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Best Deviled Crabs in Tampa

after many disappointing deviled crabs and writing about the origins of the dish for Cigar City Magazine, i finally found a few specimens i can recommend to such esteemed colleagues.

At Cacciatore Brothers' on Armenia, Rosie makes amazing crab rolls at the rear counter. fried to order.

Brocato's on 50th near Columbus has big, very tasty deviled crabs.

Mr. Empanada (main location on armenia, others in town) also makes a good deviled crab, but dare i say i prefer their crab empanada, which is not as rich.

any others i have missed? any in Pinellas worth eating?

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  1. On my last trip to Mr. Empanada I thought that most of what I ordered tasted like dog food, but I agree---the Crab Empanadas were pretty good...
    Good to hear about Cacci's and Brocatos--- 'cause I pass 'em both all the time...

    4 Replies
    1. re: Mild Bill

      My grandparents were Oscar and Louisa Miranda, doubtless you are asking WHO? Well they started the business Miranda's Deviled Crabsc there in YBOR CITY, and they made the 1st of these that people have tried to copy, but they have fallen short.
      George Louis Miranda

      1. re: GeorgeLouis49

        George,

        Miranda's is indisputably the first, i've seen the ads from the 1920s on microfilm. I'd love to learn more about your family!

        Please email me at:
        soulrecreation@yahoo.com

        andy huse

        1. re: GeorgeLouis49

          Is this the George Miranda that worked at the Sheriff's office in Tampa? If so, you taught me how to make deviled crabs, and no doubt, your families were te best around. Carmines and Brocattos are pretty good, but not like your family's.
          Rayce Wilson

          1. re: rwilson

            Not I, was in the Army for 20 years, have not lived in Tampa since 1974.

             
      2. wow--- what did you have at Mr. empanada, Bill? I just stick with the crab and guava/cheese empanadas. I did not care for the beef and cheese. The picadillo was more like bland sloppy joe. haven't tried anything else. did you have any of thiose listed above. I scouldn't bring myself to order the sausage one--- it never sounds good to me, too rich...

        1. I always thought Carmine's in Ybor were the best but I've not tried too many. Tampa-style devil crabs were always a little too breaded for my taste with not enough crab.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tandoori Girl

            I tried Carmine's on my recent tasting tour. I thought it was lousy, too bready as stated. The two places i mention at the top of the thread are the only ones that come close to the old Seabreeze. For those of us without a DC specialist wife and secret recipe (from the Mirandas by any chance?), Cacciatore's and Brocato's will have to suffice. Very little breading, just enough to hold all the crab together. I rarel;y order DC's as i am usually disappointed, but creditable sources steered me toward those two. The universe is full of great things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

          2. Trying to find the best deviled crabs in Tampa is like trying to decide if Ragu or Prego makes better marinara. Tandoorigirl is dead-on: most places in town don't use much crab, and what they do use is not of high quality. And the breading on some of the ones sold in the Cuban cafes...they might as well be hushpuppies.

            Fortunately, my wife makes the best in town - and I don't even care for deviled crab. Her colleagues bug her constantly to make them, but it is quite time-consuming. I'd end up in a retention pond somewhere, wearing concrete socks, if I gave away her recipe (passed down from an Ybor street vendor from the early 1900's), but it all begins with top-shelf lump or claw meat. And that's all I can say w/o going into witness protection.

            1 Reply
            1. re: EdC

              I'm sorry you wife doesn't share her recipes. Should she ever decide to please let me know. There is not one recipe I would not share with someone as I think sharing delicious food recipes is a compliment.

            2. The deli at Alessi Bakery off of Cypress in Tampa usually has pretty decent Deviled Crab. The last one I got had quite a bit of crab and I was actually not used to having that much crab in my deviled crab. I was expecting more breading. I recall that they were also pricier than what Brocato's charges. But hey, you can also pick up some guava turnovers or escachata(sp?) pizza slices too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ramblinwrek92

                On my last trip "home" to Tampa, I found the deviled crabs and Cuban sandwiches at Alessi's to be just as good as I remembered them when I was growing up. I moved from Tampa in 1970 when I was 25 and was amazed that Alessi's bakery was not only still open, but thriving after all these years. I live 1500 miles from there now, so don't get many opportunities to indulge on my favorite Cuban food. I almost forgot to mention the guava turnovers at Alessi's; they were excellent and another trip down memory lane.

              2. Can any body tell me why you can not find Deviled Crabs in Miami????

                3 Replies
                1. re: Captainroy

                  The DC was popularized on the streets of Tampa in the 1920s, another fusion dish of fuzzy origin. Miami's Cubans tended to immigrate much later, the 50s and 60s. Instead of DCs, they eat fritas and such.

                  1. re: Captainroy

                    Because my Grandfather didn't want to peddle his cart to Miami. Just kidding.

                  2. that is a good question and i'm not sure of the answer but i think it is of italian origin (not cuban). tampa had a huge italian immigrant influx when the cigar industry took hold in the 1880s, something that did not occur in miami. The crab mixture is a little like crab chilado, which is whole crabs stewed in a rich tomato sauce. The italians and latins surely mixed their recipes as they mixed their genes and the result is a unique collection of items found only in tampa. that's my venture, don't know if it's right. anybody else got a thought on this?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Tandoori Girl

                      Tandoori girl, you're right on. I wrote a piece about the origins of DC for Cigar City magazine. The Seabreeze was founded by Italian families, and crab enchilado (or chilau as the crackers called it) is a great guess. hard to find crab enchilado anymore, it is so messy, no restaurant wants to serve it. In the old days, famlies ate the dish outdoors it was so messy.

                      I'll be the judge for a deviled crab contest in west tampa over the weekend. I'll share the winner with you afterward.

                    2. Very good information Tandoori Girl and it all makes since. I'm frome Tampa but, I live in the Keys...My ex-wife is tally and her father used to make DC...he couldn't even get a platter full because they would disappear. I guess I'll have to come to Tampa to get a good DC.
                      Andy, looking forward to the results of the DC contest.

                      1. andy? did you go to the contest? who won? and pls. don't tell me somebody's mom won because i might have to go hang out at their house until i get one.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Tandoori Girl

                          i've been traveling, so i'm tardy in response.

                          only two entries for the contest. Both were pretty good. I voted for the one i thought best. Later found out it was provided by Cacciatore bros. Rose, who makes and serves the DCs there, normally only fries them to order.

                        2. Deviled crabs are a dying art. Castellano & Pizzo makes a pretty decent one, but it's not as good as Rosie.

                          1. As a third-generation Tampan I ate my first deviled crab in 1952 in Ybor City. I still love 'em and, although I can't have as many as in past years, I find Cacciatore's to be as good as any I've ever eaten so they get my vote for the best in Tampa.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: tony noriega

                              You must have eaten at the Casablanca, if so, who has deviled crabs in tampa that would compare with those Please Help

                            2. I agree with the impression that most are too breaded. So I tend not to order these. But I have favored La Tropicana on 7th Avenue in Ybor City when I get a hankerin' for one!!

                              1. I'm another Brocato's believer! My girlfriend took me there for the first time AFTER I had lived in this area for 23 years! Go figure... I've never had anything there that wasn't GREAT.

                                1. Tropicana- my personal favorite- but Alessi's is usually preferred by friends and family.

                                  15 Replies
                                  1. re: artemisanne

                                    I have the Seabreeze cookbook and I finally got around to making the Deviled crab recipe. All I can say, Delicious! They tasted just as good or maybe even better. It was quite time consuming but I would definitely make them again and again..... This recipe made close to 70 large deviled crabs. The recipe did not state how many it made so it could be halved and make less but why would you want to? My whole extended family enjoyed them. My husband does not like onions so they were the only ones he liked from the Seabreeze. The recipe calls for pretty much blending the onions,peppers,garlic and celery up quite fine so you have the wonderful flavor without the actual prescence of them. Quite an extensive recipe but worth it for sure.

                                    1. re: betay

                                      Betay, since you made 70 of them I'm going to expect you to invite each of on this forum over to sample them! Or did you guys eat them already?!? But seriously, it sounds like you had a good result.....The Seabreeze deviled crabs were very good and I'll bet most of the crabs in their rolls came from the surrounding waters near Palmetto Beach....whaddya think?

