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Crabhouses and crabcakes in maryland--pls. help me add to my list

I realize this is a topic that's been beaten to death on this board, and you guys are probably tired of answering it. But as I'm planning on heading down to Maryland sometime in the next two months, I wanted to get some fresh recommendations re: crabhouses, crabcakes, and seafood in general. I'll be driving in from pretty far away so I'm willing to check out any place in the region - in Baltimore itself, in the Eastern Shore communities, and so forth.

I have a bunch of places on my to-do list. I'd love to hear recent thoughts about these places and if I should add any more spots (or better yet, if any of the places I've mentioned are not that good, please tell me so I can stay away!). I'm looking for quality more than anything else; not worried about price, atmosphere, or decor. Just want a sublime, authentic crab/crabcake/seafood experience, is all.

If possible, please let me know the town name and/or neighborhood, as I'm not really familiar with the area. Also, recommendations on the best dishes other than the obvious would be highly appreciated, as well as other relevant info (are they closed for the winter? Closed on weekends?). Thanks so much.

-Faidley's in the Lexington Market in Baltimore proper (crabcakes)
-Mr. Bill's Terrace Inn in Essex (crabhouse)
-Schultz's (crabhouse)
-Bo Brooks (crabhouse in the Canton neighborhood)
-Mama's on the Half Shell (upscale/trendy(?) crabhouse in the Canton neighborhood)
-Duda's (not sure if they serve seafood? Supposed to be in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore)
-Cantler's Riverside Inn in Annapolis (crabhouse)
-Waterman's in Rock Hall, MD (on the eastern shore)

Seems like there's a lot of good stuff on the eastern shore. Any real local spots/sleepers? Any crab festivals or other events that are worth checking out? Much appreciated.

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  1. Wow, you've really done your homework.

    Here's you list, and my comments:
    -Faidley's in the Lexington Market in Baltimore proper (crabcakes): Yes, it's in Baltimore, not terribly far from Camden Yards. You DO go there for the crabcakes, but hanging out at the raw bar a bit isn't bad either.

    -Mr. Bill's Terrace Inn in Essex (crabhouse): This is eastern Baltimore County

    -Schultz's (crabhouse): Also eastern Baltimore County, not far from Mr Bill's. You should also try their gumbo there. I'm not gumbo expert, but think it's really good...also, good home baked bread.

    -Bo Brooks (crabhouse in the Canton neighborhood): You've enough on your list that you could easily skip this rather touristy place.

    -Mama's on the Half Shell (upscale/trendy(?) crabhouse in the Canton neighborhood): Not far from Bo Brooks at all. I lot of people here love it; I've only eaten there once. It seems that there's ALWAYS a wait in a very crowded bar.

    -Costa's: Also eastern Baltimore county. I've only had crabs there, which are very good. A bit further out than Schultz's.

    -Duda's (not sure if they serve seafood? Supposed to be in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore): It IS in Fells Point. A great neighborhood place, with great food. Everything from burgers to crab cakes.

    -Cantler's Riverside Inn in Annapolis (crabhouse): I'd take a pass on this. The crabs are good, but I've never had a good time there, since it's crowded and hectic...

    -Waterman's in Rock Hall, MD (on the eastern shore): Parnter and I were just talking about this place; and I think we've deemed it as among the best crabs we've ever had. A definite must.

    On the eastern shore, on Tilghman Island, is this great little (well, not so little) place called Harrison's Inn. Don't eat in the dining room, go out back to the very casual crab deck. It's a cool place to hang out, and chow down! And, right on the water!

    2 Replies
    1. re: baltoellen

      A couple of additional comments:

      Mama's On The Half Shell is a seafood place, but not a crabhouse.

      Duda's often has very good double-padded fried oysters during oyster season. If they have them, get them.

      1. re: Hal Laurent

        Dudas also has very good crab cakes, steamed shrimp and smoked fish!

    2. Koco's on Harford Rd. is a bar with a dining area and they have GREAT crabcakes!

      1. You've got a great list, but one I'd add since it sounds like you're coming from the north (you did say headed "down", after all) is Woody's Crab House in North East MD. Its about 5 minutes off of 95 in the center of town on Main Street and their crab cakes and onion rings are excellent. That should hold you until you get to Faidley's.

