by Steven Doyle
February 2017 is seeing a bounty of great crawfish with massive tiny lobster-sized crawfish, the grade A type, in and around Dallas. Some are juked up in spices, some are rather tame, but however you find them, or enjoy the critters, it is a good year to be alive and loving crawfish.
Bit some heads, suck tail and scream a glorious chorus to our pals down on the bayou for sending us the good stuff.
May we present our 2017 favorites:
Alligator Cafe: Located in a lucky East Dallas shopping center the guys at Alligator are sure to please you, Alligator is steeped up in crawfish and other bayou edibles such as crawfish, etouffe, blistering gumbos and more. Enjoy the tails while they are hot and spicy. Call ahead as they do run out of crawfish on occasion.
The Boiling Crab A leader in Dallas crawfish lore, noted for their spicy and very spicy sauces plied to their seafood offerings. This is actually part of a chain of restaurants scattered across the West Coast. All the seafood is boiled in a bag with an assortment of sauces available, but it is best to order the Whole Shebang, which gives you all the flavors in a buttery sauce. You may order plain to XXX in the spicy department. XXX will hang with you for a long time, and for the faint of heart it will make you weep tears of joy. Expect a extremely long wait time, usually three hours during peak times. Look for this marvelous Mecca to seafood located very near Garland, Texas.
Shell Shack The Shell Shack does the same seafood offerings as Boiling Crab, but without the long wait time. They are located in Uptown, Plano and Mesquite and an easy access to most of the population. The Dungeness Crab is the crave favorite, but they offer seasonal crawfish at market pricing. The owners of this hot spot claim they will carry all grade A mudbugs once the season gears up, and that means huge crawfish at a premium. A premium well worth paying. Our last visit we paid $6.99 a pound (market price so it can change up or down), and they were meaty and tasty. You may order the crawfish with varied degrees of spiciness with wet sauces or a dried rub.
Nate’s Seafood Located in Addison, Nate’s has been a long time player in the crawfish game. Here the water is seasoned extra spicy where the bugs are given a mild hot bath to retain their crispness. You may have an added level of dried rub spice applied that will give you some terrific finger burns as you plow through piles of the wonderous large and plump crawfish. Once the season gets into high gear you can expect a highly discounted night mid-week. You will generally find a cool Cajun band playing Zydeco hits. It is best to position yourself at the bar for the best service, and quick returns on re-orders and cold beer.
TJ’s Seafood Market Owner Jon Alexis doesn’t fool around when it comes to seafood. The noted fishmonger also takes pride in obtaining the very best crawfish available to mankind. You may enjoy crawfish by the pound at the Oak Lawn or on Preston and Royal while sipping one of their signature beers or cocktails, or chat up Alexis about doing your own boil at home. TJ’s can supply you with all the needed equipment, or cater a crawfish party. Look for only grade A’s at this crawfish Mecca.
Tasty Tails If you haven’t been to the Food Court on Legacy off of I75 in Plano, you are missing the boat, folks. It is here we have enjoyed some pretty special Asian cuisine. Let’s do a quick rundown of the highlights of the Food Court, which is BYOB. Hong Kong for steamed and baked buns, Hanni Indonesian for some terrific rice dishes, and Palayok for the very best an most authentic Filipino fare. Where else can you enjoy a vast assortment of nine Asian restaurants in one setting? It is here you will find some of the very best Cajun food in the city. Be sure to order a side of gumbo with your crawfish. You may also want a po boy (awesome) or some of the oddball items like a turkey neck. The crawfish can be ordered with a varied degree of spiciness. A second location is in Richardson. Thank us later for this recommendation.
The Free Man Cajun Cafe Think live jazz nightly with your Cajun food. Great gumbo, fried catfish and alligator. Also, be sure to check out the huge fried jalapenos that are so spicy they will take the chrome off your Cadillac. The crawfish are prepared very well, and are market priced. Dixieland is the jazz of choice before 10pm, then i is anything goes. Watch their Facebook for occasional deals on mudbuggery.
Aw Shucks/ Big Shucks Aw Shucks is located on Greenville Avenue, and Big Shucks is not terribly far away in East Dallas on Mockingbird (a second location is on South Coit). Plenty of terrific fried options like catfish and shrimp, but they also carry crawfish. It is seasoned well, but extreme on the heat like several locations we mention above. Very good gumbo and one wonderful Caldo, which is a shrimp and fish soup. All locations get extremely busy, and it is best f you are bilingual, but not required.
Fish City Grill Plenty of seafood options here including a nice selection of oysters. Our favorite menu items here include a crab bisque, red beans and rice, and fish tacos. we also love the oyster nachos and the bread pudding. In addition, Fish City serves up some very good boiled crawfish.
Shuck’n Jive Serving Dallas with multiple locations, Shuck and Jive is an uber neighborhood spot for all things seafood. The gumbo is superb with a smokey roux that gives the soup a depth of flavor. The crawfish come out steaming, spicy and very serious. You won’t find soggy bugs here as they are cooked to order.
If you have a favorite we did not mention, let us know and we will check it out and possibly add to our list.
The Flying Fish This place has it all. Great seafood selections to fit any hunger, along with some really good crawfish. Last visit the crawfish were very large, and very spicy. Love the rainbow trout. The menu selection is vast, making decisions tough- we call that a high class problem. Many locations to serve you, but we generally dine at the Preston Center spot. They serve breakfast, and a damned good one.
Ragin’ Crab: The place on Greenville Avenue for crawfish. Sure you might want a side of crab legs, or even a Dungeness, but be sure to grab a few pounds of bugs.
Crab and Claw Seafood: With this crawfish outpost in Far North Dallas you can find crawfish sold sans potatoes and sausage, but they have deals if you buy 3 or 5 pounds. Yea, Ok. 5 pounds is a starter.
Crab Station: The original location opened over a year ago in Dallas on Walnut Hill, and less than a month ago they opened on Old Denton across from the Korean Mall. They serve an assortment of steamed seafood such as a variety of crab, clams and mussels, and of course crawfish. Order by the sack (steamed and sauced) as a solo person, the buddy sack or a party sack. Sacks include a host of tasty items such as the crawfish, crab, potato and sausages, crabs and more.