red-hot addition

Wildly popular Viet-Cajun crawfish restaurant heats up historic Houston Farmers Market

Popular Viet-Cajun crawfish restaurant heats up Houston Farmers Market

Houston Farmers Market entrance sign
The market's renovations are nearly complete. Courtesy of Houston Farmers Market

The Houston Farmers Market has landed a major new tenant. Legendary Viet-Cajun restaurant Crawfish & Noodles will open its second location at the property, real estate developer MLB Capital Partners announced.

The restaurant hardly needs an introduction, but let’s use this opportunity to recount a few of its most prominent accomplishments. Credited with leading the culinary movement that blends Vietnamese and Cajun traditions, chef-owner Trong Nguyen was named a finalist in the 2020 James Beard Awards in the Best Chef: Texas category after being named a semifinalist for Best Chef: Southwest in both 2018 and 2019.

His Chinatown restaurant features a menu that runs the gamut stir-fried noodles and stewed turkey legs to chicken wings fried in fish sauce — and of course, signature items such as its salt and pepper, stir fried blue crabs and garlic butter-drenched mudbugs. Crawfish & Noodles has been featured on TV shows such as The Zimmern List and David Chang’s Netflix series Ugly Delicious.

“First and foremost, it’s extraordinarily high quality food, high quality service, high quality people,” MLB Capital Partners principal Todd Mason tells CultureMap. “It’s a brand we want to be associated with, and we want people to associate with the farmers market.”

MLB purchased the almost 18-acre tract in 2017 and initiated a comprehensive series of upgrades that include more parking, better restrooms, and a one-acre green space. Additions will include a butcher shop from Texas wagyu purveyor R-C Ranch and two new restaurants from Chris Shepherd’s Underbelly Hospitality: a fast casual concept and Wild Oats, a new restaurant led by chef Nick Fine that’s devoted to “the history and traditions of Texas cuisine.”

Nguyen tells CultureMap that he originally considered downtown’s Post Houston mixed-use development for a second location, but a conversation with Shepherd prompted him to explore opening at the market instead. The chef says he’s shopped there for many years and is excited to be part of its transformation.

“It’s going to be a future landmark of Houston. The market has been there for many years, and it’s growing,” Nguyen says. “They modernized the place. That’s awesome.”

The chef and his son Cory are developing a some new tastes to enhance the menu, but he’s not quite ready to reveal the details yet. “He’s come up with a few very good dishes,” Nguyen says about his son. “He’ll be more involved with the kitchen side to help me out.”

Meanwhile, work on the market continues. Mason says that many of the existing vendors will be moved to a new outdoor pavilion as soon as next week, pending final permit approvals. Other tenants have been submitted or are preparing to submit their plans to the city of Houston.

“It’s happening,” Mason says. “We’re going to be open as a produce market in the next couple weeks. The rest of that will happen over the next few months as they build out their space.”

Still to be announced are another restaurant that will border the green space, a restaurant near the market’s entrance, and the initial tenants for six food-hall style kiosks. Expect more announcements to come in the weeks and months ahead.