        1. Stoney's for a great crabcake - no filler whatsoever and huge as a baseball! Could use a wee bit more seasoning in my estimation, but my favorite nonetheless for the quantity and quality of crab. I think it is in Broome Island. Haven't been for a few years though...hope it's still as good as it was.

          2 Replies
          1. re: baconjen

            It is. Went a few days ago and it holds up.

            1. re: baconjen

              looks great, is full of crab with little filler but unfortunately has no flavor whatsoever.......too bad since if they added some seasoning to it, it would be as good as any crab cake around. I went to the Solomons branch

            2. Buddy's Crabs, 100 Main, Annapolis, is the word from my son who lives there.

              My own word is: the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet at Phillips, Harborplace, Baltimore. Any place that starts out by putting a bucket on the table to collect the shells has my vote.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Querencia

                I'm not too fond of Buddy's or Phillips but I haven't been to either in years. Phillips is one of the highest volume restaurants in the country, I believe.

                1. re: Querencia

                  Buddy's in Annapolis is horrible. If I was in Annapolis for Seafood I would go to O'Leary's in Eastport (right next to Annapolis a neighborhood if you will) for a crabcake in downtown go to Galway Bay (strange an irish resturant would be the best downtown, but...). The seafood buffet in Harborplace is awesome. It isn't in the phillips restuarant it is seperate and very good. The place below reccommended by Joe at Kent Narrows is good, and if for some god faresaken reason you have to drive through Carroll County or have to go there I went to school there and there is a little restuarant called Frisco Family Pub they pick their crabmeat each day and have crabs that are great.

                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    The buffet at Buddies use to be ok. I really like the crab dip over at Pussers, but if I really want crabs I like driving out to Kent Island - its great for a day trip on the weekend in the summer.

                  2. re: Querencia

                    Oh dear God, NO NO NO! Buddy's is a tourist trap and the food is terrible. I wouldn't send someone I disliked to eat there!

                    If you want crabs in Annapolis, go to Cantler's, or forget it.

                    Kent Island--Harris' Crab House.

                  3. As another responder mentioned, seems like you're coming from the north. Just for completeness sake, I put the following posts if you're interested in going south of the District.



                    9 Replies
                    1. re: Dennis S

                      Best crabcakes - By the Docks Restaurant & Lounge 3321 Eastern Blvd. Middle River. Perfect in my book, only problem - they won't share the recipe!!
                      My husband and I both love Watermans crabs too. They also have fabulous fresh green beans. It took me ages to come close to recreating them.

                      1. re: Axalady

                        We went to By The Docks a year or two ago 'cause of a recommendation here on Chowhound, but weren't terribly impressed by the crabcakes. They were large and pretty, but didn't seem to have a lot of flavor. I don't remember what time of year it was...perhaps they were using Asian crabmeat rather than blue crab. Or maybe we just hit them on a bad day.

                        1. re: Hal Laurent

                          I definitely agree with you regarding By the Docks. We also went, maybe about a year ago, based on recs here on CH, and from some people we know. They were large (ok, very large), mushy, flavorless globs. (They reminded me of what they call 'crabcakes' at G&M. I don't understand why people rave about those lumpy, mushy, things either!)

                          So far, the best crabcakes I've found in the metro area are at a place called Breezy Point, on Old Philadelphia Road, near White Marsh. It's carry out only, and we usually buy the raw crab cakes and broil them at home....they're even made with delish crab mustard...mmmmm....

                          1. re: baltoellen

                            Wow, don't like BTD or G&M? You two are tough customers! I guess part of this discussion could also be what do you expect a crab cake to be? I like BTD crab cakes because it's crab meat and just enough binders to hold it together and none of the binders over power the sweet crab meat. I think the crab cakes could be called "rich" but not mushy. Over the years I've tried many different crab cake recipes on the husband and we've settled on what we like. I don't make crab cakes at home unless I use lump meat (to me using any other type of meat is a waste of time) and the only seasons I use besides salt & pepper are dry mustard, worcestershire sauce and parsley. I think the crab cake should be all about tasting the crab. On the other hand, I've had crab cakes with Old Bay in them, some with diced onions, diced green and red bell peppers and celery and some that even had capers in them. IMHO these aren't crab cakes.

