i've been in maryland for a month now, and i just realized i still haven't had any of the famed crab in this area!
is anyone willing to give me a primer on the different types of crab available here?
although there were some posts earlier on this page about crabs in baltimore, i was wondering what could be recommended closer to d.c.? or are there none worth speaking of? :(
There's really only one kind of crab that's considered to be local fare, which is the Blue crab which is native to the Chesapeake bay. They sell them in different sizes, but if you can, go for jumbo. They are served steamed using Old Bay spice which is kind of the spice of the area. Typically a real crabhouse will cover the dining table in brown paper, provide mallets and a roll of paper towels and let you have at 'em. If you are not going with an experienced crab-picker I suggest you ask a waiter for instructions on how to open and eat them. And do not wear your Sunday best because it is a messy experience. I've been to crab feasts (accompanied by corn and beer) where people have ended up with shell in their hair and crabmeat on their collars from their enthusiastic eating. There's a lot of crab snobbery about the best crabs, particularly the closer you get to Annapolis and Balto, but I've managed to find acceptable crabs down here.
As for places toward Maryland in the D.C. area, I've heard there are acceptable crabs at the Bethesda Crab House, but I've never been there. Also there's a little place off of Wisconsin somewhere near Tenleytown Metro, anyone know the name of that place. It's completely escaping me. They have pretty good crabs.
There's also a place called the Quarterdeck in Arlington 703/528-2722 which I can vouch for. It actually has some real crabhouse atmosphere.
If you're looking for the real deal though, it's worth making a trip to Cantler's near Annapolis or Obrycki's in Balto although people are always saying that Obrycki's has gone downhill.
I do not suggest Phillips seafood at any of it's D.C. or Balto area locations. It is a Baltimore chain, but they have moved far beyond the crab experience and are basically a tourist place.
re: Cap Hill
I believe you are refering to The Dancing Crab place off of Wisconsin near Tenleytown. Not sure if it's still there. Personally, I never got into the experience of extracting the meat from the insect-like creatures though I love a good crabcake.
While in the upper Wisconsin area check out Krupins and tell me how you think their New York deli-style grub rates.
That's it. The Dancing Crab. Call ahead to make sure they're still there. I did have pretty good crabs there about 3 years ago.
dw, good luck. Let us know how you liked your crab experience. Actually this conversation's been reminding me I oughta do the crab feast thing before the summer ends.
re: Cap Hill
Ditto, ditto, ditto to all of the above, 'cept the rave for Phillips', as to which I agree: avoid (unless you're with 200-400 other tourists, as to when the Phillips kitchen is well-equipped to handle). Dancing Crab is still around, and still nice (Sam Adams on tap is (relatively) recent and long-due addition), but for the best crabs in Dee Cee . . . leave DC and head for Cantler's (if you feel like driving, then getting lost) or the Quarterdeck (go Army!). For my money, though, hard shells can't hold up to a juicy softie sauteed in butter, with as little breading as possible, and a soury tart sauce (or some vinegar and lemon spritzed on top). Enjoie!