Cajun Crawfish From Chasin' Tails | Washington D.C.

Chasin' Tails is steamed over crawfish

Crawfish boils, those spectacularly messy feasts, are the birthright of true Southerners–particularly on a hot day, with a steady supply of icy beers.

After childhood summers spent cracking countless shells, professional card shark Di Dang decided to bring the spice-caked critters north with his new restaurant, Chasin' Tails.

This is frill-free dining: Tables are double-layered with paper, silverware is optional, and plastic lobster bibs dangle from every neck. Virtually all main courses arrive tableside in a still-steaming bag.

The by-the-pound options include sweet crawfish ($10), shrimp ($13) and assorted crab legs and clams ($13), and can be customized more than a dozen different ways. The seafood is tossed with smoky original Cajun spices, a zip of lemon-pepper, garlicky butter, or "whole shebang" (a composite of all three). From there, the kitchen tweaks the heat level, from barely noticeable mild to N'awlins hot.

Outside the bag, alternatives include popcorn-style fried crawfish tails ($12), peppery gumbo ($8) and a crawfish étouffée special ($9), which delivers nuggets of tender shellfish in a buttery, brown, vegetable-spiked roux.

Complete the meal with a large, frosty 34-ounce mug of Abita ($8.50). Southerners wouldn't have it any other way.

Chasin' Tails, 2200 N. Westmoreland St., Arlington; 703-538-2565 or