                            1. re: Axalady

                              The crabcake I had at By The Docks (which isn't actually by a dock :-) ) wasn't mushy. It just was lacking in crab flavor. The crab meat itself wasn't very good.

                              I was brought a day-old crabcake from G&M once, and it was pretty good when reheated. That was awhile back, though. I've heard they're using the Asian crab meat that Phillips uses nowadays.

                              1. re: Axalady

                                Call me a traditionalist, but I like my crabcakes to have a 'crust.' Neither BTD or G&M have them. I don't remember the meat being lump, or basically having any real crab flavor to them.

                                In fact, I had gone so far as to say that I don't think what they serve at G&M had really any resemblance to a crabcake....I don't really know what they are, but when you order a platter, you get two, so we decided to call them 'crab breasts.' ;-)

                                Also, as far as G&M, I don't think you have to sneak into their kitchen to know that the crab meat they use has little resemblence to blue crab.

                                I take your point about rich versus mushy....I don't like dried out crab cakes, of course, but I don't see the 'creaminess' of BTD's or G&M's products as being a quality that even necessarily belongs in a good crabcake.

                                1. re: baltoellen

                                  Having never tried BTD or G&M crabcakes, I'm curious: how would you guys characterize Faidley's? Where does it go on the rich v. mushy v. creamy v. crusty scale? I ask because it is my favorite crabcake ever, and I think of it as having a great crust, with a rich and creamy texture underneath. I'm just trying to understand what y'all mean when you are describing your perfect crabcakes.

                                  1. re: charmedgirl

                                    Faidley's is a good test! I love the crabcakes there....and, I suppose they are a little bit "moist' on the inside (I had never really thought of mushiness, creaminess, richness as a crabcake quality before this discussion!). They have a perfect crust, as well as the balance of spices to crabmeat. They are not dry, which doesn't mean that they are mushy, creamy or rich!!! :-))

                                    Does thing make the least bit of sense?!?

                                    I wonder if that helps a bit.

                                    But, I think that if you think Faidley's is the best crabcake, you'd

                                    1. re: baltoellen

                                      Was up at Faidley's a few weeks ago. The 'cakes were excellent, but seemed to have shrunk in size somewhat since my last visit. Haven't been to G&M since it was sold last year. The guys who deliver crab and fish to G&M tell me the place has gotten filthy. Too bad, because I used to like their carry-out side.

                      2. This is an excellent list, BTW, nice to see somebody do their homework and then post for confirmation. Be sure to report back after your trip.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: ko1

                          Thanks to everyone for all the great, informative feedback thus far. I'm really looking forward to checking out all of these places.

                          I just found a thread from last summer with a bunch of crabcake recommendations by someone named Joe H.; he seems to be very knowledgable. I was wondering if anyone has eaten at the crabcake restaurants he mentions in the post, and if so, what your thoughts are about these places:


                          *The Narrows on Kent Island--he says they serve the best traditional Maryland-style crabcakes anywhere
                          *Charleston--he says these are his absolute favorite crabcakes, but that they aren't traditional; also, he doesn't list a town name. I'm assuming that he's referring to the upscale restaurant on Lancaster Street in Baltimore proper, but just wanted to confirm that.
                          -Captain's Galley in O.C.--not sure what O.C. stands for, as an outsider to the area; perhaps Ocean City?
                          -Jerry's in Lanham
                          -Angelina's--from another thread I saw, it seems like this place may have closed down a while back?

                          Also, in another thread ( http://www.chowhound.com/topics/171794 ) someone mentioned a place called The Masthead on Pier Street, f.k.a. The Pier Street Inn. She said it's in Oxford on the Eastern Shore and that they have great crabcakes. Wondering if anyone can verify her account.

                          Again, any menu recommendations in addition to the expected at these and other places would be much appreciated.

                          1. re: pbergen

                            Oh, and to answer Ellen and Dennis--

                            I am in fact coming down from the north (the New York suburbs to be precise), so I really appreciate the tips for the place in North East and the ones southeast of D.C. I figure that since I'm going to be driving several hours anyway and am concerned first and foremost with the food, I'm willing to go anywhere in the region if the chow is destination-worthy. I've also been wanting to explore the Eastern Shore and other seaside/rural areas for a long time anyway, since I figure there are a lot of nice scenic areas and country roads. But I don't necessarily want to go out of my way if the chow is merely ok. That's why I wanted to get some recent feedback on these places; if the food's worth it, I have no problem making a special trip to a remote/distant place.

