Out on the road to find inspiring, less-well-known nabes devoted to the fresh, the local, the sustainable—and the drinkable.
Photo: Ryann Ford
When Chef Bryan Caswell of Reef (pictured) began featuring lesser-known seafood like tripletail, rainbow runner, or sea bream—items referred to as bycatch, meaning they often get caught in grouper or shrimping nets and are thrown away—Houstonites clamored for it. Caswell, along with food writer Robb Walsh and entrepreneur Jim Gossen, have tirelessly championed the sustainable-seafood movement in the Gulf. Walsh, author of Texas Eats, helped identify the unique reef-specific oyster appellations from nearby Galveston Bay (it doesn't get more Texas than requesting oysters from Lonesome Reef or Ladies Pass). Gossen's Louisiana Foods (located in Houston, despite its name) works with fishermen to process catches locally, and Caswell highlights the Gulf's bounty in dishes like baked oysters with pickled Indian lime or rainbow runner-mayhaw ceviche. Between these pioneers and the grassroots education efforts of the Foodways Texas organization, Houston has become a beacon on the sustainable-seafood scene. —Cindy Hatcher