In A Pinch: Crazy About Crawfish

March 07, 2022
Cafe Biegnet
Elysian Seafood
Dat Dog
J's Seafood Dock
While folks in many parts of the country anticipate the springtime for its lovely weather, here in southern Louisiana we anxiously await the arrival of spring to usher in the peak of crawfish season. While these mouthwatering mudbugs (which by the way, are the official crustacean of the state of Louisiana) can be found on menus year-round, many restaurants choose to feature them only when they are at their best, typically between March and May. Whether you’re a fan of highly seasoned, straight-out-of-the boil crawdads, those swimming in a rich, creamy pasta or sautéed in Creole sauce, there’s no shortage of tempting tails to satisfy your crawfish craving.

Dat Dog –
Founded in 2011, this colorful sausage-centric spot has grown from a single 475-square-foot “hot dog stand” to three thriving locations in the New Orleans area (two Uptown and one located on Frenchmen St.), one in Lafayette and a fifth in Texas. Legions of faithful hot dog enthusiasts pour into the ultra casual, lively joint to enjoy an array of all-beef hot dogs, gourmet sausages (including several vegan options), 21-day aged ground beef burgers, tasty tots and fries, craft beers, premium cocktails, and more. Dog lovers can select from classic kielbasa or Italian sausage to more exotic like alligator, duck, and even crawfish. Create your own mudbug sausage concoction by choosing from thirty toppings including Andouille sauce, bacon, blackberry sauce, chipotle mayo, guacamole, sauerkraut and pico de gallo to name a few. Can’t decide? Opt for the house special crawfish étouffée dog, a mildly seasoned sausage topped with house-made crawfish étouffée, onions, tomatoes, sour cream, and Creole mustard. Complete your crawdad craving with fries or tots slathered with savory crawfish étouffée and wash it all down with a house-made margarita.

Muriel’s Jackson Square –
Located on Jackson Square sits this historic building, which has undergone multiple incarnations including a drinking club, pasta factory, and home to the Heritage Hall Jazz Band. Since 2001, Muriel’s has been tempting locals and visitors with its exceptional southern Louisiana cuisine. Chef Erik Veney, a well-seasoned and accomplished chef with more than 28 years of culinary experience at some of NOLA’s finest restaurants, turns out one of the most celebrated dishes in town: Muriel’s crepe appetizer, which typically features gulf shrimp teeming in a rich white wine-based cream sauce with onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, atop a delicate goat cheese-stuffed crepe. While delicious as is, regulars eagerly away the return of crawfish season, when the tasty tails take center stage and replace shrimp as the star of the dish. Muriel’s also offers a fantastic three-course menu for less than $48, with divine dishes such as warm onion tart with arugula, bacon, and Creole mustard vinaigrette; boudin egg roll with mirliton jicama slaw; wood grilled pork chop with Andouille potato hash and smoked cream corn; sweet onion panko crusted salmon with wild mushroom cream sauce; and white chocolate pain perdu with rum sauce and candied pecans.

Café Beignet –
If visions of mudbugs are dancing in your head and you awaken with a yearning, then head to Café Beignet for a tasty crawfish omelette. Filled with crawfish tails, bell pepper, tomato, and Swiss cheese and served with grits, this flavorful French-style omelette is sure to satisfy. While the robust chicory coffee (their coffee is locally sourced from roasters with more than 30 years of experience roasting their own blends) and pillowy, sugar-laden beignets may have put Café Beignet on the food map, don’t overlook their signature New Orleans specialties such as creamy red beans and rice with Andouille sausage, classic chicken and Andouille gumbo, hot roast beef po-boy with gravy served on French bread, and Cajun jambalaya. Start your day off right with a tempting pecan waffle, served with maple syrup and fresh fruit, or a spicy Andouille omelette with white cheddar and creamy grits. With four convenient locations throughout the French Quarter, you won’t have to look very far to find a pick-me-up cup of zesty java and the official state doughnut of Louisiana, the beloved beignet.

Morrow’s –
Owned and operated by the mother-son dynamic duo, Chef Lenora Chong and Larry Morrow, this Marigny hot spot has quickly become a local’s favorite for its soulful New Orleans classics, authentic Korean cuisine and lively, affable atmosphere. The intimate, casual eatery, which threw open its doors in 2018, is typically bustling with foodies eager to dive into their perfectly cooked, juicy inside and crunchy outside fried chicken, bountiful fried seafood platters, and unique Asian-inspired dishes such as Gumbo Ramen, ramen noodles kicked up with sausage, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables; teriyaki-glazed grilled salmon; and Lenora’s decadent Hawaiian bread pudding. While you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, the crawfish bread appetizer is not to be missed. This bite full of bliss melds crawfish tails into a multiple-cheese, cream-based sauce spooned atop French bread, finished with more cheese then popped into the oven creating crisp, cheesy perfection. If you can’t get enough mudbugs, Morrow’s Creole crawfish pasta, an ultra creamy Alfredo-style pasta sauce kicked with up with a liberal amount of Creole spices and crawfish tails, then topped with a couple pieces of golden-brown fried catfish will surely hit the spot.