                                      1. re: betay

                                        My mom used to work at the Sea breeze when she was 18, she is now 76, she always took us to the Seabreeze when she went home and brought deviled crabs to California back from vacations, you have mentioned that you have the actual recipe, I looked on this site, there are people begging for the seabreeze deviled crab recipe, I know my mom would get a smile on her face that would never go away if you gavve me this recipe to try for her. Please post the recipe, I have looked on line to buy that cook book and cannot locate it anywhere.

                                        Regards

                                        Rhonda Doncaster
                                        rhondadoncaster@sbcglobal.net

                                        1. re: 1rhondad

                                          as one of the authors of that book, I'm happy and proud to hear the deviled crabs live on. They were the best until the seabreeze closed. For anyone interested in the book, feel free to email me--- I can point you in the right direction. The next time the Richards make the recipe, I hope to film it for a webcast.

                                          1. re: andy huse

                                            I grew up in Tampa and lived next door to a wonderful family from Cuba. They made the best crab chilou, at least that is how my sister and I remember it. Does the seabreeze cookbook have a recipe for crab chilou?

                                            1. re: passingflower

                                              yes. Crab Enchilado, a Cuban/Italian "fusion" dish, was often shortened to Chilau by locals.

                                            2. re: andy huse

                                              Hey there. I have just read your post about the seabreeze cookbook and i must say im VERY interested in the book. my email is lyss264174@yahoo.com , im hoping we can correspond and i can get one of the books. My father grew up in tampa and going to the seabreeze was an everyday thing for him , it would make his day if i could make those for him myself. kindest regaurds, lyss

                                              1. re: andy huse

                                                Hi Andy,
                                                I am really interestd in finding one of the Seabreeze cookbooks for my great grandmother. She loved their deviled crab and the few other places she has tried them she was not impressed. If you have any idea where I could locate either the deviled crab recipe or a cookbook I would really appreciate it!! (Brandi3303@yahoo.com)

                                                THANKS!!

                                                1. re: andy huse

                                                  Hello. I grew up in Gibsonton Fl. just south of Tampa, and we used to go to the Seabreeze Restaurant and load up on Deviled Crabs and go across the street to the drive-in movie. I would love to get their deviled crab recipe. Can you point me as to how I might be able to get the Seabreeze Restaurants Cookbook? My email address is r0uge0le@yahoo.com.

                                                  Regards,
                                                  rougeole

                                                  1. re: andy huse

                                                    I am interested in copies of the Seqbreeze restaurant cookbook, I ordered it in 2006 and it was never delivered, although my check was cashed. I would like to purchase 4 copies, 3 as gifts for family members...

                                                    Regards,

                                                    Rhonda Doncaster

                                                    1. re: 1rhondad

                                                      Did you order the book from here

                                                      Robert & Helen Richards
                                                      7101 49th Ave. S
                                                      Tampa, FL 33619
                                                      Phone: 813-626-5849

                                                      If so, give them a call. I'm sure Helen will take care of it.

                                                2. re: betay

                                                  Good Morning betay, I have lost my cookbook and am devistated. Would you consider sending me the recipe. If so I will give you my address or email. A280z@aol.com)
                                                  Would be happy to reciprocate with a recipe in the future.
                                                  Thanks, Barboo

                                                  1. re: betay

                                                    My family loved the devil crabs from the Seabreeze Restaurant. Unfortunally, for us the Seabreeze building and the Restaurant is no longer into existance in Tampa. Would you PLEASE, PLEASE share the recipe with me and my family.
                                                    THANK YOU

                                                    1. re: carmelabaldeon

                                                      I also loved the devil crabs from the Seabreeze Restaurant. As a kid, we would buy a bag full and head on out to the Drive In Theater. Does anyone know who in Tampa is making them with that exact recipe?

                                                      Thank you

                                                    2. re: betay

                                                      I have been to the Seabreeze from when I was just a boy til just a few years back when they closed. It was considered the place to go if you wanted a delicious Deviled crab even though people had to drive nearly an hour to get there. I still love the Deviled crab, however I haven't found any that compare. I know it was a few years since you posted you had the Seabreeze cookbook, would it be possible to get the recipe?

                                                      -----
                                                      Seabreeze Restaurant
                                                      5075 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33417

                                                  2. I had a pretty decent one at Le Lechonera near Armenia/Hillsborough. Best? Memory fails me, but it was at least notable.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Mal Carne

                                                      I've posted on this thread in the past......this is an update. A friend from Gainesville fell in to town Friday and the first thing out of his mouth was "when are we gonna go get deviled crabs??" Soooooo.....we went to Cacciatore's on Armenia and got a dozen for three of us, and we weren't dissapointed!!! They are still the best in town - at least in my humble opinion. And while you're waiting, if you ask just right, the 40-something counter man will sing you his 'arroz con pollo y cafe con leche' song to entertain you!

                                                      1. re: tony noriega

                                                        Hey Tony!
                                                        Do you have a reciepe for develed carbs ?
                                                        Old friend Brett

                                                        1. re: Brett Campbell

                                                          Hey Brett!!! Wow, it's been a long time since seeing you. No, unfortunately I didn't save the recipes from Tony's Restaurant so I don't have a recipe to share with you.......with such good crabs available, like at Caccciatore's I'm not sure I'd go to the touble to make my own anyway! They are that good. Drop by some time Brett......

                                                      2. La Tropicana was always my favorite.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: angels916

                                                          honestly, I don't think any of their food is very good. I like the atmosphere, but i just don't get the food.

                                                          1. re: andy huse

                                                            Linda's Crab Shack
                                                            200 E Reynolds St.
                                                            Plant City, FL 33563
                                                            (813) 754-0492

                                                            Born and raised in Tampa(Ybor city Specifically)
                                                            Hands down the BEST devil crab I have had in my life. I will not get them anywhere else.

                                                            1. re: FrankC

                                                              many thanks for the rec. I will have to check it out!

                                                              1. re: andy huse

                                                                I still need to try Cacciatore Bros, but Gold Ring Cafe on Tampa St. is directly on my way to work. They make fresh CHEAP deviled crabs and they're always very good. Not made fresh to order, but I've never had one that was bad.

                                                        2. How can I get a copy of The Seabreeze By the Bay Cookbook - or JUST the recipe for their famous deviled crabs. My father-in-law will turn 80 in August and I am trying to find this recipe for him as the Seabreeze used to be his favorite place to go, and of course the deviled crabs was what he always ordered. Thanks!

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: DonnaL

                                                            email me at
                                                            soulrecreation@yahoo.com
                                                            for more info.

                                                            andy

                                                            1. re: andy huse

                                                              i'm new to website..........but a native to florida. my husband was born & raised in ybor city and we both have been to sea breeze many times.......would love their deviled crab recipe.........i lost my copy some time ago...........also, does anyone have the recipe for those great meatpies you get at the italian bakery on 15th st. in ybor/ thanks in advance

                                                          2. I was raised in Tampa during WW2 and went to school at DeSota Park and Phillip Shore Elem. The BEST Deviled crabs were sold from vendors biking around just as the Ice Cream men. They were pointed at each end, full of crab and always eaten with a dash of Tobasco (and they cost $.10). The ones sold by the Casablanca on 21st St between 4th and 5th Ave were excellent. I have tried the Tropicana's but they were more like big wads of bread.Sorry bout that. I too would be interested in a copy of the Seabreezes Cookbook. Thanks ... Lee B.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: LB1336

                                                              is there any good food at the Tropicana at all? I've never been impressed by anything there. I hate to think people judge Tampa's Latin food by Tropicana's vittles. I only hope their coffee is worth drinking: i wouldn't know, I don't drink coffee.

                                                              1. re: LB1336

                                                                LB, Maybe you have some info on the CASABLANCA. It was down the street from the Colombia, Had fantastic deviled crabs. Thanks for any info.

