Note: This post is from 2011. Please check out our current list (with current prices) for 2012.
Yesterday, we showed you the proper way to eat crawfish. Today, armed with that knowledge, we're going to show you the best places to eat them in Houston.
It may not officially be crawfish season yet -- Exhibit A: Danton's, my go-to for serious Cajun food, isn't stocking them. Exhibit B: neither is BB's Cajun Cafe or Goode Co. Seafood. And it won't be until at least the end of the month, if not next month.
But the fact that it isn't technically crawfish season hasn't prevented nearly every bar and Cajun restaurant in town from offering mudbugs by the pound. After all, this weather is practically built for crawfish consumption. And here's how you can tell...
Of those restaurants that currently are offering crawfish by the pound, the people who answer the phones nearly tell you the price of the crawfish right when they pick up. At Mardi Gras Grill, there's a robot -- a robot! (okay, so it's a recorded, robot-sounding message) -- that answers the phone and automatically relays the current per-pound price of the bugs. Local foodie extraordinaire Jenny Wang even has a "Crawfish Specials" list set up on Twitter.
Crawfish: Serious business.
The closest to an authentic po-boy as you'll get in the Bayou City also has great crawfish, and for a great price: only $5.49 a pound right now. It also consistently pulls in some of the largest, so come prepared.
9. Ragin' Cajun
This longtime Richmond haunt is where many Houstonians -- native or not -- tried their first crawfish. While there's usually a line out the door during crawfish season, that's just a sign of loyalty and quality. Ragin' Cajun gets bonus points for its wild Louisiana decor, fabulous zydeco music, handy sink right in the dining room, and the fact that it doesn't charge extra for corn or potatoes. It sells its crawfish in 1.75 pound or 3.5 pound buckets, and market price is currently $6.28 a pound.
According to the robo-voice, the bugs at this Durham favorite are currently $5.99 a pound, and its low prices combined with a central location means that this Cajun shack gets swamped early and often. But it also comes with a great backstory: This was the original Floyd's -- Floyd Landry, that is -- and was one of the first places to bring crawfish to Houston.
Speaking of... This location of Floyd's is our favorite, with a boat-shaped bar and all-you-can-eat crawfish specials that will keep you lingering all day in sea-breezy Webster, whether you meant to or not. Right now, crawfish is $5.95 a pound.
6. Boiling Crab
Back in 2009, the relatively new Boiling Crab was given our Best Crawfish award, and it's still going strong. And don't knock it just because it's a California-based chain: It was founded by Vietnamese fishermen from Seadrift, Texas, who certainly know their stuff. A pound of crawfish will run you $6.99 a pound right now, a fairly standard price throughout Chinatown.
Hank's was given the coveted Best Crawfish award in last year's Best of Houston® issue. Part of the reason is that you don't just get an order of crawfish at this divey spot. Like Boiling Crab, you get to choose from a variety of different boil flavors. And although I've seen some negative reviews of Hank's in the past, it always seems those people were going during non-crawfish season. In season, Hank's holds up with the best of 'em. Crawfish are $6.99 a pound right now at both locations.
One of the last holdouts of the once vibrant Richmond Strip, Concert Pub has managed to retain its fun, spirited, casual vibe -- important things in a crawfish-eating atmosphere. The place also has one of the best deals in town right now: $4.99 a pound or five pounds for $20. Even better? Concert Pub seasons the water, not just the crawfish, so your bugs are done up the right way.
This Houston chain's best location is on FM 1960 and, as Robb Walsh once pointed out, feels more like Bolivar Peninsula than it does north Houston. And to quote a Cajun friend of mine who's had "an 85 percent success rate" at Blue Water, the key is to call ahead of time to make sure the crawfish are alive and ready to go. Right now, those bugs will run you $5.99 a pound.
This brand new Viet-owned crawfish joint has the same atmosphere as Boiling Crab, but with a huge stage for live music and pretty decent "sushi" to boot. Although it's a bit of a drive, the bugs are among the biggest in town. And look at it this way: Once you're way out west, you can easily do a crawfish crawl and hit some of the best joints in town, all for $6.99 a pound.
1. Your local watering hole
Seriously. The best deals on crawfish in Houston are almost always at your local bar or icehouse. Swaye recently had all-you-can-eat crawfish for $16, while Mezzanine currently has an AYCE special for $18. Hell, the Davenport just had a free crawfish boil last week. Check out the specials at these places and more, like Coaches Pub, the Tavern on West Gray, The Junction and the Front Porch Pub.