Louisiana Seafood Restaurants Off the Beaten Path
Take the roads less traveled to these seafood destinations.
If you were to make a list of the best-known restaurants in Louisiana, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with a list of seafood-centric restaurants. Just as important to Louisiana’s culinary scene are its roadside seafood joints and tucked-away oyster bars. These are the kind of places where you’ll get fried catfish, boiled crawfish with secret recipe seasonings and fresh-off-the-boat shrimp dishes, served with a side of Louisiana culture.
Just ask the experts. Chef Chris Lusk, formerly of New Orleans’ Restaurant R’evolution and now executive chef at the Pontchartrain Hotel’s Caribbean Room, names Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar Restaurant in Kenner as one of his favorites. Harbor Seafood sources its ingredients directly from commercial fishermen in southeast Louisiana, as it’s done for more than 25 years. You’ll find some old favorites on the menu (crawfish étouffée, seafood gumbo), though for the true Harbor Seafood experience, go for the Swamp Platter, containing fried alligator, crawfish and frog legs, turtle soup, crawfish étouffée and alligator sausage.
The small Cajun Country town of Abbeville is a haven for seafood aficionados. Chef Michael Brewer of Manning’s Eat-Drink-Cheer in New Orleans (and the 2015 King of Louisiana Seafood) says that he used to drive from his home in Mobile to Black’s—a 550-mile roundtrip journey.
Black’s Oyster Bar & Seafood Restaurant gets its oysters from Grand Isle’s commercial fishermen, ensuring you’re getting a “dozen raw” from just down the bayou. Try “The Original”—oysters with roasted red pepper butter and pepper jack cheese—or Black’s take on Oysters Rockefeller. The restaurant also serves locally caught crawfish.
If your travels take you to Abbeville during crawfish season (November through June), make plans to dine at Cajun Claws. This is the place to get your mudbug fix, as evidenced by the line of customers frequently waiting to get a few pounds of the boiled delicacy.
One last Abbeville destination: Dupuy’s Seafood & Steak. They take the surf-and-turf approach to dining seriously, with a crawfish-covered steak that is Heaven on a plate. Try the Oyster Sampler (six Oysters Rockefellers and six Oysters Deville) or the seafood gumbo.
For the real intrepid explorer, go to the tiny Cajun Prairie town of Rayne (population: 8,000) and get yourself a table at Hawk’s Crawfish. Hawk’s is famous for its unique method of “purging” crawfish, a process that cleans the delicacy resulting in a sweeter, purer flavor. Drive down the dirt road leading to this joint, get a plateful of these boiled beauties, and follow up dinner with some of Hawk’s outstanding bread pudding.
Closer to New Orleans and Plantation Country is Spahr’s Seafood in Des Allemands. This restaurant, located in the Louisiana Legislature-proclaimed “Catfish Capital of the Universe,” began as a gas station that served fried catfish. Eventually the small diner gained enough customers to convert to a full restaurant, and today it’s become so popular that founder Billy Spahr opened two other locations in Houma and Thibodaux. According to Napoleon House restaurant chef Chris Montero, Spahr’s is “the consummate catfish experience.”