Where to Eat in Houston During Lent 2024 — Updated

Portobello fajitas at Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen

This year, Lent runs from February 14 — condolences to everyone planning on giving up candy — until March 28. That’s six Fridays’ worth of abstaining from meat, for those who observe the tradition. However, just because the beasts of land and air are quite literally off the table doesn’t mean your Lenten meals have to taste anemic. Fortunately, Houston’s location near the Gulf Coast and wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options make it easy for the devout to eat well during their period of sacrifice and reflection.

Cypress

Dario’s Steakhouse and Seafood, 14315 Cypress Rosehill: Several of Grupo Herrera’s restaurants are honoring Lent this year by featuring meatless meals every day between Ash Wednesday and Easter, and not just on Fridays. At Dario’s Steakhouse and Seafood, choose from the classic shrimp cocktail for $20, Linguine Pescatore with crab, shrimp and calamari served with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and Pomodoro sauce for $30, and Steamed Lobster Tail Pasta with crawfish tails, chives and mushrooms in lobster cognac sauce for market price. 

Galiana’s Tex-Mex and Agave Bar, 24110 Northwest Freeway, Suite 500: There are seafood dishes galore available at this Cypress Tex-Mex spot from the locally based Grupo Herrera restaurant group, including Baja fish tacos stuffed with tempura fried snapper and coleslaw and drizzled with chipotle mayo and agave, tacos gobernador filled with shrimp, onions, mozzarella, provolone and a little splash of beer, served with a pico de gallo cabbage salad on the side, veggie fajitas for one or two, and two different styles of red snapper, shrimp or mixed ceviche

Marvino’s Italian Steakhouse, 24002 Northwest Freeway: Another Grupo Herrera restaurant placing some meatless options front-and-center throughout Lent, Marvino’s Italian Steakhouse will be promoting its refreshing Marvino’s Mango Salad for $13, fried Marvin’s Shrimp served with corn relish, capers and tomatoes for $21, and lobster ravioli with shrimp and corn sauce for $36.

Downtown

Downtown Aquarium, 410 Bagby: Though it won’t be offering a Lent-specific menu, the restaurant and family entertainment venue is openly promoting its fried seafood platter and stuffed catfish & shrimp as Friday meal options. Bring the kids and enjoy dining alongside exotic tropical fish. 

East Downtown 

The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, 2704 Navigation: This East-side favorite always has seafood enchiladas and a variety of platos del mar, such as shrimp Tampico, mole salmon, Texas redfish, and Ninfa’s Famous Shrimp Diablo on hand. While chef’s specials do change, as of press time the Lent-friendly ones are butternut squash soup, roasted Gulf oysters topped with blue cheese, mezcal cream and chorizo, and pulpo zarandeado with roasted potatoes and salsa chicharron.

Galleria 

Huachinango al Pastor at Caracol. Photo courtesy of Caracol.

Caracol, 2200 Post Oak Boulevard: Three of Tracy Vaught and chef Hugo Ortega’s restaurants are offering unique Lenten dishes that fit snugly into each overall concept. At Caracol, Friday feasters have the option to order a two-pound huachinango al pastor, a snapper rubbed with achiote, roasted whole in a wood-burning oven, served with roasted vegetables and rice. This offering is only available on Fridays and costs $59. It sounds perfect for sharing. 

Dining alone? Caracol’s main menu emphasizes seafood dishes found all along the Mexican coastline, so you won’t want for options during Lent. Ceviche enthusiasts will especially love the red snapper-based Ceviche de Chile Canario and ceviche de Caracol, featuring conch mixed with the fruity tang of pineapple and papaya alongside the bite of ginger and jalapeño. As with all Ortega ventures, a generous vegetarian and vegan menu is available as well. Try the tlacoyo, a masa cake stuffed with chickpea pureé.

Chargrilled Gulf Snapper Fillet at Christie's Seafood & Steaks
Chargrilled Gulf Snapper Fillet at Christie’s Seafood & Steaks. Photo by Maria Christie.

