There are a lot of things to love about the Louisiana food scene, not least when crawfish season kicks in. The timing of the season varies according to the weather, but even if you can't guarantee when the first few plates will be served, you can always guarantee some good eating. If you like your crawfish plump, sweet, and piled high to the ceiling, here's where you'll find the best crawfish in Louisiana.
10. Crawfish Town USA, Henderson
A homey, rustic kind of joint with a welcoming vibe and friendly service, Crawfish Town USA continues the tradition of Henderson (which was the first Louisiana city to boast a restaurant serving crawfish and the first to have a commercial crawfish pond) by serving up mountains of boiled crawfish made using a special two-pot process aimed at creating a more pleasurable eating experience. Also on the menu are regional delicacies like boiled blue point crabs, fried alligator, and fresh seafood gumbo.
9. Captain Sid's, Metairie
If you're looking to grab and go, head for Captain Sid's in Metairie. There are no tables, so it's not the place for a sit down feast, but if you want a few bags of boiled crawfish to tuck into at home, these long-time specialists in fresh and boiled seafood won't disappoint. While you're there, it's worth taking a look at their deli cabinet for trees like alligator sausage, crawfish pies, and stuffed crabs.
8. Heinen's Boil and Go, Lake Charles
Blink too long and you might miss Heinen's Boil and Go, a tiny, dollhouse-sized restaurant in Lake Charles. But keep your eyes open if you can - for the last 15 years, Heinen's has been serving up perfectly seasoned, perfectly delicious trays of crawfish, earning a reputation as one of the most unmissable destinations in town once crawfish season kicks in.
7. Crawdaddy's Kitchen, Shreveport
According to Only In Your State, the secret to Crawdaddy's Kitchen's success is their two-pot cooking method, which has been specially engineered to bring out the flavors in their perfectly seasoned crawfish. Whether it's that or pure crawfish wizardry, the result is mudbug nirvana. According to the blurb, theirs is "the perfect spot to sit, peel, enjoy a beer, catch up with your neighbor, and peel some more.' Judging by the rave reviews, it's not just an empty boast.
6. Seither's Seafood, Harahan
If you like your beer cold, your music free, and your crawfish hot, don't let anything come between you and a visit to Smithers Seafood in Harahan. As Eater notes, owner-chef Jason Seither likes to treat his crawfish a little differently than most, serving up crawfish trays with unexpected additions like sweet potatoes, artichokes, and whole bulbs of garlic. But unusual or not, it works. Be sure to try some fried bread pudding before you head home - you might need to be rolled out the door, but it's too good to resist.
5. Nola Crawfish King, New Orleans
After years in the catering business, Chris “Shaggy” Davis and his team finally moved into their first bricks and mortar premises last year. If the flag's on the deck, it means there's crawfish on the boil, in which case, stop whatever else it is you're doing and join the line to get in. Along with the crawfish (which rank among the biggest, freshest, and sweetest in town), there's also a lip-smacking selection of smoked meats and BBQ along with a collection of classic sides like crab boil potatoes, turkey necks, crab boil corn, and crab boil sausage.
4. The Chimes Restaurant, Baton Rouge
Named one of the best places to get crawfish by foursquare.com, The Chimes Restaurant in Baton Rouge does crawfish every which way to heaven. Whether you want it spicy and served by the pound, added to an omelet and served with cheese grits and a biscuit, made into a crawfish etouffee, or blended into cream of crawfish soup, it's all on the menu, it all reasonably priced, and it's all guaranteed to make you go back for a second round.
3. Schaefer Seafood, New Orleans
It doesn't have any tables, the queues are horrendous, and you'll need to pay by cash, but for all that, Schaefer Seafood still attracts armies of repeat customers to its doors every crawfish season. The reason is simple - it's been serving up some of the best crawfish in the state for over 40 years, and looks in no danger of changing its ways anytime soon. Each shipment is personally inspected before it goes on sale, guaranteeing only the sweetest, plumpest specimens reach its customers. The staff are helpful, the prices are reasonable, and the crawfish is heaven - what's not to like?
2. Hawks, Rayne
Finding Hawks is no laughing matter, but even if your GPS ends up getting as lost as you, keep looking. Tucked away in the middle of nowhere among piney woods, crawfish ponds, and rice fields, this hidden gem is heaven for crawfish lovers. The restaurant introduced a purging process a few years back to give their crawfish a distinctive, clean taste - an extra step not everyone goes to the effort of doing, but which makes for some incredibly delectable, gorgeously flavorful meat. While there are a few other bits and bobs on the menu, a few pounds of crawfish, boiled potatoes, and corn followed up by some indulgent bread pudding will do the job for most people. It's open strictly for crawfish season, so plan your visit accordingly.
1. Cajun Claws, Abbeville
If you show up for a late seating at Cajun Claws, don't expect to get anything to eat. This hugely popular restaurant runs out of crawfish almost every day, so be sure to arrive in time for the first seating at 5 pm if you don't want to miss out on your share of mudbugs (ideally, arrive by 4 pm so you can enjoy a drink and some of the restaurant's glorious butterflied fried shrimp at the bar first). The crawfish are purged for a day in fresh water to clean them, available in various degrees of spiciness, served in either three or five-pound trays, infused with the house's signature blend, and are, without doubt, some of the biggest, best crawfish you'll ever get to wrap your lips around.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn