The first time I went to Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar’s new outpost in Gulfport, it was with a friend for a Friday evening after-work libation.
“I need a deck to watch the water and the sunset,” I told my friend. She got off earlier than I did, so she got there and snagged an outdoor spot for us. Good thing, too, because when I got there 30 minutes later, the place was packed. Every time a group passed us, it seemed I knew at least one person. Our drinks were delicious, the crustaceans in my shrimp cocktail were nice and plump, and I got to let go of the past week and watch the sun’s last golds, oranges and pinks.
When I returned a couple weeks later to do this Eats story, I took with me two close friends, Paul and Virginia Newton, who were eager to check out the new place. Of course, they were familiar with the restaurant’s home base on Iberville Street in New Orleans, but how would it translate over here, on the beach?
Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar Gulfport is in the former Ajax location just west of Cowan-Lorraine, on U.S. 90. The building’s layout is very much the same, with wide steps in the back up to the main interior dining area and decks. There’s also an outside bar on the front (facing the water) deck.
Inside, tall tables and big windows let customers enjoy air conditioning as well as the view, although there’s usually a breeze blowing in from the Sound. We sat inside for this lunchtime foray.
Paul already knew he wanted soft shell crab, so the Soft Shell Crab Platter ($20) appealed to him. It came with hushpuppies, fries and coleslaw. Virginia wanted to try the Char-Grilled Oysters ($20 for a dozen, $12 for a half dozen). I went with the Oysters Du Jour ($20 for a dozen, $12 for a half dozen) and a cup of turtle soup ($7 for a cup, $10 for a bowl).
As you might guess, Oysters Du Jour is a sort of daily special. On this particular day, they were fried oysters on the half shell topped with etouffee sauce. Mmm! I thought, anticipating them. Actually, Mmm! is what all three of us were thinking.
Paul’s platter came with two huge soft shell crab, four big hush puppies and a good supply of fries and slaw. Virginia’s order arrived with a sliced mini loaf of French bread glistening with butter and sprinkled with parsley. And the appealing aroma of my lunch slightly preceded its arrival to my table, piquing the interest of people seated nearby.
I tried the turtle soup first. This is a rich, thick, spicy, satisfying soup, topped with crumbled hardboiled egg. It truly is authentic turtle soup.
Virginia passed me one of her oysters. All of our bivalves were big, plump specimens, not a runt in the bunch. The char-grilled one had that satisfying flavor of an outdoor cookout. I also got a piece of the bread to sop up the buttery, garlicky juices.
I got a leg from one of Paul’s soft-shell crabs. Fried just right. Delish! He was happy, too, and had a go-box for later.
Now, to my oysters. Crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, with the dark, rich etouffee sauce bringing it all to another level.
Felix’s is known for its oysters, but if you’re in the mood for something else, there are po-boys ($11 to $17), red beans and rice ($12), jambalaya ($12), seafood platters ($16 to $21), salads, pastas and desserts as well as a catch of the day platter, either grilled or blackened, served with your choice of side and sauteed veggies (market price). If you can’t decide, consider getting the half po-boy and side ($14), a shrimp, crawfish, fried fish or oyster sandwich with your side choice of etouffee, jambalaya, gumbo or red beans.
There’s also a children’s menu to keep the guppies happy while the grownups enjoy the food, the view and seeing how many people they know come through the doors.
Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar Gulfport
Where: 942 U.S. 90, Gulfport
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.