The 23 Best Crawfish Spots in Houston
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Your calendar alarm reminder has buzzed. It’s officially crawfish season, and, like us, you’re ready to get a little messy at your next dinner. Whether you call them crawfish, crayfish, crawdads, or mudbugs; or whether you like them coated in garlic and butter or spiced up with a classic Cajun kick, there’s a boil spot for you. Below, you’ll find our favorite places in all of Houston. And though we like to shine a light on them no matter what month it is, keep in mind that some spots have yet to open shop for the season.
Abe’s Cajun Market & Café
We suggest sitting at the tables on the sidewalk out in front, where you won’t feel guilty about making a big mess. Opened in 2001, this location is an outlet of the original Abe’s in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which also makes delicious frozen crawfish-stuffed chicken breast, crawfish étouffée-smothered pork chops, and crawfish pie to take home.
Atchafalaya Crawfish & Cajun Specialties
This outlet is owned by a wholesaler in Louisiana that supplies many of Houston’s favorite crawfish restaurants. And while you can get fresh, cheap, nicely spiced crawfish, corn, and potatoes, you can’t sit down to enjoy them because there are no dining tables. Instead, pick everything up at the to go window out front. Cooking everything yourself? You can also get live crawfish here, too. Their first boil will start mid-February, but check their website for updates.
Brooks Bassler’s local chain offers a Houston take on Big Easy grub with po’ boys, gumbo, fried fish, and, when in season, crawfish. Choose between old-school Louisiana style, with no added spices after the boil, or Tex-Orleans, where garlic paste is mixed in post-boil to bring a bittersweet blast. Diners have the option to throw some sausage into their boils, including unusual varieties like spicy alligator andouille mixed in with the crawfish, corn, and potatoes. Or go for a less hands-on option, and order Lloyd’s excellent, creamy crawfish étouffée with red roux.
The LSU banners in this tiny wood shack are your first clue that this is the spot for authentic Louisiana-style crawfish. The regular crawfish are packed with lemony and lightly spicy flavor, while the “lips swollen” version offers maximum heat. Boils can come with a side of exceptionally smoky sausage, best washed down with a craft beer or frozen marg on the front porch. In a hurry? Hit the drive-thru.
Cajun Crawfish No. 1
This is a friendly, no-frills storefront offering a couple of TVs, inexpensive beer, and both Cajun and Viet-Cajun options. The garlic butter sauce is more pungent and garlicky than others you’ll find in town. As for heat, there’s multiple levels, starting with spicy and extra spicy (enough to coat your lips with a light burning sensation). Blue crab, crab leg, and shrimp boils are also available. Still hungry? Tack on an order of fried catfish with a side of vegetable fried rice.
This is the kind of mom-and-pop place that’s a joy to stumble upon. The owner, Henry Tran, is a former shrimper and fisherman from Port Arthur who started doing boils for family and friends out of a trailer in Waller in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The trailer grew so popular, he eventually opened his own restaurant. The newest location on Beamer Road offers two crawfish flavors: traditional Cajun and a sweet-and-sour garlic glaze called Craven. Tran still drives down to Louisiana himself to pick out his crawfish, so it’s of impeccable quality and freshness.
Featured everywhere from the Washington Post to PBS’s Mind of a Chef series, the crawfish here are cooked in a wok after being boiled in Cajun seasoning, much the same way the Chinese prepare crab and lobster, so that those spices and oils coat everything and get way down deep in the crevices. The Kitchen Special, tossed with green onion, garlic, lemons, orange, butter, and garlic, is sweet, savory, tangy, and wholly original, while the Thai Basil flavor conjures the streets of Bangkok.
Crawfish & Noodles
Chef/owner Trong Nguyen started offering mudbugs in mouth-numbing garlic butter more than a decade ago, just as that style was becoming a staple of the Houston crawfish diet. An order of Viet-Cajun medium here is fiery enough, but don’t stop there: Nguyen’s eclectic menu includes other non-crawfish dishes you simply cannot miss, from the Vietnamese fried chicken dish, com ga xa xiu, to savory hot-pots like the lau duoi bo with oxtail. Be prepared to wait up to an hour—but, trust us, it’s totally worth it.
At his café inside Hong Kong City Mall IV, and now at a new second location in the Heights, owner Kiet Duong uses real butter as well as sugar, which makes his crawfish sweeter and, let’s be honest, more addictive. The flavors—Original Cajun, Kickin’ Cajun, Garlic Butter, Lemon Pepper, Thai Basil, and The Mix, a blend of garlic butter and lemon pepper—appeal to a range of palates. Duong says that guests like to combine their flavors, with the Garlic Butter/Thai Basil combo now one of the most popular orders.
