Austinites feeling in a pinch about netting their favorite Maine squeeze don’t have to feel shellfish about indulging in the city’s newest lobster restaurant.
Here to butter you up with all the sweet lobster meat you can shake a claw at: Garbo’s Fresh Maine Lobster’s new brick-and-mortar location, which has officially opened to the public — almost two years after the company secured the space at 12709 N. Mopac Expressway.
The family-owned and -run restaurant is the salty creation of Connecticut native and lobsterman’s daughter Heidi Garbo, who first launched a similar concept in the Florida Keys. After a move to Austin, she opened Garbo’s as a food truck, then added another truck, then another (and a few pop-ups) before she and her two sisters served up their East Coast love of lobster shacks in restaurant form.
The first brick-and-mortar Garbo’s location, which opened in 2014 in Wells Branch, closed last October in anticipation of the opening of the North Mopac shack, which was initially forced to offer only takeout and curbside pickup services because of the pandemic. The new lobster shack is now Garbo’s only brick-and-mortar location, making it a big fish in the small pond of outstanding seafood eateries in Austin.
Garbo’s replaces what was once an Opal Divine’s location in Northwest Austin, which closed in 2019, and the building has been fully renovated to include dining for up to 210 guests in the expansive indoor and private dining room space, outdoor patio, lounge, and raw bar.
“These past two years have been the hardest years I’ve ever experienced in running a restaurant,” Garbo says. “The hits just kept coming. We just opened limited indoor dining this spring, a full year after the renovations. Now, with the private dining room open, it finally feels that we can celebrate the grit that got us here.”
The new crustacean station will serve up all the East Coast-sourced seafood delicacies landlocked Austinites crave, from classic Maine and Connecticut lobster rolls to big-as-the-ocean fish and chips, a tempting selection of fresh oysters and raw bar offerings, crab cakes, fish dip, lobster mac and cheese, lobster grilled cheese, and — oh yeah — whole steamed Maine lobster.
The drink menu, curated by beverage director Josh Loving of Small Victory, includes wine, beer, and beach-y cocktails perfect for virtually transporting diners to a seaside locale, like the Blue Hawaii Wine Cooler, the rum-centric Garbo’s Grog draft cocktail, the Long Island draft cocktail, and the Bloody-Mary-esque Garbo’s Red Snapper.
This New England cuisine with an Austin twist is about as fresh as you can get in Texas, with Garbo’s flying in the sweet 100 percent Maine lobster meat from East Coast waters. And considering the brand has served more than 60,000 lobster sammies to grateful Austinites since 2015, we’d say Garbo’s in on a roll.
Starting Thursday, November 4, Garbo’s will open early for brunch on the weekends, operating from 11 am-9 pm Tuesday through Thursday, Friday from 11 am-10 pm, from 10 am-10 pm Saturday, and from 10 am-9 pm Sunday. And lobster lovers who want to spoil themselves with a spectacular holiday meal are also in luck, as the restaurant will be open for service on Christmas Day this year.
For more info on the new lobster shack and fleet of food trucks, follow Garbo’s on Instagram.