Dining Beyond the Chains
Good food moves to the 'burbs
Deckhand Oyster Bar500 Parker Dr., Round Rock, 512/368-3379
Mon.-Thu., 11am-10pm; Fri.-Sat., 11am-11pm; Sun., noon-10pm
Even midweek, the parking lot surrounding Deckhand Oyster Bar is packed, which is always a good sign. The locals have taken this place into their hearts, and once you have eaten here, it is obvious why: This may be the finest seafood place in Central Texas. It is certainly the best I've found. With seafood, freshness is everything, and everything here is so fresh that it is hard to believe you can't see the ocean from the windows. The menu is mostly straightforward, featuring oysters on the half shell, boiled shrimp, catfish, grilled oysters, flounder, snapper, and fried seafood – with occasional forays into Cajun (crawfish étouffée, gumbo) and Thai-style (shrimp satay, Crying Tiger) dishes. Portions are generous. The entire restaurant is spotless, and the highly skilled crews are so tight they barely need to talk to each other as they shuck oysters, fill trays with crushed ice, pile the seafood onto trays, and pull frothy mugs of beer from the taps. Be sure to try the Tom Yum.