When I found out I was going to have an entire day off in Denton, Texas, I promptly opened my YELP app to see what the town had to offer I was was elated to see that there is a Gulf coast restaurant just off the Interstate 35W at the intersection of loop 288. Dani Rae’s, though a little hard to find and a smidge tough to get to, serves seafood in a place where BBQ & Mexican food is the norm, and is exactly the place to go when you want to break from the norm! It is so much a break from the norm that I ended up back at Dani Rae’s 3 more times after that fateful day I spent in their parking lot. So sit back fellow foodies and enjoy a my seafood escape.
I started my first meal off with a Bloody Mary and crab claws served in a lemon & herbs infused white wine sauce. Dani Rae’s has 2 types of Bloody Mary drinks. I ordered the spicy and is lined with cajun seasoning. I prefer the spiced version and the seasoning adds a nice kick with my Bloody Mary and loved the drink. It is one of those drinks that someone can take their time with, a sipping tea if you will. The crab fingers are simply shelled crab claws served in a white wine sauce. They are absolutely fabulous! The flavor of of the dish is so rich and I was really sad to see when I had finished the dish. Fortunately it is served with a 1/2 baguette cut into slices. I am not ashamed that after the claws were devoured, the white wine became a dipping sauce for the baguette chips. A really delicious pairing for the spiced and tomato heavy drink and crabs in a light sauce.
For lunch I would prefer something a little heavier, yet small in size so I went with the home made mac & cheese with sautéed crawfish. To balance out the heavy dish they have $1 Coors on draft. I originally ordered the Coors just in case I needed to pour a little beer into the mac & cheese because it is a restaurant dish that is really hard to keep moist and sometimes you just have to order a splash of beer. Nothing could be further than the truth with Dani Rae’s mac & cheese. The macaroni was spot on, the cheese was rich and creamy and there were several perfectly sautéed crawfish in every bite. There were no softies letting me know that there is NO cutting culinary corners at Dani Rae’s! As I said I ordered a few $1 Coors to go with the meal and for dessert I ordered the Texas Beignet. Dani Rae’s describes as a cross between a Louisiana beignet and a sopapilla. I will call it a sweet roll coated in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with agave nectar. You get 3 in an order. 1 is par, 2 is over-kill and the 3rd makes this a dessert for 2 or a triple dog dare for 1 person.
Getting off into the lunch-dinner menu and happy hour (3-6pm Mon-Sat & all day Sun) specials I had to try the Shrimp Brochette. This is bacon wrapped gulf with a jalapeño wedge stuffed into a butterfly cut. You receive 6 for lunch and 8 for the dinner portion. There are several side dishes that you can pair with the shrimp brochette, the staff and I recommend the dirty rice. Prepared in house, it is a brown rice blend with cajun spices and corn, this is a delicious side! I mentioned the happy hour and Sun special because Dani Rae’s also has $.75 gulf oysters served raw on the 1/2 shell. They are served with cocktail and ground horse radish so you can add to make the level to your choosing. I have no shame in saying I devour these little guys by the tray. My tray count for 6 meals in 3 days was 7.5 trays. Yeah, they’re good! They remind me of Chesapeake Bay oysters that I grew up with.
I have saved the best for last. When dining out a Gulf coast restaurant, one must have blackened catfish or etouffe. So having both in the same dish, I had to place an order. The catfish is simply prepared but pan seer and blacking with creole seasoning and pepper. The etouffe was unbelievable. The roux was perfect constancy, packed with peppers, celery, onions and with just a hint of rice. It is just spectacular and loaded with sautéed crawfish. I loved it! Super delicious dish and it is on both the lunch and dinner menu! To go with this powerfully flavor packed dish I went bold and ordered the key lime pie. Key Lime pie is a personal favorite of mine. It is best described as a art cheesecake. Dani Rae’s serves theirs with a whip and key lime drizzle that added that extra bit of tart to the dessert. I loved it! It was a great way to finish a delicious dish.
Any and everywhere you look at Dani Rae’s is a reminder that you are somewhere fun and even though you are 100′s of miles from the gulf coast, you are eating gulf coast cuisine. I was so happy that I chose Dani Rae’s as my first review of 2014. This place is fun and the staff is super friendly. I am looking forward to going back to sit down or grab another blackened catfish & etouffe to go. Logistically it is a little difficult to get a big truck to, fortunately it is next to a Tractor Supply Co., so parking and walking 100 steps make it easily accessible to you truckers. Don’t miss this gem. In fact, coming soon in Feb. the crawfish season is starting so mud bugs will be on the menu. I can’t wait to grab a steaming tray! In this and every other way, I am calling Dani Rae’s A DEFINITE DO AND DO AGAIN!