Christie’s Seafood & Steaks, 6029 Westheimer: With seafood this good, you can easily ignore the “& Steaks” in the name during Lent. This time of year is always a big deal for spots serving up Poseidon’s bounty, most especially a place like Christie’s which has been in business since 1917. Almost every dish on the menu works for a Friday meal, but keep a special eye out for Christie’s Pride. The restaurant has been serving up this marine delight since the 1930s. It involves baking a fish in foil and stuffing it with what they refer to as “wine butter seafood.” If shellfish is more your style, Christie’s also offers classics such as lobster thermidor, oysters Rockefeller and shrimp po’boys.

Kamp, 6025 Westheimer: Light up the hookah and slurp down $1 oyster specials all Friday long at Alife Hospitality’s lively indoor/outdoor dining concept. If you’re feeling particularly Gulf-Coastian, then you can pair your delish shellfish with $5 margaritas and daiquiris. Mardi Gras may be over, but nothing about the Lenten tradition says the party has to come to a complete stop.

Greenway/Upper Kirby

Eunice, 3737 Buffalo Speedway: Every Friday, not just during Lent, Eunice’s chef Drake Leonards offers a $34 courtbouillon grand mere lunch special featuring fish, oysters, and shrimp straight from the Gulf. Diners have their choice of a side between gumbo or a market salad, as well as iced tea or the brasserie’s signature three-finger simple vodka martini if you’re looking to channel your inner Don Draper during a business meeting. 

(Take note that the gumbo contains chicken and sausage, so remember to order the salad for your Friday Lenten meal.)

Arnaldo Richards Pico’s, 3601 Kirby: This long-running traditional Mexican restaurant by the namesake chef is offering a special dine-in only menu for all 40 days of Lent. Start your meal off with some Beetroot Carpaccio accented with goat cheese, hoja santa pesto and pistachios, or chilapachole de camarón y jaiba (spicy shrimp and crab soup), a Veracruz-style seafood stew. For entrées, choose from Chili-Crusted Seared Tuna with verdolagas and avocado, chili ancho relleno de minilla de camarón y pescado — an ancho chili stuffed with shrimp and fish — or pescado a la talla, the grilled fish of the day served with guajillo aioli, a garden salad and Mexican rice.  

On Fridays, head to Pico’s for its Fish Frydays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and enjoy some Louisiana-style fried fish served with coleslaw and fries.

The Heights

Shrimp burrito at The Taco Stand
Shrimp burrito at The Taco Stand. Photo by Becca Wright.

The Taco Stand, 2018 North Shepherd: Coinciding with Lent, Burger Joint’s sister restaurant is bringing back its beer-battered fish taco special, made with fried mahi-mahi, pico de gallo, shredded cabbage and your choice of salsa. The regular menu also offers a number of meatless options, including veggie, shrimp or fish burritos, tacos stuffed with mushrooms, poblano and cheese, shrimp, nopales, or vegan chicken and a variety of cheese quesadilla options, including avocado, shrimp, chiles or mushrooms.

Katy 

Phat Eatery, 23119 Colonial Parkway: Owner and chef Alex Au-Yeung presents a staggering variety of Lent-friendly Malaysian options at his restaurant in Katy Asiatown. For starters, the Award-Winning Kerabu Prawns is a chilled dish that serves up jumbo prawns and mango in hollowed mango shells along with peanuts, toasted black sesame seeds and pickled green papaya in tangy nyonya sauce. The ikan bakar golden pomfret comes grilled in a banana leaf and served with sambal, and the salt-and-pepper calamari is fried with 13 spices, peppers, onions and sriracha. If you prefer vegetarian fare, the menu also features vegetarian options such as sizzling tofu, curry vegetable casserole and snow pea tips.  

Midtown

Brennan’s of Houstons, 3300 Smith: Laissez les bons temps rouler — even during Lent — at this Creole classic. For both lunch and dinner, the Gulf Fish Borgne/Pontchartrain comes paired with jumbo lump crab, shrimp, Louisiana oysters, Brennan’s Creole butter and Parmesan-mushroom rice. Bring a few friends, and split a grand seafood platter stacked high with red snapper ceviche, freshly shucked oysters, boiled jumbo shrimp, cocktail crab fingers and crab ravigote. A petite seafood platter option is also available. 