                                                                1. re: LB1336

                                                                  LB, You are the first to mention the CASABLANCA, We visited Tampa a couple times a year when I was a child, our first stop was always CASABLANCA,. We moved to TAMPA in the 60's, I attended school during my 8th grade year at the Catholic School in Ybor City. I walked down to the CASABLANCA every day for lunch and I would eat one or two deviled crabs walking back to school. I hadn't been to Tampa for a few years. I was married in 1972 and we honeymooned in TAMPA, all the way down there i was telling my wife about the deviled crabs. Our first stop CASABLANCA, the building was torn down,I talked to a few people in the neighborhood, nobody seemed to have any info. PLEASE HELP ME. Any info would be great. Does anyone have a deviled crab close to what CASABLANCA made? Any recipes out there? Thank You, Tip Biddle, Harrison, Ohio

                                                                  1. re: LB1336

                                                                    I,too went to phillip Shore Elem/ Was born at McDill AFB and raised in tampa til '56. i remember the Casa Blanca as THE place to get devilled crabs!!!We went there til the mid 60's then there were no more devilled crabs, only a great memory.til I found a copy of the Gasparilla cookbook at a garage sale while visiting my Dad in Melbourne several yrs ago. These will bring back memories. What i liked about the Casa Blanca was being treated like one of the guys, playing checkers with older cubans, being allowed a sip of beer to cool the bite of the tobasco on my roll and taking home a sack for dinner later. The only thing as good was the smoked mullet sold by a shop at the base of the Gandy bridge!!! I will copy & send the recipie if you would like it. Let me know robmanlee

                                                                    1. re: robmanlee

                                                                      I too went to Phillip Shore and enjoyed the deviled crabs from both Casablanca and the Sea Breeze. Those were some good times.

                                                                  2. Dont kill me, but I have had some good deviled crab at La Septima in Brandon. Which, by the way, is one of the few places that has crab enchilada on the menu. They tell me Carmines in Ybor also has crab enchilada on the menu, but they dont use blue crab...they use some other kind of crab.

                                                                    I cant remember where it is, but there is a little place on 22nd street causeway, before the bridge on the 301 side that advertises they have deviled crab using the Seabreeze recipe.

                                                                    Agreed on Cacciatore and Alessi....anyone made deviled crab using the Columbia restaurant cookbook recipe?

                                                                    Stefanie

                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Steffisews

                                                                      I moved to NC over 13 years ago and one of my favorite foods missed was deviled crabs from Seabreeze. I remember sitting on the hood of my folks car as a child and watching the movies from across the street at the drive in and eating those wonderful deviled crabs.

                                                                      I've not tried any of the above mentioned places during my visits to Florida. However, I don't have a recipe book or anything to go by only memory and have developed my own recipe for them and they look and taste just like Seabreeze. In NC we don't have the cuban bread available but buttermilk soaked bread crumbs works wonders.

                                                                      My uncle who still lives in FL came for a visit and I fixed about 12 dozen, he alone ate at least 4dz and took 2dz with him for the trip home. He said they were the best and amazed I could fix them from memory.

                                                                      Folks in NC don't know what they're missing. What they call a deviled crab is a crab shell stuffed with a funky breading and deep fried. No hint of real crab meat only a sliver of imitation.

                                                                      Is there a Seabreeze cookbook, I would love to have one?

                                                                      Brenda

                                                                      1. re: Sunflower1964

                                                                        I used to go the Seabreeze as a very young girl in the 70's, and after moving to Texas and getting married, I took my husband back for a deviled crab before they closed their doors. I did find 5 copies of the cookbook for sale at:

                                                                        http://www.bookfinder4u.com/GetTitles...

                                                                        Very pricey, though $135.00 +. Too expensive for me, but maybe someone else will enjoy!
                                                                        Lori

                                                                        1. re: loriw77

                                                                          unbelieveable. copies are avaiolable locally for $15 or so. feel free to ask me for more info.
                                                                          soulrecreation@yahoo.com

                                                                      2. re: Steffisews

                                                                        I ate there once, and thought it was pretty good--- my expectations tend to dip when i go to Brandon. Good to hear they're doing the enchilado, which is kind of an endangered species.

                                                                        1. re: andy huse

                                                                          I tried Brocatos for the first time today. What an idiot I am for waiting so long! dont even ask me what i was thinking. They have soem fo the best DC I have ever eaten.

                                                                          I mentioned Linda's Crab Shack in Plant city a few months back, They have been very hit or miss lately and the last time I ate there for lunch the dinning room was filthy. I am going to have to rescind my earlier recommendation until they get it together with more consistency again. Their DC used to be great, they were the only ones I ever ate that had larger pieces of blue crab with very little breading, lately I don't know what they are doing but it's not good.

                                                                        2. re: Steffisews

                                                                          Steffisews,
                                                                          I think you might be referring to a place I often visit when I am in Tampa and that is Uncle Willie's Sandwich Shop - just before the bridge on 22nd street Causeway. I love the Deviled Crabs and Cuban Sandwiches they make. I have heard stories that this is where the cooks from Seabreeze go to get good Deviled Crabs.

                                                                          rougeole

                                                                        3. Hello, I remember devil crabs as a kid in tampa being sold off bicycle carts for $.25 each. these were pretty good. our memories as kids don"t go away as yoy get old. and yes there was a lot of breading not like you might make at home, you would go broke trying to sell something you had to much product in to come out. try the devil crab on www.tasteofcuba.com this is spot on for me, ths Mickey

                                                                          1. Back around 1955 I was 10 years and we lived on 26th ave in Ybor City. My father and I used to go to Miranda's and watch them make the devil crabs. During this time Miranda was putting his DC's in frozen packages (6 in a pack I think) and my dad was in the Lions Club selling them for donations. Around that time my dad, Ralph Diaz, Sr., had discussions with Miranda to sell his DC's through the local stores like Publix and Winn Dixie. I called him today and asked what happened and he said the deal just fizzled out and they never really got it off the ground. After they fried the DC's any that were not OK to sell were piled on this big table and I can remember filling up on all those fresh hot pieces of Devil Crabs. I wish I had paid attention to the recipe instead of eating them all up!!! The reason I got on this page was I bought a couple pounds of blue crab meat today and am going to make a batch. Unfortunately I have lived in Raleigh NC area for the last 15 years and do not get the opportunity to enjoy all the good Spanish and Cuban food down in Ybor City and Tampa area so I have had to become my own good cook. We do have a nice little restaurant here in Cary called the Havana Grill where the owner who is from Miami, makes all the good stuff, like Flan, Ropa Vieja, Picadillo, and good old fashioned Yucca. He also bakes fresh Cuban Bread Miami style. I buy a loaf or two every week. Glad I found this forum and hope to check out other food topics.

                                                                            1. Carmines in Ybor City...

                                                                              1. Well, they aren't deviled, but did anyone mention the Crab Trap crab cakes? (CT one is in north Palmetto jurisdiction on Terra Ceia and CT #2 is in Ellenton. Both are in Manatee County right across the Skyway.)

                                                                                Off topic, but their fried jumbo shrimp are to die for...huge, fresh, and juicy. They use the same crab stuffing for their stuffed (baked) shrimp too. Ok, now I drooled on my keyboard, lol.

                                                                                1. I have not been home to Tampa in 30 years and I really really miss deviled crabs. I am a 6 generation "Cracker", three of those were in Tampa. I married had kids and then hubby got his degree from USF and we left Tampa. We used to go to the Seabreeze for deviled crabs when we couldn't talk my mom into making them. I don't have any family left in Tampa to speak of so I haven't been back.since my Dad's funeral. Another thing I miss terribly is Smoked Mullet. I wish I could find a company that would ship frozen DC's and SM to me in Texas.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: patteel

                                                                                    I'm a third generation cracker, and my grandfather used to make his own own mullet nets and fish for them off the causeway. I miss the deviled crab rolls too..

                                                                                  2. All these replies about Deviled Crab and not one mention of Lili's? For Shame~!
                                                                                    http://foodmuseum.typepad.com/food_mu...

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Foodiephile

                                                                                      we were talking about Tampa. where is this?

                                                                                      1. re: andy huse

                                                                                        Great minds think alike. I was thinking the same thing.

