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The SCENE Magazine

Crazy Alan Expands the Swamp Further Out of the Bayou

Jan 05, 2018 08:32PM

Alan Franks – a.k.a. Crazy Alan – has been bringing fresh, live crawfish from Louisiana to the Houston area since 1995. Visiting up to five different farms to ensure he gets the most of the freshest and biggest crawfish available, this 12-hour trip is made at least four times a week during crawfish season, which is just a little bit longer at Crazy Alan’s Swamp Shack as they strive to be the first and last to offer fresh crawfish in the area. 

With crawfish season now in full swing, the pots are boiling overtime as Crazy Alan expands his Swamp Shack. Crawfish cravings can be quickly quelled with customers able to order pounds of boiled as well as live crawfish to-go at the drive-thru location next door to the original Swamp Shack (310 Texas Ave., Kemah). Food trucks have also been added to further expand the Swamp’s reach. Located in Webster (at the intersection of Bay Area Blvd. and Hwy. 3) and Alvin (in front of the Meadow Park Shopping Center at the corner of Hwy. 35 and Mustang Rd.), these food trucks are open seven days a week from noon to 9 p.m. with two other trucks also open in various places throughout the year.

Crazy Alan will continue expanding the swamp with his hunt focusing in on the Baybrook Mall area in the near future. They will be running two food trucks out of each restaurant location as well.

In 2013, Crazy Alan’s opened their second location on I-10 in East Houston, but when Hurricane Harvey hit town, the restaurant took on water and was forced to close. Not willing to let a little hurricane bring him down, Crazy Alan decided to rebuild the restaurant with a new concept in mind. This new venture, called the Blue Bayou Café, will offer similar food as the Swamp Shack in a more upscale atmosphere.

From humble beginnings, Crazy Alan is a firm believer in the American Dream and said, “Hard work is the key to success.” He said he believes anyone can become successful in this great country as long as they are willing to put in the work. He said he was given an amazing opportunity because of his own hard work and dedication, and that he will be paying it forward, offering a long-time dedicated employee the opportunity to become a managing partner in another location.

While hard work is definitely behind the success of Crazy Alan’s Swamp Shack, loyal customers and fans of the restaurant from all over the globe will likely say it is the award-winning crawfish, and Cajun-inspired menu that has them coming back for more. 
 
With four different spice levels to choose from (Mild, Hot and Spicy, Extra Spicy and Ultimate Heat), crawfish are the biggest sellers this time of year and are often ordered with the new G-Sauce.  Created by Guillermo Miranda, the managing partner at the East Houston location, this spicy garlic sauce is becoming famous in Houston as well as the Kemah location. Crazy Alan says, “It’s so good you can probably put it on a napkin, and it will taste good. Ask for it – you won’t regret it.”

Although the Swamp Shack is best known for their crawfish and their Seafood Pots big enough to feed the whole family (the Boiled Seafood Feast includes two pounds of crawfish, a half pound of boiled shrimp, two blue crabs, one cluster of snow crab, one cluster of Dungeness, one leg of king crab and a 10-ounce lobster tail); they also serve a variety of other Cajun-inspired dishes, such as Alligator Eggs (scallops wrapped in bacon and deep fried), Coon Balls (Boudain balls), Bullfrog Legs, Gator Bites (actual alligator fried or barbecued), Bayou Po-boys (fried alligator, shrimp, catfish or crawfish with cocktail and tartar sauce spread on French bread, served with shrimp slaw, lettuce and tomato) and Cajun classics like Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya, Etouffee and Gumbo.

Other stand-out menu items include: Trout Medallions (trout filets blackened and wrapped around Cajun stuffing, topped with six blackened shrimp and Pontchartrain sauce); Swamp Tacos (choice of alligator, fish, shrimp or chicken, blackened, grilled or fried served with shredded cabbage, pico, cilantro, cheese and Cajun ranch on corn tortillas); Cajun Stuffed Pork Chop (8-ounce pork chop grilled and stuffed with Cajun stuffing); and various flavors of smoked oysters (Parmesan, Pontchartrain, Mango Salsa or Pico) that guests can mix and match with their order.

Crazy Alan’s Swamp Shack offers several specials and promotions throughout the week, such as All-You-Can-Eat Catfish or Shrimp ($14.99 for lunch, $16.99 for dinner and $19.99 Friday through Sunday) and $4.99 Crawfish Happy Hour Specials (all day on Monday and Wednesday and Monday through Friday from 2 to 6 p.m.) Tuesdays they offer $2 tacos all day, plus $7.99 Snow Crab Clusters from 6 to 10 p.m.; Wednesday is "Buy One, Get One Half Off." (Ask for details.); Thursday they offer half off appetizers and $7.99 Snow Crab Clusters from 6 to 10 p.m. They have lunch specials Monday through Friday with Happy Hour until 6 p.m. with 50¢ off drinks. Kids eat free three days a week. (Ask for details.)

Visit www.crazyalanswampshack.com to receive a free entrée on your birthday (and other special discounts) when you sign up for Crazy Alan’s Birthday club.

For more than eight years, Crazy Alan has been serving Cajun food and bringing a little bit of the bayou to the Bay Area. With new locations on the horizon and the additions of the drive-thru and food trucks throughout the area, it will be even easier to get what the crazy crawfish customers crave, and Crazy Alan will continue to expand the swamp as he lives out the American Dream.


Crawfish Myths Busted by Crazy Alan!

MYTH: Don’t Eat the Straight Ones” (We’ve heard the expression, and been told the straight ones were dead before they were boiled and aren’t any good to eat.)  

BUSTED: According to Crazy Alan (and a study from LSU) not all of the straight ones are bad. Sometimes, the crawfish are very crowded in the boil and in the bag and their tails straighten while they are being cooked. If you get a straight one, peel it and check if the meat is firm, it’s good.

MYTH: “If the shell is soft, the crawfish is overcooked.” (People typically toss out any crawfish that have a soft shell because they think the crawfish is overcooked. If only one or two crawfish are soft, this is simply not the case.  

BUSTED: Crawfish are crustaceans and as they grow, they shed their shells and grow new ones. This molting occurs even more during what Crazy Alan calls the “growing season,” so he says the crawfish they get early in the season and late in the season may have more of these softer shells. Again, peel the crawfish and if the meat is firm and easily removed from the head, the crawfish is good and was just going through a growth stage.    

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