Best Houston Restaurants for Saying Goodbye to Crawfish Season 2022
With July on the horizon, many Texans are feeling the summer spirit — ramping up for Galveston vacations, planning day trips to float the river in New Braunfels or preparing for Independence Day celebrations. Many Houstonians, however, dread July as it marks the end of our beloved crawfish season.
Thanks to our Louisiana neighbors, Texas has access to live mudbugs from January to July, weather permitting (which is still not long enough if you ask me). The warm winter months in 2021 blessed us with a flourishing season full of jumbo-sized crawfish in 2022, but all good and spicy things must come to an end. From Tex-Orleans cooking to Viet-Cajun (the best fusion to ever fuse), we’ve put together a comprehensive list of crawfish joints to visit before time runs out. With only a few weeks left to indulge, it’s time to throw on the ol’ bib and suck some heads!
88 Boiling Crawfish & Seafood, 1910 Wilcrest: For over nine years, 88 Boiling has been a go-to for crawfish on Bayou City’s west side. The 88 Special house boil is a balanced mixture of garlic butter, Cajun spices and lemon pepper. Boiled corn and potatoes come with every order and are perfect vessels to sop up the extra messy sauce.
BB’s Tex-Orleans, multiple locations: With a dozen locations throughout the Houston area, BB’s is likely to be serving its Cajun-inspired cuisine in a neighborhood near you. Enjoy crawfish in one of two flavors: a new and improved Louisiana style or the famous Tex-Orleans “wet” seasoning. BB’s is also running an impressive number of daily specials to keep you full for the rest of the season — Cray Mondays run all through June (3 pounds of field-run crawfish, medium-sized with a few larges mixed in, with a corn and potato for $15), Water Creature Wednesdays (5 pounds of large premium “classic” crawfish for $25) or 5 pounds of field-run crawfish for $35 any day of the week.
Boil House, 606 E 11th: The owners of Boil House, born and raised in Louisiana, are using their combined 20 years of crawfish farming and purveying experience to deliver authentic Louisiana crawfish to the bustling Heights area. At this open-air venue, diners can order at the counter and feast at one of the communal picnic tables or take advantage of the convenient drive-thru. Outdoor dining can heat up fast, so keep cool with a to-go daiquiri, margarita or beer. The season is expected to end by July 25, so plan ahead to pick up your ready-to-eat boiled mudbugs or grab a live sack and Cajun seasonings to host your own at-home backyard boil.
Crawfish & Beignets, 9600 Bellaire: In its original stand inside of Hong Kong City Mall, this restaurant was the hotspot for crawfish for almost two decades. The menu then was humble: Louisiana-style crawfish, corn and potatoes — ironically, no beignets. In 2019, they found a new home in Dynasty Plaza and expanded their offerings to include a variety of flavors, appetizers, entrees, and, finally… beignets. The new space is clean and updated, but the original recipe remains unchanged. Enjoy your crawfish in the original Cajun boil or tossed in any one of their new sauces: garlic butter, lemon pepper, mixed (Cajun, garlic butter and lemon pepper), Thai Citrus, and Krajun (garlic butter, cajun seasoning and assorted onions). Don’t forget to top off your meal with an order of Boudain Eggrolls, Grilled Garlic Parmesan Oysters or beignets, topped with powdered sugar and your choice of condensed milk or honey.
Crawfish & Noodles, 11360 Bellaire: As one of the originators of Viet-Cajun crawfish, this Asiatown classic has been featured on Netflix’s Ugly Delicious, Food Network, Travel Channel and Top Chef — making Crawfish & Noodles one of Houston’s most popular destinations for the seasonal crustaceans. Trong Nguyen, owner and James Beard finalist, helped fuel the surge of Vietnamese-Cajun cuisine popularity. Show up early to beat the lines and snag your pounds before the season comes to a close.
Crawfish Cafe, multiple locations: If there was an award for Most Flavor Options, Crawfish Cafe would absolutely win, but what is more impressive is that every sauce and special blend is well-crafted. Sometimes quantity can be quality too. The original venue in Hong Kong City Mall, standalone Heights location, and newest establishment in the Woodlands offer a laundry list of seasonings for any number of flavor combinations: Original Cajun, Kickin’ Cajun (a tangy version of the original), Garlic Butter, Lemon Pepper, Thai Basil and Coco Loco (coconut, garlic, and citrus). House special blends are also available, such as The Grail (Garlic Butter and Thai Basil) or my go-to, The Signature (an ultra savory blend of Garlic Butter and Kickin Cajun). With a mere 1-pound minimum per flavor, there is absolutely no reason not to try every single combination. Spice levels vary from mild to Reaper at an additional $0.50 per pound. Make sure to prime your palette with any of their Viet-Cajun appetizers like the crawfish eggrolls or an employee favorite, the salt and pepper wings (extra crispy and extra spicy).
Jenivi’s Seafood Shoppe, 10555 Westheimer: This westside favorite has been dishing out some of Houston’s best crawfish since 1983. Today, you’ll find the same chefs serving up the original Cajun recipes; most notably, their irresistible house special sauce. The “crack sauce”, as loyal customers have affectionately nicknamed it, has developed a cult following. The Cajun-style crawfish is served piping hot with a side of the indescribably savory sauce whose recipe is a highly guarded secret. At peak season, you can order the select size (medium/large mix) or get jumbo (extra-large “mini lobsters”) for a small premium per pound. After July, you can continue getting your crawfish fix since Jenivi’s offers live crawfish all year round. Make sure to complete your order with their famous fried corn; a whole ear of corn that’s been coated in seasoned cornmeal and fried to perfection.
Mike’s Seafood, multiple locations: Mike Trinh, owner of Mike’s Seafood, is something of a local legend in the Asiatown community. Besides running restaurants, he was a former MMA fighter. Hometown hero and fellow MMA fighter Derrick Lewis claims, “Anything you order at Mike’s Seafood is good,” and Mike’s loyal customers have been saying the same since 2003. Trinh’s garlicky crawfish are available at two levels of heat: medium or spicy. Buy 5 pounds and get 1 free from Mondays through Thursdays. At just $6.99 per pound, these crayfish are crazy-affordable.
Saigon House, 3645 Cypress Creek Parkway: This northside counter-service eatery is as much an ode to Houston as it is to New Orleans. The menu, which was developed by chef Tony J. Nguyen, who was a James Beard Award finalist for his work at Xin Chao this year, is filled with quirky selections that scream H-Town, such as the Smoked Brisket Pho and the Astrodome, a belt-busting platter with 5 pounds of crawfish, 3 pounds of jumbo shrimp, potatoes and corn. Sauce up your crawdads in a variety of flavors: H-town Bang (garlic and butter), 3rd Coast Sand (Cajun seasoning), Saigon Heat (citrus and onion) and Thai Surprise (chiles, basil and lemongrass). Check out their happy hour from Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., which includes discounted alcoholic beverages and appetizers, or get 5 pounds of Cajun crawfish for $25 from Tuesday through Thursday.
Shell Shack, 2412 Washington: What better way to bid adieu to the season than with an evening full of friends, mudbugs and all the fixings at Shell Shack’s first-ever crawfish boil? The crustacean celebration commences on July 28 from 6 to 9 p.m. Diners who purchase a ticket for $30 will score 3 pounds of crawfish, corn, potatoes, sausage, and eggs. Tickets are available on Shell Shack’s online menu.