What Makes cajun crawfish cajun? Long story short: Cajun-style crawfish are poached in simmering, well-salted water that’s been seasoned with spices including black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika, thyme, bay leaves—pretty much the standard Zatarain’s seafood boil blend. Corn-on-the-cob halves and red potatoes are traditionally included in the pot, and the crawfish are ready to eat when served—no additional spices or seasonings necessary.
The tables on the sidewalk out in front are the best in the house—here, you won’t feel guilty about making a big mess. Opened in 2001, this location is an outlet of the original in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which also makes crawfish-stuffed chicken breast, crawfish étouffée–smothered pork chops and crawfish pie for guests of both restaurants to take home—just pick them up from the freezer case.
Open: Year-round; serves crawfish December to July
This outlet is owned by a wholesaler in Louisiana that supplies many of Houston’s favorite crawfish restaurants. Get your fresh, cheap, nicely spicy crawfish, corn and potatoes to-go through a window out front—there are no tables. Doing it yourself? You can get your live crawfish here, too.
The six outposts of this local chain don’t always start serving crawfish as early in the season as other restaurants, but when they do, the crawfish are righteous. Prices start high, but you get a discount for three pounds and a bigger discount for five pounds. Want sausage or shrimp thrown in? That costs extra, as do corn and potatoes. Don’t miss the rest of the Tex-Orleans menu.
Floyd Landry opened this original location—there are also shops in Pearland and Beaumont—in 2004, and it’s been famous ever since for its boat-shaped bar and spicy boiled crawfish. Watch for the annual Parking Lot Crawfish Party, usually held in April.
Open: January to June
JuJu got her nickname from her mawmaw in Ville Platte, Louisiana, and learned to cook at her father’s parking-lot crawfish boils (where she also learned her meticulous crawfish-cleaning methods). This is old-school Cajun crawfish, served with sausage and plenty of tender potatoes and corn on the side. You’re free to crack open your own beer, as the place is also BYOB.
Not only is this where the Texas crawfish business got its start, it also serves the best Cajun food this side of the Sabine River. Come by on a weekend night for live Cajun music and dancing.
Open: Year-round; serves crawfish January to August
This mudbug joint and full-service restaurant offers lakeside dining under shady palapas that overlook the very same body of water that keeps your crawfish before you eat them, so you know it’s fresh.
Open: January to June
This sprawling establishment, run by a couple that caters crawfish events, offers mostly outdoor seating and, on the weekends, live music. Eat at one of the picnic tables, or fill your cooler with a crawfish feast to-go.
Open: Year-round; serves crawfish December through July 4
When you see the giant red crawfish that greets guests at the original location on Richmond Avenue, you’ll know you’re at the right place. The menu includes gumbo, étouffée and barbecued crabs (in season). Crawfish is sold by the pound with all kinds of extras—corn, potatoes, sausage, crabs, you name it.
This is a sprawling country store with a tiny bar and lots of worn wooden booths and tables. Legend has it that the Repkas started out giving crawfish away for free in the mid-’80s to customers at the bar and grocery. These days, much of the action takes place on the patio out back, where giant pots boil up thousands of pounds of crawfish from Eunice, Louisiana.