Where to Happy Crab in Somerville’s Teele Square.
Why For Cajun seafood at fair prices, plus a full bar — and po’ boys, too.
The backstory Vicki Chen followed her father from Fujian, China, to Massachusetts, where she started out as a server at various restaurants. She spent many years as a waitress at the Stonehedge Hotel & Spa in Tyngsborough before striking out on her own to serve the Cajun food that she loved while traveling in the South. “I make all of the spicy sauces,” Chen says. The restaurant opened in January and does a brisk business on the weekends, she says, though weekdays are slow. Too bad: “Happy hour” from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. showcases three Cajun boils for the price of two, as well as a cheap, vacant bar.
What to eat Boston has enjoyed a seafood boil renaissance in recent years, with restaurants such as the South End’s Bootleg Special, Allston’s Holly Crab, and Shaking Crab (which has locations throughout Boston) serving shellfish doused in spicy sauce and Cajun spices, shaken with ears of corn, sausage, and hunks of potato, served right in the plastic bag. Happy has taken up residence in a quiet corner of Somerville, several blocks from Davis Square, serving a similar menu that locals seem to adore. (“Better than anything I’ve had in the South,” declares one neighborhood enthusiast.) Choose your favorite seafood, from baby clams ($12.95) to king crab legs ($38.95), procured from the Boston Fish Pier. Then opt for a sauce: lemon pepper, garlic butter, or spicy Cajun, in varying degrees of heat (even mild has a light tang). Then, throw in a side or two: corn, potatoes, even spaghetti. It’s placed in a bag, shaken, and voila — a messy, buttery, garlicky Cajun seafood scampi.
Tamer diners can choose deeply fried oysters, calamari, shrimp, or catfish (from $10.95), or the newly added oyster po’boy ($12.95) served on French bread with lettuce and tomato, created by customer request. These oysters are husky — no squirmy, sad runts here.
Food arrives quickly, and to-go customers even get a jaunty crab tote to take home.
What to drink There’s a full bar, serving $7.95 Mai Tais and Long Island iced teas, $8.85 scorpion bowls, and $11.95 martinis. Why aren’t you here?
The Takeaway Spicy seafood, strong drinks, swift service — what’s not to like? Here, you’ll get tipsy and well-fed for not much money, only a few blocks from the T. That’s a rare find these days.
Happy Crab, 1137 Broadway, Somerville, 617-718-1666, www.happycrabcajunseafood.com