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Aug 24, 2007 07:54 PM

Crabs near Arlington?

We're staying at the Hilton Garden Inn in Arlington and will have a car. Just looking for the best crabs within about a half hour drive or less. We want one meal with just crabs so the rest of the menu won't matter for us.


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  1. You have two options:

    The Quarterdeck in Arlington...

    The other option is The Dancing Crab in Georgetown, which was just featured on the Food Network incidentally...

    Have fun!

    1 Reply
    1. re: JAC13

      The Dancing Crab is several miles from Georgetown.

    2. Last summer at least, Little Viet Garden in Clarendon (right by the Metro stop) was serving steamed blue crabs and did a very good job with them. These were American-style steamed crabs, which seemed like an odd menu choice for them, so I'm not sure if they're still serving them. If they are, it's a good option to have in addition to the Quarterdeck, which has good crabs but is insanely crowded.

      12 Replies
      1. re: Mississippi Snopes

        A dozen large crabs at the Quarterdeck is about $70. Is that expensive or is that the going rate for the crabs. Would a dozen larges for two good eaters be enough, maybe too much? Would we be better off with a dozen jumbos?

        1. re: Rick

          Bigger is always better. If you have leftovers, bring them home and pick them and make a crab soup.

          1. re: dcs

            We're having crabs out first night in town, that won't work. Don't want to order too much as it'll just go to waste.

            1. re: Rick

              The prices keep going up, so it's hard to tell but $70 a dozen for large crabs seems very high. I got curious and called Little Viet Garden and they say they do still serve steamed hardshell crabs, so maybe you should call them and do some price shopping.

              For my wife and me, a dozen large crabs would be plenty, but to cut the cost we usually order something to go along with them (fries, hush puppies, oysters, or at Little Viet Garden, maybe the spring rolls).

              If large crabs are $70 a dozen, jumbos would be insanely expensive, definitely too much food, and they're unlikely to have them anyway. Jumbos are much easier to eat though.

              The idea of a Vietnamese restaurant serving steamed crabs isn't as odd as it might seem. For years, one of the best crabhouses in this area was the Chesapeake Seafood House (or some similar name), which was a Vietnamese-owned shack on Wilson Boulevard with a distinctive patio shaped like a ship's prow. And Mai's in Eden Center (the Vietnamese food paradise) was a "crabs only" restaurant. Both are now closed.

              1. re: Rick

                One more option, but it would be about 20-25 minutes drive, is Captain Pell's Crabhouse in Fairfax. It's right on Lee Highway (10195 Lee Hwy,), which would give an out-of-towner a reasonable chance of not getting too lost. This is a huge old-fashioned crabhouse so you shouldn't have any trouble getting a table. If you checked prices on the day you plan to eat on larges and jumbos at the Quarterdeck, Captain Pell's, and Little Viet Garden, that should give you a good idea of what the fair market price is that day. By the way, don't be surprised if some or all of the restaurants only have mediums. That's gotten much more common lately.

                1. re: Mississippi Snopes

                  70 bucks a dozen is too high for crabs. In addition to the picks here, there's Ernie's Original Crab House in Alexandria, but that place has zero ambience and the crabs vary a lot. I'd be inclined to send you, as a visitor to the area, to the Dancing Crab in DC.

                  If you are willing to drive for, say, 45 minutes to an hour to get a place that is fun -- and you might as well because it can take a couple of hours to eat crabs, anyway -- you might want to consider Tim's Rivershore all the way down in Dumfries. This would require you to drive down I-95 and then weave your way over to the Potomac River (there are directions at, but it is a very fun place and you can eat outside on the fake beach overlooking a really pretty spot on the river. Lots of boats tie up at the dock there, too. There's live acoustic music on weekend days. Call first at 703-441-1375 to see how the crabs are. Larges there run about $50/dozen. It's a good way to spend a weekend afternoon/evening.

                  Also, it's always good to ask about the *quality* of the crabs as well as the size. Good medium crabs may have more meat in them than recently-molted large crabs and will cost you $15-20/dozen less -- but crummy medium crabs are really hard to pick.

                  1. re: Frobozz

                    Thank you! We're planning on trying Tim's on Saturday. We were going to go down this evening but we're just too hungry to make the drive, plus they don't have live bands tonight. A dozen of mediums right now is $38 and she said the mediums are heavier than the larges. We're excited for the live music and the river side dining.

                    1. re: Rick

                      Call again before you go -- crabs can be variable there and they sell a lot of crabs. And check the traffic -- it's Labor Day weekend and I-95 sometimes turns into a parking lot.

                      You're going to crack up when you see the place. It's a shack with some attached outdoor decks, and you have to cross a busy railroad track and drive down a narrow gravel road to get to Tim's. Note that if there is no parking there (and there often isn't), you can park on a crummy lot on the *other* side of the railroad tracks, or at another lot just up the road you came in on. Just don't get hit by a train...seriously.

                      Tim's is my favorite secret little area crab dive.

                      1. re: Frobozz

                        Thanks for the heads up, we're not used to this much traffic. We're staying in Arlington, VA and mapquest says we're about 30 miles away from Tim's. Do you think we'd make it there in under an hour late Saturday afternoon?

                    2. re: Frobozz

                      By the way, Ernie's closed several years ago.

                      1. re: Mississippi Snopes

                        The Ernie's on Rt. 1 in Alexandria is still open. See this article from the Alexandria Times:

                        1. re: theoneontheleft

                          To further clarify, the old Ernie's location down by the Wal-Mart has a newer one further north on Route 1, maybe a couple of miles north of the old one.

          2. great post, lots of good info!

            1 Reply
            1. re: itstangy

              Well, we ended up at TIm's and we had a great time, thanks for the rec! It was exactly what we were looking for and with the holiday weekend they have bands playing all weekend. I got the all you can eat small crabs and ended up eating 3 dozen. Apparently they sent out too many for one person at one time. The waitress even offered to bring out fresh hot ones about half way through. I declined but I did finish the three dozen. The table next to us had the mediums and they really didn't look much bigger. The price was much better than quarter deck too, $38 for a dozen mediums, $28 for a dozen small, $32 for all you can eat smalls, and the entire table does NOT have to have the all you can eat. This worked well since my wife doesn't like to pick crabs.