By Kali Ah Yuen
This time of year, crawfish season is in full swing with sounds of boiling water and the scents of spices from the Deep South filling eateries all over the Metroplex. This year’s harvest is said to be better than the recent past with a good growth schedule and a head start on getting bigger for the fresh water delicacy.
Whatever you call them, mudbugs, crayfish, crawdads, crawfish or the aforementioned fresh water lobster, get your appetite ready for some good eats. Here’s a list of our favorite venues that offer fresh crawfish and other seafood dishes that brings elements of the ‘NOLA’ experience to your Texas taste buds:
THE BOILING CRAB
Prepare for a messy delight featuring pools of shrimp and a classy bib. The Boiling Crab sticks to traditional crawfish dishes with a twist adding in spices such as Cayenne pepper, garlic powder and a “secret ingredient” that brings an Asian edge to the flavor. The atmosphere brings the fisherman’s world to life with decorations, from nets to lighthouses to actual boats that give off signs to guests of a good time awaiting. The family-style seating arrangements with an exceptional table space invite guests to spend quality time with friends and family, enriching the overall experience.
Family-owned since 1988, Heavy Nate has served delicious Gulf seafood, crawfish, steaks and live blues music to the Dallas Metroplex. Offering crawfish in various forms, such as boiled or fried or atop of your etouffee, the combinations are tailored to satisfy your cravings. The atmosphere is just as colorful and fun as the outer neon pink paint of the building expresses. With wooden decor from floor to ceiling mixed in with paintings covering the walls and a touch of sea creature decor, Nate’s Seafood brings a homegrown twist to crawfish. Don’t forget to get your crawfish “Atomic” for a whole ‘nother level of spiciness!
THE FREEMAN CAJUN CAFE
Bringing a Cajun cafe to Deep Ellum, The Free Man Cajun Cafe and Lounge combines food, music and atmosphere to establish itself as a distinguished ‘destination’ in the DFW area. A main stage for performers to fill the atmosphere with delightful sounds and colorful lights to help set the mood gives this cafe a comforting touch. Two main crawfish dishes include the traditional Cajun Crawfish Pasta and Crawfish Etoufee seasoned to any guests liking. Serving boiling fresh crawfish daily for $9.95 a pound with live music as entertainment from alternative to blues, guests are in for a unique lunch or dinner experience.
Big Shucks is a casual seafood restaurant serving up favorites from oysters to its signature shrimp cocktail to the notorious crawfish. The seasonal dish of crawfish is available by the pound for market price. The dish is served fresh on a daily basis with the option to add a mixture of spices that adds a kick of taste. Offering a relaxed atmosphere with indoor and patio seating, the environment all together brings a piece of the beach shore to the Metroplex. Big Shucks also has one rule for dress code: there is no dress code, come as you are!
SHUCK N JIVE
Offering a unique twist on Cajun dishes, Shuck N Jive strives to provide guests with a fun, unique and flavorful experience. Crawfish dishes offered are seasoned with their original Shuck N Jive seasoning highlighted on national media in the past as a part of ‘U.S. Food’s Next Top Product Winner.’ The seasoning is what sets this restaurant apart from others as it brings a bit more life to the crawfish. The folks here provide a fun atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating filled with decor and furnishings, such as Mardi Gras beads and colored walls, which give off a New Orleans feel.
The Flying Fish offers guests a relaxed lakefront atmosphere and simple, hearty fare. Serving a variety of seafood dishes, the restaurant exclusively offers a wide selection of crawfish. Some crawfish dishes offered include the Fried Crawfish Poor Boy and Mug Bugs, a platter of crawfish in season available at market price. The atmosphere brings a mix of an old school diner meets a fisherman lifestyle together from checkered dining tables to a wall full of Bill Bass fish, which are all up for patrons to adopt. The restaurant also encourages patrons to bring in proof of their fishing prowess and hang their photos on the walls.
The Plano native, Fishmonger’s restaurant serves up crawfish specials with a side of an entertainment and atmosphere. Specialty crawfish dishes include the traditional Crawfish Etouffee made with an original dark, spicy roux and Fried Crawfish served with crispy, lightly breaded tail meat. Each crawfish dish ranges at affordable prices from $8.95 to $11.95. Daily specials are offered fairly often with constant updates on its official Facebook page. The venue features just as many fish decorations as there are dishes offered on the menu. Wooden accents and simple decor also fill the restaurant to give it a comforting yet cool vibe, not to mention the live music just about every week!
THE CRAB STATION
Mixing seafood with American twists, The Crab Station is a one-stop restaurant for in-season crawfish. Offering options of seasoning crawfish by heat from Weak Sauce to TKO, with three options in between, guests can choose spices to their liking. Dishes, including crawfish, are served fresh and at market price. They host weekly contests where guests can win $40 worth of meals via Facebook. Modern decor and furnishings make up the restaurant giving off a cool, comfortable vibe. The atmosphere is filled with sea themed painted walls and large family-sized tables offering a unique experience for family, friends and crawfish lovers. 9780 Walnut Street, Suite 270, Dallas.
THE BAYOU MARKET
Bringing an authentic slice of Louisiana to the DFW area is the mission of Bayou Market, a local deli offering Louisiana Cajun and Creole specialty foods. By adding its own spices and flavoring to Cajun-spiced crawfish dishes, the deli offers unique tastes unlike others of its kind. Specialty dishes include Natchitoches Crawfish Pie, Crawfish Po-Boy Sandwich and a special take on Crawfish Etouffee ranging from $5 to $11. Weekly specials also are offered where customers can get a pound of crawfish for as low as $3.50. The NOLA-inspired deli is fairly small in size, but the flavors are huge in comparison!
THE RAGIN’ CRAB CAFE
Specializing in Louisiana-style seafood, the Ragin’ Crab features a freshest-catch menu of crawfish and other dishes. Guests get to choose their own seasoning preferences from Classic Louisiana spices to the signature Louisiana-inspired Ragin’ Bang spice. Each has a range of heat levels that will satisfy any taste bud. The staff aims at combining the culture of Louisiana seafood with favorite full-flavor culinary traditions of Asia. The restaurant features indoor and outdoor seating with an enclosed patio-like setting. Neon lights and TV screens fill the atmosphere, allowing guests to enjoy fresh crawfish while watching their favorite game in an electric setting.