Local Spotlight

Keeping It Simple at Spanky Crawfish and Bar

There is no shortage of places to get crawfish in Chinatown. During crawfish season familiar names like Boiling Crab and Crawfish and Noodles are packed with eager patrons ready for their crawfish fix. Now there is a new kid in town that could very well hold it's own.

Spanky Crawfish and Bar, a few months old, is located on the second floor of a strip mall at the corner of Bellaire and Wilcrest. I can only describe the atmosphere as that of a sports bar -- in Cancun. The clean and open space is decorated with photos of football players, flat-screen televisions, palm trees and Corona ads. At the tables are the requisite crawfish-joint items -- disposable table coverings, large rolls of paper towels, ketchup, mayonnaise and spicy seasoning.

The menu at first catches me off guard -- there is no long list of items, there's no pho or fried rice or sushi. You can either get your seafood boiled by the pound or fried in a seafood platter and served with french fries; wings are also available. And, of course, they have beer. Simple and easy.

Their market price for crawfish is currently at $5.99 per pound. Since it is not peak crawfish season, the size was, as expected, smaller than usual. But they were nowhere near as small as some I've seen before, and there were a few large strays in the bunch.

The crawfish comes either mild, medium or hot. My dining companion that evening is not big on spice, so we opted for medium. As we opened the bag, the smell of spice and garlic hit us. Garlic in the seasoning is one of the best parts of eating crawfish in Chinatown, and here they were definitely not shy with it. The garlic butter seasoning had a slight heat to it, with hints of sweetness most likely from the garlic that had roasted in the heat of the crawfish. I spiced mine up a little more with the seasoning at the table, but the rich butter that had glazed itself on the crawfish made dipping the meat into any additional condiments unnecessary. I can only imagine how good this will be during the season, when the crawfish are larger and meatier.

My dining companion, who had steered us to this place, had raved about the lemon pepper wings, and they didn't disappoint. The un-battered wings were crispy and not greasy, and the lemon pepper was not overly salty. The wings also come in your standard barbecue and hot sauces as well, and both were very good.

With its no-frills menu and laid-back atmosphere, I can see Spanky doing well during crawfish season and during football season, now that we know there will be one.

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Minh T Truong