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Baltimore crab soup thread

I've been on a hunt for really good Maryland crab soup for what seems like forever. I try a cup, at least, of it at almost any new place I go that has it on the menu, and am almost always disappointed.

I'm not looking for anything exotic--no pink salt, nothing like roasted anything in it--but just a classic, crabby, peppery, with decent veggies put together in the right proportions in a bowl of hot soup.

I think the best bowl I've had of this local fav in the past few months has been at that lunch counter in Cross Street Market (right at the Charles St. entrance--and the name escapes me, maybe Steve's Lunch?) and in the past, I thought Theresa's in the B'dwy Market was pretty good, except a bit heavy on beef.

So, what are your picks for the best bowl of Maryland crab soup in the greater Baltimore area?


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  1. Steve's Lunch is at the Light Street end.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Tugboat

      Of course it is at the Light Street end! D'oh!

    2. quick question interjection on the topic of baltimore crab: is $18.99 a normal price for one crab cake?

      being from FL, i really wanted to try a genuine maryland crab cake on a short BWI layover - the price at the obrycki's in BWI astounded me, and i couldn't see shelling out that much for a crab cake.

      i don't think it's just an airport price thing either, because the obrycki's online menu has the same price......

      4 Replies
      1. re: hitachino

        First, I agree about Steve's Lunch at Cross Street. I get the crab soup every time I go to Cross Street.

        Regarding the Obrycki's crab cake, I would never pay that much for a single crab cake. But then I'm a crab cake snob and rarely eat them out, because my mother's are better than anything I've ever purchased. She doesn't make them much anymore (picking through the crab has become difficult and tiresome for her), but buys good cakes at Annapolis Seafood and just cooks them at home.

        I have also had good crab cakes at Gertrude's in the Baltimore Museum of Art. Closest approximation of my mother's that I have found.

        1. re: hitachino

          Just a clarification. . . A light fare crab cake at Obrycki's is $14.95. The crab cake dinner is priced at $18.95 and includes two sides.

          Also, keep in mind that we (yes, I work at Obrycki's) use only fresh crab meat, not the pasteurized, tasteless Asian crab meat that is sold in most places these days.

          It's your money, so spend it as you see fit. But sometimes, if you want the best you have to splurge.

          1. re: Crabman

            I've never eaten at Obrycki's but if you're eating at the airport, you should always expect to be reamed on price.

            1. re: onocoffee

              BWI has a "street pricing" policy. Operators are not allowed to charge higher than normal pricing. Our pricing is the same at either location. . . guaranteed.

        2. I found the crab soup at Ikaros to be very good.

          Nothing has yet met the standards Mom set. Moms crab soup did not have crab meat
          added...Dad would clean and shell the crabs and Mom would break the crabs in half and add to the soup. With a bowl of soup you got a half a crab. Mom also always swore that a thunderstorm would cause a pot of crab soup to go "sour".

          1. The Maryland crab soup at Fifer's seafood (Elizabeth Station, Pasadena on Ft. Smallwood Road) is a real winner. Peppery, chock full o' veggies, and lots of crab. The last time we had it, we proclaimed it the best we've eaten in recent memory.

            Their seafood is awesome. Sunday through Wed they have an all-you-can-eat deal where you can choose from a gazillion steamed, fried, and other seafood options on the menu. Their steamed clams are the best I've had. Definitely worth the drive out.

            I agree that usually the Maryland crab is disappointing. I'm trying to think of one I had before Fifer's that wasn't all that disappointing, but am blanking on where that was.

            1 Reply
            1. re: venera

              Fantastic story, Hue! I'll bet you've more of them, too & wonder if you ever try to make that wonderful soup yourself--but on a clear day, of course!

              I go to Greektown fairly often, so will need to stop by Ikaros and try their soup. I wonder if I can do my own food crawl, soup there and then go to my normal Zorba's or Samo's for the main meal.

              Venera, I've never heard of Fifer's, but googled their site, and they look GREAT. It is definitely on the list, and thanks for the tip!

            2. This is a bit far afield, but two weeks ago we ate at Fish On! in Lewes DE. Mrs. W. -- a Baltimore native and crab soup expert -- tried the Delaware Crab Soup and pronounced it excellent. I think the main difference was a different variety of veggies (no corn, for example).

              Interestingly, on a thread I started on the general topics board about "beloved local favorites that aren't all that" that got a ton of responses but for some reason was deleted in its entirety, I cited Maryland crab soup as one of the leading offenders. My point in starting that thread was to warn tourists about likely disappointments but the mods must have seen some sort of more sinister motive.