                            By the way, is there much of a difference in crab quality/taste over the course of the summer? Because I may very well head down to the area several times in the upcoming months and was wondering if there's an optimal time for crab eating, esp. with regard to local Maryland crabs. Also, is it fair to say that soft shell crabs are in season for the whole summer, from May through September, or is the beginning of the summer better?

                            Thanks again and looking forward to hearing some more thoughts from everyone.

                            1. re: pbergen

                              The fattest, tastiest local crabs arrive in the fall. OC does stand for Ocean City. Chaarleston is the upscale restaurant in Baltimore. Angelina's has re-opened under new management but is getting horrible word-of-mouth. The place to get crabcakes in that area is Koco's on Harford Rd. Huge lumps of meat with little filler, they could use a little more seasoning, IMHO. On Thursdays, they're the special and the price is reduced. Soft crabs are available all summer through at least early fall. They are most plentiful around the full moon when they naturally slough off their shells but are available all month thanks to the use of crab tanks with artificial lighting at night.

                            2. re: pbergen

                              Ahh Joe H. IIRC he worked for a large amusement park chain and traveled the world tasting food. His discourses on supermarkets or In-and-Out burgers versus Five Guys would generally garner a good response.

                              But I digress.

                              Yes, the "Charleston" he referred to is the upscale one. If you want an upscale crabcake, Pierpoint on Aliceanna has been serving a smoked crabcake as its signature dish for what has to be around 15 years.

                              Skip what used to be Angelina's restaurant for a variety of reasons, they really aren't in the restaurant biz anymore.

                              Jerry's in Lanham has something called a crab bomb that lots of people rave about. The Narrows also gets great reviews.

                              Finally, if you're still looking for crab places, I don't often do this, but you should try Obrycki's. First of all, they--unlike many crab houses here in MD--still serve Chesapeake Bay crabs (as opposed to LA or NC), and second, they use a different spice (black pepper) than the rest.

                              One other thing: there's a restaurant in North Baltimore called the "Crackpot seafood restaurant." I've not been there for a while, so I'm not vouching for their food, but they sell a lot of crabcakes. They have a 20 ounce crabcake which they call the "Pounder Plus." They also do some variations on crab cakes. Just throwing this out if it's interesting.

                              BTW, during the season, some of the best crabs to get are crabs that are sold by the side of the road--they're caught in the bay and trucked up here. You just have to steam them yourself. People on this board might be able to advise which ones are consistently good.

                              1. re: BmoreHound

                                The Crackpot is just north of the city line, in the shopping center at the northwest corner of Loch Raven Blvd and Goucher Blvd (a few doors down from Giant Food).

                                It's a very old-fashioned place (or at least it was when I was last there a number of years ago). They used to have decent crabs, though.

                                1. re: Hal Laurent

                                  Crackpot opened up a new location within the past eight or so months in BelAir. We've been twice. IMHO the cream of crab soup is the standout. Again, I prefer the crab cakes from By the Docks.

                                2. re: BmoreHound

                                  The BEST crabs are definitely the live ones bought from a truck on the side of the road. I know of a few places in the Baltimore area where you can find these "crabbers by night/ sellers by day" Thereis usually a truck on the weekends just north of the Full Moon Pub ( used to be Forest Inn) on reisterstown Rd.....right before Finksburg. There was also a guy on Notheren Parkway near Loch raven. Don't know if he's still there.

                                  1. re: MDicecreamguy

                                    He's still there, I bought crabs from him last summer, they were barely legal, I won't go back to him.

                                    1. re: hon

                                      The crabs I got from the guy in Reisterstown were huge......just gotta catch him at the right time. I wouldn't plan a crab feast for 20 people expecting him to be the supplier!

                                      1. re: MDicecreamguy

                                        I was talking about the Northern Pkwy guy, should have clarified!

                                3. re: pbergen

                                  I agree with the notion that some of the best crab cakes around can be found at The Narrows. They also used to make AMAZING chocolate bread pudding.

                                  My husband and I get to the DC/Annapolis area 2-3 times a year. We make two of those trips every fall so we can have yummy, fat, fall crabs.

