Walking into Cub’s feels like stepping out of a boat on the bayou and into a crawfish house. Though freshly renovated, it has that charming, kitschy vibe that suggests eating with your hands and using way too many paper towels. Everyone is friendly and accommodating, and the bar is lined with rainbow twinkle lights and license plates. “We love Cub’s” and “Spicy crawfish” signs are everywhere. There’s even a convenient hand-washing station in the corner—a must for any seasoned crawfish eater.
I got the chance to meet Clay, who owns and operates the restaurant with his wife, Delaney. After Ivan destroyed the Gulf Coast in 2005, Clay’s parents, Bill and Mary Jo Cubley opened Cub’s. A spice and seasoning salesman with a specialty in Cajun- and Creole-inspired spices, Bill’s influence is evident in the crawfish—which has been drawing locals for almost 15 years.
Crawfish season traditionally runs January through mid-summer on the Gulf Coast, with much of the catch coming from Louisiana. We get there a bit on the later side on a Thursday (they close at 7), and they have about seven pounds of crawfish left, so we put our order in for a huge boat STAT. It arrives minutes later. There’s plasticware in a cardboard six-pack container, but you should really just eat everything with your hands. It’s more fun that way.
Not sure how to tackle your tiny lobster? Clay and Delaney’s crawfish slogan, “Pinch. Peel. Eat. Repeat.” is a nice reminder, and can be seen all around the restaurant and on the back of the royal blue t-shirts the employees are wearing.
The succulent meat is spicy but not too spicy, which means you can eat about 20 before you need to really take a break and blow your nose (remember not to touch your eyes!). We got our crawfish with bright yellow corn that was even spicier than the crustaceans. Also included: spongy mushrooms, perfectly cooked, that hang on to that spice as well. Conecuh sausage has a delightful snap and rich, smokey flavor.
The sausage is also in the gumbo, which is one of the highlights of the meal. White rice is generously portioned and cooked perfectly, allowing the flavors of the gumbo to shine through. The particularly dark roux — appropriately “just a few shades from burning” — is brimming with Creole flavors: garlic, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, hot chilies. It’s comforting and delicious.
Jambalaya is similar to gumbo with the addition of chicken, and also very good. We’re tempted with the red shrimp and crab legs, but decide that we just need to come back another time. We top things off with creamy Nilla-wafered banana pudding and Mississippi mud pie. Both are good, but not why you come here.
If you’re not around during peak season, Cub’s is starting to offer crawfish in the fall, being perfectly honest about boiling them in plain water and block-freezing them. The texture isn’t quite the same, but it’s still got that spicy Cub’s kick.