The Best Waterfront Restaurants Around Houston

There’s way more than you think.

Listen, we are aware that Houston doesn’t have a dope Riverwalk and Lakefront like Chicago, or a quintessential New England Waterfront District like Boston, or the stupidly gorgeous cliffsides and ocean breezes of the Pacific Northwest; but hear us out. We are super close to some pretty nice beaches, lakes, and bays ourselves, and we have a few don’t-knock-‘em-‘til-you-see-‘em bayous trickling through the city. Meaning, yes, we do, in fact, have some pretty excellent waterfront dining options. From the bays and ocean to lakes and bayous, here’s where to dine with a view in and around Houston.

Hit the two-story terrace at this Island seafood and steakhouse for sweeping views of Pelican Rest Marina, which is especially enjoyable at sunset. The Bar and Terrace menu features bites from Tempura King Crab to Blackened Fish Tacos, but if you’re dining inside, you can ball out on Seafood Pasta, Whole Grilled Fish, Wagyu Flights, and The Amuse, its epic raw tower rocking East coast oysters, cocktail shrimp, lobster tail, Alaskan Red King Crab, smoked salmon rillettes, and yellowfin tuna poke.

Available for Reservations

Monument Inn

La Porte

This bayfront stalwart has been a Houston tradition for decades, withstanding flood damage from two hurricanes and still serving over 80,000 pounds of shrimp and nearly 25,000 pounds of fresh fish year after year. Choose from staples like Blackened Catfish, Fried Oysters, and Redfish Pontchartrain, or opt for its famous All-You-Can-Eat to stuff in all nostalgic dishes your digestive system can handle. It includes staples ranging from Cold Boiled Shrimp and Oysters on the Half Shell to Fried Catfish, Stuffed Crab, and yes, even Cinnamon Rolls.
How to book: Call 281-479-1521.

The dozy bayside town of San Leon became a little less so when this pretty young thing opened up shop. Sporting a patio and waterfront dining room that is plenty pleasant on the peepers, the coastal kitchen and bar is the brainchild of second-generation oysterman turned restaurateur Raz Halili (VP of his family’s world-renowned fishery, Prestige Oysters), and he tapped talented Executive Chef Joe Cervantez (who sharpened his knife at standouts like Brennan’s of Houston and Killen’s Steakhouse) to run the ship. Start with oysters, chilled and served raw with all the goodies or done up on the grill with extras like Crab Gratin and Habanero Butter; share some Creamy “Dock” Shrimp; and go big on mains like Wood-Grilled Yellowfin Tuna, Crispy Red Snapper, and the seriously tasty Pier 6 Burger.

Available for Reservations

Muddled as they are, our bayous can be pretty damn picturesque sometimes. Case in point: The lush grounds that set the backdrop for this traditional Southern steakhouse over on the Buffalo Bayou. With verdant greenspace and a cascading waterfall, the slow, steady water of the bayou, a gorgeous outdoor deck and dramatic two-story dining room, it’s a choice spot for a special occasion. The al fresco Blue Bar is the spot for happy hour or after-dinner drinks; and inside you’ll dine on Roasted Oysters dripping in pasilla chili butter, Ribeye with roasted bone marrow and Oscar topping, and Godiva Chocolate Souffle.

Available for Reservations

Marais

Dickinson

Sitting along an eye-catching slice of the Dickinson Bayou dubbed Benson's Gully, this multi-venue dining and drinking spot brings a New Orleans vibe to Houston. There’s the glamorous Italian marble Main Bar perfect for sipping fine spirits; relaxed, bayouside Benson’s Bar where you can get prime views while you sip from a swing; al fresco Terrace and Main Dining Room offering things like Lump Blue Crab Beignets, French Quarter style Oysters Vieux Carré, Delmonico Ribeye, and pecan-crusted Bourbon Street Redfish; The Plank, a Pirate themed sports bar sitting just below on the water's edge; and Dickinbach, its outdoor Beer Garden featuring games, fire pits, and seriously good times.

Available for Reservations

Right off the waters of the Galveston Channel, this friendly Island hangout plucks its fresh goods straight from sibling establishment Katie's Seafood Market. Eat what they catch, whether that be the Market Chowder, Mosquito Fleet Shrimp Etouffee, or fresh-off-the-boat Golden Tile, Yellow Edge Grouper, American Red Snapper, and Bi-Catch, cooked in styles from cornmeal-crusted and deep-fried Southern Comfort and jerk-seasoned Caribbean to the Chef’s Recommendation, which will never not come packed with Jumbo Gulf Shrimp.

