San Leon is a well-kept secret for most Houstonians. Tucked just north of the island of Galveston, this small, horn-shaped peninsula juts out into the bay, out of sight of the surrounding bustling metropolis and small industrial towns. Here, in the mussel fishing town that once served as a stronghold for the pirate Jean Lafitte, the second generation oyster supplier Raz Halili recently launched Pier 6 Seafood & Oysters House, a waterfront seafood concept on 113 6th Street.
The already popular eatery on the bay offers 5,000 square feet of mixed indoor and outdoor dining, all draped in stylish, clearly drawn decor that almost feels out of place. The flowing natural light around the expansive bar, the lavish use of indoor greenery, and the massive open windows would be more at home in South Beach than on the shores of the Houston Ship Channel.
Just a few blocks away, Halili and Co. also started The bungalows at Pier 6, a range of beautifully landscaped waterfront condos with great views of the bay and private fishing piers. Guests at the eatery can now spend an entire weekend in San Leon relaxing, fishing, dining, and watching the sun set over their own private 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 with residential streets, fish shops, and a few restaurants or pubs. If you make your way to Pier 6, an indoor-outdoor building with a repurposed warehouse feel, you can occasionally see Ferrari or classic muscle cars parked in front of the door. These are additional memories of the juxtaposition that this dining oasis offers in its humble setting.
The “oyster” at Pier 6 Seafood and Oyster House is not a name 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 restaurant ownership is anchored in the salty treasures of the Gulf, which he and his family have been cultivating for decades.
The Prestige is the aptly named specialty of the house. Photo by Kimberly-Park.
managing Director Joe Cervantez (formerly Brennan’s of Houston and Killen’s Steakhouse) serves freshly caught oysters in a variety of hot and cold preparations. The prestige is a hearty house specialty made from grilled oysters with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and herb shallot butter and the decadent, crave-worthy one Blue crab oysters are grilled and filled with a crab gratin. Our favorite was the classic raw on half a bowl, a simple but timeless test of the dishes in a seafood kitchen. Unsurprisingly, Pier 6 passes this test thanks to its proximity to nearby oyster reefs and direct access to the owner’s own supply chain.
For the heartier fare, Cervantez and his team have created lunch and dinner menus that aim to raise the bar in San Leon while preserving tradition. There are Gulf Coast classics like Redfish on half a bowl and a culinary delight Crunchy red snapper served over prawn etouffée, together with the more casual and communal house special Tide according to Fried. The latter is a platter of fried seafood that Potato-crusted snapper, crispy golf prawns and fried oysters with cornmeal. While the menu may seem like it lacks the mundane variety of upscale seafood restaurants in metropolitan areas, simplicity is key to Pier 6’s tide-to-table approach. It is a joy to look out over the water where yours is Meal recently caught; an ecosystem of local fishermen and suppliers, all of whom contribute to each dish.
Each bungalow has its own private terrace overlooking the bay. Photo by Swiggard Creative
A few minutes down the street, the bungalows are a newly renovated block of waterfront condos, all beautifully designed with style wide prospects, private decks and access to the building two private piers. 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 in terms of design and comfort. Each luxury apartment has one Espresso machine, modern seaside decor, Double head showers, a furnished terrace and huge 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 key locks. Like the restaurant concept of the same name, the bungalows at Pier 6 offer a more sophisticated retreat 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.
In addition to dining at Pier 6, the bungalows offer proximity to other area attractions, both famous and unknown. Of course, San Leon is close to Galveston Island and the Kemah Boardwalk, as well as the Space Center Houston. However, the small town is also home to Texas’s first rum distillery – Railean distillery – which is just a short bike ride or drive from the condos.
It is 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. One night in the Pier 6 bungalows is enough to inspire a second, third or, if you have the means, perhaps your own apartment on the bay.
The easy accessibility of this stay experience is only exceeded by the pleasant surprises it offers on the way. For more information or to book your stay, visit The Bungalows at Pier 6 website.
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