                                                                                        John

                                                                                    2. Andy,
                                                                                      have you tried the "Special Deviled Crab" at Aguila's on Hills Ave? I had one yesterday and it was pretty good. Lots of fresh crab meat, fried to order and big. Cuban sandwich was good also, nothing to brag about. I definately wouldn't put it up there with one of the best in Tampa. A good lunch spot and easy on the wallet. Cafe con leche was very good.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: G8R Dan

                                                                                        many thanks for the heads up. I'll check it out.

                                                                                      2. Here it is: The Seabreeze by the Bay Coobook order info.

                                                                                        Robert & Helen Richards
                                                                                        7101 49th Ave. S
                                                                                        Tampa, FL 33619
                                                                                        Phone: 813-626-5849
                                                                                        seabreezcookbook@aol.com

                                                                                        Best cookbook in town

                                                                                        1. Hi, I found the lady that had the Seabreeze Restaurant in Tampa, where the best crabcakes were made and sold (in my opinion). She also has a cookbook - "SEABREEZE COOKBOOK BY THE BAY". She also has more copies to sell. She also makes the crabcakes in a safe kitchen and sells them frozen for you to cook. You may go to her home to buy them. She said to tell you her phone number is (813) 626-5849.
                                                                                          She autographs every book she sells. The book also, has pictures and history about the era of the restaurant. I have purchased many as they will make great Gifts for anytime.

                                                                                          jllineberry June 28th, 2009.

                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: jllineberry

                                                                                            It is a fun book. I helped her write it. Her son may be making those devil crabs full time for sale. I earnestly hope that he does.

                                                                                            1. re: jllineberry

                                                                                              OMG!! *GASP*
                                                                                              Deviled crabs are NOT crabcakes. Crabcakes are those flattened out, cornbread-with-a-sprinkling-of-crab-meat things they eat in Maryland and (Lord knows why) rave about.
                                                                                              Deviled crabs, despite the name, are a gift from God.
                                                                                              40 lashes with a loaf of Cuban bread.

                                                                                              And, yes, the Seabreeze had the best deviled crabs ever. When I was a kid (I'm 58, now) my parents would stop at the Seabreeze and buy a dozen or so deviled crabs...I think they were ten cents each...and we'd go across the road to the Autopark Drive-In and eat them while we watched the movie.

                                                                                              1. re: RDTinCody

                                                                                                I'm 62 now and can so relate to your story. Those were the good old days.

                                                                                              2. re: jllineberry

                                                                                                You are mistaken my friend. The owners of Seabreeze by the bay are not the original owners of the Seabreeze. Her cookbook claims the recipes are the original. They are not the original recipes! Her history with the restaurant began when her and her husband purchased it in 1992....not 1929 when Victor Licata first opened the Seabreeze. If you like her food great but her claims are false.

                                                                                                1. re: Jwood

                                                                                                  Lucy Licata was invited to write the book with us, but she refused. The Richards bought the business from the Licatas. Having worked together for about 30 years before then, there was ample time to learn the recipes and history.

                                                                                              3. Well, here it is, 2009 and I just made a double batch of Seabreeze deviled crabs. This time I started out making them a little too large and I ran short of the dough (after making the 99th one) and since I still had a good amount of crab stuffing left, I ran to the store and bought some frozen empanada pastry circles. As soon as I got home I made the rest of the crab stuffing into deviled crab empanadas. I do all the prep and the actual making of everything involved. My husband mans the fryers,(I borrow one and I purchased a new one this year). Each fryer cooks 4 at a time and they have to cook for 7 minutes. You can see that this takes some time to cook up over 100 with the inclusion of the empanadas. It is a labor of love as we give to friends and relatives and still eat all we want and have some left to freeze. I would not give out their recipe, they deserve to make the profit from their cookbook. It is well worth the price. Buy it.

                                                                                                1. The ones I remember from my youth were sold by a guy bicycling around town with a cooler. When you saw him you pulled over and waited for him to come ask you 'hot sauce or no hot sauce? Muy sabroso!

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: beffies

                                                                                                    I was on a mission today and by the way I did get my hands on the seabreeze recipe. I was surprised to see it has celery in it. I went out to the 2 best places in Tampa Cacciatore Brothers' on Armenia and Brocato's on 50th and Columbus. Cacciatorre's has the best filling and Brocato's has the best breading. Cacciatore's has less of a tomatoe base compared to Brocato's. Brocato's was bigger but $1 more. Cacciatori looks like they bread theres in Vigo bread crumbs which is the way the old Seabreeze used to do it. Brocatos uses freshly made crumbs from Cubam bread. The reason I know is they were breding them while I was standing in line. Cacciators uses both red and green bell peppers Brocatos only green. It was the amount of tomatoe paste that made the big difference and hands down I thought Cacciatore's had a much better flavor over all. I'd eat either one though they're both good.

                                                                                                    1. re: tortambassador

                                                                                                      My name is Christopher Richards, My father was Frank Richards brother of Robert Richards (Author of The Seabreeze Cook Book) Uncle robert and Aunt Helen have the best recipes for Deviled Crab and Crab Chilou. I can remember my father making the crab chilou at the house on sundays. I can also remember going to the SeaBreeze and eating deviled crab on the SeaWeed shimp boat docks. The Seabreeze was the best for devil crabs. I am lucky enough to own an original seabreeze cook book. It is full of wonderful recipes and photo's that bring back memories of my childhood. stories of the seabreeze and the Richards Family.

                                                                                                      1. re: CRichards

                                                                                                        Do you know where I can get the original Seabreeze Deviled Crabs? I think they were the best. I grew up enjoying their deviled crabs and crab chilou. My email address is
                                                                                                        Lsegade@tampabay.rr.com
                                                                                                        Thank you, thank you, thank you
                                                                                                        Lou

                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                        Seabreeze Restaurant
                                                                                                        5075 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33417

                                                                                                    2. re: beffies

                                                                                                      That was my Grandfather Oscar Miranda if before 1954, his brother Juan took over for him after he passed away. Those were the best!!

                                                                                                    3. Another good simple Seabreeze recipe is smoked mullet. My Uncle Nubie Richards would bring fresh netted mullett to the house often and my father would smoke it perfectly using the family recipe.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: CRichards

                                                                                                        Saw this article this morning by Andy Huse with the recipe and step by step pictures for the Seabreeze Deviled Crab.

                                                                                                        http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dail...

                                                                                                        I then went to Brocattos, after reading the recommendations in this thread. The DC, Empanada and Cuban Sandwich were all outstanding. I have been here for 5 years and have gone from La Teresita to Mr Empanada to West Tampa Sandwich Shop to Cuban Sandwich Shop on N Florida. All of them are good but Brocato's blows them away. I was surprised by the crowd. The place was still packed at 2pm.

                                                                                                        TC

                                                                                                        1. re: TC 1000

                                                                                                          Brocato's is a treasure, I'm just thankful it isn't any closer to my house. never had an empanada there, but the stuffed potato is a meal in itself. alway slooking for other places to highlight in the coming weeks/months.

                                                                                                          1. re: TC 1000

                                                                                                            I agree - I've worked in East Tampa for many years, and going to Bracato's is a long enjoyed tradition. Haven't been there in a while, though - do they still have those delightful sugar cookies?

                                                                                                            1. re: Lucia27

                                                                                                              It's been a few years now since I've been back to Tampa, but last trip the crabs at Cacciatore's were at least as good as any I remember from the old days. My first DC, and I'll never forget it, my mother bought for me from a cart vendor when we were grocery shopping at the Kash and Karry. It was ten cents. She quit buying them when the vendors started asking for fifteen cents, too expensive!

                                                                                                              I thought it was time for new post to this old thread.

                                                                                                        2. I heard the Sea Breeze closed down. Although I love deviled crabs from all over, I can't seem to find the kind that the Sea Breeze would make. Any thoughts on where those exact deviled crabs are being made if at all?

                                                                                                          Thanks,
                                                                                                          Lou

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Chino1949

                                                                                                            You can get the cookbook with the recipe in it or buy the deviled crabs frozen, ready to cook, by calling this number: (813) 626-5849.

                                                                                                            1. re: RDTinCody

                                                                                                              Order the cookbook here:

                                                                                                              Robert & Helen Richards
                                                                                                              7101 49th Ave. S
                                                                                                              Tampa, FL 33619
                                                                                                              Phone: 813-626-5849

                                                                                                              I suggest calling first.

