There’s one sensation that grips Tuscaloosa every spring: Crawfish. Many other colleges and universities pride themselves on their Spring ‘darties’, but these little creatures seem to make Tuscaloosa darties stand out above the rest.
But if you want to spend your Saturday at somewhere other than the fraternities on campus, crawfish can be hard to come by. One Saturday, my friends and I were driving around when we discovered a hidden gem of Northport: Cajun Craze Crawfish.
Cajun Craze is tucked into a little strip center off McFarland Boulevard in Northport. The restaurant lacks decorations and other amenities that restaurants use to build their atmosphere, but this lack of décor seems to enhance the authenticity of the restaurant. The space is filled with tables, chairs, a checkout counter, and a kitchen in the back; that’s it. No framed pictures, no tablecloths or menus, just a sign on the wall with a list of prices and a roll of paper towels and spices on every table.
Cajun Craze sells crawfish by the pound; you can either take them home and boil them yourself, or they can boil the crawfish for you. My friends and I started off with a pound of crawfish. Being from New York, Florida, Ohio and Indiana, we all were novices to crawfish this year. The staff was incredibly kind and helpful, and they could definitely sense that we were new to the crawfish fad of the south, so the worker at the cash register demonstrated how to eat different parts of the crawfish. This information was incredibly valuable, and I began eating the tail with much more confidence since I now had tips from a local crawfish expert.
The crawfish was brought out in the same skillet they were cooked in. The same staff member who taught us how to peel and eat the crawfish told us that they were freshly caught from the river just hours before. We all tentatively took a crawfish and began peeling.
As soon as the meat plopped on my tongue I could taste the freshness. The spices added a kick to the meat, but it wasn’t a kick that made it too hot to handle, the kick just made you want even more. We ended up ordering another pound because they were so good, and soon our bellies were full, our fingers were covered with spices, and the table was covered with bright red shells.
Overall, Cajun Craze is an establishment solely dedicated to serving fresh crawfish. If they run out of crawfish before the end of the day, you simply have to wait until the next day when they catch more. There isn’t any fuss within the store; their sole purpose is to provide this southern delicacy to their customers, and they’ll serve it with a smile on their faces. It’s truly a gem of the south; it’s simple, it’s authentic, and it’s exceptionally delicious.
I would strongly recommend swinging by Cajun Craze if you’re out running errands, or if you want a batch of fresh crawfish at a party or get together. When I return home this summer, I know I’ll be missing the crawfish that Tuscaloosa has to offer, so Cajun Craze will be one of my first stops when I get back. If you know of any other local gems in T-Town, please comment below!!