Louisiana is the heart of crawfish country, yet fine boils can now be found at a number of places outside the Bayou State. The season for the freshest spiciest crawfish runs from November through May, so mark your calendar, roll up your sleeves, and prepare to get shucking.

By Mike Urban
Updated: April 05, 2019

By Louisiana, of course. They are also recognized as crayfish, mudbugs, crawdads, and freshwater lobsters. Crawfish have eight legs; four are used for walking and four are used for swimming. They walk forwards, but swim backwards.

Tip for the cook: When planning a crawfish boil, assume you’ll need about two pounds per person.

Photo: Megan Schlow/Offset

Located deep in the heart of Cajun country amidst a number of crawfish ponds, this no-frills gem features crawfish and shrimp boiled in perfectly seasoned water. Order a heaping platter along with some deep-fried seafood and spicy Cajun sausage.

This Cajun/Creole restaurant offers West Coast diners an opportunity to experience a genuine taste of Lousiana ... with some Asian inflections. Choose between boils flavored with garlic butter, lemon pepper, curry coconut, or Swamp’s signature hurricane sauce.

Related: How to Peel and Eat Crawfish:

Ellis “Bozo” Delcambre brought his love of crawfish from Louisiana to Mississippi in the 1950s. Today, Bozo’s Market serves up thousands of pounds of exquisitely boiled crawfish when in season. They also boast a killer shrimp po’ boy year-round.

Located in the “middle of nowhere” west of Lafayette, Hawk’s prides itself on its unique “purging” method of crawfish preparation. Developed by Texas A&M, this 48-hour freshwater cleanse ensures a cleaner, perkier mudbug—something that makes for a far tastier crawfish boil.

Despite its Texas roots, this small chain of seafood shacks has come to full flower in southern California. There are several different types of boils, including crawfish, which come in flavor-sealing plastic bags brimming with corn, sausage, and potatoes.

Related: How to Make a Crawfish Boil at Home

In seafood-mad Breaux Bridge, Cajun Claws is king of the fiery boil. And crawfish aren’t the only crustacean worth cracking into here. Make sure to save room for some blue point, King, or Dungeness crabs.

Housed in a tin-sided, metal–roofed building, Louisiana Crawfish Time is a great place to get an education on the entire Cajun culinary canon. Can’t be bothered to sit down for a full-on feast? The restaurant opens a convenient drive-through window during crawfish season.

The best crawfish in the metro New Orleans area can be found just across the river in Harvey, where owner Sam Perino trucks in hundreds of pounds of mudbugs daily during crawfish season.

Related: The Best Seafood Dives in America

This multi-location Big Easy outlet offers a diverse array of Cajun classics—from roast beef and catfish po’boys served on traditional Leidentheimer French bread, to spicy boiled crawfish served with generous portions of corn and potatoes.

Owner Ha Nguyen landed in Orlando via Louisiana and introduced central Florida to the wonders of boiled crawfish—Viet-Cajun-style. Sure, you can also find NOLA staples on her menu, like beignets and jambalaya, but what you’re really after is the crawfish in shebang sauce—a fiery brew of butter, garlic, and loads of dried chilies.

A native of Rayne—where he ate his fair share of mudbugs at Hawk’s— Dan Meaux is now considered one of the biggest luminaries in crawfish-crazy Houston. Located 25 miles northeast of downtown, Meaux’s seasonal seafood shack draws massive lines that camp out with folding chairs and coolers of beer, all just waiting for a taste of his select-grade crawfish boiled in a delicate, top-secret spice blend.