The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Crawfish Joints
For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.
Along with Texas oyster season, crawfish season is officially upon us. No Label Brewing out of Katy is offering an all-you-can-eat crawfish boil for only $10 at Ashford Pub this Saturday at 1 p.m., while the Heights Chamber of Commerce is busy prepping for its annual crawfish boil at the SSQQ Dance Studio on March 3. Yesterday, when I spoke to Jim Gossen -- hero of the New South and founder of Foodways Texas -- he talked of hosting a crawfish boil soon to promote membership in Foodways Texas and bring people together.
"I don't want to have a clique," he said of the young organization, which promotes Texas food history and culture. "I don't want it to be this small group of people. This is something that everyone can get involved in. I want everyone to feel welcome."
And that's exactly what a crawfish boil does. It's hard not to feel like part of a greater whole when you're eating crawfish with others: You're in the trenches together, battling through a field of mudbugs and emerging dirty yet victorious at the end of the meal.
This longtime Richmond haunt is where many Houstonians -- native or not -- tried their first crawfish. While there's usually a line out the door during crawfish season, that's just a sign of loyalty and quality. Ragin' Cajun gets bonus points for its wild Louisiana decor, fabulous zydeco music, handy sink right in the dining room, and the fact that it doesn't charge extra for corn or potatoes. It sells its crawfish in 1.75 pound or 3.5 pound buckets, for $12.99 and $23.99 respectively (which works out to roughly $6.85 a pound).
The closest to an authentic po-boy as you'll get in the Bayou City also has great crawfish, and owner Lisa Carnley also consistently pulls in some of the largest, so come prepared. The crawfish are $6.75 a pound right now and available on Fridays and Saturdays, but the price should drop back down to $6.25 a pound as the season rolls along. Calliope's crawfish are a little pricey, but Carnley only orders "jumbo" mudbugs for her restaurant, so you'll get what you pay for.
The crawfish at this Durham favorite are currently $6.99 a pound (although corn and potatoes are extra, at $1.99 for three of each), and its central location means that this Cajun shack gets swamped early and often despite the high-ish prices. But it also comes with a great backstory: This was the original Floyd's -- Floyd Landry, that is -- and was one of the first places to bring crawfish to Houston.
Speaking of... This location of Floyd's is our favorite, with a boat-shaped bar and all-you-can-eat crawfish specials that will keep you lingering all day in sea-breezy Webster, whether you meant to or not. Right now, crawfish is $5.95 a pound and the cayenne-heavy boil is so crazy-spicy, you'll be tasting it on your lips for days.