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Best crabcakes in San Diego?

We're looking for quality crabcakes -- not the Phillips mystery-variety, or anything deepfried, but pan-fried ones with big chunks of crab, bits of onion, etc. and not a lot of filler. Sort of like what you would get at Legal Seafoods back East, if that means anything.

We've gotten burned too many times and are hoping for some serious recommendations.

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  1. Not sure if this departs too far from "not a lot of filler", but the crabcakes at Oceanaire are as legendary as they are ephemeral. Nary a trace of any filler, one is left with the impression that they are eating nothing but just be best, most succulent crab meat.

    The other thing I like about their crabcake is that any seasoning is kept to what must be trace amounts, and just lightly cooked, or so it seems. It must just get a very short amount of time under a broiler, but that would just be a guess.

    It takes quite a bit of confidence in the kitchen to do so little to one's ingredients, which is what they do for their crabcakes. My recommendation would be to forgo their sauce and sneak in your favorite (moist) sea salt - that's all this crabcake really needs to enjoy fully. (I didn't much care for the sea salts that they had available at the oyster bar.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: cgfan

      I also think Oceanaire is the best and we've looked around a lot here to get the ones we loved on the east coast. They really are just crabmeat but it's delicious and you can go with whatever condiment (or not) you'd like. The rest of the food there is also extremely good.

    2. not a huge fan of Legal Seafoods but have to agree on Oceanaire..
      SD is not really known for their crab cakes and so wish they were..
      Crab Catcher in LJ had some decent ones but its been awhile.
      the key is good fresh lump crab meat and a very little filler..panko bread crumbs makes such a difference in taste.. imo.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Beach Chick

        Have to agree, Legal on the EC is just OK, crab cakes definately not their thing, I can vouch for Morton's, they have an excellent 'Jumbo', yah really jumbo, lump crab cake.

      2. I agree that Oceanaire has fantastic, melt-in-your mouth crabcakes. But I recently had great crabcakes at Cowbar Star, the relatively new steak house and butcher shop in East Village. When I had them they were prepared with a blood orange sauce and a bacon endive salad. Not your traditional crabcake, but still fantastic. I slightly prefer Oceanaire's crabcake, but others in my group preferred Cowboy Star's version - which is a pretty good endorsement.

        1. I hate to agree, but Oceanaire is the best crab cakes I have had in san diego (only reason I "hate" to agree is that Oceanaire is corporate).

          Oceanaire in general is very good seafood.

          (Just an opinion from a kid who grew up in Maryland, 2 blocks from DC, and ate blue crabs as baby food.)

          On a further note, Crab Cakes are one of those kinds of foods that the best ones you will have will always be from the home.

          1. I had some very good crabcakes at JSix over Labor Day weekend. They were actually crab and lobster cakes, and the portions were very generous. They might be a bit too fried for what you are looking for, though. But they sure were tasty. I also saw the crabcakes at Oceanaire and they looked amazing, I wish I hadn't been too full to order them.