Montrose

Hugo’s, 1600 Westheimer: This year, Tracy Vaught and Hugo Ortega’s classic Mexican restaurant is offering the Fridays-in-Lent special tikin xic (“dry fish” prepared in a Meso-American style). It features a grouper generously rubbed in achiote and wrapped in a banana leaf. It’s served with black beans and rice, habanero salsa and jicama salad on the side, all for $35.

Those wanting to abstain from meat entirely have plenty of vegan and vegetarian options to choose from as well. The quesadillas de huitlacoche really play up the hearty, velvety texture of the eponymous fungus, and enchiladas stuffed with corn, poblano, roasted potatoes, calabacitas (squash) are as classic as it gets. 

River Oaks

Texas Catfish Courtbouillon at Backstreet Café. Photo courtesy of Backstreet Café.

Backstreet Café, 1103 South Shepherd: This 40-year-old Houston classic is offering a special redfish courtbouillon, described as a “hearty Creole fish stew,“ every Friday in Lent for $28. If you don’t eat — or simply don’t feel like — seafood, then Backstreet Café also offers an extensive vegetarian menu with entrée options such as veggie enchiladas, grilled eggplant tacos, and vegetables and burrata.

Red Lion Pub, 2316 South Shepherd: It doesn’t even need to be Lent to enjoy a fishy Friday at this homey River Oaks staple. Red Lion offers year-round fish and chips specials every Friday, with half-portions at $10 and full portions at $18. Reservations aren’t necessary, but if there’s a big game going on when the craving for classic British comfort food hits, they’re a good idea.

Shady Acres

Rainbow Lodge, 2011 Ella: Unwind and get cozy on Lenten Fridays in this classic Houston restaurant’s rustic atmosphere. For lunch entrées, choose from fried green tomatoes with heirloom carrot escebeche and Gulf shrimp and crab dressed in pickled okra tartar, Shrimp And Blue Crab Saffron Risotto with Mediterranean salsa verde, or the $18 Light Power Lunch featuring a rotation of daily fish and seasonal vegetables. If you choose the salad as a starter and the fish of the day, the $16 Business Lunch is also Lent-friendly and comes with a dessert. Served at both lunch and dinner, the Rainbow Trout With Lump Crab And Pecan Brown Butter, which comes with garlic spinach and crispy sweet potato curls, and seared halibut filet served atop Parmesan risotto with fava beans, English peas and lemon butter alongside, can fill you up without making you break your vows.  

If you’re looking for vegetarian options, try the Beetroot Fusilli Pasta with housemade ricotta, smoked walnuts and parmesan and kale and walnut pesto. For a lighter bite, try the Italian burrata cheese with yellow pepper hummus, pistachio dukkah, citrus braised baby beets, herbs and grapefruit dressing. 

Sugar Land 

Berryhill, 13703 Southwest Freeway: Sink your teeth into the Fridays-in-Lent special: fried or grilled fish tacos for $3 each. If you’re not feeling fishy, the regular menu also offers avocado tacos, veggie tacos, and sautéed or crispy shrimp tacos for $5.67 each. Other Lent-friendly options include Berryhill Del Mar (grilled fish, sautéed shrimp, and vegetables in a cream sauce), cheese, seafood, or spinach and corn enchiladas, and more.

Multiple Locations 

Black Walnut Rice Village Exterior. Photo by Perrin Projects and Aker Imaging.

Alicia’s Mexican Grille: This Tex-Mex restaurant from Grupo Herrera is promoting three this Lenten season. The Hawaiian sand fish comes served over spinach, shrimp and mushrooms in lemon garlic butter. Lobster broth forms the base of the caldo de marisco, a hearty stew teaming with a seafood medley of  shrimp, white fish, calamari and crawfish with fresh vegetables. The third Lent-friendly dish is the sautéed Snapper Aliana served atop spinach and covered in mushrooms, artichokes, crawfish and shrimp.

Black Walnut: Recently, this local restaurant chain debuted a new menu guided by executive chef Austin Simmons of TRIS.  For 2024, there is a prix-fixe option with dishes suitable for those avoiding meat on Fridays. The three-course meal costs $25, with choices such as Caesar salad, Black Walnut Salad and Crawfish Queso for starters (vegan chorizo can be substituted), as well as a grilled salmon plate with grilled jumbo shrimp, garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli served with a creamy pesto sauce. The prix fixe menu items can vary from location to location, so check online or call beforehand to confirm the availability of Lent-friendly options.

