“Fresh” is not just an adjective at Sea Breeze Fish Market & Grill; it’s a way of life. The eight-year-old seafood restaurant near Preston Road and Spring Creek Parkway is a no-joke fish market, even if it is located right in the heart of landlocked Plano.
This commitment to just-caught product despite the inconvenient proximity is the cornerstone of what makes Sea Breeze such an authentic and memorable neighborhood spot.
Owner Mark Alterman didn’t grow up near the coast (he’s from San Antonio), but he recognized the need for a good seafood joint in Plano, where northeastern transplants from JCPenney and Frito-Lay were hungry for the fish favorites they’d grown accustomed to back home.
“We try to cater to anyone who lives on the coast. So we have New England food for if you grew up in New England. We have crawfish and étouffée for if you grew up in Louisiana. Wild salmon, if you grew up on the West Coast,” he says.
And even though the menu items come from out of town, the trip from catch to plate is surprisingly brief. The owners make several trips a week to the airport to pick up some of their precious cargo. “It’s caught, it’s shipped and it’s to us,” says Head Chef Mike Schumacher. “It’s what’s kept me here all these years is the quality of the product.”
Alterman’s own journey to the restaurant business was a little more circuitous. He worked in manufacturing and as a construction manager before finally pursuing his dream of owning a restaurant. Sea Breeze is his first foray into the food biz. “It’s always something I wanted to do,” he says. “I’ve been talking about doing it since I was in high school.”
His decision to do seafood was cemented when he reconnected with fishmonger and part owner Rick Oruch, who he met years earlier when their sons were in preschool together. “I called him one day, out of the blue—I hadn’t talked to him in a few years,” says Alterman. “I invited him for a beer, and that’s how it started.”
Since opening in 2007, the restaurant has garnered critical praise and engendered loyalty from local fans, who scour Sea Breeze’s Facebook page and semi-monthly newsletters for mentions of hard-to-find favorites such as Alaska’s Copper River salmon, Louisiana crawfish and Maryland crab.
For those who don’t want to take their chances on seasonal items, signature dishes include its acclaimed lobster roll, clam chowder and cioppino fish stew, as well as rotating specials that change weekly and sometimes daily. “We try to cater to all segments of the country, from northeast to northwest, the Gulf Coast,” says Oruch. “Everyone has their favorites that they grew up on.”
While the scope of the dining menu is impressive, it’s Sea Breeze’s fish market, where they filet whole fish onsite, that’s a real showstopper. This breadth of product and tailored cuts mean even fish novices can find something they like.
“People are afraid of it,” Oruch says. “But it’s the easiest protein to cook.” He enjoys educating people about seafood and has produced several seafood converts thanks to his insistence on freshness and preference for simple preparation.
If customers would rather test the waters, so to speak, without getting their hands dirty, Sea Breeze offers monthly cooking classes, taught by Hank Reinhold, Schumacher’s second in command. Participants watch demos of various seafood dishes being prepared and get to sample the goods after. The $50 price includes wine.
Sea Breeze also hosts an annual lobster bake, which is not only a crowd-pleaser, but is evocative of the type of laid-back neighborhood restaurant Alterman envisioned opening in the first place.
“It’s as nice a plate as you’ll find anywhere in the city, and you can come in here in your flip-flops,” Alterman says. “The fact that people come in here and love it is really satisfying.”
Sea Breeze Fish Market and Grill Website >