As late winter turns into spring, Houstonians’ thoughts inevitably turn to crawfish. All across the city, people gather to peel and slurp thousands of pounds of freshly boiled crustaceans.
Whether traditional Louisiana or Viet-Cajun, Houston restaurants offer a range of tempting options that vary in their spice levels. From spicy levels that are potent enough to require gloves to decadent garlic butter flavors, crawfish offers flavors that should appeal to almost everyone.
Of course, feasting on crawfish in February means a willingness to accept slightly higher prices and slightly smaller specimens. They’ll get bigger (and cheaper) in March and April.
This list mixes some of the city’s most acclaimed crawfish spots with a few newcomers and a couple of hidden gems. All offer crawfish to go; thankfully, crawfish travel well.
Recently opened in the Second Ward, this seafood restaurant serves traditional, Cajun-style crawfish Wednesday - Sunday for $6.99 per pound or five pounds for $30 ($5.99/$25 on Wednesday and Sunday). The restaurant’s spacious patio offers plenty of room for outdoor dining. An extensive selection of housemade cocktails and a well-priced wine list offer plenty of pairing options.
Bayou City Seafood & Pasta
The venerable, Galleria-area restaurant quietly relocated to a new building in 2020. Fans count on Bayou City to serve crawfish that are always a good size with a well-balanced spice mix. Make a meal of mud bugs or save room for some of the restaurant’s massive entrees.
From a small Montrose restaurant, BB’s has grown to 10 locations across greater Houston. Its traditional, Louisiana-style boil has just enough heat to make a person’s lips tingle but never gets so spicy that someone wouldn’t want another pound. Most locations offer plenty of outdoor seating.
Popular Houston food influencer Danielle Dubois (aka hangryhoustonian on Instagram) name checks this small Heights spot as the most similar to her experiences growing up in Louisiana, and that’s good enough for us. Sit at one of the restaurant’s picnic tables or take the crawfish to-go.
Founded by Louisiana natives who know the secret to great crawfish starts with properly preparing them, The Boot’s crawfish always deliver lip-smacking spice. That’s why Houstonians gather on its expansive patio for pounds of mudbugs, but don’t miss the first-rate po’boys.
Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company
The CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Brewery of the Year winner touts itself as Houston’s most creative brewery, a claim given even more credence by chef Arash Kharat’s crawfish boil. Served on Saturdays from 2 pm until sold out, Kharat’s seasonings include onion, garlic, chiles, mango puree, housemade michelada mix, and five gallons of Buff Brew’s Dreamsicle blonde ale. After boiling, they’re tossed in the chef’s secret sauce plus butter and garlic. Don’t forget the links of housemade, smoked andouille sausage.
This Chinatown spot has earned acclaim for its "Kitchen Special" that adds citrus and onions to the familiar Cajun spice blend. A Thai basil flavor that uses lemongrass is also worth trying.
Whether at its original location in Chinatown or its second outpost in The Heights, this restaurant appeals to spice fans with its Thai basil flavor. Those looking for something a little sweeter should consider the house special mix of garlic butter and lemon pepper. Salt and pepper wings, boudin balls, and crawfish eggrolls are all worth ordering, too.
Former Masterchef contestant Chris Spradley has launched a mobile crawfish pop-up that serves at different Houston-area breweries. A Houston native and former Louisiana resident, the chef touts his 20 years of experience in preparing crawfish and other Cajun fare. Those looking to feed a crowd should note the “BYO Cooler” discounts on orders of 50 and 100 pounds.
Crawfish & Noodles
This Chinatown staple remains Houston’s most famous destination for Viet-Cajun crawfish. Credit for that goes its appearances on multiple TV shows — remember when Andrew Zimmern ate his tails shell-on — as well as the recognition chef-owner Trong Nguyen received last year as a James Beard Award finalist. The signature garlic butter seasoning has been copied by restaurants all over, but the original still does it a little better. Diners should explore the rest of the menu, as the salt and pepper blue crabs, fish sauce chicken wings, and bo luc lac are all as excellent as the crawfish.
The Crawfish Shack
Crawfish fans flock to Crosby (it’s a surprisingly short drive from the inner loop) for the Cajun-spiced mud bugs at this massive restaurant. Reported to sell more crawfish than any single restaurant in Texas, the restaurant’s spice mix balances heat with letting the crawfish natural flavors shine through. It’s also BYOB, so be sure to bring a cooler with beer or wine to ease the burn. Currently to-go only via drive-thru; dine-in scheduled to begin February 24.
Jenivi’s Seafood Shoppe & Restaurant
This restaurant in West Houston is where true crawfish obsessives go for well-spiced — and well-priced — crawfish. Count on larger than normal crawfish that are always cooked properly. An appealing mix of fried seafood and other Cajun fare rounds out the offerings. Currently to-go only.
The Patio at The Pit Room
This bar next to the popular Montrose barbecue joint serves crawfish every Friday - Sunday. Currently priced at $9.95 per pound or three pounds for $27, they’re served with corn, potatoes, mushrooms, and housemade andouille sausage. A Cajun-style spice blend delivers plenty of heat, and the bars extensive tap selection offers lots of tempting options.
Revelry on Richmond
Every Sunday beginning February 14, the Montrose sports bar will offer all-you-can-eat crawfish for $30 per person (while supplies last). Drink specials include $15 domestic beer buckets, $20 craft beer buckets, $13 carafes of mimosas and sangria.
The popular Viet-Cajun restaurant offers five flavors of crawfish: Wild Cajun (fresh scallions), Hot and Sour, Thai Basil, Kitchen Special, and Garlic Butter. An extensive menu of well-executed Cajun fare — everything from boudin balls and fried alligator to beignet strips — provides appealing alternatives to boiled seafood. Just leave room for an order or two of the fish sauce wings.
Chef Tony Nguyen serves his signature H-Town Bang (his take on garlic butter) crawfish every Monday at this modern Vietnamese restaurant. The restaurant offers all-day happy hour on Monday, which means $5 draft beers, $6 select wines, and $7 select cocktails.