fried shrimp, but I remeber Zorba's to be better.

                1. re: James Cristinian
                  j
                  Jaymes Apr 5, 2010 01:16 PM

                  Pickypicky - some afternoon when you're sitting around feeling all curious, you might try giving Johnny, the former waiter at Zorba's, a call at One's a Meal.

                  I'd bet he'll remember the name of your place.

                  And not to put too fine a point on it, but I'd advise you to do it sooner rather than later.

                  Ain't none of us getting no younger, you know.

                  1. re: Jaymes
                    p
                    pickypicky Apr 5, 2010 02:40 PM

                    omg. the fried shrimp at zorba's. how could I forget. it was like clouds of unctuous shrimpliness and crust. we'll be in houston this weekend. maybe i'll have to stop by OAM. . .

                    1. re: pickypicky
                      texasredtop Apr 5, 2010 06:30 PM

                      What wonderful memories I've received from this thread. Zorba's - now there's a blast from the past.

                      There was a place, as you describe, right across the street from Lynchburg Crossing Restaurant (now it's Monument Inn). It's gone, I think the slab is still there. I still go to Monument Inn about once a month and it's still real good. Their oysters are always yummy. The building is still a lot like it was when it was Lynchburg Crossing.

                      If you could see the ferry from this "hole-in-the-wall", that's got to be it.

                      -----
                      Monument Inn Restaurant
                      4406 Independence Pkwy S, La Porte, TX 77571

                      1. re: texasredtop
                        p
                        pickypicky Apr 6, 2010 01:48 PM

                        Redtop, tell me more, please! Can you describe the place?

                        1. re: texasredtop
                          p
                          pickypicky Apr 6, 2010 01:52 PM

                          well, i googlemapped it (satellite view) and nope, that isn't the place. the place i remember was among a commercial district, like shipping, piers, warehouses. On the channel. thanks, though. and for the tip on monument inn.

                          1. re: pickypicky
                            j
                            James Cristinian Apr 6, 2010 02:02 PM

                            There was a place on the Kemah Boardwalk that was similiar, of course I can't remember the name. The boardwalk there now is a joke. All the restaurants owned by Tillman Fertitta, a ferris wheel, roller coaster, and parking garage. It's tough to find blue crabs in Houston now, everyone eats crawfish, most of the crabs go to Maryland, and people don't have the patience or know how to properly pick a crab.

                            1. re: James Cristinian
                              texasredtop Apr 6, 2010 03:49 PM

                              James - Was it the one on the north side of the bridge? I think it was on a corner, maybe 10th and Toddville? It was very good. I love blue crabs but after eating so many dungeness crabs in the Pacific Northwest on summer vacation every year, I don't have the patience for picking blue crab anymore. :-)

                              1. re: texasredtop
                                j
                                James Cristinian Dec 2, 2010 09:57 AM

                                I missed this post, yes there was one there, and it was good, but not the one on the boardwalk. I don't remember the name.

                              2. re: James Cristinian
                                eplong Dec 2, 2010 05:52 AM

                                I am wondering if the restaurant you are referring on the Kemah Boardwalk may have been Largo... it was at the very end of the boardwalk.

                                1. re: eplong
                                  j
                                  James Cristinian Dec 2, 2010 09:59 AM

                                  The name doesn't ring a bell, but if it was on the boardwalk, I probably ate there.

                                  1. re: James Cristinian
                                    eplong Dec 2, 2010 01:02 PM

                                    http://www.art-photography-nature.com...

                                    I hope this opens for you. See the very next to the last photo. It is Key Largo back before it burned, of course.

                                    1. re: eplong
                                      j
                                      Jaymes Dec 5, 2010 09:44 AM

                                      Wow. What absolutely fabulous photos. Thanks!

                                      1. re: eplong
                                        j
                                        James Cristinian Dec 7, 2010 12:28 PM

                                        I'm pretty sure I never went here. You mentioned it burned, if it was before the mid 70's I probably didn't go. Yes, I too loved those photos. Jimmie Walker's reminds when I was very young, maybe four, we went down to get some shrimp'. It seems as though there was a seafood market attached there or next door back in the early 60's.

                                2. re: pickypicky
                                  texasredtop Apr 6, 2010 03:43 PM

                                  pickypicky - From your description, it sounded like what you were looking for but I did get the feeling that you were looking for something more in the Shanghai Red's area. I asked my husband who has lived here all his life and worked on the ship channel his entire career and he could only come up with that one by the Lynchburg ferry. But he wouldn't pick crabs anyway so it wouldn't have been somewhere he would have wanted to go.

                                  Was it on the south side of the channel?

