Wednesday, April 17, 2024 Apr 17, 2024
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The Best Seafood Boils in Dallas

Seafood boil season reaches its high tide between March and May, so get ready to roll up your sleeves and start shucking.
| |Photography by Kathy Tran
Crab Pot seafood boil
Seafood boil bags at Crab Pot Boil House and Oyster Bar come drenched in sauces. Order a side of fries to scoop it all up. Kathy Tran

Seafood boils have deep roots in the southernmost states, particularly in Louisiana, where Cajun and Creole cuisines originated. Luckily for us, those bold flavors have also thrived in landlocked North Texas for years. More recently, we have seen the meal evolve to embrace the flavors of Mexico and Southeast Asia.

At these six seafood boil restaurants, you’ll find steaming bags filled with shrimp, crab, crawfish, clams—even lobster—all doused with sweet, savory, or sinus-clearing spices. (Keep in mind that for the 2024 season, crawfish is expected to be scarce, but there are plenty of crabs and shrimp to go around.) Leave your vanity at the door; you’re going to need gloves, a bib, and a little elbow grease to get your fill. 

West Dallas

Crab Pot Boil House and Oyster Bar | 601 Fort Worth Ave.

In what used to be a small thrift shop (and barbershop and law office and bailbondsman) now you’ll find the newest restaurant from chef Raul Reyes, who used to head the kitchens at the popular but now-closed Mesa on Jefferson and Ceviche on Davis. Even on a cold winter night, the dining room is filled with people snapping crab legs and slurping oysters. At the bar, cocktails such as the frozen pepino—a spicy cucumber drink with tequila—are served in cups rimmed with Tajín. He has created three sauces for his seafood boil bags: lemon pepper, Cajun, and a secret blend of spices called Mr. Krabs Sauce. Reyes says he uses lemons in his sauces rather than the usual oranges because they add a brightness without the sweetness. Pro tip: mix all three seasonings together for a punchy flavor that’s heavy on the pepper but light on the garlic. It’s so tasty that you’ll want to lick the tray clean. (Or just order extra fries to sop it all up.) Boiled combo with ½ pound shrimp, ½ pound snow crab, corn, potatoes, sausage, and an egg, $34; with ½ pound shrimp, 1 pound snow crab, and 1 pound black mussels, $70.

South Dallas

Aunt Irene’s Kitchen | 3309 S. Malcolm X Blvd.

This place isn’t fancy, but the seafood is stunning. Images of vibrant red lobster tails, snow crab, and juicy shrimp, covered in spices and densely packed in black Styrofoam to-go boxes, keep the restaurant’s 70,000-plus Instagram followers drooling. There are no bibs, gloves, or tables here. Food is ordered and picked up through a window. If you can’t manage a messy lunch, the fried fish or wing boxes are a tasty alternative. Better plan: bring your own hand wipes and prepare to peel. Their “crack sauce” is a goopy, buttery, well-seasoned cup of gold. Black box with crab, shrimp, and corn, $22; with lobster, $35.


Shells and Tails 2 Geaux | 324 E. Belt Line Rd.

“My hometown is Lafayette, which is Cajun country,” says owner Jermaine Paddio, who has been serving fans out of his food truck and at the Grow DeSoto Market Place since 2016. He prepares his seafood with the southern Louisiana flavors he grew up with. Crawfish, snow crab, and shrimp are boiled in a proprietary mix of seasonings. Then, after leaving the aromatic water, they are sprinkled with a mouthwatering house-made blend of paprika, garlic, and onion. The seafood nachos are piled with peeled crab, shrimp, crawfish, and more of his special seasoning. Plates come with a kick, but the spice level won’t keep you from coming back. Follow the food truck on Instagram to keep up with daily specials and locations. Cajun Munch Sampler: ½ pound shrimp, ½ pound snow crab, corn, sausage, and potatoes, $28; seafood nachos, $12.

Red Oak

Te’Jun, The Texas Cajun | 301 I-35E

The warehouse-like exterior may be daunting, but once you step inside the 8,000-square-foot space, the aroma of spices and seafood welcomes you in. The wooden tables have custom cutouts for buckets, where shells and crawfish tails quickly pile up. The Saturday night we stopped in was hopping, but our restaurant pager buzzed after just 15 minutes to notify us that our order was ready. Their shrimp comes from Louisiana and the Texas Gulf Coast, and you can order it peeled and deveined. Snow crab makes its way either from the Canadian Gulf, Greenland, or the Bering Sea off the Alaskan Peninsula; light and tender, it is worth the extra effort. At first glance, we were concerned with the lack of the usual colorful spice suspects. But although this isn’t textbook Cajun flavor, the subtler seasoning is a perfect mix of salty, peppery, and slightly zesty. (No one wanted to share the secret recipe, but we were told cayenne and lemon pepper are in the mix.) Te’Jun also offers live and bulk orders with all the fixings to make a seafood boil happen at home. Te’Jun Favorite: ½ pound peeled shrimp, lobster tail, potato, and corn, $24; fried alligator plate with fries and hush puppies, $15.

North Oak Cliff

Restaurant Beatrice | 1111 N. Beckley Ave.

We have been smitten with Michelle Carpenter’s James Beard Award–nominated restaurant since it opened in 2022. Although the white-tablecloth establishment has become best known for upscale Cajun comfort food and indulgent brunches, perhaps the patio seafood boils sum up the Louisiana heritage and family gathering ethos that Carpenter and executive chef Terance Jenkins grew up with better than anything else on the menu. In addition to the standard fresh corn and potatoes, the seafood boils here include perfectly plump and spiced sausages that are made in-house. Because Mardi Gras comes early this year, Carpenter says the crawfish will be too small to enjoy come Fat Tuesday. Instead, she plans to start the boils in March on Friday and Saturday evenings and all day on Sundays. You won’t be able to reserve a table for the patio seafood boils, so come early and plan to sip on a Vieux Carré (Sazerac, Brandy Sainte Louise, and Bénédictine) to whet your appetite. 

Multiple Locations

The Crab Station | Deep Ellum, North Dallas, Carrollton, Arlington, The Colony, Fort Worth

During the spring and summer, there’s a guaranteed wait at each of The Crab Station’s six North Texas locations. The local restaurant chain was founded by Vietnamese American restaurateur Martin Doan, whose Southeast Asian concepts include Orchid City Cafe in Arlington and Char’d in Richardson. At The Crab Station, diners can choose to toss their crawfish, shrimp, blue or Dungeness crab, and clams in soupy sauces that range from garlic butter (mild) to T.K.O. (extremely spicy). The boils are brought out in bags that are plopped onto tables for everyone to enjoy family-style. The potatoes and corn are generously coated in bits of garlic and a red sauce so thick your fingers can’t help but sink in a bit. Andouille sausage is cut into hearty chunks made for scooping up extra seasoning. Besides the boil bags on the menu, there are po’ boys and oysters prepped in six ways. Our favorite add-on is the wings tossed in Saigon sauce, a sweet and spicy blend that showcases a bit of Viet-Cajun flair. The Caribbean: 1 pound crawfish, 1 pound shrimp, corn, potato, and sausage, $25; The Coral Sea: 1 pound crawfish, ½ pound shrimp, 1¼ pounds snow crab, corn, potato, and sausage, $74.  

This story originally appeared in the February issue of D Magazine with the headline “Assembly Required.” Write to [email protected].

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