Dear Foodies,

Amberjack’s Seafood Company, a South Padre Island landmark, has opened its doors in McAllen. I’m sure many of our locals and tourists have had the pleasure of eating at their restaurant at the Island, but now we don’t have to drive far when we want the fresh catch of the day.

I was looking forward to eating at Amberjack’s because all of my friends were curious to see if the food or the menu was going to be the same. I called my “Lunch Bunch” crew to accompany me and we were pleasantly surprised. I love to see a full house and noise creates energy! I was greeted by a polite hostess but, would have imagined a hostess more like a happy cruise line director (Julie from the “Love Boat”) at the front desk. I was a Maitre d’ for 12 years and if there is something I learned in the restaurant business is that the first and last person you see at the restaurant is the most important because they set the mood for your experience.

We sat at our table and I was thrilled to read this creative menu. Besides just serving fried seafood already so prevalent in Texas, Amberjack’s had focused on serving wonderful sautéed and grilled seafood in fine sauces and also prime steaks. Our server Joann could not have been more attentive or knowledgeable. She made great recommendations with just the right amount of attention for excellent service. My eyes went directly to the words “Seafood Crepes” ($9.99). Since I consider that a French meal, I decided a glass of wine ($5.00 what a deal) was in order— after all, I am a bon vivant!

The nautical inspired theme of the décor leaves a bit to be desired and the Big Disco Ball pointed out by my friend Jenn Brown, did entice a bit of amusement among us, perhaps that was the objective.

Both owners Lance Mullins and Manager Chris Saben were busy making sure the restaurant was running smoothly. Brooks Ausborne who is a wonderful guitarist was setting up for the “Happy Hour” entertainment later that day.

I also happened to see Mike Martin from Rio Queen Citrus going into the kitchen, which to me is the sign of fresh local produce being purchased and served. Only the best!

The crepes had arrived and as Johnathan Waxman, a famous restaurateur, once said “Let great ingredients speak for themselves.” My dish looked luscious! The handmade golden crepes are filled with gulf shrimp, lump blue crab and lobster meat. Topped with their crawfish cream sauce. The sauce was pink, which to me looked like love on a plate!

I knew the dish came with vegetables but I thought they would serve me boring, butter drenched and overcooked vegetable medley I get at most restaurants. Instead I got a variety of grilled peppers and zucchini with olive oil — my favorite. The taste was terrific. How I reveled in my meal! I did not even offer a taste to anyone.

Luckily, my pal Marianne Graham always shares her dishes. She ordered the “Blackened Gulf Shrimp Tacos” ($7.99). These tacos come with shredded cabbage, homemade chipotle mayo and fresh pico de gallo. Along with that you get a large portion of Mexican rice and charro beans. Marianne and I really thought the beans were delicious and had the perfect amount of spices which went well with the rice. The ladies commented on how fabulous the tacos were and how they could have eaten one more.

Amberjack’s is a good solid choice and I can’t think of any reason not to be pleased by it (as long as their servers are quick with service and the food remains consistent). Another great plus is the covered and open air patio with cooling misters, an excellent idea especially when you want to eat alfresco. $$

I wish this family owned restaurant much success!


Madame Gourmand

Amberjack’s Seafood Company, 2005 W. Nolana, McAllen. 956-627-3448