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Crawfish Season Is Off to a Slow Start, But Here's Where to Get Your Mudbugs

I'll take ten pounds, please. Yes, all for me.
I'll take ten pounds, please. Yes, all for me.
Photo courtesy LA Crawfish
"The only thing better than a crawfish dinner is five crawfish dinners."
Coach Red Beaulieu, The Waterboy

Ain't that the truth? It's time to eat up, because crawfish season is upon us once again ... well, sort of.

Gulf coast crawfish season typically begins in early to mid-March, but this year has seen a small crawfish harvest due to an unseasonably cold winter and icy snaps that hit the gulf unusually late in the year.

"The one thing you should know about crawfish is they're very temperature-sensitive," says Stephen Minvielle, director at the Louisiana Crawfish Research & Promtion Board. "We don't have a lot of history on ice storms like we've had this year to compare it to. Was it a permanent negative effect? Probably not. But it's unknown."

Minvielle says that by this time of year, he's used to hauling in anywhere from 12 (on a poor day) to 22 sacks of crawfish from his operation, but his best haul so far has been 11 sacks of mudbugs.

"Fifty-eight to 65 degrees is the most wonderful temperature for crawfish," Minvielle says. "Since we had a long winter, that growth period that we usually have wasn't there. We're about 30-to-40 days behind."

Still, many restaurants here in Houston are receiving live crawfish from Louisiana and nearby farms, and while prices are high now, many spots expect the cost per pound to continue to decrease into April. You probably won't see the best crawfish of your life this year, but you can still get some good mudbugs at these places.

And remember: "When the hurricane season starts, crawfish season ends," says Minvielle, referencing the official June 1 start date of hurricane season, when warm currents begin to invade the gulf. Get 'em soon!

10. Blue Water Seafood (tied with LA Crawfish) Both of these spots make a mean crawfish boil, but they're tied for tenth place because neither has gotten in live crawfish yet. For now, Blue Water Seafood is selling pre-boiled crawfish from Louisiana for $7.99 a pound, and the restaurant expects to be getting in live crawfish next week. If you order a crawfish boil, you get two pounds of crawfish, ten boiled shrimp, andouille sausage, corn and potatoes for $25.99. Both LA Crawfish locations are currently selling crawfish in a garlic butter sauce, chili lime sauce or Cajun style for $6.99 a pound. A person I spoke to there said he expects to get the fresh, live mudbugs in during later this month.

9. Bayou City Seafood & Pasta The crawfish at Bayou City is super-fresh, and though the boil offered is a basic spicy Cajun, it's of high quality and comes with potatoes and corn. You won't ever find mushy mudbugs here, because if they aren't fresh, Bayou City won't serve them. The crawfish is currently a bit on the pricey side for the restaurant--$7.99 per pound--but if you go on Tuesday between 2 and 6 p.m., there's a happy hour deal where you can get them for $6.95 a pound. The restaurant assures me that prices will go down as more crawfish become available.

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The caption on this photo on Facebook: "Yes, I only buy large crawfish!"
The caption on this photo on Facebook: "Yes, I only buy large crawfish!"
Photo courtesy The Cajun Stop

8. The Cajun Stop At The Cajun Stop the crawfish are huge, because owner Lisa Carnley orders nothing but the jumbo ones for her customers. The tail meat abounds, and the spicy boil will leave your lips and tongue tingling. I recently ate some delish crawfish there, but I wanted to make sure the Cajun restaurant is getting in live ones, so I called. The person on the other end of the phone laughed at the question. "Of course they're live!" That's what I like to hear. Get 'em now for $8.25 a pound.

7. Woodrow's Heights The former Mardi Gras Grill transformed into Woodrow's Heights during last year's crawfish season, but the name change hasn't changed the excitement surrounding crawfish festivities at all. During the season, this particular Woodrow's on Durham hosts crawfish-eating competitions and regular boils featuring very few accoutrements (potatoes, corn, etc.) other than a lot of spice. Right now, crawfish are $7.75 a pound, but during peak season the price should go down to the regular $5.99 per pound.

