are there any very good to excellent ones available locally??
Friends I've dined with at Sea Salt (in Minnehaha Park) really enjoyed their crab cake sandwiches; they also serve their crab cakes as more of an entree. Haven't tried it myself because I'm a sucker for the softshell crab sandwich and can't seem to get out of that rut. The portion size is good, and I've really liked everything else I've eaten there - maybe other 'hounds could give a more definitive assessment.
I've also had nice (but a little small...) crab cake from La Sirena Gorda in the Midtown Global Market. Nice, hot, and crispy right off the griddle.
The absolutely best crabcake I've ever had was at The Oceanaire.
It isn't cheap, but it is well worth it. It is almost entirely crabmeat, with almost no filler. (Oh, and if you ask the coat check person nicely, they'll even give you the recipe.)
Another excellent crabcake (or crabcake sandwich at lunch) is at Signature Cafe.
If you want to make your own Costal Seafood sells them very cheaply and they are so easy to cook at home. They are also a wonderful blend of crab and filler, heavier on the crab.
re: St Paul Susie
actually there is filler in both: the regular crab cakes are made with claw meat and bread crumbs for the filler (along with onions and peppers, etc); the imperials are made with lump crab meat and panko for the filler (along with onions and peppers, etc). The ratio of filler to crab in the imperials is definitely much less than in the regulars though.
I agree that both are excellent. The regulars are a bit on the spicier side, the imperials are sweeter and "crabbier"