Crawfish Shack: An Atlanta treasure

For Catholics, seafood and Lent go together like peanut butter and jelly.

So when I was thinking about Friday night dinner destinations for me and my non-meat-eating friends during Lent, Crawfish Shack on Buford Highway was on our short list of places to finally try. We’d seen it on the Travel Channel’s “The Layover” with Anthony Bourdain, and after yet another glowing review, I figured it had gotten enough acclaim to garner the 25-minute drive from Vinings.

Late work shifts and a desire to avoid rush-hour traffic meant we were walking into the Shack at approximately 8 p.m. on Friday night. We were looking to try the crawfish (duh, it’s called the Crawfish Shack), but our late dinner time was a fatal mistake. They had run out of crawfish two hours before we got there.

(That was your hint to get there early if you’re looking for crawfish)

Needless to say, we were disappointed we made such a rookie mistake, but the meal turned out to be as delicious as it would have been with crawfish. The girlfriend and I each sampled 10 large fried shrimp, which comes with two hush puppies and two sides for just $7.99. My friend Matt and his girlfriend boiled their shrimp and gave it glowing reviews. Their menu has multiple different fish platters, or you can do a big ol’ platter and split it amongst a table.

My dish was tremendous; their fried shrimp is perfectly seasoned and each shrimp takes two bites to finish. For my sides, I chose red potatoes and corn on the cob. Both are slathered in garlic butter that is a perfect compliment to the seafood, and I would suggest both if you enjoy the feel of a low-country boil. The dining room is made up mostly of picnic benches, so you might get cozy with strangers, but it really adds to the low-country-boil feel of the establishment.

You don’t want to eat a meal in a place that smells fishy. That scent isn’t something you notice at Crawfish Shack, a testament to the freshness of their seafood. The fish is held in a glass case next to the line where customers wait to order, which gives it the feel of a fish market.

Now, about the crawfish. I spoke to owner Hieu Pham, who was running the register and taking orders, and he told me they only make a limited amount of the mud bugs every day, so it’s crucial to show up when they are finished cooking. If you’re looking to go for dinner, you’ll have to eat early — if you arrive after 6 p.m., there’s no guarantee you’ll get your crawfish. However, it might be best to make a weekend lunch trip if you’re looking to score some, because he said you’re usually good to get some of their lunch batch any time between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. When it runs out, they begin to make their dinner batch.

We left the restaurant having eaten exactly zero crawfish, but the meal was as satisfying as it would have been if we had eaten our fill of them. If you’re the most casual fan of seafood or a frequent consumer, Crawfish Shack is worth the drive from any corner of Atlanta.

Crawfish Shack
4337 Buford Hwy, Ste 170
Atlanta, GA 30341
(404) 929-6789
Visit their website

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