279 Hickory Ave., Harahan
THREE STARS (out of four)
Seither's looks like your standard-issue neighborhood seafood joint. That's how it started, and it still serves that role. But what really sets this place apart is the way its owner, Jason Seither, has also embraced and pursued a fresher, more creative expression of the same essential ingredients.
Though colorfully decorated now, this restaurant can still be a little hard to spot. It's set back behind a long, oyster shell parking lot. The main dining room is small, with a service window open to the kitchen. The oyster bar is accessed through a separate door but serves the same, full menu.
Quick and efficient, the servers here are also good ambassadors for the more unusual items across the menu. At the oyster bar, the shucker is as welcoming and entertaining a presence as you could hope to find.
Seither's is a boiled seafood specialist (it used to be a retail market for seafood) and through the different shellfish seasons you'll find crabs, shrimp and/or crawfish at the center of most tables. Fried eggplant, BBQ shrimp, stuffed artichokes the list has the standards. But then, order the gumbo and there's jambalaya in there instead of plain white rice. The fried green tomatoes arrive as a colorful sculpture of batter, remoulade and crabmeat and the seared tuna is painted with spicy mayo and eel sauce as if it just came from the sushi bar.
Here's where things start getting really interesting at Seither's. You can get your standard fried seafood platter or po-boy, which are done well. BBQ shrimp linguini and oysters Rockefeller pasta are hearty, generous and delicious. But if you're visiting Seither's, you owe it to yourself to try some of the more unusual house specialties. That starts with the spicy tuna po-boy, with seared, nearly-raw slabs of fish elaborately dressed with sushi bar sauces, avocado, sesame seeds and dabs of Sriracha hot sauce. If you like sushi, and you like seafood po-boys, here is a combination of those pleasures. It looks wild, and it's much different from your normal po-boy (or sushi roll), but it works. Look for a similarly robust approach with blackened wahoo with crawfish butter sauce and crawfish cornbread, a po-boy with blackened shrimp and avocado and whatever special Seither's might be doing with soft shell crabs.
It's beer and wine only, with the basics represented and sold at fair prices. The beer pitchers are good bargains.
Normal neighborhood seafood joint pricing prevails here. For about $20 to $30 per person you can eat like a king, or spend half that for a quick lunch.
Seither's is one of those scruffy backstreet joints the tourists dream about finding on their trip to New Orleans. It's location deep in Harahan means it's mostly for locals, however, and they know this place has the right stuff.