73. Tony Mandola’s Gulf Coast Kitchen
Gulf Coast Creole-Italian pops south of the border, and back again, at this uniquely Houstonian seafood restaurant. The old-school fried seafood still rocks, especially the dewy catfish and the cornmeal-crisped Oysters Damian, which arrive on the half shell piled with pico de gallo. The Cajun slaw, laced with chopped shrimp and cayenne, remains one of the best dishes in town. There may be pitfalls among the more baroque fish and shellfish preparations, but such classics as a minimalist crabmeat au gratin and the Snapper Tomas still define old-fashioned Gulf Coast comfort food. Not that there aren’t a few new tricks — notably a clever Gumbo Pizza spread with dusky roux and topped with crabmeat, best eaten with a few drops of Tabasco. Prices are high for the genre, but the conservative, monied clientele don’t seem to mind.
Cuisine: Seafood, Creole/Cajun, Italian
Entree price range: $$$-$$$$
Where: 1212 Waugh Dr.