310 Chartres St., 522-2426
For mudbugs with a distinct Italian twist, head to Bacco, where Creole meets Italian cuisine. With its hand-painted murals and Venetian glass, this polished eatery offers several specials, including an outrageously tasty Louisiana crawfish and roasted tomato bisque that is perfected by a touch of brandy. Then enjoy a mouthwatering bowl of farfalle pasta tossed with crawfish tails, andouille sausage, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted peppers finished with a spice-infused olive oil.
144 Bourbon St., 522-0111
Pop into this seafood house during lunchtime to enjoy cold Louisiana oysters on the half shell, Le Grand Plateaux de Fruits de Mer (a selection of fresh-shucked oysters on the half shell with local Cajun caviar, boiled Gulf shrimp, mussels, clams, marinated crab fingers and seasonal seafood salads), but don’t pass up the tempting crawfish appetizer that’s currently being served: crawfish croquettes. Fried to a tender golden brown, they are simply divine. Served with a succulent Tabasco cream and sweet green tomato chutney, these crispy balls of bliss are sure to satisfy.
1403 Washington Ave., 899-8221
Chef Tory McPhail continues to push the culinary envelope while not straying too far from what made this legendary restaurant famous worldwide. His Creole “Crawfish Boil” salad is simply a brilliant interpretation of a traditional backyard boil, but refined and molded into a top-notch, uniquely delicious dish. Seasoned mushrooms, garlic, corn and Louisiana crawfish are nestled atop a bed of lettuce then finished with a delectable spicy Abita Amber vinaigrette. Fans of brunch will rejoice with two outrageously good crawfish choices: crawfish boudin and eggs, a memorable combination of crawfish tails and boudin blanc with wilted spinach, tasso, sauce piquante and soft poached eggs topped with a divine mustard hollandaise sauce, or the Creole crawfish strudel, a well-crafted medley of crawfish tails, heirloom tomatoes, haricot verts, pickled mirlitons, mixed herbs, pepper jack cheese and chili cream.
Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro
2001 St. Charles Ave., 593-9955; 4517 Veterans Blvd., 454-7620
If you’re seeking large portions of tasty crawfish specialties at reasonable prices, then look no further than Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro. Begin with the colossal crawfish egg rolls that are packed with a flavorful concoction of crawfish tails, tasso, black beans and Chinese veggies, served with a spicy pepper-jelly sauce. If you’ve got a big appetite to satisfy, check out the crawfish ravioli, ricotta cheese–stuffed fried ravioli slathered with crawfish tails and green onions in a spicy cream sauce. Salads here are behemoth size, and the popcorn crawfish salad is no exception. Crisply fried crawfish tails, tomatoes, fresh greens and croutons are tossed with honey-mustard dressing and served atop a cheese quesadilla.
K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen
416 Chartres St., 524-7394
This iconic French Quarter restaurant is renowned for food that packs a punch! Not one to shy away from spice and flavor, chef Paul Miller has created sensational crawfish enchiladas. He stuffs corn tortillas with seasoned and sautéed Louisiana crawfish, which are then topped with a zesty green chili pork sauce, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, then bakes it until the cheesy, melted top is golden brown. All this flavor and texture adds up to one gratifying Mexican-inspired dish that’s sure to please your spice-loving palate.
La Thai Uptown
4938 Prytania St., 899-8886
Chefs at this casual, hip Uptown establishment have perfected the unification of authentic Thai flavors with local ingredients and spices. There is no better dish to more tastefully demonstrate this culinary marriage than the Thai-Coon. Fresh Louisiana crawfish tails are artfully melded with Gulf shrimp and assorted sautéed veggies that rest atop crispy fried eggplant rounds and rice. This savory tower of yumminess is then generously topped with a spicy garlic basil sauce.
640 Frenchman St., 945-4472
This casual, refined eatery boasts an impressive lunch menu with starters such as the hot and spicy (can you say “Bam!”?) crawfish beignets served with a tasty Abita pecan ale mustard that is sure to enliven your taste buds. On the other end of the culinary spectrum, you’ll find an elegant and sophisticated dish that brilliantly marries delicate crawfish and aged-gouda-filled ravioli garnished with succulent grilled shrimp and roasted corn floating in a delightful buttery broth.
801 Chartres St., 568-1885
One of my favorite crawfish dishes at Muriel’s is also a mainstay of many events and festivals around town, and that’s a really good thing. Muriel’s signature crawfish (shrimp is sometimes substituted but is equally impressive) and goat cheese crepes offer bite after bite of total decadence. A tangy goat cheese, cream cheese and chive filling is encased in a delicate crepe then topped with a winning combination of crawfish tails, tomatoes, white wine, butter, garlic and Creole seasonings. This is heaven on a plate!
Ralph’s on the Park
900 City Park Ave., 488-1000
When crawfish are in season, the folks at Ralph’s take full advantage of the tasty crustacean by creating several specialty dishes. For starters, don’t miss the divine crawfish and sweetbreads (when crawfish meet sweetbreads, what’s not to love!) whereby delicate, sautéed sweetbreads are topped with crawfish tails, oyster mushrooms and fresh peas then finished with a rich, creamy vermouth sauce. Or enjoy the crawfish eggrolls, filled with a savory mélange of andouille sausage, crawfish and vegetables and fried to crispy perfection, then served with a tangy charred-green-tomato dipping sauce.
Semolina’s Bistro Italia
3226 Magazine St., 895-4260
If you can’t get enough crawfish, then this is your place, as it offers an entire menu dedicated to this glorious crustacean. Crawfish cakes drizzled with a creamy Dijon sauce are a great place to start, or try the creamy corn-and-crawfish bisque. It’s hard to resist Semolina’s version of crawfish bread, a semolina loaf slathered with garlic butter then filled with Louisiana crawfish tails and green onions finished in a tangy cheese sauce. Other winners include the crawfish, spinach and artichoke ciabatta (sautéed crawfish tails melded with spinach and artichokes, topped with Fontina and provolone cheeses and dressed with baby field greens); the over-the-top crawfish au gratin (crawfish and mushrooms tossed with pasta in a velvety sherry cream sauce); or the crawfish tortellini reggiano (cheese-filled tortellini tossed with crawfish, spinach and artichoke hearts in a creamy tomato sauce).