If the hordes of Houstonians flocking to patios isn’t a sufficient sign of spring’s arrival, the crawfish flags flying from every bar and restaurant with even the slightest connection to seafood certainly are. Although dedicated crawfish hounds start paying as much as $10 per pound as early as December, those of us with more normal appetites are content to wait until March to get our fix.
After all, spring's warmer temperatures mean a steadier supply, bigger bugs, and lower prices. Sometimes, patience is a virtue.
While nothing is wrong with classic crawfish destinations like BB’s Cafe, LA Crawfish, Bayou City Seafood, and Crawfish and Noodles — to say nothing of more recent arrivals like The Boot and Boil House — we know how much CultureMap readers appreciate a few new options. Consider these newcomers as a possible alternative to the usual spots. To widen the proverbial net, we’ve tossed in a few bars that run weekend crawfish specials and mixed in a little geographic diversity with options in Katy and Pearland.
Mels’ Seafood Shack
Sisters Melinda and Melissa Faust are in their second season of operating this Cajun-style crawfish destination that straddles the border of Shady Acres and The Heights. As Louisiana natives, they’re deliver good-sized, well-seasoned crawfish in a no-frills, outdoor environment. Boiled shrimp and po' boys are available for non crawfish eaters. Best of all? It’s BYOB. 2521 N Durham
Texas Shrimp Shack
Don’t let the name fool you. The seafood restaurant that replaced Maria Selma in Montrose serves much more than shrimp, including crawfish. Just as the restaurant sources all of its shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, the crawfish arrive fresh from Louisiana, and you can mix the two in an order. The restaurant’s history as a Mexican restaurant means it still serves a solid margarita as well as a range of non-crawfish options like ceviche and enchiladas. Keep an eye on Facebook; weekday specials of five pounds for $25 occur frequently. 1617 Richmond
Pinch Seafood and Bar
As noted in this month’s Where to Eat Now column, Pinch offers a diverse array of seafood options — everything from fried seafood po' boys to delicately seared fish — including crawfish. Executive chef Clinton Page offers two flavors: traditional Cajun and a Viet-Cajun-style garlic butter. At $6 per pound, the price is reasonable, but people who want free crawfish should follow the restaurant’s Instagram account, which occasionally runs giveaway contests. 10510 Northwest Freeway
Similar to Mel’s, this Katy spot offers diners the chance to BYOB while they eat crawfish outside (or take them to-go). Chef-partner Jason Galvan made the transition from operating a trailer to a brick and mortar restaurant. As one would expect from a Louisiana native, the flavor is classic Cajun, but diners can select their level of spice. 979 S Mason, Katy
The Barking Pig
This comfortable patio bar in the Lazybrook/Timbergrove neighborhood runs a number of food specials during the week — I hear good things about the fish and chips — but on the weekends it’s all about crawfish. Available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for $5.99 per pound, chef-owner Kristen Powell serves classic Cajun crawfish. The bar’s signature frozen cocktails are always ready to ease the pain of any lingering spiciness. 2307 Ella
Criminal defense attorney and radio host Charles “Big Angry” Adams has endorsed this Pearland spot, and, as anyone who follows his eating adventures on Instagram knows, the man knows where to eat. The long line at this to-go spot also serves as a testament to its quality. Atchafalaya’s crawfish are consistently a good size and well-priced (as low as $3.99/lb on Tuesday and Wednesday) with the right amount of lip-tingling spice. 2202 N Main, Pearland
Live Oak Lounge & Grill
Like the Barking Pig, this recently opened patio bar in the Third Ward serves crawfish on the weekends. Choose from regular Cajun, spicy Cajun, or lemon herb seasoning. Prices are two pounds for $15 or three pounds for $20. 2533 Southmore
The Patio on Richmond
Thanks to a takeover by The Pit Room owner Michael Sambrooks and executive chef Bram Tripp, the bar formerly known as Jackson’s Watering Hole has a new look, more taps, and improved food options. The weekend-only crawfish special is three pounds for $20, which also includes corn, potatoes, and andouille sausage. Just as Tripp has shown an affinity for Texas barbecue, his crawfish have just the right level of lip-tingling spice. 1205 Richmond
Eight Row Flint
One of the finalists for the Tastemaker Awards Bar of the Year, on Sundays Eight Row Flint adds crawfish to its usual offerings of whiskey, beer, and tacos. The price is just $5 per pound and includes corn, potatoes, and mushrooms. Do crawfish and whiskey pair well together? There's only one way to find out. 1039 Yale