The Mississippi Delta region is one of the only areas of the country where crawfish is a large part of the cuisine. Most of the crawfish harvested in the U.S. comes from Louisiana and Mississippi, and, in fact, this area is the only place in the country where the term for these critters is “crawfish.” Most places elsewhere refer to them as “crayfish.”
But down here in Louisiana, crawfish are a way of life. These crustaceans are also referred to lovingly as “mud-bugs,” as they dig down into the mud near swamps and bayous. These freshwater animals resemble small lobsters, but they are more tender than lobsters and have a unique flavor. Crawfish season stretches from December through July, with the height of the season falling in spring. While many people
tend to eat crawfish prepared in an etouffee, the more common way to eat them is cooked in a large boil with spices. These boils tend to be times for friends, families and neighbors to come together, drink beer and eat crawfish in an all-day gathering. But there are many ways that visitors to our city can enjoy crawfish just like the locals do, without making it an all-day affair.
Eating boiled crawfish is a messy ordeal but oh so good! The process involves twisting off the head, pinching and eating the tail meat and sucking the head. So if you’re not one for getting up close and personal with your food, you might want to stay away. It’s probably one of the reasons you won’t find them on the menu at the more popular, finer dining establishments in town. There are a few places in the French Quarter and CBD where you’ll be able to sit and eat crawfish, but for many of the best places, you will have to venture into the other parts of town.
Cajun’s Seafood is one of the most popular places to grab crawfish. Located on Claiborne Avenue right under the I-10, it doesn’t seem all-that impressive, and the parking situation is not the best, but you can buy boiled crawfish by the pound and take it to go. While there are a few tables to sit inside Cajun’s, it’s best to take your crawfish out to one of the parks or out by the bayou, as crawfish always tastes better under the sun. Another popular seafood joint is C&A on Jefferson Davis. Similar to Cajun’s, you can pick up crawfish to-go, or you can opt to stay at one of the benches outside. The view isn’t anything special, but it saves you from dealing with the mess that ensues after eating crawfish.
There are many bars around town that offer crawfish during the weekend nights throughout the spring season. You can find crawfish at Bayou Beer Garden, just make sure you get there early to avoid the crowd. Other bars and venues like Publiq House on Freret and 30/90 on Frenchmen have them available. R Bar on Royal Street even offers complimentary crawfish on weekend nights, just make sure you get them before they run out!