                                                                                                            2. re: Chino1949

                                                                                                              They will be available in Fort Wayne, IN. I shared the family recipe because I wanted to have a place to eat devil crabs. Chino1949, were you born in Tampa? I was born at the Centro Espano in 1949 George Louis Miranda

                                                                                                              1. re: Chino1949

                                                                                                                Sea Breeze is now located at 2111 N Blvd Tampa, FL and Palm Ave 33602 Ph: 813-228-0033

                                                                                                              2. Ybor Grille in Ruskin has awesome deviled crabs and cuban sandwhiches.

                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Monica Klein

                                                                                                                  There is a sandwich shop in Lakeland downtown, it is a shop just off the main street corner. Can't remember the name but they tasted just as good as my Abuelas.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Monica Klein

                                                                                                                    Ybor Grille will scratch an itch if I don't want to drive to tampa, but Carmine's and Brocatto's are the best. with the least amount of dough and maximum amount of blue crab. If you like the traditional then carmine's are great, if you like the light crunchy panko bread coating...then you'd like Brocatto's.

                                                                                                                    1. re: christierella

                                                                                                                      I really don't care for the things, being from coastal GA, but far and away the best I have had around here are from the CITGO Station by the Post Office in Wesley Chapel. They are crabby, crunchy and just a little greasy. My wife and mother-in-law who are native Tampanians say they are the best they have had.

                                                                                                                      1. re: christierella

                                                                                                                        i've always found carmine's to be inferior to most other decent places in Tampa. I even tasted C's beside two others and no comparison. I honestly don't know if any of carmine's food is good--- I always found it mediocre at best.

                                                                                                                        1. re: christierella

                                                                                                                          Seabreeze has opend a food truck at Hwy 301 and causeway blvd tampa/brandon, they open at 11 am. This is very exciting! http://www.tampabay.com/news/seafoodl...

                                                                                                                      2. I do like Cacciatorres deviled crabs and I look forward to visiting the Alessi booth at the fair every year to get their deviled crab but I have to say the BROCATOS makes the best deviled crab in Tampa these days...Its huge and absolutely delicious and one of them will fill you up...You can actually look behind the side counter and see them being made which will give you tips if you are brave enough to try making them yourself...Bravo to BROCATOS!!!

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: flamale863

                                                                                                                          I agree with Brocato's Devil Crab being super delicious, and I'll be passing by tomorrow and will grab one----- but don't tell ME! that one will fill me up!!
                                                                                                                          ;-)

                                                                                                                        2. Right now I have 15 Devil crabs frozen from Mr. Empanadas. My cousin Wayne mailed them to me. He swears they are as good as our Abuelos, and from eating 3 already, I tend to agree with him.
                                                                                                                          George Louis Miranda

                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: GeorgeLouis49

                                                                                                                            I met your Grandfather and your Father back in West Tampa when I was just a kid around 12 or 13. My Father, Ralph Diaz Sr. and a couple of my uncles were discussing packaging Miranda Devil Crabs and selling them in grocery stores like Winn Dixie and Publix. After a while they dropped the idea - do not know if your family ever did that later.

                                                                                                                            As to Mr. Empanada my sister, Irene, and I stopped by there last year (October 2012) after I arrived in Tampa and had Deviled Crabs and Cuban Sandwich. They were both good but for now I still feel the Brocato's are better. I also had a couple from the Seabreeze Truck a few days later and a fresh Grouper sandwich - delicious - but again I like Brocato's best - maybe because they are so large and filled to the brim with crab meat. I plan to be down there again this October and as usual during my week there I will try out all the SPANISH SOUL FOOD I CAN!!!!

                                                                                                                            Ralph Diaz, Jr. - born in Tampa but now living in Apex, NC

                                                                                                                            1. re: golfbuddy45

                                                                                                                              is that really crab meat in Brocato's rolls? no matter what is in them, they sure are good.

                                                                                                                              1. re: andy huse

                                                                                                                                I have watched them make the devil crabs through the window and you can't see exactly what "meat" they are putting in there but I have looked at the insides of those devil crabs and I see nothing that does not look like crab meat in consistency. AND as you say it all tastes like crab meat to me. If you try the "CRAB" that is made with fish and crab meat you can tell a difference in the consistency of the meat while the crab meat has those threads in it. I do have to say I have had a lot of foods made with the "ARTIFICIAL CRAB LEGS" and they do taste quite good.

                                                                                                                            2. re: GeorgeLouis49

                                                                                                                              Hi, Can you tell me how your cousin sent the Crab Rolls? I live in Wisconsin, used to live in Tampa & miss eating Crab Rolls. I would like my daughter to send me some. How would she do it? Did you use dry ice, were the Rolls frozen when sent, did you package them in some kind of cooler? Would you please help me so I can get her to send me some? Thank you so very much. Nancy Alman

                                                                                                                                1. re: byrd

                                                                                                                                  I buy the frozen develed crabs from Seabreeze.
                                                                                                                                  Call 813-626-5849. Call them and tell them what you want.

                                                                                                                            3. I buy my develed crabs from the old Sea Breeze recipe
                                                                                                                              who still makes them out of their home.
                                                                                                                              Call 813-626-5849.

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Chino1949

                                                                                                                                The Licata family has that recipe and I assure you they do not sell them out of their home. That is the
                                                                                                                                Original recipe and it is being kept private. Enjoy your crabs I am sure they are
                                                                                                                                Good but not original as claimed.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Jwood

                                                                                                                                  All I know, is that the family that I buy them from are from the original Sea Breeze and they got screwed when the
                                                                                                                                  Port Authority and the Tampa officials took their property
                                                                                                                                  rights away from them. So, if you call them at the number
                                                                                                                                  I mentioned, they will be glad to give you the full run down and story as to what occured. Buena Suerte.

                                                                                                                                2. re: Chino1949

                                                                                                                                  This is the phone number I have had for them for a few years. I am visiting Tampa tomorrow fo ra few days and would love to get some Devil Crab. Do you know if they still sell them from their home?

                                                                                                                                3. Cacciatore Brothers' seem to be the best these days...Carmine's in Ybor has a pretty good one as well.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jwood

                                                                                                                                    Agree with Carmine's. I got a bunch of theirs several year ago and brought them back to Georgia with me for my Dad's birthday. He grew up in Tampa and was weaned on the Seabreeze Devil Crab.

                                                                                                                                  2. I can assure you that the devil crabs your Father grew up with from The Seabreeze are not what is being sold now as original Seabreeze Devil Crabs. The Licata Family has never given out that recipe and Helen Richards is not the original owner despite her claims to be. Try Cacciatore they are a close second. They also have a several great Flans and Tres Leche cakes along with churros made to order.

                                                                                                                                    1. Just got back from a week in Tampa and the SEABREEZE that was on the corner of 22nd st Causeway and Highway 301 is no longer there , just the base framework that was under the trailer and a bunch of junk they left behind on the property. Brocato's still makes the best and largest devil crab in Tampa right now in my opinion. Tried Alessi's and was very disappointed, more filler than crab meat. Columbia restaurant good but not as large and not as much crabmeat as Brocato's. Ordered a dozen crabs at Brocato's and Michael fries them up then freezes them for you. You get a BAKERS DOZEN 13 for $69. I picked them up this morning and they were all individually wrapped in foil. He put them in a box and covered them up with cardboard. I carried them with me in a Styrofoam cooler on the airplane. Still frozen when I got back to Raleigh. Longer trips could use some dry ice. Put two of them in my convection over at 350 for 15 minutes. Came out as if I had just picked them up at the counter at Brocato's. Michael says people take these all over the country. If you want he will freeze them BEFORE they are fried and you can cook them completely at home in a deep fryer if you want.

