Dig in to righteous seafood, oysters, gulf coastal deliciousness, and monthly fried chicken at Holley’s in Midtown.

Holley’s Seafood & Oyster Bar in Midtown is where celebrated Chef Mark Holley (formerly of Commander’s Palace, Brennan’s, and Pesce fame) takes his cuisine to its most personal level thanks to quality sourcing and pan-American and pan-Asian influences with a southern twist.

From his time growing up in the Midwest, cooking alongside family matriarchs, followed by time spent on the east coast, then the gulf coast, and via extensive travel throughout the world, Holley’s cuisine is inspired by everything from creole to Korean and all points in-between.

“Living here in Houston near the Gulf Coast, I’ve become so passionate about seafood,” said Holley. “I’ve pursued seafood for 20 years and I still get the same excitement about it.”

White tablecloths in the dining room, combined with the more low-key bar up front, allow for Holley’s to serve as a snappy go-to for business lunches and date-nights. Not to mention that it offers a casual happy hour and game-watching fun in the bar.

You’ll find the gracious chef making his way through both, greeting guests and making sure everyone is happy while “secret weapon”, executive sous chef Patti Alvarez-Burdette keeps things humming in the kitchen.

Holley’s is the kind of place where everyone is meant to feel like family for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch.

“The southern style comes from my family’s roots,” explained Holley. “My mother Vivian from Georgia was naturally good at cooking soul food, so that need to put a southern flare on every possible dish comes from eating her food. My father’s Kentucky roots instilled the southern style into who I am.”

Photo courtesy of Holley’s Seafood & Oyster Bar

Beyond the Usual

The appetizer menu is vast, including everything from fresh gulf and east-coast oysters, crudos, and ceviches to caviar service alongside Holley’s legendary peanut soup and his “LH” gumbo, featuring duck confit, gulf shrimp and fried oysters.

The buttery “Benne Seed” Parkerhouse Rolls could serve as a meal on their own, served with poblano-pimento cheese, smoked drum mousse, and pickled vegetables.

For entrees, consider the fresh and flavorful, Thai-inspired whole snapper, or the delectable Alaskan Halibut, which is served with crabmeat, orzo pasta, confit tomatoes, artichokes, Maiktake mushrooms, and lime butter.

Meat lovers will feast over the prime “cast iron” ribeye seared in duck fat and boasting creole flavors, served with Lyonnaise potatoes.

Plenty of Whiskey & Solid Happy Hour

Boasting more than 120 whiskey options, Holley’s serves up Kentucky bourbons plus every category of whisky and scotch from around the world.

“With a grandfather from Louisville, Kentucky. I gained the inspiration to create a bourbon bar,” said Holley. “After three years, that idea has blossomed into a successful southern style bourbon bar over 100 bourbons and 20 ryes.”

Happy hour happens every Monday to Friday from 4pm until 6pm, with $8 specialty cocktails, $7 by the glass/$20 bottles of wine, $5 draft beer, and random daily enticements like “Tennessee Tuesday,” showcasing a new Tennessee whiskey week in the bar.

For food, expect $1 gulf oysters and $8 bar bites with choices like shrimp corndogs with sambal remoulade, Thai curry mussels, tuna poke and Korean-style fish tacos and wagyu sliders.

Among Houston’s Best Desserts

Be sure and save room for dessert. The menu includes a stellar apple pie bread pudding, created with layers of cinnamon toasted croissants; and the “Ol’ Smokey” chocolate cake, made with Duke’s mayo and smoked peanut butter, topped with dulce de leche ice cream.

Meanwhile, the “Deep South” coconut cake, served with spiced pecans and salted caramel sauce, is thought by many to be Houston’s best cake (including yours truly).

Photo courtesy of Holley’s Seafood & Oyster Bar

Holley’s Legendary Monthly Fried Chicken Dinners

On the final Sunday of each month (save for August, November, and December), Holley’s serves up their legendary, award-winning fried chicken, via a special dinner that runs $50 per person with a minimum of six people per party.

Using a free-range, hormone-free chicken, Holley brines the chicken overnight and then hand-batters it twice before frying in massive cast iron skillets.

The finished product is served on huge platters along with three seasonal sides (think sweet potato waffles with maple pecan butter, compressed watermelon salad, or kimchi collard greens), biscuits, and dessert.

The dinner always sells out, so book well in advance.

Photo courtesy of Holley’s Seafood & Oyster Bar

Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar

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Jodie Eisenhardt is a marketing consultant, food writer and dog rescue advocate in Houston, Texas. Passionate about all things culinary, canine and song, she loves to travel in search of the perfect bite, followed by a performance by one of her favorite bands on tour. Find Jodie on Instagram and Twitter @foodiehouston.