So, It's almost crafwish boil season, and I was wondering if anyone knows where to get the best price/lb on live crawfish in the Austin area. I've searched past posts, but there wasnt alot of info on buying the buggers live. I hear Quality Seafood usually has reasonable prices but I'm sure there are some other places I haven't heard of.
If you are a true coonass (I'm from Baton Rouge), Quality Seafood is the only one you will consider based on size and number of dead in the sack.
Other options are:
HEB-they are getting better
MT Market-hit or miss, but sometimes they let you fill your own bag so can go for selects
Fiesta-haven't tried in years, but they have them when others don't; small I'm told
I went to a crawfish boil recently that had initially picked up a 5lb sack from Fiesta, got them home and well over half were dead. Pretty bad. They were however able to take the dead ones back and exchange (with a little coaxing) them for blue point crabs, so it all worked out just fine.
Gulch, time of season is a personal preference. I grew up on crawfish (in Lafayette, and later in New Orleans) and came to appreciate the critters at all points of the season.
I have to agree that they have the least flavor in late Feb, early March, but that's often the best time to introduce someone who hasn't tried crawfish before. The distinctive flavor is easier to appreciate for a first-timer when it's not so strong.
As we get into March and April, the crawfish get bigger and tastier. My favorite time is right after Easter. I know, that changes every year, but my Catholic family would have a big crawfish boil the first weekend after Easter every year, so it may not have as much to do with flavor as memories :)
By May, the shells get much harder, but you'll often find crawfish with huge deposits of fat in their heads. That's the best time to suck the heads and the best time to make etouffee.
When I was little, my grandparents would make the grandkids peel all the blue crabs while the adults ate crawfish. We couldn't have any crawfish until we had finished peeling all the crabs. I still can't stand to eat blue crabs ;)
I've bought from both Fiesta and Quality Seafood.
Quality Seafood has much larger crawfish and significantly higher prices. There are also very few dead crawfish in their sacks.
However, I usually buy from Fiesta. At the height of the season they will have sacks of medium and large crawfish so you can pay more or less for them. If you're not buying an entire sack you can see them load the crawfish into a smaller bag and see if there are a lot of dead crawfish or not.
It's a matter of whether you're willing to pay $2.50+ a pound at Quality Seafood for quality or take your chances at Fiesta for $1.00 to $1.80 a pound.
re: The Tres Leches
Correct - Fiesta's are half dead, but cheap, and Quality is pretty pricey. About 18 years, ago, there were some people named DuPree that had a seafood shop on Barton Springs where Romeo's is now. Does anyone remember that?
Better than buying from Quality, find someone who is making a run and get a sack or three or four from them. I tried searching on craigslist for someone who is doing that and couldn't find anyone. But I did notice this:
NOW HIRING FOR SERVER POSITIONS
Crawfish Shack & Oyster Bar
2013 Wells Branch Pkwy # 106
Austin TX 78728
Yup... When I don't want to make the trip, I'll usually go to Fiesta. They won't let you pick through the crawfish, but they don't usually have a problem with returns.
I just buy twice as much as I plan to eat, then return the half that's dead.
Quality has always had larger and healthier crawfish. If I'm having friends over and I don't want to make the trip, I just buy them there.
If I've planned ahead and am having a lot of people over, I'll drive to Beaumont. (http://www.texascrawfish.com/)