Here, Eat This

Eat This: Soft-Shell Crab and Crawfish Enchiladas at Arnaldo Richards' Pico's

If you only eat soft-shell crabs once while they're in season, go to Arnaldo Richards' Pico's Mex-Mex. Yes, it's great and all to be able to enjoy soft-shell crab dishes year-round in Houston, where many restaurateurs keep a frozen stockpile of these crustaceans on hand. There's no denying, however, that the soft-shell crab fresh off the boat April through September is larger and more flavorful than its counterpart on ice in February.  As any Seinfeld fan knows, colder temperatures can result in significant shrinkage.   

Pico's soft-shell crabs are modestly battered and lightly dressed with sauteed garlic, which adds some earthy zip but nevertheless allows the distinctive taste of the crab to dominate.  Side accompaniments of freshly diced avocado, tomatoes, and lettuce add a lightness that offsets the relative richness of fried crustacean.  The dish is so well-balanced as well as delicious that fervid soft-shell crab fans like this writer can easily envision ordering a second helping.

But in the spirit of diversifying your seasonal eats, order a platter of crawfish enchiladas to curb any remaining hunger.  Although this menu item is on hand twelve months of the year due to its extreme popularity, crawfish season is naturally the best time to enjoy these enchiladas packed with seasoned, slightly spicy mudbugs. The thick chipotle cream sauce and surface layer of chihuahua cheese that blanket the enchiladas is further proof that dairy and shellfish albeit not kosher but terribly delicious bedfellows. Makes you reconsider Ronald McDonald's thinking behind putting that slice of fluorescent American cheese on the Filet-o-Fish.

Anyway, I digress. Go to Pico's Mex-Mex all year round for Arnaldo Richards' painstaking prepared regional specialties. Go NOW for the soft-shell crabs and crawfish enchiladas.

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Joanna O'Leary