Austin favorites arrives in Montrose
Cool Austin oyster bar opens in Montrose with see-be-seen patio, IG-ready aquarium, and more
The latest contender in Houston’s Great Seafood Restaurant Boom of 2023 has entered the ring. Clark’s Oyster Bar is now open for lunch, brunch, and dinner.
First announced in February 2022, Clark’s occupies the former Montrose Car Care building at the corner of West Alabama and Montrose. It’s part of Austin’s acclaimed McGuire Moorman Lambert Hospitality, the hotel and restaurant group behind Austin staples such as Jeffrey’s, Joann’s, and Perla’s Seafood & Oyster Bar. Houston’s Clark’s joins the original in Austin as well as a second location in Aspen, C
Inspired by American seafood from New England to San Francisco, Clark’s menu covers a wide range of options. As its name implies, the restaurant’s raw bar section starts with oysters from the East and West Coasts. It also includes caviar, crudo, ceviche, shrimp cocktail, and seafood towers.
Entrees options range from East Coast staples like a lobster roll, clam chowder, and fried clams to classics such as cioppino, crispy snapper, and linguine with clams. Non-seafood choices include steak, chicken paillard, and a well-regarded cheeseburger topped with sauce gribiche and gruyere. Breads, including the restaurant's signature sourdough, are made in-house.
“We have several restaurants and I love them all, but there's something special about Clark’s,” MML co-founder Tom Moorman said in a statement. “It’s got great classic seafood, a setting that feels like a nice place in New England, and honest American cooking with just the right amount of luxury.”
The company’s in-house design team took the lead on transforming an auto repair shop into a contemporary restaurant. Design details include leather booths, a yellow-and-white-striped awning, a marble-topped oyster bar, a private dining room, and a “see-and-be-seen patio.” A 280-gallon aquarium is sure to serve as a backdrop for social media photos.
Clark’s arrives at a moment when Houston has been flush with a number of new, upscale seafood restaurants. They include Navy Blue, Aaron’s Bludorn’s restaurant in Rice Village; Little’s Oyster Bar, the caviar-obsessed restaurant from Pappas Restaurants; and Balboa Surf Club, a California-inspired restaurant from the owners of il Bracco. In addition, Dallas’s Vandelay Hospitality Group will (finally) open Hudson House next to Brasserie 19 in the coming weeks. Houston restaurateur Ben Berg will put his spin on New England-style seafood at a new restaurant called Dune Road that’s opening downtown. Despite all the competition, MML co-founder Larry McGuire has even loftier aspirations for Clark’s.
“I’m a huge fan of El Tiempo, Hugo’s, Pappas, Armando’s, Da Marco, and the other Houston institutions,” he said. “We don't really have a bunch of those kinds of spots in Austin and I think those are the restaurants that Tom and I have been trying to build. We have tons of friends and family in H-Town and look forward to cooking and hosting for them and creating a special place in Montrose.”
Only time will tell whether Clark’s achieves the same kind of longevity as the restaurants McGuire cited. For now, expect the Austin import to draw plenty of attention as Houstonians decide for themselves whether the restaurant lives up to its lofty reputation.