Restaurants / Openings

Beloved Mexican Seafood Restaurant Finally Comes Back After Incredible Hurricane Harvey Devastation: Inside La Fisheria’s Return From the Dead

BY // 02.24.18

There was no question that La Fisheria would reopen after Hurricane Harvey. Even after four feet of rising water filled the Mexican seafood spot at 213 Milam, partner Anas Mousa knew the restaurant would find its sea legs and get back on its feet.

La Fisheria officially closed on September 3rd. The owners hope for a late March or early April opening, but there is a lot left to do.

It took days before Mousa discovered the extent of the damage. He was unable to even remotely access the camera system within the restaurant to see what was happening during the storm. He didn’t think it would be that bad, since La Fisheria is pretty high off the street.

“We came in to see the whole placed destroyed. Everything was just floating — tables, equipment,” Mousa tells PaperCity. 

The whole building had flooded from the basement up. “I don’t know how to express that feeling,” Mousa says. “I was heartbroken.”

Once he knew, there was no going back. Just moving forward.

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“I never doubted or hesitated about if I was going to reopen or not,” Mousa says. “I love the concept. I love our customers. I always wanted to rebuild, no matter what it takes.”

The wreckage of the restaurant was especially painful because La Fisheria had just moved downtown, opening there on January 20, 2016. They’d built out the restaurant space from the ground up as recently as 2015.

Once again, “We had to build everything out again, basically from scratch,” Mousa says.

La Fisheria got its start as a popular Mexican coastal hotspot in The Heights. Two years ago, it made its move to the Market Square Park area. The owners were drawn by Downtown Houston’s activity.

“Downtown is moving,” Mousa says, “there’s always something happening.”

The restaurant’s vibe and signature colors — cerulean and tangerine — also made the move. Now, the destroyed downtown restaurant is being rebuilt exactly as it was before. The handmade blue tiles that make you feel like you’re on the water, the wave-shaped liquor shelves? They’re all coming back.

“There’s nothing like it in Houston,” Mousa notes. “I’ll tell you how one customer said it to me — when we walk in here, we feel like we’re on the beach, like we’re not in Houston.”

La Fisheria octopus
La Fisheria offers a savory octopus dish.

Even though it went from feeling like a beach to being underwater, plans call for La Fisheria to come back largely unchanged. Mousa wants loyal customers to come back to see everything just how it was, with no changes. The way they loved it.

There will be some new surprises with an updated menu — no details yet — but the same dishes La Fisheria regulars know and love are making a comeback at the revived restaurant.

Customers and friends have been calling and messaging Mousa regularly since La Fisheria closed its doors. The messages have largely centered on their support and encouragement — and their cravings.

Ceviche has been a stand out from the start. Tamal de elote con caramones also tops that list: a sweet corn shrimp tamale in a creamy garlic sauce. It’s reminiscent of sweet cornbread, and it comes with bacon.

“It’s something I even crave,” Mousa says.

As of right now, it looks like La Fisheria will have a soft opening before it officially relaunches. “We’ve been absent for a while. We want to welcome our customers,” Mousa says.

A Community Restaurant

They may not have been serving food, but La Fisheria’s owners still have been very involved with their customers. Mousa has personally responded to customers’ messages over Facebook.

“Every single day you see the messages, it’s the push they give you,” Mousa says. Their support keeps him motivated.

Houston’s community spirit will see the city through everything, Mousa believes. As people are still struggling to put the devastation behind them, it’s difficult not to worry about the future.

“It’s always on our mind — it’s on every single person in Houston’s mind,” Mousa says. “The minute you think about it, you have something in you that says ‘Am I going to go through all of this again?’ ”

For as difficult as Hurricane Harvey was for La Fisheria, Mousa keeps in mind that it was far more tragic for many across the city and beyond.

“People lost their lives, people lost their houses,” he says. “It’s all about community. The only good thing about Hurricane Harvey was that it showed a lot of people how strong they were when they got together.”

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