Buggin' Out

Beyond the Crawfish at a Seafood Restaurant

The best things to eat at crawfish restaurants aren't always crawfish.

By Mai Pham March 17, 2016

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Wild Cajun's knock-your-socks-off tamarind blue crabs.

Image: Mai Pham

It’s the middle of crawfish season in Houston. No doubt, snaps of colorful crawfish boils are popping up on your social media feed daily and your friends are making regular crustacean runs each week. You want to join them one of these evenings, but you just aren’t crazy for crawfish or have already had your fill for the year. The compromise? Enjoy the best of both worlds by finding a spot that has a menu beyond just mudbugs. Here are our top picks.

Wild Cajun

People may line up for crawfish at Wild Cajun, but their extensive menu of Vietnamese small plates bodes well for patrons who want a little something different. For your dining pleasure, we suggest the killer tamarind blue crabs. Stir-fried in a tangy, viscous, tamarind-based brown sauce, the pod's flavor heightens the naturally sweet flesh of those Gulf Coast-caught crustaceans in a way that will have you licking your fingers and smacking your lips. 

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Killer barbecue shrimp at Hank's Crawfish.

Image: Mai Pham

Hank’s Crawfish

Since it opened, Hank’s mantra has always been to bring the Louisiana experience to Houstonians. That's clear with the restaurant's Zydeco music, festive decor (think Mardi Gras masks and beads), huge frozen cocktails, and of course, the deeply spiced crawfish. What you also get at Hank’s, though, are classic Cajun dishes that are seriously fantastic. There's rich and deeply flavored gumbo; powerfully good barbecue shrimp with garlic toast; and over-filled, satisfyingly tasty po' boys.

Crawfish & Noodles

Yes, the long lines and wait are generally for the crawfish, but those in the know also visit Crawfish & Noodles for their stellar menu of other items. There’s the melt-off-the bone turkey neck, for instance, amped up with sufficient spice to make you break into a sweat. Their shaking beef rice plate—tender cubes of beef wok-seared with whole garlic cloves and French butter-fried rice—is also excellent. Their sticky, funky-smelling but addictive fish sauce wings are also worth the visit, as is their other claim to fame: the wholly unforgettable, so-good-you-could-polish-off-a-whole-plate-by-yourself salt-and-pepper blue crabs. 

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Thai fried softshell crab with basil at 88 Boiling.

Image: Mai Pham

88 Boiling

We’ve heard of Vietnamese Cajun, but what about Thai Cajun? If your friends have a hankering for crawfish, but you’re feeling like Thai food, 88 Boiling is the place to get it. The general manager’s uncle used to own a Thai restaurant and now moonlights in the kitchen making old Thai favorites. Their house-made Thai iced tea is creamy and delicious, their crawfish fried rice is pretty darn good and if you want noodles, pad Thai is on the menu, too. 

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The very uncoventional pho at LA Crawfish.

LA Crawfish

Now with multiple locations in Houston, LA Crawfish has gained a reputation not just for crawfish, but for its Asian-fusion menu, the most popular item of which is the crawfish pho. A twist on the traditional Vietnamese beef or chicken pho, this one uses crawdads as its base for a seafood noodle soup experience you won’t find elsewhere. 


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