              1. Perhaps not technically Baltimore vicinity, but I've always found the MD Crab Soup at Holly's near Piney Narrows/Kent Island to be a chockful of vegees includining okra, lima bean, corn, carrots and green beans in a seafoody-tomatoey broth with lots of crab throughout. Yum.

                1. For Greater Balt., the Treaty of Paris, and Carrol's Creek have very good crab soup in Annapolis. Treaty of Paris has won the crab soup contest many times in Annapolis.

                  1. Schultz's in Essex hands down, its a lil thick and has shredded crab meat but I've yet to find a better soup. I usually buy it a quart at a time.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: miss holly j

                      Ate there a few weeks ago, and yet another disappointing MD crab for me. At this point, I'm really leaning towards the carryout at Captain James' Landing.....But, I still welcome more suggestions on this!

                      1. re: baltoellen

                        Is the crab soup @ Cpt James' Landing any good then? or are you refering to the carry out crabs?

                        1. re: aussiewonder

                          yes, the crab soup....but, it's sort of bizarrely thick! I'd be interested to hear someone else's take on it! (Also, Wed--today--they have their massive crab cake special, which I think is like $9, instead of $13, and they are very, very good.....)

                    2. I'm no expert on crab soup, but I enjoyed the MD crab from 700 South in Linthicum the few times I've had it (after adding some more pepper). If you're near the airport, it may be worth a trip. Other than breakfast and lunch during the week, I'm not sure of the hours, so give them a call to make sure they're open. The menu is basically average, overpriced sandwiches, but the cookies are good, as well.


                      700 South Gourmet Deli & Cafe
                      1190 Winterson Rd, Linthicum, MD 21090

                      1. Nostalgia time - Thirty years ago I worked lunches at a small place in a Towson office park. It was called The Sandwich. The cook made the best crab soup ever. It isn't still there, is it?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: wandasue

                          I know the owner of The Sandwich. (It is no longer in business.) I will mention your compliment to her. The Sandwich has an interesting connection to another well known Baltimore restaurant. Nancy Longo (owner of Pier Point (sp?))worked there for a while. I doubt if it was her recipe at the time though.

                        2. Ok, so for a very brief time I worked at a truly hellacious inner harbor restaurant that is no longer there. The restaurant had a lot of things going against it, but it did make one or two items that were quite delicious. One of these was crab soup. It was recognized on several occasions by several different publications/organizations etc. as having the "best" crab soup in Baltimore. I know, I know, that often means nothing, but in this case the soup really was good. The restaurant isn't there anymore, but the chef wrote a cookbook that I bought (for purely nostalgic purposes) and I think the recipe is included. If you have any interest I can check when I get home tonight, and if it's there, post it on the Home Cooking Board tonight.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: charmedgirl

                            Aw, c'mon! Name the restaurant, please! I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out which one you're talking about.

                            1. re: charmedgirl

                              since it is no longer there, what restaurant?

                              1. re: charmedgirl

                                yes! Please post the recipe...and, I'm curious what restaurant it could be, too!

                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                  Awh, you're gonna make me admit the association! Ok, it was Wayne's Bar-B-Que. It was on the lower floor of the Pratt Street pavilion. I vouch for none of its food but the cornbread (which I still crave every once in a while) and the crab soup. Speaking as a former waitress there, I also can't vouch for the service. I learned many things in that job, not the least of which were (1) I never want to be a waitress ever again and (2) to tip well. Anyhow, I'll check the cookbook for the recipe tonight!

                                  1. re: charmedgirl

                                    Thanks for that great info! It must have been very short lived there....although I can't say that I could name too many of the places in Harborplace, except as I see them from the outside on Pratt or Light Streets!

                                    Can't wait for the recipe!

                                    1. re: baltoellen

                                      I don't think Wayne's was visible from Pratt or Light. Not that I go to Harborplace, either...

                                      1. re: charmedgirl

                                        Wayne B (owner and chef at Waynes BBQ) started out with a small place on Light Street years before he went to Harborplace.t was called The Soup Kitchen and had great Crab soup also...musta been the same recipe!

                                        1. re: Hue

                                          I thought I remembered the Soup Kitchen also being in Harborplace (Light St. pavillion). That was a long time ago, though, so my memory may be suspect.

                                    2. Last year I went to the Md Seafood festival at Sandy Point State Park where the have a crab soup "cook-off" every year. I must have tried over 20 crab soups ...both traditional MD. Style and also Cream Of Crab. There were NO LOSERS !!! For a $10 donation......it was like a crab soup orgy!!
                                      I'm not sure when the festival is......if someone else knows...please post!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: MDicecreamguy

                                        It was last weekend. Sorry MDicecreamguy...