Peeling Is for Suckers: 10 Crawfish Dishes to Try in Houston

Crawfish tails at Oxheart.
Crawfish tails at Oxheart.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

One of the best crawfish dishes I ate last year didn't involve a boil, peeling or shucking of any kind. It was a very simple, very extraordinary plate of crawfish tails poached in butter over al dente Texas-grown rice with green coriander and fermented carrot at Oxheart.

While that particular dish is no longer on the menu -- this was last June, and the Warehouse District restaurant is famous for changing up its menu with regularity -- the fact remains that there are plenty of enjoyable crawfish dishes to be found in Houston that don't involve burning cuticles or lips. Because for every person who enjoys barreling face-first into five pounds of boiled crawfish, there is another for whom the process simply isn't that enjoyable.

For those folks -- and for everyone who enjoys a creative twist on our precious mudbugs -- here are 10 crawfish dishes to try in Houston where the focus is solely on that sweet tail meat.

Crawfish pho at LA Crawfish.
Crawfish pho at LA Crawfish.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

Crawfish pho at LA Crawfish

LA Crawfish -- the food stand inside 99 Ranch Market -- is rightly proud of its crawfish pho. It's the only pho of its kind in the city, and it's damned delicious for something that could be gimmicky and underwhelming. LA Crawfish gets the balance of the broth just right for the sweet crawfish by spiking it with cinnamon and andouille sausage. It's not your typical pho, but it's a downright magical pairing of two insanely popular Houston Vietnamese specialties. Consider it the best and most natural celebrity marriage in the world, like if Ryan Gosling and Rachael McAdams finally got back together.

Crawfish cheesecake at Backstreet Cafe

Sommelier Sean Beck calls the oddly named "crawfish cheesecake" created by chef Hugo Ortega at Backstreet Cafe "a decadent version of a quiche with a healthy kick of spice." Served with a roasted red pepper hollandaise sauce and green salad on the side, I call it lunch -- especially when eaten al fresco on Backstreet's pretty patio.

Crawfish bread at Beaucoup Bar & Grill.
Crawfish bread at Beaucoup Bar & Grill.
Photo by Gary R. Wise

Crawfish bread at Beaucoup Bar & Grill

The Cajun restaurant off Highway 288 near the Medical Center is known as much for this famous appetizer as it is for gumbo, po-boys and deep-fried hamburger. Imagine the best garlic bread you've ever eaten, topped with juicy crawfish meat and melting, bubbling cheese. The crawfish bread is one of the major reasons Beaucoup was awarded a Best of Houston® award for Best Cajun in 2009.

Crawfish enchiladas at Casarez

Casarez bills itself as Creole-Mex. As such, you shouldn't find it odd to encounter items like the popular crawfish enchiladas that are stuffed with tail meat, then covered in both "etouffee sauce" and queso. God in heaven. Just writing that gives me goosebumps.

Cajun egg rolls at St. John's Fire

This is the very first item I ever tried from the St. John's Fire food truck and still my favorite. Not only are the Cajun egg rolls stuffed full of plump crawfish tails, they also come with shrimp and Tasso ham inside. It's a Bayou buffet inside a bubbly, crunchy wrapper.

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