Flying Fish has opened in The Heights.
The East Texas eatery's all about Big Mouth Billy Bass.
Owner Shannon Wynne says Flying Fish has the best hush puppies in the South.
Po boy, oh boy.
There's shrimp, oysters and so much more.
Just because there's fried fish doesn't mean there isn't salad.
Flying Fish brings flip flop fast casual to The Heights.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out new Heights restaurant Flying Fish yet, don’t worry — be happy. It’s essentially the feel-good, fried-fish mecca’s motto, given their wall of mounted Big Mouth Billy Bass.
You see, at Space City’s very first Flying Fish outpost — there are locations across Texas, Arkansas and more — you can trade in your favorite animatronic fish of years past for a whopping reward. Let’s just say it’ll tip the scales in your favor.
“You can take your Billy Bass out of the attic and bring him to Flying Fish. And we’ll give you a complimentary basket of catfish, and we’ll adopt your Billy Bass and hang him on our wall with your name on it,” owner Shannon Wynne laughs.
“We’ll give you your adoption papers, and we’ll hang him on our wall and take care of that Billy Bass for the rest of his natural life.”
It’s enough to reel in opportunistic eaters, fitting the “flip flop-casual” vibe of the restaurant.
Wynne, the well-known Dallas restaurant maven who’s responsible for the fish adoption center and the Rodeo Goat and Flying Saucer Draught Emporium restaurants, also encourages photos of family fishing trips.
“People love to do that. Everybody’s got a picture of their kids catching their first fish,” Wynne says.
But make no mistake: Flying Fish isn’t what you’d call a Gulf Coast restaurant.
“We were a little concerned that because it’s so close to the Gulf, people would expect more Gulf Coast fare. But Flying Fish is really an East Texas, catfish, shrimp and oyster place,” Wynne notes. “We really stick to what we do best.”
That looks like everything from Wynne’s favorite: the four shrimp and catfish basket. Plus, barbecue shrimp po boys, fish tacos, whole red snapper Veracruz, ceviche and crawfish chowder.
But while it’s a lot of food to see, it’s not all seafood.
“We have a really good hamburger, which is simple and good. The thing that’s good about Flying Fish, we have tons of salads. And fresh vegetables you can trade your fries for,” Wynne says.
And you can even meet in the middle with any of the fish offerings served grilled with a side of spinach or a savory salad topped with crispy oysters.
Flying Fish strives to bring the greatness to the granular, even down to the smaller bites.
“I think our hush puppies are the best hush puppies in Texas — all of Texas. I’ll just go ahead and say the South,” Wynne chuckles.
Yet gumbo may be the biggest lure, which takes three hours of loving stirring to prepare.
“It’s authentic, period. I had a group come in from Louisiana, from right outside Baton Rouge, and said this is the best gumbo they’ve ever eaten in Houston, Texas,” Wynne says. “You’ve got to spend that time to get it right. It’s not too thick, it’s not too thin. Not too hot, not too mild.”
And it’ll always be that way, from visit to visit, he promises. Wynne wants diners to take away one thought more than all others.
“I don’t think it comes until the second or third meal. After the second or third meal, I want them to take away that we’re really consistent. That consistency is what people come to depend on,” Wynne says.
The majority of those people are denizens of The Heights. “We’ve been bowled over by the enthusiasm from the folks in The Heights. They love it. I wish we could find three more locations like that in Houston,” Wynne says.
“Everybody is really neighborhood strong. They have a lot of pride in the neighborhood. You can tell by what they say. It’s not ‘Thanks for coming to Houston.’ It’s ‘Thanks for coming to The Heights.’ ”
This restaurateur is hoping it’s hook, line and sinker for the rest of the city, too.
“In Texas, people tend to be very tribal when it comes to their cities. Just because we’re from Dallas, it doesn’t mean we’re bad people,” Wynne laughs.
So, think you’re going to give it a whirl? Come on. You know you probably want to take the bait.