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Crabs in Baltimore - HELP!

Hi everyone,

I'm going to be in Baltimore this weekend just for one night and I have been craving crabs for months. My Dad grew up on the Bay and I just miss visiting Grandma and having my mallet, newspaper on the table, Old Bay, butter and just plain great crabs.

So, with that said I need your help. I have scoured the boards, reviews, postings - anything I can find to point me in the right direction. So far the top three seem to be Bo Brooks, Bill's Terrace and Costas. I've seen so many mixed reviews for all three that I just can't pull the trigger. Here's the catch (no pun intended) - I'm going with a friend that has never picked crabs before and I want to make sure that the first experience is really great.

We'll be staying in Inner Harbor, but I don't mind driving for good crabs - no too far, but if it's really that good I'll make the trip. We're going to the O's game Saturday night, hang around town for a better part of the day Sunday and then the long drive back.

Thanks in advance for the help - I really, truly appreciate it.

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  1. We're doing the same thing! and I'm orignally from the NOVA area and crabs are my fondest memories. I know right now they are expensive (though they have been for years) and it is soft shell season.

    Any way, we're headed to Riva, MD and Mike's Crab House. Went last year and had such a great time we're going back.

    1. Bill's Terrace Inn or Costas have the best crabs, Bo Brooks is on the water but it's a tourist trap.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hon

        If I had to choose between Mr. Bill's and Costas, I'd pick Mr. Bill's without batting an eye. I think their crabs are better, and I think like their atmosphere better.

        Costas isn't a bad second choice, but it's just wrong for a crabhouse to have carpeting. There's just something about Mr. Bill's that I like more.

        1. re: venera

          Hear that about the carpet!!

          Question, I just looked at the web and it says Mr. Bill's doesn't open until 4PM. Is that true?

      2. Thanks for the thoughts. Please keep them coming. And if there is a place I missed that is a MUST go, please let me know.

        Also, for Bill's - I hear the wait is crazy. How long is the norm?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Island Nomad

          I thought Bill's opened at 5pm. I have been seated there right away and waited anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours.

          1. re: hon

            That is really too bad because our plane leaves at 5 on Sunday and the game starts at 7 on Saturday. Too short of a time period to dig into those crabs. Will have to remember for next year though!

        2. if you're at the harbor, you could take a short trip, about 2 miles (5 minutes) to lp steamers on fort ave in locust point. it may not be the best place in all of baltimore, but it would suit your needs for the weekend.

          3 Replies
          1. re: wild bill

            What does everyone think of Canton Dockside?

            1. re: Island Nomad

              I know this topic has been reviewed to death, but I haven't seen that many recent posts on either of these two places.

              Can anyone give me their thoughts on Canton Dockside and Captain James Landing?

              Thanks a lot!

            2. re: wild bill

              I love LP Steamers; their crabs aren't local, but they are prepared very well and they have $6 pitchers.

            3. I had a great time with a bunch of friend's at Nick's Fish House last weekend. It overlooks the harbor and has a very 'summer-y' feel. However, I have not been to any others so I cannot compare.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Melanie

                That's funny....I went with family to Nick's on a whim. Dreaded it, thought it was going to be a sucky happy hour style SYSCO-infested menu.....and ya know what? Best crabs I've had since we went to Price's in Havre de Grace two years ago. I was stunned.

              2. I liked Costas in Dundalk. Call ahead and have them get the crabs ready in advance and ask for the largest size. They will cost you, but the big boys are less work and more meat!

                1. Bill's is uniquely Baltimore, the kind of odd place that used to exist all over the city - you really should go there. There are pool tables to make the wait tolerable.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Steve

                    Hey all. Timing prohibited us from trying Bill's. the 5pm opening time only gave us one option and with the storms that rolled through we didn't make it in time to do Bill's and make the game. The next day would have gotten us back too late, but I do appreciate the advice and I look forward to Bill's on the next trip.

                    We did go to Capt. James Landing as they open at 2pm on the weekends. The nice thing about CJL is the crab house is on the water under a tent. That really brings me back to my early memories of picking on the bay. The crabs were very good and out of the dozen large ($46) we got there was one that was a bit soggy just in the claws. The rest were great! They were from the Gulf as only their mediums are local at this time of year. In late July the larges will be local as well they said. The service was adequate, nothing horrible, but nothing memorable either. We actually arrived at 1:30 confirming the 2pm opening and they said we could sit now if we wanted. Had our pick of tables and really had a great time. For my friend's first time picking crabs it really was an excellent place!

                    Thanks again and take care,
                    Island Nomad

                    1. re: Island Nomad

                      It really was a great weekend in B-more wasn't it!

                      We went to Mike's in Riva and ate 2 dozen crabs (minor heart attack over that bill). Sat in a tent while the thunderstorms rolled through and ate and drank for 3 hours. AWESOME!

                      Thanks again Baltimore. See ya next year!