Crawfish Borrachos at the Original Ninfa's on Navigation

Crawfish Borrachos at the original Ninfa's on Navigation.
Crawfish Borrachos at the original Ninfa's on Navigation.
Photo by Joanna O'Leary

When I go to the original Ninfa's on Navigation, I'm regularly tempted by the monthly specials, but inevitably I revert to my old favorites such as the tacos al carbon and the shrimp and chicken fajitas. Spring, however, is a time for change and growth. The last time I cowardly opted for the safe, traditional albeit terrific fajitas, I vowed next time -- next time -- I would try something new.

"Next time" came, fortuitously enough, just two weeks later. It was the end of April and the specials I had mused over earlier in the month were still on the menu for a few days. And if I was going to be adventurous, why not be really adventurous and order something I usually don't like? Specifically a dish that heavily features crawfish? I could write a book on why eating these things in shell form is ridiculous, but I will sum up my argument by saying that no other creature on earth requires so much labor in exchange for so little pay-off in sustenance. Once at a crawfish boil, I ate like 15 pounds of mudbugs, then went home still hungry and having lost weight through the exertion of breaking apart those suckers.

So, yeah, crawfish borrachos was a risky order for me.

With only two fully intact crawfish in the dish, the crawfish borrachos is designed for people like me who believe the act of eating should itself not be hard work (notable exception: lobster). There is, however, plenty of shelled crawfish meat lounging amid a wreath of the plumpest, juiciest mussels I have had in a long time. A slightly citrusy crabmeat salad serves as the dish's centerpiece, partially hiding the plainest but handiest component, the thick wedge of Texas toast. This piece of bread -- more so, I am ashamed to say, than a sense of public decency -- prevented me from drinking the spicy, smoky broth laced with the flavors of chiles, tomato, garlic and just a bit o' booze.

"Borracho," in case you didn't know (and I didn't), means "drunk" or "drunken," and while this adjective aptly fits the composition of the dish, it also describes the state of euphoria you will be in after sopping up every last drop of the sauce.

Perhaps the best part of the crawfish borrachos (and the very reason I'm writing this post) is that it will also be available in May. It seems I wasn't the only one to go nuts over this dish, so Chef Alex Padilla, in compliance with the vox populi, extended its run as a monthly special. Which means I have over 20 opportunities to enjoy it again.

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The Original Ninfa's On Navigation

2704 Navigation
Houston, TX 77003


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