Gettin’ high on crab legs at Hot Tails II

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Victoria Stewart-Meyers, City Editor

I hadn’t intended to write a review when I decided to visit Hot Tails II. I was driving from Hot Springs back to Arkadelphia and had just received really great news so I was in the mood to celebrate a little bit. As I approached the property I could see a crowd in the parking lot and a lot of people coming and going. Even though more than half the people there were wearing masks and taking their food to go, something about the atmosphere was still slightly hopeful. If you didn’t look directly at the mask wearers it seemed almost normal.

 

I had been to the little roadside stand for crawdads before. It is directly across the street from the Fish Net restaurant, and on the same property and shares a driveway with DeGray Liquor. 

 

It’s the kind of southern cooking crawfish boil where you are served your food in a plastic shop bag inside of a brown paper bag and eat with your hands. There are tables set up in the patio with trays and buckets to spread out your food and deposit your crustacean castoffs. 

 

The last time I visited the stand I had ordered the sampler with both crawfish and shrimp. This time I decided to order the Shrimp Special. Inside my bag were two corns on the cob, several small red potatoes, a couple handfuls of mushrooms, one boudin sausage, and one smoked sausage along with my very generous portion of shrimp all for $20, The best part is that the whole mess had been boiled together in that lip-smackin’ spicy boil water. 

 

Hot Tails II doesn’t serve alcohol, however you can make a run to DeGray Liquor or even bring your own libations if you wish to enjoy it on the patio while you eat. They also offer a selection of canned sodas and bottled water or sweet tea. I noticed a kids meal on the menu of “hot dog or crustable, chips and fruit snack” for $3. 

 

Other menu items include; a pulled pork sandwich with chips and a pickle for $10,  crab legs or shrimp by the pound, and boudin, sausage, corn, potatoes and mushrooms are available a la carte. The Specials are the seafood combos. “His & Hers” is a feast of crawfish and shrimp with all the fixings for two $46. (Market prices are subject to change without notice) “Hot Tails II” with 2lbs of crawfish and fixings for one is $13.50. “SAMS” with three pounds of crawfish with the fixings for one is $21. The “Big Ben Sampler” is one pound of crawfish and half a pound of shrimp with fixings for one is $17.  And the “Family Pack” with a whopping ten pounds of crawfish, two pounds of shrimp with fixings for four is $103

 

A review by Polly Kruger DeMoss on the Hot Tails II Facebook page says that she had driven from Sheridan to visit and describes the fare as “lip burning corn on the cob and the best boiled shrimp I’ve ever had.” 

I enjoyed the atmosphere and the spring night air as the orders slowed down until the announcement was made that they were out of food and closed for the night. New walk-up customers were offered the option to stick around till after the last orders were finished and sent out to the customers who were waiting for their paid orders to see what might be left but none took the bait. The patriarch of this family run stand, Chuck Womack began doling out leftover boudin for free to anyone still hanging around eating after that. 

 

I was granted a brief interview with the family who drives up from Texarkana every weekend to man the seafood stand here in Caddo Valley. Barbara and Chuck were warm and inviting even after a long night at the stand. They drive down from their first location Hot Tails in Texarkana each weekend. The whole business is a family run affair. The Womack brothers share the responsibilities. 

 

Before I left I was given a bag of leftover crab legs to take home with me, saying it’s all “just a few broken legs.” I happily accepted and brought them back to the dorm. Here is where it gets really good. Now when I opened the bag I was a little shocked at the feast inside, not just a few leftovers but what looked like a whole order, possibly more of crab legs. In my little bag of leftovers there were no less than five claws maybe more.

 

I am a crab leg aficionado from way back when my mom and I used to do the Thursday night all you can eat crab legs at the NCO Club on Jacksonville Air Force Base as a kid. The NCO Club decided to stop the Thursday night special because they couldn’t afford mom and I! But I’ve never tried crab legs that had been cooked in the spicy crawfish boil. 

 

Now let me tell you this, they do offer a cup of margarine with the crab legs. Don’t use that it will ruin the experience. If you plan to eat there, bring your own butter, or take it home but definitely use hot melted salted butter. 

 

Disclaimer: I was not drinking, I was not using any other mind altering substances but the unbelievable flavor sensation of the crab legs cooked in the boil water and dipped in my melted salted butter was so much that I was actually high on crab legs! The salt and spices and butter all melded together for a sweet, salty, spicy explosion of flavor. I’ve never in my life tasted anything like it. I will be back and crab legs will be the first thing on my mind. 

 

If you are in the area, definitely take a trip to Hot Tails II here in Caddo Valley at 5005 Valley St. Or if you are closer to Texarkana you might go check out the original Hot Tails Crawfish stand at 12636 North StateLine Ave but as the directions on the Hot Tails Crawfish Facebook page say, “don’t use your GPS because it will take you somewhere else.”