                                  1. re: texasredtop
                                    j
                                    James Cristinian Apr 6, 2010 05:16 PM

                                    texasredtop, it seems it would have to be in the turning basin area, near Shanghai Reds, because in the Lynchburg ferry area, the ships are too far away to see faces, and barely people, as the original post stated. As for the 10th and Toddville place, I've been there, but it is now gone, and it was a different restaurant before Ike blew it, and everything else down there away. The place I went to was on the old Kemah Boardwalk, and was not Joe Lee's, Jimmie Walkers, or the Flying Dutchman, all fine restaurants until Fertitta swept in and wrecked the place.

                                    1. re: James Cristinian
                                      texasredtop Apr 6, 2010 05:48 PM

                                      I was thinking Turning Basin also. I wonder what Shanghai Red's was before it grew up into a full restaurant?

                                      There is a restaurant on the Boardwalk - is it "The Crab House" or something like that? I think it's just west of Landry's. I used to eat there all the time until one day we were in there at the bar waiting for our table and saw two women order daiquiris, sip them a bit and send them back. To my horror, the bartender poured them back into the drink machine. Yikes! We left before our table was ready.

                                      Joe Lee's still exists in Kemah. I haven't been to the new location but it's on my list. I loved Joe Lee's. http://joelees.com/

                                      The place I would eat crabs long ago was Sartin's. They had THE best bbq crabs ever. They had different locations over the years and still have a couple of places around Beaumont and Port Arthur that I haven't tried. It's all-you-can-eat platter service but you can order off a menu too. The original place in Sabine Pass was excellent and we would drive there from Houston just to eat on the weekend. The line would be out the door. They had a place around High Island that was great too. There was one in Clear Lake and I was so excited but it was not good at all. The crabs were way over done. Crab jerky - lol. Come to find out, it wasn't the original family at all but an ex-wife of one of the Sartin's trying to take advantage of their name or some such sordid story. I knew right away it wasn't the Sartin's I knew and loved. Each location has it's own website but you can google Sartin's and find them. I'm guessing you already know about Sartin's though.

                                      1. re: texasredtop
                                        j
                                        James Cristinian Apr 6, 2010 06:09 PM

                                        I always wanted to go to the Sartin's at Sabine Pass, so when they , or the ex-wife opened one in Clear Lake, it was too close to resist. We too had the jerky crabs, good name by the way. The second batch of the all you can eat, I told them to think medium rare, so as not to overcook, but they came out raw. It was terrible, and I have not been back. For good bbq crabs, called cajun crabs, is Benno's in Galveston on the Seawall. They too can overcook, but they will replace with properly cooked crabs.

                                        1. re: James Cristinian
                                          texasredtop Apr 6, 2010 07:33 PM

                                          As many times as I went to Sartin's and as many of their different locations over the years, I never understood how they could get the crabs just right every time. When I cracked my first crab at Sartin's in Clear Lake, I said - this isn't the same Sartin's I know. Sure enough, there were some lawsuits about a year or so ago by the Sartin family towards the ex-wife of one of the children for using their name to open a seafood restaurant. I understand they closed the place in Clear Lake and opened a place in Sulphur, La.

                                      2. re: James Cristinian
                                        c
                                        Cookie Baker Apr 6, 2010 07:35 PM

                                        Loved the Flying Dutchman. Miss the old Boardwalk.

                                        1. re: Cookie Baker
                                          texasredtop Apr 7, 2010 05:57 AM

                                          The Flying Dutchman is still there but I haven't been there in years. I loved Babin's until Landry's took over. I went twice after that but never again. I'd imagine the same goes for Flying Dutchman.

                                          -----
                                          Babin's
                                          213 Kipp Ave, Kemah, TX 77565

                    2. p
                      pickypicky Apr 7, 2010 06:04 AM

                      I went to Joe Lee's site. The history/description of his first place (grocery store, dock, gas) sounds pretty accurate to my memory-- BUT I left Houston in 1978, and it started in 1979. Sartin's sounds intriguing ( and the whole bbq crab thing which I didn't know anything about consciously, but perhaps what we were eating out on those splintery tables WAS bbq crab?) And finally, I said I could see the faces of the crew members onboard the tankers. Well, I'm a Texan, and my memory sometimes expands itself. I know for a fact we could read the ship names and see men standing on deck. The faces part was probably exaggeration. There are some cool photo images of the channel, Kemah etc if you google images on Google. The 40s-50s images look more like what I remember than the 80s-90s ones do. I don't know which developers will roast in the hottest fires of hell, CA or TX, but they'll be there.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: pickypicky
                        j
                        James Cristinian Apr 7, 2010 06:27 AM

                        I doubt you were in Kemah if you saw oil tankers, as the nearest ones would be 5 miles out in Galveston Bay. You could see numerous pleasure boats of all sorts, and see the faces in the Clear Lake channel where they passed. Sartin's came long after you were gone. The place you described sure seems like the one on the boardwalk, but the name escapes me. I believe there was also a place called Pier 8 on the Seabrook side that served boiled crabs.

