Family-Friendly Restaurant in Texas City Has Brunch with a View & Room for Improvement
Families looking for an escape from Houston’s periodic bouts of dreary weather are just a 40-minute drive from Blue Lagoon Bar & Grill – Lago Mar in Texas City, which is now offering Sunday brunch overlooking the cyan waters of the nation’s longest Crystal Lagoon. This is the second Blue Lagoon restaurant, with the first being Balmoral near Humble and Summerwood.
Representatives for Blue Lagoon invited Houston Food Finder to sample the Sunday brunch menu and tour the 12-acre Lago Mar destination and master-planned community. It opened in November 2022 next to Lagoonfest Texas — a “beach club and aqua adventure park” which boasts a number of play areas for children, an entertainment stage, luxury cabanas and activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding and a floating obstacle course. Located at 12930 Crystal View, the restaurant is one of the newer amenities added to Lago Mar, which also touts the largest, crystal-clear Public Access Lagoon (PAL) in Texas. The lagoon is visible from the restaurant’s back patio, but guests who want to access it have to purchase separate tickets at Lagoonfest.
Executive chef Kenzrick Ridley is in charge of the kitchen, which services both Blue Lagoon locations. Ridley is a Houston native with a degree in culinary management from the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Houston and over 14 years of experience in the industry. He’s worked at various Houston restaurant kitchens, including as poissonnier (a fish chef) at the River Oaks Country Club and as lead line cook at 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, where he trained under Houston’s only ACF Certified Master Chef® , Fritz Gitschner, before 60 Degrees closed due to construction woes.
Though the service during our visit was outstanding, we unfortunately were not blown away by our meal. Our visit started at the bar, where we were warmly greeted by the bartender who walked us through the drink menu. The wine list is filled out with big-name wineries, and the cocktail list is akin to one you’d find at Joe’s Crab Shack in the aughts, including the namesake Blue Lagoon made with coconut rum, blue curaçao and lemonade. With the backdrop of a crystal-clear lagoon, I would like to have seen more creative tropical libations served in festive drinkware rather than stodgy, clear pint glasses.
The Sunday brunch menu includes much of what you’d expect — items such as avocado toast, eggs Benedict and Ken’s Shrimp Grits along with a separate brunch pizza menu. The food seems to cater to families visiting a water park with young children or picky eaters, not to gourmands in search of a grand culinary jaunt. We were treated to chilaquiles, steak and eggs, and chicken ‘n’ waffles. The chilaquiles consisted of tortilla chips topped with an uneven distribution of what tasted like sweet picante sauce, fried eggs, avocado and either bacon or breakfast sausage. The menu also listed queso fresco, which was missing from our plate.
The steak and eggs, the most expensive item on the menu at $27, came with soggy hash browns and two chewy beef medallions sans crust or seasoning, and minus the toast listed in the description. The breading for the pair of chicken tenders atop the chicken ‘n’ waffles is plain, with no spice, and crumbles off easily, while the waffle is served without much-needed butter. My expectations for chicken and waffles, and brunch in general, involve a decadent, sweet-and-savory mélange of flavors that are both comforting and exciting, but most everything fell short on this particular occasion.
The disappointing food was surprising, considering we were told by the restaurant’s PR firm that it had recently been voted among “Diners’ Choice Best Restaurants for Brunch” on Open Table. (We could not find that specific accolade online, but Blue Lagoon does have a 4.7 rating out of 5 from its 26 consumer reviews on OpenTable.) It may have been an off-day, because none of the dishes served to us looked like any of the promotional photos found online, and chef Ridley was away at the Humble location. Also, the restaurant is still in its infancy, meaning the team hasn’t had much time to figure out what works and what doesn’t. The lunch and dinner menu lists an enticing blend of Cajun and Creole dishes, and that may be a more promising experience.
The lagoon is a beautiful backdrop, and the restaurant has more than enough space to accommodate birthday parties, weddings, and corporate events, though part of the visual appeal is currently marred by heavy construction surrounding the restaurant and community.
Blue Lagoon Bar & Grill Lago Mar is open Wednesday through Sunday, with the Sunday brunch menu available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Mario Sebastian-Berry is a wine and spirits vendor who has been in the hospitality industry since 2002. Currently, he represents Blanco, Texas-based Andalusia Whiskey Co. and multiple wine labels. Somehow, he also finds time to be Houston Food Finder’s social media manager.