Leo’s Seafood on Alston is one of those places that I’ve driven by a dozen times and have always wanted to try, and my first trip there was some of the best seafood I’ve had in Durham.
Most of the building is devoted to the fish market, which had everything from freshly caught catfish to head-on shrimp, all packed in ice. From what I gathered, the owner and his wife have been there for at least 20 years, and both of them were on hand today.
The back half of the building houses a small kitchen and take-out counter, and their fish menu includes croaker, spot, trout, whiting, catfish, flounder, and tilapia, either as a sandwich (about $4) or as dinners. They had a ton of sides too, including all the usuals (potato salad, mac and cheese, fries, butter beans and corn, etc.).
I ordered a fried tilapia dinner, which comes with two sides and hushpuppies ($7.50). As you can see, there was enough fish for at least two, and I only put a dent in the sides. The greens were terrific, but the hush puppies were slightly gummy and nondescript, and the cole slaw was purely functional — nowhere near as flavorful as the horseradish coleslaw at The Pit, for instance. The tilapia, on the other hand, was amazing. Meltingly tender and perfectly fried. It tasted so bright and fresh that I started convincing myself that it was actually healthy.
Since they only do takeout, and the weather today was perfect, a small park in downtown Durham was clearly the best location to dig in, if for no other reason than the obvious post-lunch stop.
Leo’s Seafood (map)
Tuesday – Friday: 9 am – 6.30 pm
Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm