Austin may be landlocked, but that doesn’t stop Clark’s Oyster Bar from serving some of the finest seafood this side of the Nacogdoches River. Whether you’re stopping by for a quick drink on the patio or at the bar, a sun-soaked lunch, or a candlelit dinner, you’ll probably leave feeling like you made the right decision by coming to Clark’s. The only catch is you’ll have paid mightily for it.
The restaurant isn’t far removed from its South Congress big sister Perla’s, with an ambiguously East Coast aesthetic that could comfortably fit anywhere on the coastline between Martha’s Vineyard and Miami. Located in the charming neutral zone between the quiet comfort of the Clarksville neighborhood and the chaos of downtown, this is a comfortable spot with a big menu. Since we’re in Texas, you get your gulf-dwelling fish. And since we have same-day shipping, Clark’s also serves everything else from the sea.
Let’s start with the oysters. They’re outlandishly overpriced, somewhere north of three dollars each, but they're delicious, and the charming waiters do a terrific job convincing you that there are clear flavor profile differences between Pacific and Atlantic oysters. We recommend splitting an array of these bad boys with your table. Also worth noting: the table bread is some of the best in town. (And free! Add some of their salty butter to it and you’ll feel like you’re starting to get your money’s worth of calories.) The entrees are all very good. The obvious picks like the lobster roll or the mussels and clams are great, but if there’s one dish to single out, it’s the fresh catch of the day. Our pick is always the redfish - it’s cooked perfectly, and very flavorful.
The novelty of Clark’s is that it looks like a no-nonsense seafood dive bar serving solid seafood that underwent an Instagrammable makeover. This is no surprise coming from the same braintrusts behind Lamberts (fancy barbecue) and Elizabeth Street Cafe (fancy Vietnamese). In short, Clark’s embodies the overpriced, postcard-ready zeitgeist of a “worldier” Austin in the year 2016, with great food but not great value.
Split a dozen with someone for a proper appetizer, or use this ratio of 6-1 if there are more than two people in your party. Sample oysters from both coasts for maximum enjoyment.
What’s not to love about buttery lobster chunks laid on a gourmet hot dog bun? It’s hard to find a good one anywhere in Texas, but this one definitely qualifies.
Your options include redfish, branzino, and scallops, but as we mentioned, our move is always the Redfish. It has a crazy amount of flavor, and the cup of smoked paprika vinaigrette it’s paired with is amazing.