Available for Reservations

The old O2 Bistro Restaurant transformed into this high-end sports bar and grille a couple years back, where you’ll find Ribeyes, Chops, and fork-and-knife Hangover Burgers next to coastal eats from Thai Curry Fish to a “1 lb" Stuffed Flounder. Plus, a pretty waterfront patio, excellent Bloody Marys, and Buffalo Shrimp and Oysters on the Half Shell for happy hour.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

It’s peaceful over by the Bay Area’s Taylor Lake, and even more so when you have a glass of wine in hand by the water at this double-decker wine bar. Work your way through Old World wines while you nosh on boards filled with stinky cheeses, salumis, and housemade crackers; add some Flatbreads and Colby Sliders; and finish with tableside S’Mores. The jukebox will kick things up, and on Fridays and Saturdays, live music adds to the vibes.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Gaido's

Galveston

The bacon-wrapped Shrimp Peques are a thing of legend. The dish has become a Galveston Island tradition, as has its creator, Gaido’s, which opened its doors the same year air-conditioning was invented. That’s 1911. With fresh seafood snatched straight from Galveston Bay—Parmesan-coated American Red Snapper, Blackened Yellowfin Tuna, and Pecan Crusted Mahi Mahi—it’s obvious why this Seawall standby is still beloved over 100 years later.

Available for Reservations

Rainbow Lodge

Shady Acres

This “sophisticated, not stuffy” steakhouse has been a local institution since it debuted in its first location next to Ima Hogg’s Bayou Bend mansion back in 1977. Now, it’s over in a century-old log cabin along the banks of White Oak Bayou, but you’ll still find the same lush grounds, hand-carved bar and rustic lodge decor (taxidermy on the walls and all), standout wine list, and menu of wild game hit with in-season touches. Go for Bison Carpaccio and Mexican street corn, the Lodge’s famous Smoked Duck Gumbo, and lump crab topped rainbow trout with pecan brown butter.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

Forget the chains around Kemah, this waterfront local hideaway is close by, offering more serene views of the April Fool Point Marina off Galveston Bay. If you’re into fishing, the kitchen will cook whatever you hook. If you don’t BYOFish, you can choose from its spread of fresh-out-the-water Gulf bites and specialties including Shrimp Brochette, Smoked Swordfish Dip, Open Flame Oysters Diablo, and Drunken Redfish Pontchartrain. All of it is best enjoyed on the breezy bayside deck.

Available for Reservations

Barge 295

Seabrook

It doesn’t get more waterfront than this floating bar and kitchen, which, in case that wasn’t obvious, actually sits on the water. Hit the first or second floor patio to enjoy Texas craft brews and coastal pub grub, from the crawfish loaded Sinkin’ Nachos and hot Rocky’s Oysters oozing with bacon, shrimp, and cream cheese, to the sweet and spicy, fried and sauced Boom Boom Shrimp. A lineup of local musicians, DJs, and Bikini Bingo also keeps the boat rockin’.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Noah's Ark

Bacliff

Dining under a palapa overlooking the water is a damn fun time, and you can experience it by visiting this Bay Area staple. Join the laidback locals, fishermen, and bikers for live music, “big ass” beers, and specials from Fish Tacos and Hot Cats (those are bacon and jalapeno-wrapped catfish bites) to All-You-Can-Eat Fried Shrimp on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Truluck's

The Woodlands

The Hughes Landing location of this posh stone crab slinger rocks prime panoramas of Lake Woodlands. Definitely take down some sweet and meaty fresh crab claws, and pair ‘em with Black River Oscietra Caviar, miso-glazed sea bass, prime New York strip, and Crab Fried Rice. The whole place is a vibe, so don something fancy (there’s a dress code), pop some bubbly with a view, and get cracking.

Available for Reservations

Raffa's

Kingwood

Lake Houston doesn’t get enough credit. The man made reservoir is just plain pretty, and you’ll see why it deserves some love with a jaunt to the patio at this lakefront bar and grill. Choose from small plates including Salt & Pepper Calamari and Southern Style Shrimp and Grits, get a damn good Steakhouse Blend Burger topped with cheddar and smoked miso aioli, and enjoy views of the water alongside Crab Stuffed Flounder and Pappardelle del Mare, plump with shrimp, scallops, and lump crab in a silky lobster cream.

Available for Reservations

Flora Mexican Kitchen

Buffalo Bayou Park

Yes, you can get a glimpse of nature without leaving the city, and you can do so at this newly opened bayou jewel, a shining glass treehouse on the banks of the Buffalo Bayou with a glitzy chandelier-lit dining room, an eye-popping bayouside patio, and some of the best Mexican food in the city. Go for Street Tacos al Pastor, Shrimp Mojo de Ajo, Spiced Barbacoa, and Green Mole plus some damn fine tequila-kissed cocktails.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

You can legit taste the saltwater at this over-the-sea pier restaurant, which draws in local Islanders and visitors alike. Snag a seat on the patio and kick back with a Gulf Coast Hurricane while noshing on bar bites that range from Spicy Crab Balls and Tuna Tartare Tostada, to Fish Tacos and mile-high Blackened Shrimp Nachos.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who will not turn down a waterfront oyster invite. Share your favorite shuck shacks with her @brookiefafa on IG and @brookeviggiano on Twitter.