Over the past two years, landlocked Dallas has experienced an explosion of inventive and delicious seafood restaurants, critical darlings Spoon and Driftwood being the pick of the catch. But damn the chargrilled octopus and sea urchin crudo. Sometimes you just want a pristine piece of fish perfectly cooked. That’s when you turn to Jon Alexis and his TJ’s Seafood Market & Grill. Not only is TJ’s the best fishmonger in Dallas, but it’s consistently one of the best seafood restaurants as well. The setup is simple. Select your fish from the case, your preparation style, and two sides. Better yet, let chef Scott Hoffner choose for you. “Alright, we’re going to rock it now!” the gregarious chef declared after taking our order. And rock it he did. From swordfish with corn and poblano relish to crispy-skin-up rainbow trout, we marveled at not only the chef’s deft touch but the freshness of the fish. You may think you never need to eat another crab cake or shrimp cocktail again. But TJ’s transformed those ubiquitous starters into something memorable, the shrimp in particular being so toothsome we shunned the cocktail sauce. The clam and mussel steampot, with its rich reduction of garlic, butter, shallot, and heavy cream, had our table literally swooning. It paired beautifully with a Chardonnay from TJ’s well-chosen and reasonable wine list. And, by all means, don’t miss the lobster roll. Yes, it’s a trendy choice, found on menus across the city. But at TJ’s, it’s pure magic: steamed chunks of fresh lobster warmed up in a lemon-thyme butter sauce and served on a challah bun. It’s nothing overly cheffy, just delicious simplicity.

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