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It ain't fancy, but dang those crawfish are good.
It ain't fancy, but dang those crawfish are good.
Photo courtesy of the Crawfish Shack

6. Crawfish Shack At the Crawfish Shack, the critters come one of four ways: mild, medium, spicy or meaux spicy. For those of you who don't speak Louisiana, that's real damn hot. Diners also have the option of adding potatoes, corn, mushrooms or sausage for a set price per pound, making this the most customizable boil in town. If you feel like doing your own boil, the Crawfish Shack also sells live crawfish by the sack. The restaurant is out in Crosby, so it's a bit of a haul, but well worth the trip. But take note: The wait here for $7.95 per pound crawfish can be long. Doors open at 4 p.m., so get there early.

5. Ragin Cajun The original Ragin Cajun on Richmond is a Houston institution, and with four other locations in town there's no excuse not to get to the nearest one immediately. Part of what makes the first location so grand is the wild New Orleans-style décor and the fact that the restaurant doesn't charge extra for corn or potatoes. The food is also served on newsprint, which makes neighborhood crawfish boil fiends like me feel right at home. Ragin Cajun doesn't usually sell by the pound, but right now you can get two pounds for $13.99. Long lines full of fun, rowdy, mudbug-hungry folks included.

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Corn and potatoes and crawfish, oh my!
Corn and potatoes and crawfish, oh my!
Photo courtesy BB's Cafe

4. BB's Cafe Like Ragin Cajun, BB's Cafe has become somewhat of a local institution for Cajun food, and the crawfish are no exception. The bugs are a good size, and the seasoning, as one Facebook fan said, "will have you willing to sell your soul to the devil to get more." I'm not sure I'd go quite that far, but it is super-spicy and super-addictive. BB's is also great about using social media to let customers know how long the waits are and if (God forbid) they're sold out. One pound of crawfish with corn and potatoes is currently priced at $7.95, but the owners are assuring customers on social media that as soon as they're able to sell the critters for less, they will.

3. Wild Cajun This Viet-Cajun hybrid restaurant will have your taste buds tingling from all the spice in the signature Wild Cajun boil. There's also a garlic butter boil, which is more like what one might expect to find on lobster--slightly garlicky and very rich. Wild Cajun gets in lots of live crawfish, but the small space does tend to run out, so call ahead to make sure you'll get your bugs before you go. If you are able to get in, though, it's totally worth the $7.99 per pound for fresh crawfish that are some of the spiciest around.

The story continues on the next page.

 

Hello, beautiful garlic-covered mud bugs.
Hello, beautiful garlic-covered mud bugs.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

2. Daily Seafood Like the Crawfish Shack, Daily Seafood will sell you live crawfish to-go to take home for your own boil. At $4.39 per pound for the raw, live mudbugs, the price can't be beat. Should you want to let Daily Seafood do the work for you, the current price is $6.99 per pound. The boil is essentially just garlic and spices. Like, a lot of garlic. A few years ago Katharine Shilcutt wrote of the boil, "the spicy heat on your lips isn't from cayenne or any other kind of pepper: It's just from the lobes of garlic that infuse every nook and cranny of the bugs." As of now, these are the cheapest crawfish we can find in the city!

Head out to Chinatown for some of the best crawfish in the city.
Head out to Chinatown for some of the best crawfish in the city.
Photo from VoicePlaces

1. Crawfish & Noodles There's perhaps nothing that says Houston more than a Vietnamese crawfish restaurant. And while there are plenty of places that serve them, Crawfish & Noodles' Cajun-spiced, garlic-­butter-soaked critters take the cake. The mudbugs don't soak in their own juices for too long, allowing you to experience the true crawfish flavor of the fresh, tender meat inside the spice-dusted shells. We're not kidding when we say the giant roll of paper towels on each table will come in handy. Oh, and you'll want to suck those mudbug heads. Trust us. Right now, these glorious bugs are $8.99 per pound.

Use Current Location

Related Locations

miles
Crawfish and Noodles

11360 Bellaire Blvd.
Houston, TX 77072

281-988-8098

www.crawfishandnoodle.com

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Blue Water Seafood

6107 Farm to Market 1960 W. Road
Houston, TX 77069

281-895-9222

www.bluewaterseafoodonline.com

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LA Crawfish
miles
The Cajun Stop

2130 Jefferson St.
Houston, TX 77003

713-222-8333

www.thecajunstop.com

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Bayou City Seafood n' Pasta
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Ragin Cajun

4302 Richmond Ave.
Houston, TX 77027

713-623-6321

www.ragin-cajun.com

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BB's Cafe

2710 Montrose
Houston, TX 77007

713-524-4499

www.bbscafe.com

miles
Wild Cajun Crawfish

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