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Is it possible to be a good Houstonian and not go bonkers for crawfish every year? I would argue yes, only because I consider myself to be a good Houstonian, and, let’s just say, at the few boils I’ve been to, corn and potatoes have been my best friend.

But when we decided to do a whole cover feature on crawfish—a no-brainer, given the insatiable appetite for the crustacean shared by seemingly every other resident of the Bayou City—I knew it was time to give this regional delicacy another try.

So I asked an expert, Houstonia managing editor Katharine Shilcutt, to take me to the most Houstonian of all Houston crawfish joints for lunch—her choice. Given the reins, she picked a Viet-Cajun place over a straight Cajun one, citing its approachability: LA Crawfish inside 99 Ranch Market off I-10.

“I love 99 Ranch because you can get tiny chairs, suitcases shaped like pandas, and pineapples all in one spot,” she observed as we made our way through the market’s mini-mall to the little restaurant, where we placed an order for a pound of crawfish with garlic butter, plus a dozen wings—half Thai tamarind, half five-spice basil.

We’d barely put our plastic tablecloth down when it all arrived to the table. Soon, I was following Katharine’s lead, pulling each tail back, twisting it, and eating the meat. If I didn’t love the taste, I definitely did like it, up until she started chatting about how much she likes the heads, as well as the…innards.

I know, I know—if I’m going to eat an animal, I might as well eat the whole thing. I get that in theory. But it can be a little tough in practice. I set the crustacean I’d been working on down. By the end of the meal, Katharine had a much larger pile of crawfish shells than I did, while I’d obliterated the tamarind wings (I’ll be dreaming about those, no question).

My very un-Houstonian squeamishness aside, I still rate the experience a ten. It was fun catching up on our lives as we worked our way through the meal, and to feel like I was finally in on such a well-loved local tradition.

I have an uncle who doesn’t like tomatoes. Still, every year when they’re in season, he eats a few slices with Russian dressing, just to make sure things haven’t changed. He does this because, seeing others’ enjoyment, he knows he’s missing out. I think I’ll follow his lead and try crawfish again soon. As I work up to that, I’ll have plenty of inspiration, right here, in this very magazine.

As for the rest of you crawfish fanatics: Is “bonkers-er” a word? Can I coin it here? Because, with this awesome issue in hand, that’s what all y’all will be.

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LA Crawfish

$$ Cajun, Seafood, Vietnamese Multiple Locations

This is the little restaurant with the big crawfish—expect to eat some of the biggest mudbugs in the city at this modest establishment. In addition to the sp...

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