Eating up The Praise

Quirky Galveston Bay hotspot lands on exclusive list of America's best 'anti-restaurants'

Quirky Galveston Bay hotspot makes list of best 'anti-restaurants'

Gilhooley's Restaurant patio table with oysters
Gilhooley’s in San Leon, about an hour’s drive southeast of Houston, made GQ's list. Google Plus

A famed oyster bar in a Galveston Bay fishing hamlet is one of “the best anti-restaurants in America,”  according to GQ magazine.

In its September issue, GQ hails Gilhooley’s in San Leon, about an hour’s drive southeast of Houston, as an unexpected treasure, putting it into the anti-restaurant category. What’s an anti-restaurant, you ask?

“There’s a new day to dine out in America, and it has nothing to do with fancy restaurants. It almost has nothing to do with restaurants. It’s all about great food in … odd, incongruous, or just plain cool settings,” GQ says.

About Gilhooley's, which the Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmern also declared to be the ultimate seafood dive bar in an episode of Bizarre Foods, GQ's Jordan Breal writes:

On the one hand, Gilhooley's is just what you'd expect to find in a speck of a Gulf Coast fishing town. Fashioned out of weathered wood, with a rusty boxcar parked out front, this seafood dive is proudly unpolished, like many of its regulars, who start drinking icy longnecks at 11 am and have no problem with the strict "no kids, no pets, cash only" policy. But then you start in on the Oysters Gilhooley—each simmering in its own pool of butter, garlic, and Parm after being roasted over a pecan-and-oak fire—and you realize that the best bivalves in the country are being served in a no-bullshit shack on a road you'd otherwise never travel down.

Rancho Pizzeria in Coleman, nearly an hour’s drive southeast of Abilene, and Dai Due, which opened in 2014 in Austin, also get a nod from the magazine. “One half of Dai Due is a butcher shop that chops up just about everything you could imagine — from wild boor to quail. And the other half is a restaurant that Texas food critics are calling the best in Austin — which is saying a lot these days,” GQ says.

The magazine praises Dai Due’s proprietors, husband-and-wife team Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield, for sourcing most of their ingredients from Texas, and for serving up a virtual banquet of menu options.

“Pick from either à la carte dishes like beer-braised collard greens or venison hot dogs with kimchi, or a supper-club menu, with big, shareable family-style dishes of seafood on Friday and fried chicken on Sunday. So go on Sunday,” GQ says. 

The magazine also urges readers to head to Dai Due on Tuesdays, when the Wagyu cheeseburger appears on the menu.

Other anti-restaurants that GQ applauded are in both on- and off-the-beaten-path places: Taylor, Mississippi; New Orleans; North Branch, New York; Biddeford and Freedom, Maine; Gloucester, Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; St. Louis; Cordova, Alaska; Dunsmuir, California; Greenwood, Delaware; and Los Angeles.