                        1. re: James Cristinian
                          p
                          pickypicky Apr 7, 2010 10:39 AM

                          Could Pier 8 be it? That sounds vaguely familiar to my old brain. How old are you James C? Do you remember Jamail's Grocery?

                          1. re: pickypicky
                            texasredtop Apr 7, 2010 02:35 PM

                            picky -

                            Pier 8, I was trying to think of that one in an earlier post. Served mostly crab on picnic tables outside. But no ships for miles. I think you were somewhere on the ship channel not far from the ship channel bridge - somewhere around the turning basin. You wouldn't see ships close up anywhere near Kemah.

                            1. re: pickypicky
                              j
                              James Cristinian Apr 9, 2010 10:58 AM

                              Picky, I'm somewhere in the vicinity of fifty. I went to Jamail's once, but we did all our shopping at a local place on Bissonnet call Sacco's. It had the old time meat market with sawdust on the floor, plus the freshest shrimp, snapper, and speckled trout, just beautiful. I can still see our neighbor doing her shopping, smoking a Winston, and drinking a bottle of Pearl beer. Times have changed just a bit.

                        2. d
                          dexmat Apr 7, 2010 07:27 AM

                          Here's a link to a long running discussion on another board about defunct Houston restaurants: http://www.houstonarchitecture.com/ha...

                          There used to be lots of cool pictures but most were lost when they switched to another host or something. Some of the posters go back to the 40s and 50s and even a few to the 30s. You might read the whole thing (16 pages) or sign up and ask a question. It's not a very active thread anymore so may take some time to get responses. That's a great forum for nostalgia about the Houston of old. I think I found the quote above about Brady's elsewhere on that forum but I don't remember for sure now.

                          I searched over there for Athens and Zorba but didn't find anything useful and didn't know any other names to search for.

                          I agree the place you were talking about wasn't Kemah or Seabrook but beyond that I have no idea.

                          Wasn't the thing about Sartin's the spice mixture? The crabs weren't really bbq'd, like on a grill, were they? I was going to go to that one in Clear Lake a couple of years ago when they opened since I'd never been to Sabine Pass. Sure glad I didn't.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: dexmat
                            texasredtop Apr 7, 2010 02:42 PM

                            dex - the bbq crabs are not bbq at all (just as bbq shrimp are not bbq at all).

                            bbq crab is a crab drenched in a dry spicy rub and then flash fried.

                            bbq shrimp is baked (heads on) with tons of real butter, pepper and a few other spices.

                            I've eaten bbq crawfish (prepared just like bbq crabs) at the Crazy Cajun on Nasa 1. It's not there anymore. They were really great but I've never seen them again. It's also very rare to find bbq crabs, I don't even see them in Louisiana much.

                            If you're in the Golden Triangle, Sartin's has a place in Nederland, Beaumont and I'm not sure where else. There's a new one in Sulphur called Fatboy Sartin's but I think it's the same ones as were in Clear Lake so I wouldn't even try them unless I'd heard otherwise. All Sartin's locations have their own web site so if you google Sartin's, you'll have to open several sites to see all of their locations.

                            1. re: texasredtop
                              d
                              dexmat Apr 8, 2010 04:30 AM

                              Thanks trt - that's what I thought I had read, just wanted to confirm. As I understand it, Sartin's invented it.

                              1. re: dexmat
                                texasredtop Apr 8, 2010 06:14 AM

                                http://www.bluecrab.info/bbqcrabs.html

                                I guess that's so reading at the link above. If you have to have them (they ARE addicting), the preparation method is at the link.

                          2. o
                            olmedo42 Apr 23, 2010 07:18 PM

                            I think your talking about a place near Morgan's point near La Porte. It's where Galveston Bay ends and the true channel begins. I can't remember the name but over the years it has been several different places. The last was an ice house that had a simple grill. The place has not been open since Rita. It was so close to the channel that when the ships came by you could actually see the water rise at the pier. I bet Homeland security closed the place down.

                            1. h
                              houstontxgirl Dec 7, 2010 09:30 AM

                              I grew up in Deer Park and some of my earliest memories are of The San Jacinto Inn and Lynchburg Crossing Restaurants. The old San Jacinto Inn was on stilts and while you were waiting there were wooden picnic tables outside, The adults would sit and drink Lonestar longnecks! We kids would run around and watch the ships go bye. Everything was served
                              family style and they just kept on bringing it until you said stop. The blue crabs and boiled shrimp would flow and the biscuits were so fluffy they melted in your mouth. Oh, those were the days (sigh) It burned down many years ago and has never been rebuilt. Lynchburg Crossing was not on the water side but served ice cold beer and the best fried shrimp ever. Red checked table clothes and kinda dumpy looking. It too burned and the owners later opened the Monument Inn. I personally like Monument Inn on a lazy afternoon watching the ships go by. Lots of fried food but everything is very fresh, Hope this helps....

                              -----
                              Monument Inn Restaurant
                              4406 Independence Pkwy S, La Porte, TX 77571

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