                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: golfbuddy45

                                                                                                                                          the stuffed potatoes are just as good, maybe better!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: andy huse

                                                                                                                                            I have some friends here in Apex, NC who tried Brocato's Crabs for the first time and they could not believe the size and taste. Up here they make what most people call MARYLAND STYLE CRAB CAKES that are mostly just lump crab meat patted together in a flat patty about 1-2 inches thick and 3 - 4 inches across. Very tasty since mostly meat but I still prefer our Ybor City style Devil Crab. In any case we are going to have Brocato's package up a couple dozen crabs and a dozen stuffed potatoes and ship to us. I put the frozen crabs in microwave for 3 minutes then about 10 minutes in convection oven at 350 and they come out just as if just picked up fresh at Brocato's...

                                                                                                                                        2. I don't get the Brocato's thing. Yes, they are huge, but they don't taste anything like devil crabs. Soupy and tasteless. If you can't eat it out of hand, it isn't a devil crab. Maybe i just went on a bad day? Now, Cacciatore Bros are right.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: lowtone9

                                                                                                                                            i think their recipe (or ingredients) may have changed. I was half-joking further up in this thread about what kind of fish really goes into their rolls... several years ago, I stopped getting the crabs in favor of the stuffed potatoes, much better flavor.

                                                                                                                                          2. Well for better or for worse it seems I have restarted this thread and so now I have to weigh in with what I found a few days ago. First let me say as I said before,my Dad grew up eating devil crab from the old Seabreeze restaurant and I have eaten there several times myself when younger and a few years before it closed. Last year I ate them from the truck on Causeway blvd. Just this
                                                                                                                                            Past Wednesday my wife and I got 6 from the new "Seabreeze" roadside stand on Palm (the lady who runs this worked at the old Seabreeze and her mother and father owned it before it closed. We also got 6 from Cacciatore's. They were both very good enjoyed them. My wife thought Cacciatore's was better and I have to reluctantly agree. They seemed to have a little more crab meat. They were also a bit cheaper. Cacciatore's were $3.00 cooked or frozen and Seabreeze were $3.50 cooked and $3.25 frozen uncooked. Again both were very good to me,with a slight edge to Cacciatore's. I will say Seabreeze's were a bit spicier and more pink on the inside. I suspect they put hot sauce in their mix and they are just like the original Seabreeze as I remember them. Additionally I tried some from Carmines a few years ago and they were very good, but they are $5 each. They seemed bigger as well. Hope this helped.

                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: IansChow

                                                                                                                                              Hi, you all know my Grandparents are turning over in their graves from all this chatter about who's devil crabs are better, So I'll give a heads up to Empanadas on Dale Mabry. When I am in town, I always get my crabs there. George Louis Miranda

                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                              1. re: GeorgeLouis49

                                                                                                                                                Here is the address for the original Mr. Empanadas: 4836 N. Armenia Ave. Tampa FL 33603
                                                                                                                                                (813) 879-6232 (813) 870-6273
                                                                                                                                                There are quite a few in and around Tampa.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: GeorgeLouis49

                                                                                                                                                  GeorgeLouis, I met your family at the place where they made the crabs in West Tampa when I was a kid around 1956 - 58 when I was 12-14. I think it was like a garage next to the house - I remember a big steel table with a mound of broken crabs on it and they let me eat all I wanted. My father and two uncles were talking to your family about packaging Miranda's devil crabs and selling frozen at Publix, Winn Dixie, etc. They finally decided it was not going to be feasible to freeze them and distribute the packages to the stores. Anyway Miranda's were always my favorite. Back to your comment about MR. EMPANADAS - I went there with my sister Irene when I visited family about 4 years ago. They were good but still liked Brocato's better at that time. Tropicana were larger and tasty but also had a lot more bread around the meat. I will have to try Mr. Empanadas again on my next trip to see if they are better than before.

                                                                                                                                            2. Wow! This thread spans 8 years! That's a lot of interest in devil crab! Was at Brocato's just yesterday, and had to weigh in. We live in Original Carrollwood, so it's an excursion, but well worth it. Love their Cuban sandwiches! But the real attraction is the devil crab, and the one I enjoyed for lunch yesterday seemed even better than usual - a perfect crisp crust - not too thick - without a hint of doughyness, bursting with deliciously seasoned crab filling without a hint of added breading! Believe me, I know the difference between crab and Krab, and I really can't stand the later. It's too sweet and the texture is all wrong, nothing like the genuine article! I have no doubt that what I had yesterday was the real thing - rich, fresh flavor and the unmistakable texture and mouth feel of real crab. I can't get enough of them! I like to take some home and freeze them. 10-12 minutes in a 350 oven, and they are table ready, right out of the freezer! At home, I like to heat one up, cut it in half, then flatten each half like a patty and pop one on each half of a toasted English muffin, followed by an egg, some hollandaise sauce and Tabasco dashes. I call it the Tampa Benedict! Yummy! Now all this talk of comparisons have me all worked up. I've tried the DC at Mr. Empanada's in Carrollwood Center, and I was not impressed - too doughy, very little crab. I'm surprised to see them mentioned on the same page as Brocato's. But, in as much as they are, I'll give them another try. Anyone can have an off day. And I'm going to make it my mission to try Cacciatore Brothers, and the Seabreeze stand on N. Blvd, as well. I'll report back what I find. Just for context, I am born and raised in Tampa, and I remember how excited my family got when the Devil Crab Man came around on his bike! Great thread! Reminds me of old times!

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Crackita

                                                                                                                                                Love the Tampa Benedict idea!!!

                                                                                                                                                Bring me one every 15 minutes till I pass out, then make it every 45 minutes...

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Crackita

                                                                                                                                                  OMG...I'm thinking to mix a little Texas Pete into the Hollandaise.....so, so good.

                                                                                                                                                2. Amen as to the "Hot Devi Crab" Men on threewheel bikes. $.10 each and they would open them up and apply judicious splats of Tabasco Sauce !! This was, to me, during the war (WWII) in the Maritime homes and DeSoto Park area !!! THOSE were proper HDC's ...

                                                                                                                                                    1. happened to find myself on the east side of Tampa the other day, so made a point of heading over to Brocatos for a deviled crab.

                                                                                                                                                      Life had taken me to where I hadn't been to Brocato's in nearly 10 years, so I was happy to see the expansions, and to see them *still* hustling long after the usual lunch hour was over. Nice to see the same people I remembered, too.

                                                                                                                                                      But oh, man -- I had forgotten just how amazingly good their crabs are. Sweet, moist filling with just the right amount of spice (with a little Texas Pete's to kick up just a little) wrapped up in a golden and crispy crust.

                                                                                                                                                      I'll try not to let so many years go by til I have the next one!

                                                                                                                                                      1. All right, my friends, here are the very early results of my promised quest to try the devil crabs listed here and report on my findings in the search for the Best Devil Crab in Tampa.

                                                                                                                                                        My first stop was yesterday at my long-time personal favorite, Brocato's. I have never been disappointed with their DC, and yesterday was no exception. In fact, I bought a crab-makers dozen (13) to take home for the freezer so I have a good supply on hand to make my Tampa Eggs Benedicts. Yum! I also bought a Joe's Special Cuban sandwich - a 15" monster that's enough to feed four people, and it's only $10! With some crab, dinner is done, and I have one happy hubby on my hands! What a deal! But my niece and I also had a small Cuban and a crab for lunch while we were there. I've uploaded a photo so you can see the crab, and a little of that Cuban sandwich goodness as well. Even though this thread is not about Cuban sandwich, to my mind, if you can get a great Cuban at the same time as a great Devil Crab, that makes both even better! And the Cubans at Brocato's are loaded with luscious!