                                  Cantler's in Annapolis is my #1 choice for crabs. I haven't been anywhere else in years. I know that during crab season, it is more likely than not that the crabs at Cantler's will be local crabs and not those crappy ones from the LA or TX. I also know that if at Cantler's I ask to make sure they are serving local crabs, I will get an honest answer. I can't tell you how many times I've asked if a crabhouse served local crabs before ordering or even by calling ahead before going to the place and have been told they were serving local crabs only to be given those mushy, dusty tasting, nasty mustard gulf crabs. It incenses me that places are not honest about what crabs they serve.

                                  I am in search of a new place for crabs. As much as I love the crabs at Cantler's, their sides leave a lot to be desired. Not that you want a lot of sides when you're picking crabs but for me, a decent salad would be nice.

                                  I am eager to read about where you end up especially since I would like to find a place other than Cantler's at least for some variety. But man, they serve GREAT clocal crabs!

                                  P.S. O'Leary's in the Annapolis neighborhood of East port is above average for fish and seafood though it's not a crabhouse. i would say make the drive across the bridge though and go to The Narrows over O'leary's.

                                  Also, Buddy's and Phillips are just plain bad.

                                  1. re: pbergen

                                    Thanks for the mention. My wife and I were just at the Narrows, Ocean Odyssey and return to Waterman's in Rock Hall this Saturday. I continue to passionately believe that the Narrows have the best crab cakes AND cream of crab soup in Maryland. Ocean Odyssey (who have their own boats) had "private reserve" jumbo crabs (Maryland crabs) for $85 a dozen. They claim these are seven inches across. Ocean Odyssey also makes good "homestyle" crab cakes and is worth a stop en route to the beach. It's in Cambridge directly on 50.

                                    I continue to favor Waterman's in Rock Hall over Cantler's. As atmospheric as Cantler's is, Waterman's is even better. Suicide Bridge is also well worth a mention.

                                4. Yes, I always recommend Henninger's Tavern but they really do have a great crab cake as well as steamed shrimp, mussels and clams, not to mention the texas BBQ shrimp and the pan fried breaded oysters on spinach with fennel cream! Yum!


                                  1. I also echo Faidley's--pls consider adding Speakeasy in Canton and The Prime Rib

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: foodess

                                      I'll also add the crabcakes at the Tasting Room in Frederick. Had them this evening and they were nearly perfect. No filler, very little binder or spices; just sweet local lump crab. A bit expensive, but worth it.

                                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                                        Sounds like the perfect crabcake to me!!

                                    2. There's a place I've heard about for years, and I finally got there. It's called TIMBUKTU SEAFOOD, a family-owned restaurant in Hanover, MD. They have the BIGGEST lump meat crabcakes you'll ever find....and they're reasonably priced, The wait for a table wasn't too long, but there were LOTS of people waiting to get at them. Enjoy!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: jus2jazzy

                                        It's the same people who run G & M, is it not?

                                        1. re: ko1

                                          Not any more. They sold G&M last year.

                                      2. captain harvey in reisterstown
                                        reters crabhouse in reisterstown
                                        beefshakes in reisterstown - suposed to have a jumbo lumbo crab cakes as good as angelina's

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: petet

                                          I tried the jumbo lump crabcake at Beefshakes in Reisterstown a couple weeks ago. It was technically good with lots of lump crabmeat and little filler, but it lacked flavor. My recent taste testing in that area would send me to Maggie's in Westminster.

                                          1. re: petet

                                            Also in Westminster for crabs and crabcakes I like Frisco Family Pub. They don't serve crabs everynight, but they get them some nights we would get them and take them back to campus. I likes their crabcakes too though. Ha I already said this above. Sorry it was so long ago I forgot I posted on this thread.

                                          2. Inspired by your question and in preparation for my upcoming trip, I started calling around to see who is serving local crabs.

                                            Costa's is not and I was told that they "always" serve gulf crabs. THAT's disappointing!

                                            Schultz's serves both but they mix them together so you couldn't go in and ask for local crabs only.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: luckygirl

                                              I was at Schultz's about two weeks ago, and thought the crabs were just awful. They were a good size, but seemed overcooked. I just thought them close to inedible. However, I was entertaining folks from out of town, and they loved them...but no way they could tell the difference between MD and Gulf crabs. (I'm sure they weren't local.)

