Cafe Review: Angry Crab Shack in Mesa
Make no mistake about it: Angry Crab Shack is a blatant rip-off of Hot N Juicy Crawfish, a Cajun seafood concept founded in Las Vegas by a Vietnamese entrepreneur that has started its regional expansion and recently opened an outpost on Tempe's Mill Avenue.
Hot N Juicy gained national notoriety when Food Network buffoon Guy Fieri anointed it, although, by then, the idea had already caught on. I was excited when I heard that Hot N Juicy was coming to town; it was always one of my first stops in Las Vegas. But my experience in Tempe was missing a certain je ne sais quoi; it was good, but not as good as the original. It was too clinical compared to Las Vegas, lacking the edginess, grit, loud music and service staff consisting most of off-duty strippers biding their time before the night shift started.
So it's ironic to find that missing grit in Mesa, an otherwise safe-haven of conservative values under the tight grip of the Mormon establishment. But given the quantity of cold beer and Hurricane cocktails being served in plastic cups on a crowded Friday night, no one in those parts seems to care much about the church-imposed moral code. Angry Crab Shack serves up culinary hedonism in a hokey nautical-themed space where the walls are covered with faux fishing nets, schlocky nautical themes, and graffiti from the diners. It's loud, messy and decidedly unexpected. It's also fantastic, a better facsimile of the concept that it copied.
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