                                                                                                                                                        The crust of the Devil Crab has a wonderful crisp bite to it - more so than most any DC I've had elsewhere. I believe this is due to a bit of a departure from the traditional, as I am fairly certain these babies get a roll in the panko bread crumbs before their dive into the oil. A great upgrade, IMHO. Another departure from tradition, is the rounded ends instead of crab shell - like points. Those points add a nice crunchy bit, but they also require a thick mound of dough on each end. Instead of dough, I'll take crab in mine any day, thank you! You will also note from the picture, the just-right depth of breading - just enough to hold all that crabby goodness together and give you that nice crunch. As you can see from the photo, the DC are large, and packed full of crab chunks. Those larger, creamy white areas - lump crabmeat, my friends - and I don't mean sashimi or Krab, I mean the genuine crustacean. In fact, one small, hardly worth mentioning, nit-picky criticism I might make, is there may be a little too much crab, and maybe this baby could use just a little more the devil inside. Percentages are a harsh mistress! On other trips, the balance has been a little better, and, it's a delicate one to achieve, and if it were me, I'd err on the side of the crab every time, so not much of a complaint here. As for cost, at 6.99 I suspect it will be the most expensive DC in town, but it is also the largest I've ever seen, and the most loaded with genuine crab meat. You could easily make a meal out of one, but ya can't go there without a taste of that sandwich, so we often split the sandwich and the crab so we can have it all. That crab-makers dozen I mentioned earlier, 13 for 69.99 - you're getting 3 free! We love the place - the crazy atmosphere and the old-fashioned home town service - it's great! If Anthony Bourdain ever asks me to show him around the Tampa eateries, (and why would he?) we're going to Brocato's for lunch!

                                                                                                                                                        As Cacciatore Brothers on Hanley Road kept coming up on this thread, they were our next stop. More about that in my next post.

                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Crackita

                                                                                                                                                          I love Brocato's DC -- even how the sweetness of the green pepper manages to make itself known, and I think you're right that they've swapped out to panko. A great change, though!

                                                                                                                                                          And yeah -- one of these is more than enough to make lunch for someone.

                                                                                                                                                          I'm really glad they don't put points on theirs -- not only is it a big wad of breading, but they tend to be really overcooked before the rest of the crab is finished.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                            Sunshine you are exactly correct on those POINTS. I always threw those hard tips away because it is nothing but fried bread...

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                              Really amazing you pointed out the green pepper contribution!
                                                                                                                                                              After eating my first Brocato's DC I told myself I need to cook with green peppers more...

                                                                                                                                                          2. Here is the old Seabreeze recipe for deviled crabs. http://www.familycookbookproject.com/...

                                                                                                                                                            1. So many folks on this forum were mentioning Cacciatore Brothers as a top contender for best Devil Crab, I must admit, I was excited. If there is a DC even better than Brocato's, without a doubt, I wanted to know about it! I mean, what could be better than completely awesome? So Saturday, hubby and I make the trek over to the T&C area to see for ourselves.

                                                                                                                                                              Gotta love Cacciatore Brothers! Worth going in there just for the wonderful smells! And that produce - so perfect and colorful, made us want to grab a quality EVOO and balsamic off the shelf, and just pull up a chair right there! I informed hubby we definitely were not getting outa there without some great Italian and Spanish specialties, including several pounds of their awesome homemade chorizo! Gonna be whipping up a big pot of Spanish bean soup with that, I tell ya! Got no argument from hubby on that, BTW!

                                                                                                                                                              But we were here for the crabs. There they were in the deli case - nice size, and only $1.49 each! Although that is certainly enticing, I did have to deduct some points right away, as they are only available cold. You can't get a fresh one right outa the oil and wolf it down with one hand as God intended. OK, we can roll with that. Along with our chorizo, we took four DC, and a couple of Cuban Sandwiches and headed home to heat 'em up and eat 'em up.

                                                                                                                                                              There were no heating instructions, but about twenty minutes at 350, and we sat down to chow. I started out by breaking mine open the long way - between the crabby points - to get a look at the filling and make way for the Tabasco. The results were - how can I put this delicately - disappointing. As you can see from the photo, there was nary a speck of crab meat to be found! Maybe the sauce is infused with crabby goodness, I thought. I manage to suspend my skepticism, and dig in for my first bite, sans hot sauce, to get the full effect. Sadly, the dream was not to be.

                                                                                                                                                              The crust was only marginally crisp, with a bit more doughy thickness than desirable, especially under those crab-like pointy ends. However, the filling itself was the major disappointment. It was oniony, very, very oniony, with occasional red pepper bits, and no taste of crab what-so-ever. Nada de Jaibas! I can't say for sure there wasn't any crab in there. I'm just saying I couldn't taste it - or see it. As I chewed, I dug around in there with my fork. Nope! No crab here. Well, we bought four. Maybe this one was a freak kitchen accident. We dug around in hubby's. Then we opened the others. Sigh.

                                                                                                                                                              I noticed a sort of strange lingering taste on my tongue from the sauce. It seemed somehow familiar, yet...wrong, very wrong for a DC. Then that familiar bell rang, it tastes of ketchup - with a lot of sautéed onions. Say it isn't so! Maybe that can work on a New York street vendor's hot dogs, but not on a Devil Crab! Again, I can't say for sure they are using ketchup as the base for their DC filling, but that is exactly what my tongue was telling me, and hubby backs me up on this. Our high hopes were dashed even more than the Tabasco!

                                                                                                                                                              As a side bar, the Cuban sandwiches were tasty but ordinary. The pork had a nice flavor. The whole thing was a bit under stuffed, and do you think they could spare that cheese?

                                                                                                                                                              On a closing note, we went to the Hanley Road location. Sadly, it's the only one left, and most of us will never get to experience Rosie's fried to order DCs.

                                                                                                                                                              All due respect, go to Cacciatore Brothers for the amazing produce, hand crafted sausages, meats and specialty items and that smell! They are a Tampa institution, after all, and I would never throw rocks at them. I love going in there, and I hope you all do as well. Maybe even pick up one of their Cuban sandwiches when your looking for a tasty lunch on the run, But if your really looking for the taste of a great Tampa Devil Crab, make mine Brocato's!

                                                                                                                                                              Next we'll be tracking down the illusive Sea Breeze Devil Crab stand on N. Blvd. Do they still exist? Are they really the legendary real deal from the good ole days? Could it be true? I'm on it!

                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                              19 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Crackita

                                                                                                                                                                I just love this thread and now cannot wait to try Brocato's Devil Crab. Crackita, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the DC at Cacciatore Brothers, I actually thought it was pretty good. Not the best, but better than the original Seabreeze anyway. I'm not sure why yours only cost $1.49 and mine was $3.00 just a couple of months ago. $1.49 seems ridiculously cheap, unless...are you sure it was DC? ;) I admit that I did not go digging around digging around inside to see how much crab was there and just went on general taste and enjoyment. To give a full review I will need to try Brocatos. Another reason to live.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Crackita

                                                                                                                                                                  Crackita--I agree with you totally on Cacciatore Bros DC and I had the SEABREEZE DC before they closed down the 22nd St Causeway truck last year and I thought they were small and too spicy, and not enough crab meat in them - nothing like they used to be when I was a kid. If you do find any let us know....

                                                                                                                                                                  Ralph Diaz

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Crackita

                                                                                                                                                                    The new or latest incarnation of The Seabreaze is at 2111 North Boulevard in an old trolley car turned kitchen with an order window. The lady who runs this worked at the old Seabreeze and her mother and father owned it before it closed. A little hard to find, but its there.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: IansChow

                                                                                                                                                                      I actually passed it the other day, but didn't have time to stop. I'll be interested to see what you think, as I made a mental note of it to go back!

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Crackita

                                                                                                                                                                      Oh no! Wrong place! It's Cacciatore and Son on Armenia. The DCs there are fried to order, always. sorry!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lowtone9

                                                                                                                                                                        I'm sure Crackita will post an addendum to her quest!! :)

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lowtone9

                                                                                                                                                                          Thats what I found as well. I remember waiting for them to fry then in fact.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lowtone9

                                                                                                                                                                            OK! That explains it! I can tell there are a lot of native Crackers on this forum, because everyone who specifies in the thread calls that location Cacciatore Brothers! Of course, the Old Timers still think of Brothers following Cacciatore. Knowing that the Brothers had closed some locations - including the one where I used to shop - when I couldn't find a location on Armenia, I assumed the worse. Thanks for setting the record straight, Lowtone9! So, before Seabreeze Crab Stand - or maybe on the same day - I'm off to try the Cacciatore and Sons DCs of legend and lore! I wonder if Rosie will still be there.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Crackita

                                                                                                                                                                              glad to see your explorations, Crackita. I look forward to hearing more.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: andy huse

                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks, Andy. You are my inspiration! I've read some of your other articles. I view this topic as an exploration of reconciling preservation of tradition with the natural evolution of process and product. How do we define "best?" I look forward to further discussion. For now, there are more crabs to be experienced! And eating, photographing and writing about devil crabs is just plain fun!

