Nice Catch

Even if you’re not in the restaurant business, you can still buy Gulf seafood direct from the source. One of the more innovative additions to the Austin Farmers’ Market in recent months has been San Miguel Seafood, the brainchild of Roberto San Miguel.

A research specialist at the Attorney General’s office in Austin, San Miguel grew up near Corpus Christi and spent years as a deep-sea fisherman and wholesaler, from Veracruz, Mexico, to New York’s Fulton Fish Market.

“Every day I worked in Austin, I dreamed about the coast,” he says. “I didn’t realize it at first, but I was clinically depressed. I missed the water, the ocean birds, all of it.” In particular, he recalls, he missed red snapper. But the fillets he found for sale in Austin struck him as “incredibly mediocre,” and fishing trips were fun, but expensive—state regulations limited his catch to two fish, at a cost of well over a hundred dollars by the time he’d chartered a boat.

“Finally, I said, that’s it,” notes San Miguel. “I’m gonna fix this problem.”

In a matter of months, he formed San Miguel Seafood, got the appropriate licenses, and, while still working his day job, began driving fresh seafood from the coast to the market, where he can now be found on Saturdays.

Stock changes weekly, but usually comes from San Miguel’s friends—smaller-scale fishermen who use sustainable practices. San Miguel transports fillets, whole fish and shrimp in state-of-the-art Finnish cooling boxes, and usually sells out within hours. It doesn’t hurt that his per-pound prices often fall below wholesale.

“It depends on the week, but I’ll get all kinds of fish—grouper, flounder, drum—and red snapper, of course,” he says. “I consider myself a red snapper specialist.”

In only a few months, regulars have come to depend on Roberto and his coastal connections, so come early to get your taste of the ocean.

Find San Miguel Seafood Saturdays at the Austin Farmers’ Market, 4th and Guadalupe, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. or call 512-680-5045.