                                              It was really disappointing since I really like Schultz's. Even one of the guest crab cakes was totally lackluster. This isn't the first time I've been disappointed there, and very much doubt that I'll ever go back. It's such a shame.

                                              And, speaking of crab cakes, I've been pleasantly surprised by those at Capt James Landing carry out (you know, the side of the ship on Boston Street). They are really, really, really good! And, they have among the best crab soup I've had anywhere, and I'm forever on a good crab soup hunt.

                                            2. I've got to jump in here...I have a few more crab places to add. We live in DC, but have a place in East New Market, MD, on the Eastern Shore, and do our own crab feasts whenever we have guests!

                                              In the DC area, about the only place for good, huge crabs is the Bethesda Crab House. (Call ahead of time.)

                                              On the way to the Eastern Shore, in Kent Narrows - only about 5 miles from the eastern end of the Bay Bridge, is Harris' Crab House. They usually have jumbos; and if it's just crabs, although not so large, they have an AYCE Crab Feast. My favorite thing at Harris' however is the Oyster Feast which they hold Friday nights in the fall.

                                              In Hurlock, about 15 minutes from Cambridge, MD, is Suicide Bridge Restaurant - good crabs, good value!

                                              For the absolutely best soft shells, go to "208 Talbot," right on St. Michael's main street. 208 is quite upscale, I think their term is "casual, gourmet dining." (All of the food is delicious, but call ahead if you want the soft shells, as they are not always on the menu.)

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: crabwoman

                                                I really like the crabcakes at McCabes in Hampden (and the burgers) Falls Road just south of Coldspring Lane

                                              2. Don't see anything recent, so I have to put in my opinion as growing up "on the water" and a lifelong resident of the Chesapeake Bay region.

                                                Apart from getting crabs from the local watermen I know and steaming them myself, by far the most consistent and best place for crabs is Bill's Terrace Inn in Essex, MD. Although their main crab supply is from Louisiana, they are hands down the best crab steamer in the region. They sell to so many of the crab faithful that their bar area is usually overflowing with people waiting for tables, since they don't take reservations, and sell on a 1st come- 1st served basis. They have also opened a restaurant in the Fenwick Island Area just over the line Delaware line from Ocean City, Maryland, and the offerings there are just as good, although they get shipments daily from the Baltimore region and ship them to that location. The size offerings are somewhat varied based upon the shipments received, but they are always packed and heavy.
                                                The other thing of note is that if you are not happy with the weight of any particular crab, they will replace them, no questions asked until you are satisifed, in both locations.

                                                Regarding Crab Cakes, Faidley's IMHO serves the best in the Balto region.

                                                Also, Nantucket's of Fenwick Island Delaware serves an excellent crabcake, which I would rank as the best non-maryland style I've ever had. Although they are not softball sized cakes as you would expect to see in some of the Baltimore locations previously mentioned, they appear to have no filling whatsover. They also have the best clam chowder (quahog) south of cape cod. Although pricey, I would also rank Nantucket's as one of the best restaurants on the Delmarva coast.

                                                It saddens me that I have to go to Delaware to get a decent seafood offering while I am in Ocean City, though... how the times have changed...

                                                1. Grew up on the Shore.. know crabcakes pretty well, and hesitantly try them while dining out.
                                                  Here are some places that have WOW-ed me:
                                                  The Center Club (Baltimore)
                                                  The Milton Inn (it's been several years but were memorable)
                                                  Julia's (Centreville, MD- excellent restaurant but wonderful crabcakes)

                                                  A sleeper.. Annapolis Seafood Co.- they sell 3 grades of crabcakes, and the most expensive are as large as a softball, and amazing! They will cook them for you, or you can carry out. That's where I would head for hard crabs as well.

                                                  Some distinctions.... eastern shore crabcakes DONT have Old Bay in them- maybe cayenne, but not OB... so many commercial ones do, and that's not authentic. Neither is extensive filler, like a ton of breadcrumbs or bread.

                                                  Buddy's is HORRIBLE- please don't go there. Phillips is hardly better, and O'Leary's is an overpriced seafood restaurant with a fair amount of pretention. Today's local paper had that place advertising for a souschef, bartender and assistant manager, so save your money.

                                                  In the Kent Narrows area, the Crab Deck is also very good. I favor that over Harris', but thats personal preference. Went to The Narrows recently and was shocked by the very worn interior (think 1985 era)- food was ok but expensive.

