Catch of the day

North Austin hooks first local outpost of Cajun seafood chain

North Austin hooks first local outpost of Cajun seafood chain

Hook and Reel
Hook and Reel is opening its first Austin location in spring 2020. Courtesy photo

Can an East Coast chain do Cajun food as good as Southerners? Austinites will soon have the chance to find out when New York-based chain Hook and Reel Cajun Seafood & Bar opens its first Capital City outpost at 9070 Research Blvd.

A rep for the company confirms the restaurant will debut sometime in 2020, but the exact opening date is still up in the air. The team hopes to be reeling in diners by the spring.

Hook and Reel specializes in Louisiana-style seafood boils customizable with a customer’s choice of sauce, spice level, and extras. An array of seafood dishes includes typical Southern fare like shrimp, crawfish, and crab along with clams, mussels, lobster tails, and scallops, all served with sides like corn on the cob, potatoes, sausage, fries, and boiled eggs.

In addition to the main event, the restaurant features appetizers like hushpuppies, fried mozzarella cheese, wings, and garlic bread. Po’ boy sandwiches, fried seafood, soups, and salads are offered for those who don’t want to dig into the boils. There’s also paella. (Hook and Reel isn’t a purist about its Cajun inspiration.)

Though envisioned as family-friendly, the franchise does offer a full bar with wines, not-so-craft beers, and cocktails. Like the food menu, the mixed drinks don’t only take their cues from below the Mason-Dixon line. Guests can order margaritas, mules, Mai Tais, or Cosmos.

The first Hook and Reel was opened in Lanham, Maryland, by a person the company enigmatically refers to as Mr. Miller, who fell in love with Cajun seafood during a gastronomic vacation in New Orleans. Since then, the brand has expanded to almost 20 locations clustered mostly on the East Coast. Forty-five more locations are reportedly on the way in 2020.

The Research Boulevard outpost will be among the first in Texas. A San Antonio eatery is on its way in spring 2020. The only other Texas location opened in December in Odessa.