Crawfish, also known as crayfish, crawdads, mudbugs, or yabbies, are freshwater crustaceans said to resemble tiny lobsters. The official crustacean of Louisiana, they thrive in the swampy area and the state harvests over 100 million pounds of crawfish per year, or 95% of the crawfish eaten in the U.S. Crawfish are deeply rooted to Cajun culture with traditions that date back hundreds of years. They can be prepared a number of different ways from gumbo to fried but crawfish boils are the way to truly celebrate the season. You can enjoy crawfish February through June with Fat Tuesday the unofficial start to the season.
How to Prepare Crawfish
Boiled for hours alongside potatoes, corn, and sausage to soak in the spices, crawfish are served by the pound in a bucket, tray, or straight up dumped on the table. The flavor really depends on the seasonings and how it’s prepared (everyone claims to have their own magic blend), but expect a mild shellfish taste with a kick if true Cajun spices are used – think garlic, bay leaves, cayenne, coriander, mustard seeds, and allspice. Your mouth will burn. Your lips will be on fire. Your eyes will tear up. And your stomach will thank you. Just be sure to have a soothing drink on hand.
How to Eat Crawfish
While the myth is to suck the head (hardcore enthusiasts do that to sop up the juices), the best meat is actually in the tail and claw like a lobster or crab. The correct method to squeeze, twist and peel (not all that different than a snap, crackle, and pop) to get the meat out of the shell in one piece like a shrimp. It’s hands-on so expect to get messy with a smell that lingers long after the meal. You can wash your hands with lemon to mellow the scent, but it’s fine because crawfish is an understated aphrodisiac around here.
Where to Get Crawfish in Beaumont
Crazy Cajun is Beaumont’s unofficial crawfish headquarters, or heads and tails above the rest as we like to say (pun intended). On average, they go through about forty 30-pound sacks a day, and it isn’t unheard of to go through 2,000 pounds of crawfish on a busy Saturday. Their season starts 3-4 weeks earlier than any other restaurant in town since they are able to harvest crawfish directly from their owner’s farm (a rarity to source domestically) and people line up for their fresh catch every day. It is worth noting that crawfish are more expensive earlier in the season because they have to use real bait to lure the mud buggers out, but if the craving hits and you just can’t wait, that’s the spot to get them.
There are a number of other restaurants serving crawfish. Some of the standouts being:
Reel Cajun – A nicer, sit-down seafood feast in Port Arthur.
Juju’s Cajun Crawfish Shack – Despite moving to a larger location this year, they're still in high demand.
Madison's on Dowlen – A more festive, party atmosphere, Madison’s often has live music to set the mood.
Sweet Basil Vietnamese Noodle House– Asian – Cajun fusion, Sweet Basil’s seasoning blend is an interesting twist on classic crawfish.
...even more options
What’s your favorite place to get crawfish around town?