Pablo Felix, co-owner of Smashin’ Crab, recalled working his way through Tampa, Florida’s food service industry in 2016 and visiting a Chicago restaurant that revolved around seafood boils.

“First of all, you look at the guests at a boil and see the smile on their faces,” Felix said. “You see family members sitting around, chatting with each other, eating and sharing stories. It’s people of all ages [who] are enjoying this food.”

Felix said this encounter convinced him to one day open an eatery focused on seafood boils, where crab, shrimp, crawfish, lobster and other seafood are boiled together with vegetables in a seasoned broth.

In time, Felix collaborated with business partners to create a Cajun seafood restaurant, Smashin’ Crab, and they relocated to San Antonio, where they opened their first location on Bandera Road on the northwest side in 2017.

A Stone Oak Smashin’ Crab launched in 2018, followed by an Alamo Ranch neighborhood storefront in 2020, Felix said, adding that he and his crew aim to make dining on Cajun seafood an adventure for all guests.

“Oftentimes, before you become an adult, you’re told, ‘Don’t eat with your hands.’ You actually get to eat with your hands here,” Felix said. “I thought it was a fun concept. I’m a seafood lover, and, of course, Cajun style is the perfect topping on it all.”

Felix called Smashin’ Crab primarily a Cajun seafood restaurant, which serves 11 kinds of seafood boils and five dipping sauces alongside appetizers, such as Boudin Balls, jambalaya bites and oysters—raw or chargrilled.

Felix said diners may also choose from six heat levels for their seafood boil; levels range from “Safe Zone” to “Alamo Reaper.”

Smashin’ Crab also has specialty dishes, such as crawfish etouffee, redfish, lobsta’ pasta, catfish Atchafalaya, and po’boy sandwiches that come with bread imported from Leidenheimer Baking Co. in New Orleans.

“It makes the po’boy a little more authentic. We wouldn’t serve po’boys if we didn’t have that bread,” he said.

Felix said practically everything is made from scratch, including the Cajun seasoning.

“A lot of people think Cajun is about spiciness. Cajun is about using a lot of great flavors,” he added.

Felix said the food, full bar, happy hour specials, piped-in zydeco music, and artwork and decorations that hail from New Orleans make for a fun atmosphere at Smashin’ Crab.

“For some people, it may remind them of home [in Louisiana], and the food may not be as great as what your grandma made, but it gives you that feeling of home,” Felix said.

Three locations include 700 E. Sonterra Blvd., Ste. 1117, San Antonio.