It’s about this time of the year, every year, when I start to see crawfish fever subside. People go nuts for the little buggers around February or March, but by the time the real heat sets in there’s little fervor left. But I know a man, a man with an appetite for destruction of trays of these things, who never lets his love of crawfish wane. I am of course talking about our old pal Carlos Danger.
In case you are unfamiliar with the backstory, Rob and I have known Carlos for years, and we see him as a bit of a troublemaker. Carlos can’t help the fact that he grew from a bad seed. We are just happy he’s not in the big house, and Rob and I are especially thankful that if push came to shove, he would be on our side. He’s a good kid at heart and is quite the animal lover. He’s kind to all the animals with the exception of the ones he finds delicious. I jokingly call him Carlos “The Carnivore,” but the old softy with the rough exterior doesn’t care for the phrase.
I owe Carlos a life debt. The former mercenary saved me from a sticky situation once. I came under heavy fire and Carlos swooped in with a team that executed a flawless extraction. All it took was one phone call. At the very least I still occasionally take him out for a meal or two, though I know I’ll never be able to fully repay him. This time he chose Mudbugs at the Loop.
Mudbugs is at the corner of Dauphin Island Parkway and Government Boulevard, on the south side of a mildly confusing intersection that also includes Holcombe Avenue. Formerly you entered the facility on the DIP side, but recent changes have turned the little seafood market into a fortress that includes a Government Street entrance in the newly acquired old furniture store and the ice house in the back. I was shocked at the size of the interior compared to the old location.
The old store was a fantastic place to grab raw seafood. The fish were whole and they’d clean them any way you wish. It was also a great place to grab a po-boy on wheels. The new place is completely different. It still has the great customer service in the seafood market, but the dine-in/carry-out menu is humongous. I could detect Carlos’ anticipation.
It was a no-brainer we were getting crawfish ($12.85). Each of us chose a three-pound box complete with a couple ears of corn, about a half pound of potatoes and a humongous sausage link. They have this down to a science. It’s what I consider the perfect amount of heat along with the perfect amount of doneness on all accounts. Nothing was offensively hot, but you knew the heat was there.
I couldn’t resist the Treasure Chest ($16.99). This was a combination box of fried goodness. Shrimp, oysters, crab claws and French fries were enough to put a normal man down. I can be picky about batter, and I was very pleased with this rendition. I however knew there was no way we could finish all this food, and there was plenty more we’d ordered. I called in Rob and Ashley who were happy to help our cause.
Those two insisted we order an oyster po-boy ($17.99 for 12 inch). I am banking that the monster delivered to us was at least 18 inches. Humongous and dressed, this beast could have fed three.
Now our section of the restaurant is a mess of family style dining. We had four seats and so much food you could not see the tabletop. I found the small order of crab balls ($4). These tasted like miniature deep fried crab cakes. Each were a little bit bigger than large friend okra. I enjoyed them, but would love to have had them a little crispier.
Carlos ordered the items that made this run complete. Steamed mushrooms ($2.99) had the same flavor as the crawfish. So did the turkey neck ($2.99). You can bet your bottom dollar we will get two of those next time. Where else can you just walk in and order a turkey neck?
In the middle of our meal the fabulous Frank Trice entered the building. He was fresh from lunch elsewhere and was stopping by to pick up some raw gulf shrimp for a Fourth of July party. Naturally he had to at least try a little bit of everything. It’s not like we were running low. Despite being full before he even sat down, Frank gave our meal his seal of approval.
We fought bravely through several pounds of food. Images of the carnage will haunt my memory. Decapitated crawfish heads, discarded shrimp tails. Leftover bones of a turkey neck will not soon be forgotten. What began as a simple lunch run escalated rather quickly into a war zone. We’d seen a lot that day, maybe eaten more than we’d care to admit. It was hard to look each other in the eye. Then Carlos did the unthinkable. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a tiny American flag. He stabbed it atop the rubble that once resembled a table. “God bless America,” he said. Indeed, Carlos, indeed.
Check them out on Facebook or at www.mudbugsattheloop.com for hours of operation. Closed on Mondays, so plan ahead. Don’t miss out on your dose of crawfish. Head over to Mudbugs. And eat like every day is the Fourth of July weekend.
Mudbugs at the Loop
2005 Government St.