San Leon is a well-kept secret for most Houstonians. Hidden north of the island of Galveston, this small, horn-shaped peninsula flies into the bay, just out of sight of the surrounding bustling metropolis and small industrial towns. Here in the mussel fishing town, which once served as a stronghold for the pirate Jean Lafitte, the second generation of oyster suppliers Raz Halili recently launched Pier 6 Seafood & Oysters House, a waterfront seafood concept at 113 6th Street.
The already popular restaurant on the bay offers 5,000 square feet of mixed food both indoors and out, all wrapped in stylish, clean decor that almost feels out of place. The flowing natural light around the sprawling bar, the lush indoor greenery, and massive open windows seem more at home on South Beach than on the shores of the Houston Ship Channel.
Just a few blocks away, Halili and the company also gave the go-ahead The bungalows at Pier 6, a range of beautifully landscaped waterfront condos with lovely bay views and private docks. Restaurant diners can now spend an entire weekend in San Leon relaxing, fishing, dining and watching the sun set over their own slice of Galveston Bay.
Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster Houston in San Leon, photo by Dragana Harris.
Houston Food Finder was recently invited to a stay that has all the makings of a Gulf Coast getaway. The peninsula itself, no more than an hour from most parts of Houston, is a quiet community of residential streets, fishing establishments, and the odd restaurant or pub. If you make your way to Pier 6, an indoor-outdoor structure with a repurposed warehouse atmosphere, you can occasionally see Ferrari or classic muscle cars parked in front of the house. These are additional memories of the coexistence of this dining oasis in its humble surroundings.
The “oyster” at Pier 6 Seafood and Oyster House is not a gimmick. Halilis family business, Prestige oysters, also based in San Leon, has a long history of supplying Gulf oysters to the Houston and Galveston fishing industries. The young supplier’s entry into the restaurant property is anchored in the salty golf treasures that he and his family have been cultivating for decades.
The Prestige is the appropriately named house specialty. Photo by Kimberly Park.
managing Director Joe Cervantez (formerly Brennan’s of Houston and Killens Steakhouse) serves freshly caught oysters in a variety of hot and cold preparations. The prestige is a hearty house special made from grilled oysters with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and herb shallot butter as well as decadent, longing ones Blue crab oysters are grilled and filled with a crab gratin. Our favorite was the classic raw food on half a bowl, a simple but timeless test of the cuisine of a fish kitchen. Unsurprisingly, Pier 6 passed this test thanks to its proximity to nearby oyster reefs and direct access to its owner’s own supply chain.
For heartier dishes, Cervantez and his team have created lunch and dinner menus that aim to enhance the San Leon food bar while keeping traditional things going. There are classics on the Gulf Coast like Redfish on half a bowl and a delicious one Crunchy red snapper served over prawn etouffée, together with the more casual and shared house special Flood to Fried. The latter is a platter of fried seafood that contains Potato crust snapper, crispy golf prawns and Fried oysters made from cornmeal. While the menu looks like it lacks the worldly variety of upscale seafood restaurants in metropolitan areas, simplicity is key to Pier 6’s tide-to-table approach. It is a pleasure to look at the water where your meal was recently caught. An ecosystem of local fishermen and suppliers who all contribute to each dish.
Each bungalow has its own terrace with a view of the bay. Photo by Swiggard Creative
A few minutes down the street, the bungalows are a newly renovated block of waterfront condos, all of which are beautifully designed wide views, private decks and access to the buildings two private pillars. Nightly rates start at $ 275 and each bungalow comes with one Fishing rod and tackle for pier fishing at any time of the day. In the evening, the unobstructed view of the building is painted orange and red as the sun sets over Galveston Bay.
It seems like no expense has been spared on design and comfort. Every luxury apartment has one Espresso machine, modern seaside decor, Double head showers, a furnished terrace and massive flat screen televisions both in the living room and in the bedroom. Lights and fans are controlled remotely, and access is easy and secure with keypad locks. Like the restaurant concept of the same name, the bungalows at Pier 6 offer a more sophisticated getaway than one would expect on this sleepy peninsula on the bay.
Modern amenities and plenty of space for your short vacation on the water. Photo by Swiggard Creative.
Not only do the bungalows dine on Pier 6, but they also dine near other famous and darker attractions. Of course, San Leon is close to Galveston Island and the Kemah Boardwalk, as well as the Space Center Houston. The small town is also home to the first rum distillery in Texas – Railean Distillery – That’s just a short bike ride or drive from the condos.
It’s a strange feeling to wake up to amazing views of the bay and the sound of seagulls, step on a pier with your morning coffee and enjoy the ocean breeze, all less than a 45-minute drive from home. A one night stay in the Pier 6 bungalows is enough to inspire a second, third or, if you have the means, your own apartment on the bay.
The ease of access that this stay offers is only complemented by the pleasant surprises it offers along the way. For more information or to book your stay, visit The Bungalows at Pier 6 website.
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