Crawfish season is late winter to early summer, spring being the sweet spot. The timing is not necessarily the same each year though. So much depends on the previous winter- did it rain too much? not enough rain? too cold or too warm? This year in particular has been affected by recurring periods of freezing temperatures. This doesn’t mean we aren’t getting crawfish by now but they have been on the smaller side to start out and as we have continued to warm up you can see a larger and more plentiful harvest that should last until June most likely.
With Easter falling sometime between March and April this deeply Catholic city observes the Lenten season in a way not many places can, we are talking crawfish boils and fish fry's. I’m not sure that really qualifies as sacrifice, but you won’t hear me complaining. You don’t have to be religious though to partake in the abundance of boils around town. In fact, I think the “no meat on Fridays” rule has become more of a universal tradition rather than a faith-based one.
I grew up not thinking about how lucky I was to be a part of these cultural traditions, having no idea most people don’t even know how to properly peel a crawfish. For Louisianans it is innate. In a tribute to my roots I sacrificed every weekend in March to sample as much crawfish as possible and deliver my opinion as to which place(s) have the tastiest of the bunch.
Enjoy the rest of the season y’all… we only have a few months left until next year!
My first crawfish of this year came from Cajun Seafood on Broad. I hadn’t had their crawfish before this year and now I feel like my taste buds have been neglected. These crawfish had a ton of flavor and spice, my friends agreed that their might even been some cinnamon or star anise in the boil which added some depth. All the crawfish were a good size and your options for accoutrements were the usual corn, potatoes and sausage. The corn was seasoned really well as were the potatoes but the smoked sausage wasn’t anything special. At $4.99/lb plus $1.99 per order of “extras” this was a great deal.
Next up was Bevi, also priced at $4.99/lb. Bevi has a great reputation and when I polled friends and family their name came up far more often than any other. I would have to agree with the masses, they live up to the hype. If you are looking for well-balanced, perfectly boiled, big crawfish, this is the way to go. The seasoning is just right, not too spicy or too salty and lots of lemon which is a refreshing touch with all the spice. This is definitely what I think of when I am craving Louisiana-style boiled crawfish.
I must admit that it would be hard to beat Cajun Seafood’s boil but I was more than disappointed by my Westbank options. I did a side-by-side tasting on this day between J & J’s in Gretna and Perino’s Boiling Pot in Marrero. J & J’s is the cheapest so far at $3.99/lb. They had a good amount of spice, but the crawfish quality was inferior to all the other spots I sampled. They were small and over boiled making them extremely hard to peel and spongy once you actually ate them. This could have been an off day so I wouldn’t write them off completely but I would not make a special trip.
These were the more expensive of the two WB stops at $5.49/lb but they had nice sized crawfish and were perfectly boiled. They were a little too sparse with the seasoning for my taste and even the promising looking crawfish boudin was bland and mushy.
At $6.49/lb I would have expected something more remarkable than what it was. The quality of the crawfish were nice and they were sizable but similar to Perino’s on the Westbank, they lacked in flavor resulting in a pretty bland boil.
I tried. I wanted to like the Viet-Cajun style crawfish, I really did. For those unfamiliar with this method of seasoning crawfish, from what I can tell, the majority if not all of the flavor is on the shell of the crawfish, held in place with a melted butter sauce. I wanted so much to like them here particularly because I revere the kitchen at Marjie’s but they just weren’t my thing. For $12 you got about 1.5 lbs which seemed a little steep but I don’t know what the average price for “dine-in” crawfish is, I don’t think I’ve actually eaten them in a restaurant until now. The crawfish were of good size but seem to have very little flavor boiled in and the only way to taste the seasoning was to lick your fingers or the actual shells, the heads weren’t very juicy either. I know many people say this is a great alternative to the accustomed way of seasoning and boiling crawfish but I just couldn’t get down, call me a traditionalist.