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Crackita

                                                                                                                                                                                Crackita -- make sure you put the tried-and-true La Tropicana on the list -- we dropped in there over the weekend with friends who'd not had a deviled crab before, so we ordered one so everyone could try it.

                                                                                                                                                                                Awesome Ybor-style Cubans...and the deviled crabs aren't as uptown as Brocato's, but they're light and *not* doughy or burned.

                                                                                                                                                                                Definitely a candidate for Top Crab.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                  Will do, Sunshine! Thanks for the tip!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lowtone9

                                                                                                                                                                                  OK, lowtone, I've gone and done it. Let me have it!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lowtone9

                                                                                                                                                                                    Very civil of you lowtone. You are a gentleman and a scholar!

                                                                                                                                                                                    How long has it been since you have tried a Brocato's? Not trying to convert you - I have no stake in this. I do not now, nor have I ever had any more association with Brocato's than being on the business side of the counter. I am absolutely good with agreeing to disagree. I'm just curious about the difference in our experiences. They certainly are more loose than CaS, but I don't find them soupy at all. Aside from them being so large I have a hard time finishing them, I don't see a problem with eating them out of hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                    This thread is about the "best" devil crab, and that is probably going to mean different things for different folks. Currently, my "best" is Brocato's, with CaS being second - both good, but neither "perfect." Now that's another discussion.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the kind words about my posts. It's my first time doing anything like this, and I am having a lot of fun, eating DC and meeting some nice folks. More to come!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lowtone9

                                                                                                                                                                                      Mmmm...Saturday brunch and Tampa Benedict!

                                                                                                                                                                                      Added a little spinach for veggie goodness! Yum!

                                                                                                                                                                                      Hmm. Stupid site software! Can't get it to load full size! I'll try again in another post.

                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Crackita

                                                                                                                                                                                        because you replied as a reply -- if you reply to the original post, the photo will be larger.

                                                                                                                                                                                        (oh, that looks sooo good)

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: lowtone9

                                                                                                                                                                                        Did you say Tampa Benedict?

                                                                                                                                                                                        Nope. No good. If this keeps up, it's gonna really put a damper on my reviews!

                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Hey, there! Sorry to disappear for a little while there. Don't you just hate it when work and responsibility get in the way of the really important things - like devil crabs? I know I do! Rest assured, though, I may not have been posting, but ya gotta eat, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                    Last Saturday hubby and I went out on a devil crab excursion. Let's talk about Cacciatore - and SONS - first. It's a happening spot. Just like the associated outlet - Brothers - intoxicating smells, gorgeous produce, and all those home-made, mouth-watering Italian and Spanish specialties making you want to head home with an armload and cook up something amazing.

                                                                                                                                                                                    It's busy, so we slide up to the counter and take a number. I notice a lovely blond lady, placing her order for DC's just a head of me - nothing else, just some DCs. Could it be, I wondered. Curious I asked, "Sunshine?" With hair like that, she just looked like a gal who would call herself sunshine, but we just weren't lucky enough for such a chance encounter. Hey! It could happen! Maybe next time, eh, Sunshine?

                                                                                                                                                                                    We ordered two crabs and a Cuban sandwich. The heat of the crabs coming through the bags indicated they were indeed fried to order, and I imagine the sandwich was made to order as well, but it all happened in the back, so we couldn't be sure. There were two ladies working the counter, so I asked if one of them might be Rosie, but no. Time marches on.

                                                                                                                                                                                    With another stop planned for the afternoon, and no place to eat at Cacciatore's, we drove over to the river and parked at the end of a dead end street. There we could dine al fresco auto while enjoying the view of the riverfront.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The crab was about four inches long, and appropriately wide, with rounded ends. Good so far. I broke in and could clearly see crab. It wasn't all chunky, like Brocato's, but a respectable amount of crab. Nice red peppers and some onion, too. It's a thing of beauty! I dig in, taking that first, unadulterated-by-hot-sauce bite. The crust is good - crunchy, not too thick or doughy. Nice, but not great. I have to agree with others on this forum, Brocato's nails the crunchy crust, but this is not bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                    From the filling, the mild taste of crab, peppers, onions, all come through. It's good, certainly, and a lot more like the DC's we used to get in the old days when the Devil Crab Man would come riding around on his bike. If I weren't so focused on comparing every nuance, I probably would have just watched the river go by, while enjoying the heck outa this DC, bending hubbies ear about the good ole days...but there was something...mushy. I tried another bite - just the filling this time, to be sure. Yes, the flavors seemed dulled, and the texture is a little off. I look closely, and it seems to be so. I'm afraid they may be using bread crumbs in the filling, and I find that disappointing. It isn't as off-putting as a thick, doughy crust, but for me, it's like a tease. I can see all these lovely ingredients, but I am denied the full experience of their blended splendor. Being a bit of a mouth-feel snob, I'm also put off by the texture.

                                                                                                                                                                                    This is a good DC, and if they just hadn't put the crumbs in the filling, it could have been a great DC. Make no mistake, I am going to try these again. I have to, especially with such high recommendations from this esteemed company. Maybe I missed something? Maybe my taste buds were having a Saturday off. I could be wrong, but for me, right now, I couldn't call this the best devil crab in Tampa. The quest continues.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Just one final word on the accompanying Cuban sandwich - hoagie.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Next stop, Seabreeze Devil Crab Stand! Is it really the original recipe? There certainly are doubters on this forum, and I will never know, as I was never favored with the taste of that legendary DC. I can, however, tell you what I find in excruciating detail and living color! More soon. Talk amongst yourselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Crackita

                                                                                                                                                                                      Heh -- thanks for thinking of me! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Crackita

                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh well. We'll just have to disagree on this, Crackita. To me, a DC will always be something to eat out of hand, not a soupy something to eat from a plate. I really enjoyed your posts, though. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Crackita

                                                                                                                                                                                          As a fourth generation Floridian and Tampa native, deviled crab rolls were just about my favorite treat. We lived only a few miles from the Seabreeze and often had their deviled crabs. They were a bit doughy, which I loved, and looked exactly like the one in the pic I borrowed from you (with a little more dough). The crab meat was shredded, not lumped. My hubby swears that he and a friend would catch catfish out in the bay and sell them to the Seabreeze to use in their DC's to stretch the crabmeat. The deviled crabs from the street vendors in Ybor were the best!
                                                                                                                                                                                          I have made them using a recipe from Cuban/Tampa cookbook, and it is the real deal. Brocato's are delicious true, but have too much crab meat to dough ratio, and I don't care for the lumped meat...and they are too big. To me, while tasty and meaty, they are not reminiscent of the Ybor dc's of old.
                                                                                                                                                                                          On a side note - I prefer cuban sandwiches cold, on fresh baked bread. Pressing is for day old or stale Cuban bread, imho.

                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: TampaGul

                                                                                                                                                                                            Having in the past (1945-1949)disembarked from the streetcar to go into the Cafe at the Columbia for a real Cuban I must agree....The pressing and toasting is a much later affectation !! Not bad but not original !!
                                                                                                                                                                                            The DCs from the bicycle seller were the best and as previously stated, the Casablancas were great !!

                                                                                                                                                                                            My memories of the Seabreeze are of the wail of sirens on a Saturday night as they crossed the 22nd St Cswy enroute to the latest "injury". The bar did apparently clean up their act in later years !!

                                                                                                                                                                                            Somebody else mentioned the Auto Park drive in theater. I worked there the summer they opened selling popcorn as the cars entered and then car to car with sodas, Earned the money for my BSA Uniform from Maas Brothers that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LB1336

                                                                                                                                                                                              Now there's a trip down memory lane. The Auto Park drive-in. We were frequent visitors, my grandparents, brothers and I, during the late 50's early 60's. And if you could afford to buy something from Maas Bro's, you had something to be proud of!!

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Thanks for the tip, Sunshine! Trying this as a new post.

                                                                                                                                                                                          It tastes as good as it looks!

                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. TampaGul and LB1336, we are of like mind re the DCs and cubans.