                                                  Rock Hall has decent seafood places and is off the beaten, tourist track. Chestertown has several very good restaurants for seafood and crabcakes: Brooks Mill and The Blue Heron. Both I can recommend to you strongly.

                                                  Hope this helps.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: ArtichokeGirl

                                                    This thread has been infinitely helpful, but I was hoping to get even more specific advice as my husband and I are going to Whitehaven for a weekend getaway and need seafood restaurant recommendations in that area. I've looked-up and bookmarked all of the restaurants mentioned in this thread, and we'll definitely try to visit some of them on our way to Whitehaven, but I was hoping to get a recommendation for a great seafood dinner for the night we're staying in Whitehaven (so I guess within a 15-20 minute drive of Whitehaven). We've lived in MD for 2 years and we've never been to the Eastern Shore, so any input is greatly appreciated.

                                                    1. re: ArtichokeGirl

                                                      That's Annapolis Seafood MARKET for anyone who is searching for it on the internet. And I'm coming to the conclusion that it might possibly beat out Faidley's for the best crabcake.

                                                      1. re: ArtichokeGirl

                                                        Rock Hall is "off the beaten, tourist track?" From where would the tourist come?

                                                        Did you have a crab cake and/or cream of crab soup at the Narrows? Lump Maryland crab meat is appropriately expensive. Indonesian is not.

                                                      2. I'd say Timbuktu In Hanover, MD and Annie's Paramount Steak and Seafood House in Grasonville, MD(Kent Narrows area).

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: neibor

                                                          With all due respect, I would strongly suggest that anyone reading this thread try the Narrows in Kent Island. Many of the places named do not even use Maryland crab; others don't even approach the taste or sweetness of the lump crab used at the Narrows. Phillips is trying to change the Maryland seafood industry by introducing Indonesian and South American crab meat. Simply, these are different crabs. We are fortunate to have the best crab meat in the world available to us. It is just a bit of extra effort to find it.

                                                          Start at the Narrows. Continue with Suicide Bridge and Ocean Odyssey. There are many native Maryland seafood restaurants which honor the tradition and industry of the state. I believe they should be recognized as such.

                                                          Sorry, but I don't support Indonesian seafood processors or the companies who have introduced them here.

                                                          1. re: Joe H

                                                            Joe H, are there any crabs/crab houses on the near side of the bridge? Like Pope's Creek or other S. Md. locations?

                                                            1. re: Joe H

                                                              I had the crabcake dinner at the Narrows just last night, and they continue to be absolutely outstanding. I chose sides of sauteed greenbeans with sweet corn, and fried green tomatoes. Also try the gazpacho with lumb crab if they have it -it is a frequent special. Not as spicy or chunky as I remember it in the past but absolutely fresh with large lumps of sweet local crab meat heaped on top. The cream of crab also continues to shine (ask for sherry with it, and they will bring it to you in a little glass cruet.)

                                                          2. Harris Crab House in Kent Narrows-foggitaboutit. Unless you like your seafood overdone, with a side of extreme noise and kids out of control, eaten at a just barely clean table and served by a surly waitstaff who seem to exist in another time zone service wise, dont even bother with this place. Oh and flies, did I mention the flies.There are so many other places-the Narrows is the best IMHO-dont waste your culinary time on Harris.The Narrows is pricey, I'll admit, but the crabmeat is real Eastern Shore, not that Indonesian crap so many places (Phillips for one)pass for crab today. Besides when you buy that Indonesian stuff, you are not supporting the watermen of the area.I also agree with many posters about the Waterman in Rock Hall about 20 minutes from Annapolis and a charming town to boot.
                                                            Life, and the season for fresh crabcakes, is to short.Avoid commercial crab crapola like Harris and heed the advise of many posters. Unlatch the wallet and head to the Narrows or anyone of the other excellent recs posted here.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: hmrlovr

                                                              The Waterman is in Rock Hall, but it is not 20 minutes from Annapolis. Maybe an hour and 20 minutes on a good day, if the bridge traffic isn't backed up.

                                                              Buying local crabs is a double-edge sword. On the one hand, it supports the local watermen. But on the other hand, it contributes to the depletion of the woefully diminished local crab population.

