How do you go from being a crawfish boil cook-off team to restaurant owners? We spoke with Augie Garcia of the Sack Religious Boil House restaurant in Rockport to get the answer to that question.
Augie is a Rockport native and his grandfather, Guadalupe Galindo, was a shrimper in Rockport his whole life. Augie, the youngest of 7 kids, remembers catching fish for himself since there wasn’t much left after his older siblings got through eating! Growing up on the coast and eating local caught fish, Augie learned family recipes and eventually he and his family competed in crawfish cookoffs, perfecting their special seasoning over the years, which is now the restaurant’s supremely successful marinade.
In 2020, at the start of the pandemic and with work closed down, Augie and family decided to offer cooked crawfish from their front yard. At first it was just Saturdays from 11 to 2. But business was brisk, so they added a Sunday, and they still had a line of cars waiting for more. Their growing popularity made them realize they could open an actual restaurant that utilized their secret seasoning and serve crawfish year-round, along with family Mexican/Cajun fusion recipes. The Boil House opened its doors in May 2020 in an old pub space with the whole family participating. Customers raved and just one year later, in May 2021, they moved to a new larger space on Austin Street. Now they can seat 100 people and have 12 full-time employees.
So where did the restaurant’s name come from? We asked Augie. He explained that his family wanted a fun name for their cook-off team. As all the usual names, like ‘Mud Bugs,’ were taken, Augie thought of the sacks of crawfish they religiously cook. He decided a play-on-words would be fun. Their team adopted the name “Sack Religious” and they’ve stuck with it ever since.
The Sack Religious Boil House menu features loads of shellfish, like their signature crawfish and shrimp boils, but Augie tells us their recipes are distinctive because they do it Texas Style. Instead of merely seasoning with a rub, their fish soaks in a specially curated marinade before cooking which gives it a stronger, deeper flavor! It took over 3 years to perfect that spice marinade mixture in many a cook-off, so it’s a well-guarded secret now. They also serve shrimp cocktail and ceviche, a gluten-free gumbo, oysters, blue, Stone, and King crab, borracho beans, edamame, cucumber salad, spaghetti and meatballs, boudin and andouille sausage, and sides like potatoes and corn. They sell wine and beer and feature local wines from Rockport’s Winery on the Bay.
A special feature of Sack Religious Boil House is you can bring in your own catch, and they will cook it in their signature style and seasonings. In addition to crawfish, Augie loves to eat chicken, black drum, blue crab, water chestnuts, and to season food with cloves whenever possible.
The process of boiling crawfish is one that gathers the family together and creates an interactive, festive, atmosphere and that is what Augie enjoys most about the business. The Sack Religious Boil House is sharing the love and camaraderie not just within their family but with their greater family of Rockport residents and visitors. The Boil House staff is mostly family, including Augie’s son Diego, his son’s fiancé ‘B’, along with Augie’s fiancée, Summer, his brother Roman, plus a number of cousins. Being able to stay in Rockport, find financial security doing something they love, and providing for family is a dream come true for the Garcias. As grateful Rockport local business owners, the Garcias believe in giving back to the community and think their ‘mom and pop’ operation is really just about sharing good food with neighbors. So, when you come into the Boil House, don’t be surprised if they greet you with a smile and a hug, because you’re part of the family, just having a cook-off. Come on by!