As most crawfish fans on the Gulf Coast know, we are now in high crawfish season, and 2007 is looking like one of the best seasons in years. Tons of fat crawfish at low prices have been a boon to Louisiana farmers and mudbug eaters everywhere. As we get ready for our own annual crawfish boil later this month, I thought I'd mention a few places that have been turning out good mudbugs around town:
Pappadeaux isn't my favorite Cajun/New Orleans-themed restaurant, to be honest, but they do a mean crawfish boil, as we found out on Mardi Gras night this year, when we dropped by the Richmond Avenue location. Spicy, deeply flavorsome crawfish dusted with Tony Chachere's lit a nice fire on the lips and in the belly. The only complaint was that the crawfish were unusually small for this year's batch, but they were cooked perfectly and proved easy to extract from their shells. The boiled red potatoes and corn on the cob are also excellent, totally drenched in flavor and spice. (Pappadeaux also has consistently excellent raw oysters, though rarely as good as Goode Company's.)
Floyd's Kitchen, on the other hand, had giant, fat crawfish but disappointingly little flavor. Floyd's could use a boost in their boil, but they can't be faulted for the quality of the bugs. (Floyd's also serves some of the flat-out best fried oysters I have ever eaten -- a subject for a later post. But don't go without ordering some.)
Ragin' Cajun is dependable: good crawfish in good boil. They won't change your world, but you can't go wrong, either.
But, just to annoy you, I should mention that we stopped in for dinner at Franky & Johnny's while passing through New Orleans last weekend. There's just nowhere in Houston that matches F&J for crawfish, I'm afraid. They manage the best balance of size, flavor, and cooking time, to produce a slow-burn heat and rich, buttery flavor at an excellent price. Well off the tourist trail for most NOLA visitors, F&J's divey location on Tchoupitoulas turns out some of the best home cooking in the city, as well as some of the best Uptown people watching. There's also a menacingly enticing "bowling" game in the bar area that managed to wound both my children while we waited for a table. (Their father's contributory negligence pretty much blew any likelihood of recovery in court.)