HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >


Anyone been to Cantler's near Annapolis?

We went there on a recommendation for our first crab experience as transplants to Maryland. My husband's craggy old barber told him about it and I think it was pretty great. Simple, non-descript and tucked away in the boonies. Pretty cool.

Anyone else been to this little place? Someone told me it was on the Food Network recently.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Yes, but overrated. For better grub, try Harris' Crab House in Kent Island (Eastern Shore) just across the Bay Bridge.

    1. We went back in March and really liked driving through the neighborhood to reach it. The food was okay. Worth a try, but wouldn't necessarily go back.

      1. Not quite sure how one could consider this place overrated, I don't hear about it much, but then again I don't pay much attention to food media. I went here almost weekly when I lived in Annapolis and still go at least once per year. Best basic softshell sandwich. Always good crabs available on an AYCE basis if you so choose, and many other good options as well (hated the clams I had there once though). It is in no way a "fine dining experience" but that's not the way seafood is meant to be enjoyed IMHO.

        I have always regarded Harris as a known tourist trap...so much so that I think I've avoided it entirely. If I've been there, and I quite possibly have, it was not memorable. I doubt its worth the drive regardless.

        If Cantler's was indeed on the food network I fear it might suffer the same fate eventually. I've been going there well over a decade...maybe close to decadeS by now...and aside from increasing popularity and naturally rising prices the quality hasn't really suffered over the years.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Lowbar

          Cantlers has been a tourist trap for years now!
          Love the location but not a fan of crabs steamed without seasoning and then having it thrown on afterwards.

        2. Another note to original poster: try typing Cantler's into the search field up there and you'll find dozens of reports and opinions.

          1. I'll add my 2 cents -- I love Cantler's for hardshell crabs and a great location. They do great crabs. However, I do have to say that other items I have tried on occasion, like cream of crab soup and crab dip, have been pretty eh and not up to the quality of their crabs.

            I'll have to try their softshells, though....

            2 Replies
            1. re: Terrie H.

              Its definitely not for everyone. I happen to like most of my seafood very fresh and plainly prepared...yes on spices / spice mixtures but no sauces or the like. So Cantler's is good for me in that regard, I have never had fish there that wasn't extremely fresh. You're not going to find any creative preparations there. They have a fairly big shedding operation going on there so softshells are reliably very fresh and good. The large steamed shrimp w/ onions, very good. As I said earlier, ordering clams was a mistake. And the local and near-local oysters aren't my cup of tea.

              Basically, its my favorite place to spend an afternoon drinking beer and absolutely stuffing myself with seafood.

              1. re: Lowbar

                Cantler's is outstanding (and expensive) for crabs. Atmospheric it is considered one of the best crab houses in the state. But the sides are overall poor. You go to Cantler's for hardshell crabs NOT for crab cakes, soup, etc.

                In Rock Hall, MD there is a crab house called Waterman's which Chesapeake Magazine has voted Maryland's best crab house something like five or the last six years. I agree with this. I had a post on here from two years ago in late July which went into a lot of detail about it. The atmosphere is actually BETTER (serious) than Cantler's and the sides are excellent.

                Suicide Bridge in Hurlock is better also. For me this is the best overall Maryland style seafood restaurant in the state. Their hardshells are approximately 2/3 the price or less of both Cantler's and Waterman's.

                For crab cakes go to the Narrows in Kent Island.

            2. Cantler's is great for what it is: an old fashioned crab house in a great location with great crabs (they use predominantly local Chesapeake Bay crabs, unlike many of the other places around)and a lot of other mediocre dishes. But there are a couple of other gems from their kitchen, first among them is the great MD crab soup (not cream of, but the red). Also, they will sometimes have whole fried white perch platter -- for about 6 or 7 bucks it's a great deal, and not many places serve this great local fish. Sometimes their smoked fish appetizers are great -- sometimes far from it. But it's a fun place to go for the experience and sometimes for some of the food.

              1. Man I miss this place. Moved from the Annapolis area to Colorado about 5 yrs ago and haven't been back to visit. Used to stop by Cantler's for a dozen or two raw oysters and a bowl of their delicious MD Crab Soup at least once a week. Yum Yum. Wonder if Nona is till working there...

                One other thing I loved there was their Oyster dish where you got 6 oysters baked in a metal serving dish with crabmeat. Forget what they called it but my heart is glad I moved.

                1. Live in Annapolis, not a big hard shell eater, but I have taken folks here who do like their bushels of crustaceans and they swear they are the best. Like others, we don't eat anything else they serve and for good reason.

                  If you don't think this place is on everyone's radar than I suggest you pick a lovely summer evening and venture out there. You will likely find a trail of cars idling at a dead stop, waiting for hours to get into the lot. From what I have heard, they even have staff that venture out with coolers, offering refreshments for a price to those waiting in their cars. We either go off season, or go by boat.

                  We were house hunting one weekend and realized the listing was on the same road. We didn't even bother to go look since I can't imagine what the neighbors think when the season gets into full swing. Yeah for the restaurant, boo for the residents.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: BontheC

                    That's the truth,BontheC. I always suggest heading out there around 2 or so, just to get ahead of the crowd. One thing nice about living in the area is that you can go out there once the tourists go home and enjoy yourself without the large crowds.

                  2. I agree with most of the folks posting here. If you want crabs, go to Cantler's. If you're looking for other seafood or fish, there are plenty of other places to go. Cantler's charges fine dining prices for many of their entrees and then serve them on a paper plate with plasticware.

                    1. I haven't been there in years, but it was a wonderful place for a large family with children. Long tables, a nice deck on the water, and plenty of opportunities for kids to run around and look at the day's catch. I always enjoyed the crabs and steamers.