When walking into Marais in Dickinson, one may get the sense that the restaurant is as high end as its elevation, which stands about 17 feet above the ground.

But owner Keith Lilley tells people not to be fooled. The restaurant, its tables covered in white table cloths, its walls filled with antiques and art and watched over by crystal chandeliers, is whatever its patrons make it to be.

“Love all, serve all,” Lilley said, describing the restaurant’s motto. “We’re looking to appeal to everyone’s taste and everyone’s budget.”

Designed in the tradition of the French Quarter in New Orleans and built from scratch, Lilley said the restaurant was inspired by a setting where it’s common to see people in shorts and flip flops frequent places that have waiters in suits and white towels hanging over their arms.

There’s no prejudice in that picture, Lilley said. Everyone is served and treated “as if they were in a $1,000 suit.”

Lilley said he came up with the idea for Marais’ after taking his wife to New Orleans for her birthday.

“That’s when we decided it was time to bring elegant New Orleans to this area,” Lilley said.

Being located right off Dickinson Bayou, the name comes from the area of New Orleans called Le Marais, which means “the waterfront,” or, in Cajun dialect means, “swamp” and “bayou,” Lilley said.

Carrying over the traditions, the food borrows from the different cultures stacked on top of each other in New Orleans, Lilley said. French, Creole, African, Canadian and Texan are baked into the cuisine.

Taking all that in, the goal is to be original, Lilley said. He likes to think of locals from Louisiana with no grocery store using the resources around them—animals, gardens and waters—to make their food.

From combo dishes to Sunday brunch and upscale ribeyes, Marais works within the history and culture it borrows from.

“The more you peel back the onion on Louisiana and New Orleans cooking, the more interesting it gets,” Lilley said.


2015 E. FM 517 , Dickinson



Hours: Tue.-Thu. 4 p.m.-10 p.m., Sat. noon-11 p.m., Sun. 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Mon.