It’s Friday night, and Jax is rockin’. Oysters shucking. Knives flying. Drinks flowing. This 76-seat restaurant, with its hip, high-energy vibe, is the sixth Jax location for Boulder-based restaurateur Dave Query, and it’s already making its mark on the Springs restaurant scene.
20 years, Query combed the Springs until he found the perfect spot in the heart of downtown. And it’s been standing room only ever since.
At Jax, it’s all about bringing the coasts to the coastless, sourcing and preparing the freshest seafood from oysters and clams to crab legs and lobster.
In addition, the commitment to sustainability is unparalleled. "We hold ourselves to the highest standard in what we do regarding sourcing, using the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch as our guiding light," Executive Chef Sheila Lucero says. Proud to be the first restaurant group in Colorado to partner with the Seafood Watch, Lucero works tirelessly to ensure that all of Jax Fish House’s seafood is sustainably sourced. "Here in Colorado," Lucero says, "about as far from the coasts as you can get, we have the opportunity to serve jet-fresh seafood 24 hours after it is caught by sustainably minded fishermen."
The Story Behind the Fish
are your jam, you’ll be in bivalve heaven. Jax searches for the freshest oysters from the East and West Coasts—choosing only the best of the best—and flies them in daily. "We’re serving 3,000 oysters per week," says Callie Sumlin, Jax PR and marketing manager, "and that doesn’t include happy hour oysters."
Jax even has its very own oyster: the Emersum (as in "’em are some good oysters"), created exclusively for Jax Fish House. This boutique oyster was developed in partnership with cousins Ryan and Travis Croxton, fourth-generation oystermen from the Rappahannock River Oyster Company in Virginia. "As our flagship happy hour oyster at Jax," says Adam Reed, Jax director of operations, "we’ve shucked more than two million Emersum oysters for our guests in all our locations to date."
Order the New England sea scallops, and you’ll be regaled with another fascinating behind-the-scenes story. Jax has been working with the same scallop purveyor, Ocean Fleet, out of New England for more than a decade. They are a small fleet of only 17 boats, so Jax can always trace its scallops down to the specific boat they came from.
The calamari is a Jax classic and its number one seller. A mix of calamari and cuttlefish, bites of this tasty appetizer are crunchy on the outside with tender, meaty centers and served with a tangy mango-chile mojo sauce and lime aioli.
For the ultimate in indulgence, order the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese. With butter-poached lobster tail, bacon, truffled breadcrumbs, and pickled mustard seed, it’s sure to become one of your guilty pleasures.
Inspired by the flavors of the South, the Mississippi catfish creates a symphony in your mouth. Available either blackened or fried, this dish is served with bacon-braised collard greens, Anson Mills poblano-cheddar grits, and Carolina barbeque sauce.
Everyone Is Welcome
dressed in a suit or a T-shirt and jeans. "We’re not trying to be this snooty high-end fish house," Query says. "We want to keep cost and experience in mind."
Want to splurge? Gather your friends around the raw bar, grab a Jax strawberry lemonade, made with strawberry-infused vodka, and share The Line. Jax most popular sampler, this decadent platter delights with one lobster tail, fruits de mer, two East Coast oysters, two West Coast oysters, and half an ounce of golden caviar. Of course, you’ll also be treated to the traditional accoutrements of cocktail sauce, mignonette, lemon, and crackers. For a more decadent experience, request the drawn butter. Eating with your hands is required.
If you’re in the mood for lighter fare, drop in for a bowl of mussels and a glass of wine. "Or, for 20 bucks," Query says, "you can come in for a burger and a beer."
Burgers in a seafood joint? You bet. The juicy, flavorful Niman Ranch burger, served with Jax’s signature mayo-based mustard sauce, won Best Burger in Denver two years in a row.
"We’re all about pleasing every palate," Query says. "And if you have dietary issues or preferences, we have all sorts of fun mixing pieces and parts of different dishes together."
This intimate restaurant in the heart of downtown has taken the Springs by storm with the highest quality seafood and over-the-top hospitality. Guests are treated with genuine warmth—from your greeting at the hostess desk to the cozy booth where you’re given a crayon and asked to write your name on the brick wall.
At Jax, each guest matters, and that’s why it’s standing room only.
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar
11 S. Tejon St., 719.357.4554, jaxfishhouse.com/colorado-springs