A few months back a foodie friend (@fashionablylatefoodie) raved about a soon to open seafood spot, Shell Shack. I honestly cannot even remember how she described Shell Shack, but it was enough to pique my interest! After a failed attempt to visit during their soft opening, we receive a coveted invite to their media tasting, so of course we had to go! Check out the details of my trip to Shell Shack Houston below.
Shell Shack took over the Social Junkie space on Washington. They spent several months revamping the space to fit their needs and did a pretty good job! The private rooms on the bottom level of Social Junkie are now gone to make room for a large kitchen. Shell Shack values functionality over stunting apparently. Other changes include an elevator in the center of the dining room, covered patios upstairs, and a large upstairs bar.
The main floor also houses my favorite feature! Because eating seafood is messy, Shell Shack brought in a high tech hand washing machine. Similar to automated dryers, guest stick their hands inside while soapy water whirls around cleaning the seafood remnants away. You will probably come back just for this!
Also be prepared for limited parking. There is quite a bit of street parking on the street behind the bar, but be sure to look out for no parking signs!
We started this event in fried food heaven with fried calamari, catfish, buffalo shrimp and hush puppies. The fried items were good and the addition of their homemade tartar sauce took it up a notch! I typically hate tartar sauce, but this one is amazing. Another great item, the grilled shrimp. Our waitress shared that the kitchen staff made these just playing around in the kitchen. Well they struck gold because these are SO good. Many of these were served with their signature fries which have a tinge of sweetness that balances out the salty flavor well. Finally, you must get the crab tater tots, sounds odd but they are really good.
For the boils, guests will love the ability to create their own boil. Guests can pick what type of seafood such as crab, shrimp and crawfish when in season. You can also pick your add ins like sausage, potatoes and corn. For the seasonings, you can keep it simple with the naked option or go for staples like lemon pepper, cajun or garlic. Can’t decide? Then go for the kitchen sink, i.e. all of them! Our boil was just that, the kitchen sink and it was SO good. I know folks are weary of seasoning being added after the boiling process, but my tastebuds liked it!
As I said above, Shell Shack is definitely intended to appeal to sports enthusiasts much like it’s predecessor. Which of course leads us to questions about the drinks offered. Between the four people at my table, we probably tried all of the signature cocktails and honestly walked away unmoved. Maybe it is the food blogger world but at a $10-15 price point I have come to expect craft cocktails. Fresh juices, hand crafted and a bowl of fruit to make fresh garnishes. It also may be my age now, ’cause I can’t get with syrupy drinks and I am a girl who loves a girly cocktail!
There are other sports bars serving similar cocktails at this price point (Prospect Park for example) and they seem to do well! If you have elevated taste, skip the signature drinks and ask the bartender to make your faves. Or, stick with the beers. While I threw some shade at their cocktails, the beer selection includes many local faves and will likely go over well. Ultimately beer and sports are synonymous so in the end, they will win.
Shell Shack fills a necessary void in Houston when it comes to chill seafood spots. Plus there are televisions all over so you can catch your favorite team. For those reasons, I think it is the perfect weekend sports bar kind of stop!