The new Shell Shack in Arlington is the largest of the new crab-boil sports bars, and probably also the loudest.
The new Lincoln Square seafood restaurant is one of several new crab-boil restaurants, most also operating as a “tap house” and sports grill.
Shell Shack made its reputation in Dallas and Plano for big helpings of crab, shrimp or crawfish boil, served by the pound with a choice of four spices including diablo and five flavors including “Kitchen Sink.”
Shell Shack makes everything easy: Each boil is served either in the shell or shelled, “Uptown” style.
The wait for a table was 90 minutes early Sunday night, and it’s been longer as the restaurant settles into its new location on Road to Six Flags in the former Olenjack’s Grille.
Even on a non-football Sunday evening, the crowd was chaotic. But the bar also serves food, and the menu also offers fried seafood, gumbos and salads that fit better in elbow-to-elbow dining space.
An order of fried Buffalo shrimp (medium hot) and fries packed all the fire promised. The same spice is also available on fried catfish platters ($10.95) and Buffalo chicken sandwiches ($8.95).
On the other hand, a blackened chicken Caesar ($10.90) was surprisingly tame. The menu also offers house and wedge salads.
Desserts include carrot cake, bread pudding and a chocolate cake. It’s mostly generic sports-bar quality; the owners of Shell Shack also operate an Addison sports grill, The Back 9.
Bartenders were too busy pulling drinks to provide much service, and diners at the bar pitched in to fetch or pass sauces, bus dirty plates and make room for new diners.
In other words, Shell Shack is loud and busy, but fun for grown-ups. It’s a madhouse, but it’s also good to see this kind of support and enthusiasm for a new restaurant in north Arlington.
Even though St. Patrick’s Day is one of the busiest for restaurants, few are promoting a special menu.
The local standard is the platter of “Irish nachos,” built on skin-on cottage-fried potatoes instead of tortilla chips at J. Gilligan’s Bar & Grill, 400 E. Abram St., Arlington, jgilligans.com.
For a corned-beef-on-rye lunch, look to Buffalo West, 7101 Camp Bowie West Blvd.; buffalowestfw.com.
Bird Cafe is offering house-cured pastrami on rye with buttered cabbage ($15); 155 E. Fourth St., birdinthe.net.
Better hop to it
Don’t wait to make Easter Sunday reservations.
Because Easter involves large families at odd hours — mid-morning after a sunrise church service, or mid-afternoon after a long midday service — it’s one of the toughest days to get a restaurant table.
Early this week, most restaurants still had space available at off-hours, some in late morning.
In Irving, it’s the first chance to see LAW, the Four Seasons Resort’s new restaurant. The brunch buffet is $82; 972-717-2420, fourseasons.com/dallas.
The Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse or Grille locations are offering a prime rib special and their signature lemon cake, or the Grille’s new lemon cake jar.
Most prime steakhouses will be open.
The Gaylord Texan hotel in Grapevine has changed its holiday offerings, serving a menu brunch in two restaurants (Old Hickory and Zeppole) and the usual buffet in the Riverwalk Cantina.
A reminder: Joe T. Garcia’s closes Easter, but adjacent Esperanza’s Bakery & Cafe is open.