1921 Seafood & Oyster Bar

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Houma’s cure for boiled seafood cravings

South Louisiana, I guess we all know, is a treasure trove of seafood. It seems this region is synonymous with crawfish.

At this time of year, our crustacean friends are seemingly everywhere – either boiled at home with family and neighbors, or at one of the Tri-parishes’ many establishments attempting to satiate our craving for the Louisiana mudbug.

Certainly, we have an abundance of choices in this area: Ray’s Seafood [no relation], Skip Jack’s and Little Eagle in Golden Meadow and scores of places that prep your order “To Go.” [Even local grocers are getting in on that act.]

Of course, in Houma you’ve got Big Al’s on the east and west side of the city, and there’s B&E Seafood Restaurant in Cut Off.

One place, however, keeps drawing me back more and more and that is 1921 Seafood & Oyster Bar.

One of the great perks of writing a restaurant review column is that I get to choose which restaurants to dine at and which ultimately go to print. Naturally friends and family influence me by providing their suggestions.

For the record, none of my family or friends wanted me to write about 1921 Seafood & Oyster Bar. They said it was too close to home – situated right in my own backyard – and should remain reserved just for “us.” After all, my family does eat there often. My kids ride their bikes there and, if we stay past dark, we load the bikes into the back of the SUV. Sometimes we simply walk and pick up dining compadres (neighbors we happen to catch outside) on the way.

My point is I like 1921. It’s comfortable, convenient and feels like home without being at home.

As you may have deduced by now, this review can’t be objective – 1921 is too familiar. The restaurant’s nuances are what I like; its shortcomings were long ago forgiven.

But with a packed house and standing-room-only crowd, clearly 1921 is no secret to Houma.

1921 Seafood is located right smack in downtown Houma at 1522 Barrow St., about three blocks away from the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center.

This will date me, but when I was a kid this location was one of the “Best-o-burger” drive-ins, home of the best hamburger in town at that time. I was surprised when I returned to Houma to find the once open area drive-in had closed and the site converted into a Jimmy Buffett-style seafood mecca restaurant.

The décor is rustic and functional. Wooden benches and a few tables are situated on the concrete flood to accommodate the classic Louisiana seafood family experience. Trawl nets hang from the ceiling, and the restroom signs direct you – depending on whether you’re an “inboard” or an “outboard.”

Blink hard and you’ll think you’ve been magically be transposed to the Florida Riviera – the span of beaches from Perdido Key to Destin and Panama City.

But the view is, in fact, Barrow Street. Outside, you’ve got a view of the parking lot. Across the street sits the Jolly Inn.

Surprisingly, it’s a good combination: Enjoy great seafood at 1921 and then cross the street to work it off dancing to Cajun/Zydeco music.

Hot, boiled seafood is 1921’s main draw. According to the menu, it’s the “specialty of the house.” Hot, spicy and always fresh, customers are promised.

1921 boils what’s available and well stocked. On our last visit, for example, crabs were in short supply – no boiled crabs, no fried crab claws – nada. But that’s actually a good thing. When crabs are on the menu, you know they will be good. When they’re not, you know the chef simply chose not to compromise the consistency.

The same rule applies to shrimp and crawfish.

Diners will quickly discover the boil seasoning is consistent with each visit. And boiled potatoes, corn on the cob and sausage are available.

Don’t forget 1921’s oyster bar. This is a great place for raw oyster lovers. I admit I feel compelled to sample the oysters whenever they are available as appetizers.

Other appetizers include homemade seafood gumbo, the classic “onion mum,” crabmeat-stuffed jalapenos, oyster or shrimp brochettes [wrapped in bacon and deep fried], fried crab claws or – for the kids – chicken and cheese, which I think are chicken nuggets with a generous portion of queso for dipping.

My favorites are the oyster and shrimp brochettes and crabmeat-stuffed jalapenos.

Entrée alternatives do exist for those who aren’t in the mood for boiled seafood. Fried seafood platters [or half-platters] of oysters, shrimp, crawfish catfish, soft-shelled crab or a combination thereof (fittingly called the Trash Basket) are available.

I recently tried the blackened Red Snapper [a 10-ounce filet, either grilled or blackened] for the first time and was pleased with the outcome. They also serve “Stuffers” – homemade, hand-stuffed crab or shrimp, battered or deep-fried. I’ve focused so much on the boiled seafood at 1921 that I haven’t tried a stuffer – yet.

And you can always order from the sandwich menu: oyster, shrimp or catfish po-boys, hamburgers or a chicken sandwich.

One of the best indicators of an establishment’s success is how you feel when you leave or what memories one conjures up when asked about a particular place.

With that in mind, 1921 leaves me with a smile on my face and is often the right cure to an otherwise stressful day.

1921 Seafood & Oyster Bar