Hawk’s Crawfish is about as remote as a restaurant can be. It even has a hot-line for travelers who get lost on the winding country roads and dirt paths that lead to it. You likely will seriously doubt your GPS as the roads continue to narrow. But the destination is well worth the worry. Out here in the woods, this isolated aluminum-sided palace serves legendary crawfish.
Unlikely destinations such as this tend to have larger-than-life figures behind them. Hawk’s has “Hawk” Avagneaux, a Cajun actor, musician, and local personality. His family continues to operate this beacon of seafood excellence.
Meals start with cold beers and a basket of crackers served with whipped butter. There is a full-menu of typical Cajun seafood, but nearly everyone comes for boiled crawfish.
The crawfish are cleaned using a long purge in well-water. The idea of purging crawfish is somewhat new and controversial. Some old-school Acadians think it’s a waste of water and time, and that it strips the muddy, down-home character from the bugs, but most that have tasted purged crawfish understand the benefits. The shellfish is clean and buttery, very much like lobster. The heads taste of spices and golden crawfish fat rather than funky and fishy. It’s a good crawfish experience for beginners, and could perhaps even convert skeptics. It’s popular among locals who grew up eating crawfish, but whose taste for muddy crawfish has now been ruined.
Options at Hawk’s include boiled in spices (regular), boiled in spices and then finished with a salty shake of Cajun seasoning (spicy), or boiled in spices and jalapeño juice, then finished with the seasoning and pickled jalapeños (extra spicy). We opt for spicy, which is good, albeit quite salty. We speculate that regular is the better choice with such lovely swamp-food coming out of the pot. If we lived anywhere near here, we’d come back and try all three styles just to be sure.
Crawfish in combination with a pound of boiled shrimp is known as “Hawk’s Special.” Any worry that the shrimp might be an unnecessary up-charge at a place that specializes in crawfish vanishes at first bite. These shrimp are so firm and bouncy that it’s hard to believe that they are boiled. They are seasoned with spices from the boil and finished with a light dusting of seasoning. They are expertly cleaned — pure as purged crawfish — so the only color on them is pink and the shells slide right off. We say they are worth the long drive even without the crawfish. In fact, if you don’t like crawfish (shame on you), it’s worth coming out to Hawk’s just for shrimp.
Boils are served with optional add-ons of traditional sides such as corn and potatoes. These are boiled separately and help balance a dinner made from a mountain of shellfish. The boiled red potatoes are giant enough to stand in for baked potatoes and are served with whipped butter. The corn is sweet, plump and buttery, just like the succulent tails that you’ll spend the evening wrestling for.