Take your diet somewhere else. Off The Hook Seafood & More is not here for those worried about their waistlines. This is a restaurant that absolutely revels in excess.
Started as a food truck a few years ago, Off the Hook is the creation of co-owners Corey and Loniesha Harris. Their smothered seafood fries quickly became legendary. Oklahoma City diners hadn’t seen anything so audacious and delicious before and the truck gained an almost instant following.
When the chance to open a brick and mortar shop arose, they looked at the financials and decided they could do a lot more with building than they could in the truck.
Even in an old Starbucks, 125 W. Britton Road, in an area where dinner service doesn’t make much sense, the business boomed. That led to the opening of a second location, 1920 S. Meridian, which is open for lunch and dinner for the southside and airport area crowds.
“So it’s a seafood restaurant. Wow. Really blowing me away, Greg.”
Hey, rude voice in my head, why don’t you shut up and let me tell you why Off The Hook became such a runaway success.
Lobster. Cream. Sauce.
My props to chef Corey Harris for implicitly understanding the irresistible allure of this decadent ingredient. But, also to his credit, he has restraint.
If I figured out how to make lobster cream sauce, you can bet I’d turn it into soup and figure out how to put it on every sandwich and every platter that comes out of the kitchen. He saw the reaction to the sauce and realized a deeper truth:
Oklahomans are certifiably crazy for over-the-top food. And he delivered a menu that never takes its foot off the pedal.
If you catch a hint of Cajun flair at Off The Hook, you’re not wrong. But Harris isn’t from Louisiana. He learned his flavor profiles as a student at Platt College and honed his skills working at Remington Park and Chesapeake Energy Arena.
But on the truck and now in his two restaurants, his focus is on making jaw-dropping dishes.
As winter moves in, there’s no better way to start your meal than with seafood gumbo ($6). It’s also a good way to introduce yourself to the ocean as an apex predator, because you’ll be eating shrimp, crawfish and crab as well as chicken sausage in a deeper than the Marianas Trench dark roux with rice.
For those on a budget, this is a wonderful way to taste Off The Hook’s seafood prowess without much expense. But beware! After you experience Corey’s recipes, you’ll be eager to dive deeper into the menu.
Smothered Seafood Fries ($10) or Super Smothered Seafood Fries ($15) are a must. The difference between the two is a fish filet and five shrimp — well worth the added cost.
On a base of french fries, Harris pours on his famous lobster cream sauce with shrimp, crawfish, crab and baby clams and then tops the whole mess with bacon, cheese, fried onions and a healthy dose of sriracha.
Not that the sweet heat of sriracha is unwelcome, but I recommend getting it on the side so you can enjoy the dish unadulterated. It’s pure decadence. The sriracha is so powerful, though, it can cover up some of the more delicate flavors.
You will need to share this. Not that you’ll want to, but calorically, it’s necessary. And if I’m there, sure, I’ll split them with you, thanks for asking.
This is only available at the South Meridian location, but it’s worth the drive to experience the Brunch Burger ($10).
“A $10 burger? What is this, I Ate Buckingham Palace?”
First of all, that’s a great idea and I’ll be stealing it. Secondly, get a load of what’s on here before you freak out.
A third-pound beef burger with a load of bacon, smoked sausage, a fried egg, cheddar and crispy hashbrowns is a lot. A lot of a lot. Texturally, it’s amazing. The burger is tender and the hashbrowns have a perfect crunch that helps soak up the runny egg yolk.
But there’s one more flavor on there that puts this over the top: strawberry jam. I don’t know how to explain to you how weird and wonderful this is except through interpretive dance.
Where the Brunch Burger is a wild exploration of texture, The Melted Lobster ($10) is a straight gut punch of luscious, buttery indulgence. Lobster meat is seasoned with Cajun spices and gently boiled before it’s paired with meltacular Monterrey Jack cheese, poblano peppers and jammy grilled red onion between two slices of buttery garlic bread. It’s all grilled together, melding into a sandwich so rich you’ll have to stop and take a breather after each bite.
But. But but but. That’s not what I order almost every time I go in.
Everything above is wonderful and I recommend you wander through this menu like a kid in a buttery, spicy, seafood-centric candy store. But the must-have of the must-haves is grilled fish, shrimp and grits ($15).
My love of grits is well-documented, but if you’re not a grit enthusiast, you can also order it over rice. You’ll be wrong and god will never forgive you, but you can do that.
Off The Hook makes some of the creamiest, perfectly textured grits I’ve ever had. They’re not gloopy. They’re not runny. They’re not hard like concrete. They are simply smooth and flavorful and if a man was allowed to marry a corn product, I’d put a ring on those grits.
On top of the grits is a perfectly tender grilled fish filet covered in Cajun spices and five jumbo shrimp. And then comes a dousing of spinach lobster cream sauce.
Put some handclaps in there if you want, because this dish deserves it. I’m simply blown away each time I get it because I know it’s going to be wonderful, but I forget just how wonderful it is.
Off The Hook is a truly inspiring story. Corey and Loniesha are community-minded business folks who are passionate about helping other people achieve their dreams the way they have. Hard work. Passion. Lobster cream sauce. These are the building blocks of success. And thank goodness that success means I’ll be eating grilled fish, shrimp and grits for a long time to come.