Tony’s is large, chaotic, and full of temptation. Several meandering lines offer different types of service, and we’re not exactly sure where to start. There’s one for fresh fish on ice; a crawfish and crab station offering fresh mud bugs by the sack or pound; and a bustling hot food line where fried fish and Cajun specialties are doled out along a cafeteria line.
The first two sections are difficult for anyone traveling by car, but useful if you have access to a kitchen. You can buy everything you need for a full Cajun crawfish boil — from the pot to the propane to spice powders and oils from the Louisiana Fish Fry Co., which is based in the building right next door.
We order a bag of pre-boiled bugs. Accompaniments like corn and taters are available by the bag for those that want to make a meal out of their crawfish, but they are too messy for in-car eating. We recommend taking them to the banks of Mississippi for a quick picnic, as there is nowhere to eat in or around the market. Any way that you can figure out to try these crawfish, you must. They are juicy and aromatic with allspice and cayenne pepper. If you like a robust seasoning infusion on your bugs but not too much salt, they’re perfect.
Meat and seafood boudin are available on the hot line in both links and balls. As usual, the links are better. The boudin balls are too small to give you much crawfish or pork in any bite, but the meat ones are tasty enough. The shrimp and crab boudin link is eye-wateringly spicy and full of fish and toothsome rice: a meal in a casing! It’s rare to encounter boudin that isn’t crawfish or pork, and these are superb.
Fried fish is worth trying, too. Catfish, oysters, and shrimp come crisp and hot and are served over limp fries that are little more than ornamental. The hot line is loaded with stews, rice plates, and rib sticking plate lunch fillers. Crawfish ettouffee is fairly good, but it needs a bit of dressing up with pepper sauce. The greens and dirty rice that we get as sides are great. It’s a mighty fine lunch stop that offers a little bit of everything — that is, except a place to sit and eat.