I’m glad I don’t live near a Pappadeaux. If I did, I’d be so huge you’d need a forklift and one of those canvas slings for transporting orca whales to get me out of the house. Pappadeaux isn’t exactly the last word when it comes to Louisiana-style cooking, but this restaurant chain based in the Southern U.S. sure does know how to put together a great plate of food.
” I’m going to blow out an O-ring. “
I pretty much grew up in California. This means that I take quality Mexican food for granted, I have no idea what a calzone is, and I think jambalaya is supposed to be made with pasta. One day, many moons ago, I got the chance to visit New Orleans and do some restaurant hopping in the French Quarter. My eyes (er, taste buds) were opened to the world of Creole cooking, and it immediately became one of my very favorite types of food. Although I don’t find myself in New Orleans very often, I do visit Houston regularly with my Texas-sourced better half. Every time we go I beg and plead and whine and grovel until someone drives me to Pappadeaux – my favorite Louisiana style restaurant not actually in Louisiana – just to shut me up.
The menu at Pappadeaux is fairly extensive, but I don’t really care about most of it. It’s all very good indeed (yes, I’ve tried quite a number of dishes), but for me it’s all about the crawfish. Mmmmmmmmmmm, crawfish. Crawdaddies. Mudbugs.
Get. In. My. Belly.
For the sake of my fellow clueless Californians, I’ll explain what crawfish are. They’re small freshwater lobsters with a flavor similar to both prawns and saltwater lobsters, but as far as I’m concerned superior to both. They are less rubbery than regular lobster and more flavorful than prawns – a perfect balance. Pappadeaux prepares their crawfish a few different ways, but my favorites are fried and étouffée. Both of these appear on their “Crawfish Platter” along with a heap of dirty rice. Bingo.
Shortly after taking my order, the waiter brings over… a salad? Oh, right, someone else at the table must have ordered a Pappas Greek salad. Wait, since when have there been other people at my table? Hm. They were probably the ones that drove me here, so I suppose I should be nice. Ok fine, I’ll play along and eat some green stuff.
Hey, it’s not bad! It’s severely lacking in crawfish of course, but besides that it’s excellent. There’s plenty of olives, peppers, and feta to go digging around for, but not too much. The dressing is tangy and well-portioned, and the lettuce is as fresh and crisp as can be. It’s a nice way to wile away the time until the star of the show arrives. Ah, and here it is.
Finally. I love this dish so much it’s hard to describe. Not because I lack the words – I’m just too busy eating it. The fried crawfish are crispy, light, flavorful, and not the slightest bit greasy. The breading is beautifully spiced and has a bit of a kick to it. The étouffée is creamy, rich, bursting with flavor, and not at all bursting with annoying vegetables or sprouts or any of the other silly things Californians feel obliged to ruin their food with. They know how to do things right around here. Speaking of right, the dirty rice is also very excellent and serves as a perfect complement to both styles of crawfish.
Ok, ok, time out. Take some deep breaths here. I have to slow down on the chowing or I’m going to blow out an O-ring. Pappadeaux is one of those places where I would stuff myself unconscious if I didn’t specifically make an effort to stop eating halfway through the meal and take the rest home for leftovers. As long as you use a gentle hand with the microwave, crawfish will reheat pretty well.
Even taking into consideration my irrational bias for both crawfish and Cajun food, Pappadeaux earns a glorious 28 out of 31 fried mudbugs. They really know what they’re doing in the kitchen at this place, and they are consistently above average – especially for a chain. Pappadeaux is a 100% for sure recommendation, so if you are traveling in the region you really should try and look one up. There’s even a Pappadeaux inside Houston Intercontinental Airport, should you find yourself on a stopover there with a grumbling stomach. As for me, I will definitely be back. Oh yes.
Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen
Multiple locations throughout the U.S.
Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.