SoBou –
Created by the Commander’s Family of Restaurants, SoBou specializes in casual Louisiana-inspired fare and creative craft cocktails. Chef Nick Ocheltree, who recently took over as executive chef, brings his unique dishes and passion for using fresh, local ingredients to the SoBou kitchen. While the menu often changes, tasty small plates like the boudin trail (grilled pork boudin link, cracklins and crusted boudin), shrimp and Tasso corndogs with pepper jelly and pickled okra, and duck and sweet potato beignets with chicory coffee ganache and foie gras fondue are perfect for sharing. Be sure to check out the Bar Chef Table, featuring a one-of-a-kind cocktail and cuisine pairing menu that takes the exclusivity of a Chef Table and adds a spirited spin. The SoBou Bar Chef Table offers guests three cocktail and food pairings—unique for each guest—created by the expert bar and culinary team. At the end of the experience, each guest receives a “SoBou Members Only” doubloon, which can be used at a future visit for special discounts and secret perks. Looking for a place to kick back during French Quarter Festival (Apr. 21–24) and suck down some crawdads? Grab a seat in the courtyard to enjoy live music and a New Orleans-style crawfish boil.

Mahony’s Original Po-Boys & Seafood –
Since 2008, Mahony’s has been a New Orleans staple, originally serving up generously stuffed po-boys from a small, converted cottage on Magazine St. Ten years later, a second location was added in the French Quarter, which boasts seating for over 100, a sprawling bar, an expanded menu, oyster bar, and even a vintage Ford GT in the dining room. While po-boys still reign supreme at both spots, here you’ll find equally as delicious local classics like gumbo, red beans and rice, blackened catfish, jambalaya and more. If you’re lusting after Louisiana crawfish, then this is your place with appetizers such as crawfish nachos (tortilla chips topped with pimento cheese queso, lettuce, jalapenos and fried crawfish tails) and étouffée fries topped with cheddar and loaded crawfish étouffée. As for entrees, choose from made-from-scratch Creole French-style crawfish étouffée (a blonde roux, trinity, tomato, garlic, and Cajun spices brimming with crawfish, served with Louisiana popcorn rice), Catfish Pontchartrain (fried catfish filet over seafood jambalaya, smothered with gulf shrimp, crawfish and blue crab Alicia sauce, a cream-based sauce flavored with Cajun spices, served with braised collards), or eggplant seafood Pontchartrain (fried eggplant medallions over rotini pasta smothered with gulf shrimp, crawfish and blue crab Alicia sauce). Can’t make it to Jazz Fest? Don’t fret! Mahony’s is the ONLY restaurant in town where you can indulge in a Jazz Fest favorite, the original Crawfish Monica created by Kajun Kettle Foods. Sip one of their famous bloody Mahony’s: a tangy mix of house-made tomato spice blend with bacon-infused Tito’s Vodka garnished with candied bacon or quench your thirst with a refreshing cucumber cooler featuring ginger-infused Wheatley Vodka, ginger liqueur, ginger syrup, lime and soda.

Elysian Seafood –
Husband-and-wife team Jennifer Sherrod and Brandon Blackwell share a culinary passion, which led to the creation of their acclaimed oyster bar and seafood spot. Florida native Jennifer moved to New Orleans in 1994 to pursue a law degree from Loyola University. After passing the bar, Jen chewed over career options and discovered that her heart was in hospitality, where she would spend 16 years as a restaurant manager and sommelier. For nearly a decade, Brandon worked in the hospitality industry in the Baton Rouge area before moving to New Orleans to attend culinary school. He honed his cooking skills in local restaurants ultimately heading up the kitchen at Upperline. In 2013 they launched a pop-up called Splendid Pig, which they ran until 2015 when the couple signed on as one of the first vendors in the newly reimagined St. Roch Market. Elysian Seafood spotlights the best Louisiana seafood around, from freshly shucked oysters to gulf shrimp. Crawdad fans will be wowed by their delectable crawfish étouffée, a traditional blonde roux-based version kicked up with poblano peppers and charred green onions. Don’t miss the crawfish sausage po-boy, a savory link of crawfish and pork served dressed with white cheddar, house-made Creole mustard aioli and green tomato chow-chow. Need crawfish for a crowd? The duo also operate a catering company called Elysian Events, which serves up bite-sized mudbug dishes like mini crawfish pies with charred green onion vinaigrette, and a playful take on a crawfish boil consisting of corn custard topped with spicy crawfish tails, potatoes, and Andouille sausage.

J’s Seafood Dock in the French Market –
Looking to stroll, shop and savor? Then the French Market is your one-stop spot! For over 200 years, the French Market has stood proud as a place of community, commerce, and culture. Explore booth after booth filled with souvenirs, handmade crafts, decorative items, jewelry, leather goods, and more. And, if all that shopping stirs up an appetite, you’re sure to find something tasty just steps away. One of the most popular food stalls—a long line on weekends is pretty common—is J’s Seafood Dock, which dishes out classic New Orleans fare like the crowd-pleasing oysters Creole (French bread topped with creamed spinach and crispy fried oysters), butter-laden BBQ shrimp, and traditional jambalaya. Looking for tasty crawdad eats? J’s has you covered. Warning: Walking past the boiling crawfish pot emitting not-so-subtle, highly seasoned aromatics may cause uncontrollable mouthwatering! Belly up to the oyster/crawfish bar (they also serve up sizeable, freshly shuck Louisiana oysters sure to please) for a couple of pounds of perfectly seasoned, spicy crawdads served up hot with all the traditional fixings: sausage, corn, potatoes. If peeling is not your thing, check out the delicately fried tails with remoulade sauce, crawfish beignets with a creamy corn and green onion sauce, or a flaky crawfish pie drizzled with remoulade sauce.