Throughout my childhood, I waited all year for our annual family road trip to Galveston Island, where we would play on the sandy beaches and eat as much seafood as we possibly could. Growing up in East Texas, we did not have many options for real, well-made seafood, so our Galveston trip was something we looked forward to in order to satisfy that craving. The Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, admittedly, is not anywhere near the coast, but it does boast some great seafood restaurants. One of the best dining destinations in the business recently opened its doors right here in Frisco, offering some of the freshest and tastiest seafood dishes around.
The late Robert Peterson opened the flagship Aw Shucks Oyster Bar in 1983, and the Peterson family now has a total of six seafood locations — two in Dallas, one in Richardson, one in Lewisville, one in Plano and one right here in Frisco. The restaurant operates on an honor system, the way Aw Shucks locations have from the beginning, allowing patrons to order at the counter, receive their food and then pay on the way out by telling the cashier what they ordered. Aw Shucks prides itself on its relaxed, beachfront atmosphere and great food, while welcoming patrons from “swimsuits to tuxedos,” guaranteeing that everyone is welcome.
Frisco’s new Aw Shucks restaurant, located at 4710 Preston Road, offers a casual, sit-down dining experience in the shopping center just southeast of Lebanon and Preston Roads. I met my best friend and fellow seafood foodie, Katie, for dinner at Aw Shucks, where we enjoyed a feast of some of the restaurant’s best dishes. We were pleasantly surprised at how inviting and relaxing the restaurant was, with its large, open floor plan, its copious amount of natural light and a huge patio. The restaurant’s walls don bright and fun hues of blue and red along with nautical-themed décor, pictures of anglers with their best catches and televisions displaying all-important college and NFL football games. The open floor plan boasts an array of tables and seating options including tables, booths, a long bar-top table to accommodate large parties and seating that overlooks the exciting hustle and bustle of the fast-paced kitchen. The northern wall of the restaurant is home to large patio garage doors that seamlessly take you from the indoor dining room to the open spacious patio where picnic-style tables, big and small, allow customers to enjoy the fresh air as they eat.
My favorite part upon entering the bright and airy restaurant was the sign that customers are greeted with outlining exactly how the Aw Shucks experience works (where to go, how to order, etc.) Too often, customers go to new restaurants not knowing the lay of the land. Should you seat yourself? Where do you order? It was refreshing to see that someone had already thought of that!
Katie and I grabbed a menu from the waist-high partition wall that dons the instruction sign when you walk in, and we headed to our right to order some of our favorites from the smiling staff members who were wonderful in answering our questions. They were patient as we placed our order. I opted to try the famous Oil Slick Margarita ($8.50) from the wide selection of beer and other bar offerings. It is a frozen margarita topped with Chambord liqueur. It was light and refreshing, with the perfect amount of tartness, paired with the sweetness of the Chambord. Aw Shucks also serves domestic and imported beer, red and white wine, call and premium mixed drinks, oyster shooters and Blue Goose Margaritas (Aw Shucks restaurants are the sister restaurant to Blue Goose Cantina).
After we gave them our names, we headed to scope out the best seat in the house, and because it was a cool Texas evening, we were so excited to grab a spot on the patio at one of the picnic tables where we excitedly waited for our appetizers. We decided to begin our Aw Shucks experience with the Calamari ($7.99) and Onion Rings ($3.99), and neither disappointed. We were excited to try them, and greatly surprised at the size of the portions (these dishes would be a great appetizer for a party of four, easily). The calamari was fried to golden perfection and both the calamari rings/tubes and small, whole squid were seasoned well and delightfully tender. Aw Shucks’ remoulade dipping sauce complimented the dish perfectly. The onion rings were equally as tasty and perfectly fried with large, tender onions covered by the well-seasoned batter, accompanied by another of Aw Shuck’s remoulade-type sauces for dipping.
No sooner than we had thoroughly enjoyed our appetizers, the waitress called our names again. This time, she delivered our entrees that consisted of a dozen Boiled Shrimp ($10.99) and a side of Corn and Potatoes ($3.99) for me and an order of Snow Crab Legs ($16.99) and a Crab Cake ($7.00) for Katie. My boiled shrimp were served on a round plate. Each shrimp was featured individually, circling a ramekin of cocktail sauce for dipping. They were some of the largest shrimp I have ever seen or eaten! The shrimp were deliciously tender and had just the right amount of seasoning. They were made even better by dipping them in the cocktail sauce. The side of boiled corn on the cob and small, halved potatoes went great with the boiled shrimp. The potatoes had quite a kick and were not lacking in seasoning. Pairing the boiled shrimp with the corn and potatoes made it seem like a mini, old-fashioned shrimp boil! Katie’s order of snow crab legs came on a large platter with a big silver bowl on top of it for the shell pieces. Katie said the order of snow crab was the best she has had, as the crab legs held tender, melt-in-your-mouth crab meat that was paired with a side of velvety, melted butter for dipping.
Crab legs can be a lot of work to eat, but they are so worth it! The crab cake, much like the onion rings and calamari, was fried to perfection and full of flavor, boasting shredded crab meat and a crispy outer layer of batter that served as a great juxtaposition to the tender crab meat filling inside.
Though we only tried a few of the options from Aw Shucks’ menu, seafood lovers have plenty to choose from at this delicious destination, including seasonal boiled crawfish, fried baskets, fresh grilled fish, daily lunch specials, salads, gumbo, clam chowder, po’ boy sandwiches and the wildly popular shrimp cocktail. Aw Shucks has a great happy hour Monday through Friday, from 3:30-6:30 p.m., offering $2 draft beers, half-off raw oysters on the half shell and $3.50 Blue Goose Margaritas. Aw Shucks gladly caters for big parties, too.
Whether you are ready to shuck some oysters, peel some shrimp or crack some crab legs, there is no denying why Aw Shucks was voted “Dallas’ Best Seafood.” They atmosphere is relaxed, the staff is friendly and helpful and the food is too good to pass up. If you have not made it to this new dining destination yet, put it on your go-to list, because once you try it, you will not be able to stay away!