Brick House Tavern + Tap: All locations — not just in the Houston area, in case you have to travel during Lent — are bringing back their Friday Lent specials. Choose from grilled or blackened salmon for $20.95 or fish and chips for $18. If you just can’t shake the craving for a cheeseburger and a beer, the regular menu has a Beyond Meat option with provolone, caramelized onions, grilled peppers, lettuce, tomato, pickles and chipotle aioli. Other Lent-friendly dishes include wild mushroom flatbread, seared Atlantic salmon and mahi mahi. Because Brick House’s menus can be different depending on the location, it’s a wise idea to verify which location is offering which option before heading out.

Dish Society: On February 14 (Ash Wednesday), all Fridays in Lent, and March 31 (Easter), members of Dish Society’s loyalty program will receive a free Filet O’Fish sandwich with the purchase of a salad, entrée or sandwich. Not a member yet? You can sign up online

Because the restaurant takes a seasonal approach to the menu, the meatless options may change during Lent. At the time of publication, however, additional Lent-friendly items beyond the Filet O’ Fish deal include a seasonal grain bowl, salmon poke bowl, shrimp and grits, smoked salmon avocado toast, Nutella French toast and plenty of others.

Hughie’s, 1802 West 18th Street and 4721 North Main Street: This casual Vietnamese eatery with locations in Timbergrove and the Heights is pulling out all the stops during Lent 2024. On Fridays only, they’ll be offering Hughie’s Gumbo while supplies last. At $5 a cup and $13 a bowl, this dish is made with crawfish, crab, swai (a type of catfish), shrimp and steamed rice. Hughie’s other Lent specials will run daily, and include the Viet-Cajun Spicy Crawfish Fried Rice, Curry Shrimp Fried Rice and Salmon With Crawfish Sauce served with kale salad. Vegans, vegetarians and those who’ve had their fill of seafood on Fridays have the option of vegan curry with coconut milk, vegetables and your choice of vermicelli, baguette or steamed rice.

Added 2/15/2024, 10:34 a.m.

Killen’s BBQ: Killen’s annual Friday fish fry is returning for 2024. Show up hungry, as the portions are so generous you’d think you were visited by Cajun Santa. Fried catfish and butterflied shrimp come served with hush puppies, coleslaw, fries, and housemade tartar sauce.

Local Foods: Although Local Foods is not offering meal deals specifically for Lent, every location offers a daily vegetarian or vegan special, as well as the occasional seafood special. If you show up on a Friday, you’re always going to find something appropriately meatless. The regular menu, which can change based on seasonal availability, also has additional seafood and meatless options. 

As of press time, some of the Lent-friendly winter dishes include crispy skin salmon, a tofu bánh mì, a quinoa burger and Thai Chili Crusted Gulf Tuna. Leave some room for Local Foods’ amazing sides, like the pumpkin seeds, Tuscan kale or red potato salad! All are either vegetarian or vegan.

Portobello fajitas at Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen
Portobello Fajitas at Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen. Photo by Paula Murphy.

Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen: As always, chef-owner Sylvia Casares plans to serve some off-menu Lent specials: mesquite-grilled sea bass and mesquite-grilled shrimp. Both dishes are served alongside an enchilada of your choice: a spinach enchilada with salsa verde or, for squash fans, a sarita enchilada with light cream sauce

In addition to the Lent specials, Sylvia’s regular menu offers meatless enchilada options like the Refugio (cheese), Laguna Madre (crab), Crystal City (spinach) and Tampico (shrimp). Not feeling like enchiladas? Try the Caesar salad with or without added shrimp, Texas fish tacos, or Portobello Fajitas, among other dishes. 

Taco Cabana: Lent options are back at Taco Cabana again this year and include a new fish taco. Available à la carte or as part of a plate or meal deal between February 14 and Easter, the tacos feature beer-battered Icelandic cod, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo and a pepper-limón sauce. Other Lent-friendly items on the regular menu include bean and cheese tacos, black bean tacos, original and guacamole chalupas, cheese enchiladas, cheese quesadillas and bean and cheese nachos

Comments (0)

Share Your Thoughts on This Article