Overhead was the unmistakable sound of seagulls as the water lapped rhythmically against the concrete bulkhead below. The view from our table was filled with small docked fishing boats and others coming in with their catches of the day. The shaded deck with its assortment of well-worn tables and chairs was the perfect spot to sit back and let a week’s worth of stress fade away with a cold beer and great seafood from the Texas Gulf Coast.
Minutes off of SPID, Laguna Reef Restaurant is in Flour Bluff, a quiet stretch of sand, funky roads, businesses and beach houses made for a quick escape. It’s one of my favorite out of the way restaurants when traveling through Corpus Christi.
On the inside Laguna Reef is like many other seafood eateries with coastal relics and memorabilia, maps and the kind of stuff you’d expect to find along the water. But, outside is where you get the full blown impact of this savory mom-and-pop restaurant.
It’s not a yacht club cafe with swaying palms and smartly uniformed servers, but a relaxed atmosphere, with friendly waitresses in t-shirts and shorts, and consistently good meals that keep me coming back. On the other hand it might be the fetching siren-like mermaid painted on their sign out front that beckons me back like Ulysses in western boots and an Astros cap. I’m no Ulysses, but who knows? It is Texas.
On earlier stops I’ve opted for the healthier grilled menu items, or maybe the seared tuna, but today I was going rogue. I was going to be a bad boy. I was going for the full blown fried seafood platter.
My server delivered mounds of corn meal battered fried oysters and shrimp, crispy and tender calamari, flaky white fish, and a spicy deviled crab stuffed into a hollowed out shell. Every bite was better than the last as I washed down the side-kick onion rings and cole slaw with another Shiner Bock.
Enjoyment comes in all shapes, sizes and flavors. Today it came in the form of a giant platter covered in golden brown deep fried Gulf Coast delicacies at Laguna Reef. Without a doubt, it was a great day to be in Flour Bluff.
Michael Baxter is the Texas Travelin’ Man