While New Orleans isn’t necessarily known as a barbecue town, Chef Mike Shaffer is hoping to help change that. Shaffer brings his own style to the New Orleans barbecue scene with Los Crudos Seafood & BBQ, a pop-up that frequents local bars and breweries.
Shaffer is from Southern California and spent six years working in Chicago restaurants. When the Chicago winters got too cold, he relocated to New Orleans and worked at Lilette and Marjie’s Grill before striking out on his own. With Los Crudos, Shaffer brings the Mexican influences of Southern California to his menu, serving a different kind of barbecue.
“I picked up some influences from just from eating at friends’ houses and their parents cooking for me,” he said. “I love the flavors from the Mexican and Guatemalan cultures and from that region of Southern California.”
Los Crudos started as an experiment during the pandemic, when Shaffer briefly moved back home to Orange County. Because restaurants were closed, Shaffer took the initiative to start doing barbecue pop-ups at local breweries there. Then, when pandemic restrictions began to ease, he packed up Los Crudos and settled back into New Orleans.
Los Crudos’ specialties focus on less traditional barbecue and more wood-fired meats with an emphasis on low and slow-cooked pork.
Inspired by New Orleans seafood, Shaffer added Shrimp Ceviche to his menu, setting Los Crudos apart from the typical “brisket and burnt ends” fare. Shaffer’s version is a Ceviche Tostada with marinated shrimp, chiles, cilantro, lime and avocado.
“I really like those clean, raw seafood flavors,” he said. “I like the way the fresh flavors complement the wood-fired fatty meat flavors.”
Other menu selections include a Smoked Sweet Potato with lime crema and chili flakes; Grilled Chicken Tostada with salsa verde, refried beans, queso fresco, pickled onions and cilantro; and a Pulled Pork Sandwich with adobo-braised pork, country slaw, dill pickles and guacamole.
Shaffer’s pulled pork sandwich is a hybrid between a conventional pulled pork sandwich and a classic New Orleans po’boy, although he stops short of calling it a traditional po’boy.
“The pork is smoked and then I braise it down with dried chilis, cumin, oregano, garlic and Mexican spices,” he said. “It’s smoky but still has those flavors that I grew up eating. I consider it a cross between a pulled pork po’boy and a torta.”
Los Crudos Seafood & BBQ, which also caters events, has yet to set a regular schedule but can be found at bars and breweries such as Carrollton Station, Miel Brewery, Zony Mash Beer Project, Pal’s Lounge, Skeeta Hawk and Second Line Brewery.
Keep an eye on Los Crudos’ Instagram page to know where they will pop up next.