Thursday, June 12, 2014
I often get asked "where do you go to buy fish or shrimp to cook at home?" I struggled with this when I first moved here because I was used to a fish department in our local grocery store in Austin. When the one place I knew about down here closed, I was frustrated and at a loss. I was then referred to a replacement vendor and all was well. Over the past six years, though, I have found more places! I'm going to summarize my experience with each and have them all on one blog post. Hopefully, that will help folks in search of fish or shrimp to have while on vacation or to take home!
Quik Stop: One of my favorite locations to buy shrimp and the occasional fresh fish. Depending on season, you can stumble upon some locally caught grouper, flounder, or scarlet snapper. They do import, so not always local - ask. I wrote a blog post previously and it is linked here. I've never been disappointed with their shrimp. They were my sole provider for several years. They do sell large boxes of block-frozen shrimp but I've not bought that. I rarely need 5 pounds at one time and while I know others say to just run water over the end for what you need...that sounds like work to me. I prefer individually frozen or already thawed shrimp (believe me when I tell you I now know that ALL shrimp is frozen on the boat - if you are buying thawed, it has been thawed at the store).
Los Tortugas: In the bluish green building in front of HEB Port Isabel - between the Stripes and the Burger King. Address is officially 1683 Hwy 100. This is a new find for me. I prepared some of their shrimp for dinner this week and am heading back on Friday to get a five-pound bag of IQF shrimp to have in my freezer. I love individually frozen shrimp - I can thaw what I need and it always tastes fresh - it is individually blast frozen on the boat and I can control when it is thawed. Their card says "Family owned and operated, from our boats to your table". That's what I like to hear! Drop in or call 956-943-5602 to see what's available or place an order. Good people! They also sell fresh ceviche and other items. I don't have experience with that though. I knew I had some good shrimp when I opened the bag, that they put in ice without me having to ask, and it smelled like I was standing on the beach sniffing fresh Gulf salty water...not a hint of "fishiness'..just beautiful freshness. That's what I'm looking for!
Dirty Al's Seafood and Restaurants - most of their restaurants in this chain have a raw seafood case where you may purchase seafood to take with you. Ask for ice if you have more than a 5 minute drive. I have purchased shrimp far in the past at the Dirty Al's SPI location, more recently at Daddy's, as well as at their free-standing seafood market next to Dirty Al's Pelican Station in Port Isabel. Shrimp has always been good and smelled fresh. Much of the other seafood is imported - always ask the source....it should be labeled. Check out this previous blog post.
Joe's Oyster Bar and Gulf Seafood Market - a Port Isabel standard for delicious fresh shrimp and oysters, as well as cooked seafood plates. Always fresh, always delicious...for over 30 years! You can find them at 207 Maxan in Port Isabel (the first street north of Hwy 100 - turn at the light by the post office for easiest access. The building says "GULF SEAFOOD...OYSTER BAR". Locals love it, tourists return year after year when they visit. Can't go wrong here!
Reyes Seafood Market - Laguna Heights/Port Isabel area - I admit I have never stopped in. My friend, Iris, said she always buys her seafood there and she loves it. So, I'll add it to the list because I trust her judgement. They are at 716 Hwy 100 on the left side if you are heading towards the island.
I also know there is shrimp to be had at Blue Marlin on the island - but I've never bought it there. They do show source in their case and last time I was there, it was all imported. I have heard from others that this is NOT always the case and that it is quite good...so, I'm adding it to the list. Please feel free to leave me a comment and I'll consider adding comment data to this section.
Last, but not least, I have heard good things about buying shrimp from shrimpers down on Port Road and/or South Shore Drive in Port Isabel. I have no experience with them at all. I've heard they sell IQF...so I may need to check that out.
I love shrimp, most of my kids and grandkids love shrimp or fresh fish...having access to delicious fresh seafood is one of the true joys of living at the coast. I hope you find this helpful. Not much better than a big old pot of shrimp boil thrown out on the table for everyone to enjoy!!!