Floyd’s Cajun Seafood
Floyd Landry opened this original location in Beaumont back in 2004 and he’s been famous ever since. Today, he’s expanded to shops in Cypress, Mont Belvieu, Pearl Land, Sugar Land, and Webster. Come to any location and enjoy the boat-shaped bar and spicy boiled crawfish. Watch for the annual Parking Lot Crawfish Party, usually held in April. Heat up with the Cajun Boil Platter, currently available at Pearland, Sugar Land, and Webster, and includes snow crab, crawfish, jumbo shrimp, corn, and potatoes.
Honore’s Cajun Café
This is the place for the ultimate Cajun crawfish fix, thanks to the irresistibly mouth-burning Mr. Crawfish spice blend cooked into the mudbugs. You’ll also enjoy the friendly service, quick bar service, and upbeat Zydeco soundtrack, not to mention, the super handy post-meal washing station.For a heartier meal, get the pasta Mardi Gras (with shrimp, crawfish, and smoked sausage in étouffée sauce), red beans and rice, or redfish topped with crawfish étouffée.
HOT and BUTTERED
This pop-up is currently serving crawfish at Tikila’s in the Heights. At five pounds for $50, get a serious plate of spice to pair with their tasty frozen tropical cocktails. Plus, the menu features plenty of other seafood fare like shrimp and crab legs.
Juju’s Cajun Crawfish Shak
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.
What started out as a small stand inside 99 Ranch Market in Memorial in 2010 has expanded to include 25 franchised locations across Texas, with 13 in the Houston area alone. It’s counter-service only, but customers can park themselves at a table inside with their own case of beer (it’s also BYOB) and go to town devouring flavors including garlic butter, hot & sour, and house Cajun (the best) with dips they customize themselves. The extensive Asian-fusion menu has offerings like the crawfish pho and empanadas. Because it’s a franchise, quality varies from location to location, but the original inside 99 Ranch remains the best.
Larry’s French Market & Cajun Restaurant
Sometimes the most low-key spots are the best hidden gems. 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. Stop by on a weekend night for live Cajun music and dancing, and order anything from fried shrimp and fish to a boat-load of crawfish. The seasoning used is one-of-a-kind.
Pinchers Boil’n Pot
This crawfish joint and full-service restaurant offers lakeside dining under shady palapas that overlook the very same body of water the crawfish came from, so you know it’s fresh. They also offer shrimp, catfish, steaks, chicken, burgers, po-boys, Cajun dishes, and even fried alligator! If you’re coming from central Houston, it’s about an hour drive to El Campo, but if you make a road trip out of it, take the RV and stay at Pincher’s personal RV Park.
Pook’s Crawfish Hole
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.
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 loads of Louisiana staples—gumbo, chargrilled oysters, boudin, even Natchitoches meat pies—and does barbecue sauce-marinated, deep-fried blue crabs in season (usually from June to October). Crawfish is sold by the pound with all kinds of extras—corn, potatoes, sausage, crabs, you name it.
Repka’s Grocery & Kitchen
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. Check their website for this season's first boil.
Ribeye & Rye
What used to be the Barking Pig restaurant is now Ribeye & Rye (same owners, though). What hasn’t changed is the focus on quality Cajun fare in an easygoing atmosphere, with plenty of delicious seasoning and just the right amount of heat. You’ll want to pair your order with a big ol’ boudin link for extra flavor.
The Cajun Stop
Step into Lisa Carnley’s EaDo domain and be transported to New Orleans. Her regulars, who follow her on social media religiously, come in as much for her hospitality as her menu. While much of her food is traditionally Cajun, Carnley—who is of Vietnamese descent and re-settled in Houston after Hurricane Katrina—also offers a few Asian-esque crawfish flavors: butter garlic, original, and spicy.
The Crawfish Pot & Oyster Bar
The popular House Special flavor—a blend of garlic, butter and myriad other spices—is far less sweet than anything you’ll find in the predominantly Vietnamese area on or around Bellaire Boulevard. And while the crawdads are delicious, they’re not always the main event. Owner James Duong says that their Hungry Home Platter—a mouthwatering mix of king crab, blue crab, snow crab, sausage, Gulf shrimp, crawfish, corn, and potatoes for about $95—is a best-seller.
The flavors here—lemon pepper, hot and sour, garlic butter, and wild Cajun—are less buttery than at other places, something that owner Lee Ngo says he was aiming for, because too much butter fills you up and makes you want to eat less. And, frankly, since some joints tend to go way overboard with the stuff, we can’t disagree with his thinking. Wild Cajun also boils blue crab, snow crab clusters, crab legs, and jumbo shrimp. For an over-the-top experience, get the turkey neck platter with corn, potato, sausage, and yes, a big ol’ heap of garlic butter.