                                                              1. re: crackers

                                                                Mea culpa on the time to Rock Hall-just drove it today, took about 45 minutes.
                                                                As I am now on the Gr8 American Crab Cake Hunt, this thread is infinitely helpful. Had cakes today at Waterman and found them not as good as remembered, but then what is.Not as "lumpy" and swimming in some unidentifiable orange liquid. Perhaps a combo of paprika and steam. (Why do eateries feel it's necessary to douse things in paprika?)Yesterday it was Legal Spirits in Easton. They were passable, but the cream of crab soup made up for lowered expectations.Tonight it's the Narrows for dinner. Dropped in at lunch to look at menu and saw their crabcakes-piled high with lump. I'm salivating on the keyboard now!!I just wonder what my cholesterol count will be when I'm done with my hunt.
                                                                I am a firm believer in localvore-be it fin or veggies.I agree the crabbing industry on the east coast is in dire trouble, due as much to mismanagement of the industry by state and government officials as it is to escalating pollution in the Bay with perhaps a touch of global warming thrown in.Is the solution avoiding local crabs-I think not.Professional watermen are a dying breed and an important component to the ecosystems of the bay.this is a thorny problem and I fear resolution may not come in time to save either the Bay or the watermen.
                                                                One thing I damn well do know is that the cheaper crap crab that comes in from Indonesia and the Phillipines is an abomination onto the crab and only serves to undercut efforts to revive our own floundering (ew a very bad pun)crab industry.

                                                                1. re: hmrlovr

                                                                  Considering that Rock Hall is 60 miles from Annapolis, covering it in 45 minutes is an amazing feat - even on 55 mph highways. Watch out for the cops lurking on the side of 301 in those parts, although having to return to Centreville to fight the ticket is a great excuse to have lunch at the Narrows. Not that I would know anything about that.

                                                            2. There is a crab place in Reisterstown called Reeters. They consistently have the biggest & tastiest crabs. Not many people know about this place but it's getting more and more crowded. I have tried many other crab places (Bethesda Crabhouse, Steamers, Cantlers, Captain Harveys, Costas)...nothing compares to Reeters!

                                                              1. Whenever I go out to eat, I always fall back on the crab cake. I've had them in Baltimore, southern PA, DE, DC. The best crab cake I've ever eaten was in Hampstead, MD at Greenmount Station. It's in a little strip mall and not easy to find. A family member found it on a business trip. I always order the crab cake dinner or crab cake sandwich. I've never been disappointed, even in the winter months. Worth a trip from Baltimore.

                                                                1. To add to the list of great crab cakes: I would have never guessed it, but I tried the crab cakes at Tark's in Lutherville and I was really impressed. All jumbo lump meat, just enough binder to hold it together but no more, not greasy and really great flavor.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: chefdilettante

                                                                    Anybody tried Annabel Lee Tavern's crabcake (Canton) recently? The restaurant's website ranks up there as one of the most annoying I've ever encountered, http://www.annabelleetavern.com/
                                                                    but I've heard good things about the menu.

                                                                    The crab cakes at the Prime Rib in Baltimore, and The Narrows on Kent Island still are my measures of excellence, but looking for other worthy contenders.

                                                                    1. re: crackers

                                                                      Wow, you're right about Annabel Lee's website. It's even worse than Cinghiale's!

                                                                      I second the recommendation of the crab cakes at The Narrows. I've never ordered seafood at the Prime Rib, although I've always heard good things about it. I'll have to break down and try their crab cake sometime.

                                                                      1. re: Hal Laurent

                                                                        I'm not a fervent fan of the Prime Rib, but they do offer a lovely atmosphere geared to the way restaurants used to be.

                                                                        Several years ago on a Christmas Eve my hubby and I dined at the Prime Rib. I ordered the Imperial Crab--it was not remarkable, but tasty. My hubby ordered the prime rib and was satisfied.

                                                                        We enjoyed the ambience and were suddenly bemused (not to mention SHOCKED), when the woman diner next to our table (she resembled Julia Child, but was a bit more stylish)-picked up the bone of her prime rib, sp[rinkled a lot of salt and pepper on it--held in mid-air, then proceeded to chow down on the bone. She gnawed that bone like a dog. Glorious!!!

                                                                        So, we enjoyed our dinner with a movie moment! FoiGras