It's that season again! Crayfish – also called crawfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, or mudbugs – are crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are related. People eat them, including Dallasites.
I personally love to eat the tails, and sometimes the claw meat, of these bug-eyed creatures. I'm not die-hard enough to "suck the head" for juice, but it is the only food in-which I am aware, and make full use of, the season. I'm not sure what part of my personality it plays into, but for some reason I enjoy working with my hands when it comes to food. I dig shell fish (crab legs, peel and eat shrimp, oysters).
The challenge of perfectly pulling the tail out in order to be rewarded with the optimal amount of meat, and the least amount of lung matter and soil vein, is gratifying. When I successfully remove the meat of a big bug, I feel like I have won something.
After eight years of living here, and consuming dozens of pounds of crawfish seasonally and year-to-year, here are my top five favorite spots to get boiled crawfish in Dallas.
1. Nate's Seafood & Steakhouse - Nate's is best on this list, even though it's not in Dallas proper. It was where I first tried crawdaddies in 2001, and my life was forever altered. Get the extra "turbo" spice - it will ring your bell and literally make you sweat. At this well-established seafood and steak restaurant, you can also get a pound of King Crab legs, which, combined with 2 lbs of crawdaddies, is a meal fit for a Mardi Gras Carnival King.
Address: 14951 Midway Rd (Beltline), Addison, TX
2. Dodie's Seafood Cafe (original location, not the Reef) - Along with the obligatory potatoes and corn, Dodie's adds a special helping of garlic cloves to their mix, which can be squeezed out and used like butter on bread (yum!). The smaller, more-homey original location is my preference, but they do have several locations now, including one on the same street (Greenville Ave).
Address: 2129 Greenville Ave at Richmond Ave., Dallas, TX
3. Big Shucks Oyster Bar - This place is remarkably efficient and clean when it comes to producing boiled bugs. However, the location motif lacks that Southern/Cajun soul. If you're alone or have a date, try one of the other spots. However, for a large group, it's probably your best choice, due to the interior space, patio, and speed of delivery.
Address: 6232 E Mockingbird Ln btw Alderson St & Norris St, Dallas, TX
4. Aw Shucks - You'll probably have to wait for a seat at the height of crawfish season and the summer at this, yet another, Greenville Avenue spot. They do serve it up right. With an "On Your Honor" account of what you ordered, they leave room for you to grab a couple more pounds of crawdaddies, or a shrimp cocktail if you need something to wash down all that protein.
Address: 3601 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX
5. Flying Fish - This University Park seafood staple is tasty and does the bugs quite well. However, since they offer lots of other dishes including catfish, grilled fish, shrimp cocktails, and oysters, crawfish are not always a top priority. Make sure you call before heading over. If it's the season, and they have them, and it's totally worth heading over to Preston Center.
Address: 6126 Luther Ln in Preston Center, Dallas, TX
Disclaimer: This is only the beginning of the season, so some of these spots may not be in full effect. Often, places that offer crawfish run out during the week or weekend, especially at the beginning of the season, because these bugs are in such high demand. I have experienced this sadness many times, by not taking my own advice. If you have your heart set on crawfish, and nothing else will suffice, make sure you call first. This list is no guarantee that each of these places have a supply at the time you're reading it, since this article will be living indefinitely on the Internet. ILiveInDallas.com is not responsible for your disappointment at lack of crawdaddies.