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Nov 21, 2008 11:30 AM

Now that the season is here, where are you eating crab?

The weekly Half Moon Bay Brewing newsletter mentions they have these crab dishes this week
- Crab Toast with arugula pesto and Gouda cheese.
- Whole Garlic Crab quartered and served over a bed of wilted spinach and roast potatoes
- Whole Crab served with rice and wilted spinach.

Given they are a short walk from the Pilar Point crab boats I'm guessing they have to be fresh. Anyone tried the crab here?

Who is serving great crab anywhere in the Bay Area?

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  1. Last year the crab salad at T-Rex was very good. Not what you think of when you think of a BBQ place, but the crab seemed really fresh.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Glencora

      Thanks. I see it is on the menu currently.There are some cross-over items from Sea Salt to T-Rex and visa versa. Sea Salt uses T-Rex bacon. Looking at the current online menu for Sea Salt the only crab item is crab cakes. Will have to keep an eye on Sea Salt's menu.

      1. re: rworange

        Those crab cakes are fantastic! Just had them today, all crab, basically, two plump cakes served with celery root remoulade and some kind of parsley salsa verde.

    2. I hope to make to Yuet Lee soon. They tend to use local crabs over shipped in.

      Other then that, I'll just go to Chinatown or somewhere similar, geta few and put them in the pot myself. In many ways a steamed/boiled crab is best way to eat fresh crab.

      7 Replies
      1. re: ML8000

        Hello I've monitoring these boards hoping for some updates on the crab season. We are here until Wednesday and i was ecstatic my trip from Australia to SF coincided with the start of crab season.

        Was going to hit up R&G Lounge or Great Eastern based on recs from here. Would you recommend Yuet Lee instead? We are staying in Union Sq without a car so are relying on public transport...


        1. re: iheartzushi

          Or get up tomorrow and have an early lunch at Swan Oyster Depot on Polk.

          1st crab of the season is about simple unadorned preparation, not all that garlic and salt and pepper.

          1. re: Windy

            I was at Bodega Bistro this evening and platters of crab were flying out of the kitchen ..they looked amazing! I don't eat crab but these looked wonderful!

            1. re: Windy

              Thanks Windy, good point. Swan Oyster Depot is on our list and we actually walked past today on our long walk from Lombard St to Japantown (yes we are tourists doing the tourist thang). Waited in the long line (20ppl or so) for about 10mins but it wasn't moving and I had stuffed myself silly with donuts from Bob's not knowing what was ahead.

              We are going down to the farmers market at the Ferry Building tomorrow and planning to have lunch at Hog Island Oyster Co. Might try and go by Polk on the way back to see if the lines are a little better by mid-afternoon.

              (pastryqueen - thanks but not sure about Bodega Bistro - we eat Vietnamese regularly back home and had dinner at Out the Door tonight as its close to our hotel and were really disappointed, might save the Viet cuisine for back in Syd.)

            2. re: iheartzushi

              Honestly, Yuet Lee is a bit of a hole-in-the-wall but it's a place chefs hang out after hours (open late) and it's very reasonable in price (hence why I'm going). The garlic and ginger in wok is still pretty basic.

              I think Great Eastern crabs should be just as good...just more expensive (it's a nice place) but other items and service would be better. I'd stay away from pepper or baked crabs.

              Windy is right however, simple, unadorned prep is what it's about. Swan's Oyster Depot for lunch would be great. You could also bring back a cracked crab to go.

              1. re: ML8000

                Quick question - do you need to wait in the line if getting take-out from Swans Oyster Depot?

                1. re: iheartzushi

                  No, it's a separate line. It does help to go at off hours, or call and maybe they'll have it waiting. I do like eating on the uncomfortable bar stools though--part of the charm of the place. They have excellent home made smoked salmon by the pound too.

                  And nothing against Chinese crab preparations, which I love.

          2. Agreement about simple preparation. I plan to head over to Andronico's and get a steamed one, bring it home, enjoy.

            If doing the tourist "thang" and you'll be by fisherman's wharf, consider eating one there. Pick a fresh crab from one of the sidewalk guys, watch it boiled, walk in some direction to find a bench and enjoy. Don't eat inside, don't buy the little pre-cooked lunches. If they say you can't buy a whole crab, badger them or walk towards another pile of crabs and start negotiating.

            It helps if you're comfortable eating crab directly out of a shell with your fingers. Take napkins.

            3 Replies
            1. re: bbulkow

              I would ask those Firsherman's Wharf vendors where the crabs were caught. They sell them year round and I wonder how local they are even in-season. I'm thinking of maybe trying a good locally caught crab this year. I hate Dungeness crab. I'm wondering if all that came from the fact that the first crab I ever bought was from one of those vendors on the wharf ... and it was inseason. Because they have otherwise great fresh fish, in FW I'd probably trust Scomas ... after confi rming the crab was local. And if a vendor can't tell you where it was caught ... move on. Do not ask leading questions like "is this local crab" that will get you a 'yes' answer. Ask where it was caught. If they don't know, I would be suspicious.

              Hmmm ... I see Fish in Sausalito has a few crab dishes on the menu ... maybe I'll drop by there

              - The Crab Roll
              A West coast rendition of the East coast favorite. Sweet Dungeness crab served atop a toasted Acme torpedo roll with organic Straus butter and chives. Served with shoestring fries or greens on the side

              At $25 bucks, if that ain't fresh crab ... mayhem may break out.

              - The Parfait
              A parfait glass layered with fresh Dungeness crab, salsa fresca, tomatillo, lime crema and house made cocktail sauce.

              Well, that's only $16

              - The Louie
              Classic house-made Louie dressing served over crisp iceberg lettuce, hard-boiled egg, lemon, tomatoes (when in season) and fresh Dungeness crab or shrimp.

              Dungeness Crab $25
              Fresh Oregon Bay Shrimp $19

              1. re: rworange

                I grew up with blue crab, a family event was "going crabbing" which meant getting the limit of traps and trot line, heading down to the cheasapeak at 4am to be there right when dawn's breaking but before the water warms. Boiled with old bay, but eaten just as is. And when you've got that many crabs, working your way through a dozen means not eating the legs. I hate legs and claws.

                For years I've been skeptical about Dungeness. I still prefer the Blues. But I've warmed up to them.

                That having been said, I've had good luck a couple of times with the fishermans wharf thing, but typically I just buy an andronico's crab and take it home. As you point out, whether they sell all year or not is important.

                1. re: love food

                  I think you have discovered the secret of Dungeness crab...the cooking. Chesapeake crab eaters are used to crab cooked with mucho spice. Its best with Dungeness to steam, and rely upon the dip or flavoring to add character.

            2. Christmas in the Bay Area is about eating crab, IMO. I'll be eating mine at home, thank you very much. :)

              3 Replies
              1. re: swag

                We don't live in SF but visit from Tahoe regularly. Looking forward to crab season. I like to bring it home (cracked but with the shell still on), spread newspaper on the floor, melt butter, get out bread and wine. That's the ultimate crab meal for me. Just crab.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Sounds almost perfect. I like to eat an artichoke, too.

                  1. re: Glencora

                    Oh, shoot, I forgot the artichoke. Definitely. But not at $3 per!

              2. I just usually drive to the wharf, double park in that circular driveway, get my crab and take it home.

                6 Replies
                1. re: c oliver

                  I'm pretty sure there's free parking w/validation at that open lot in view of the crab pots.

                  1. re: walker

                    I think you're right. I also mis-wrote. I don't have the crab cracked. I must have been cracked :)

                    1. re: c oliver

                      We see who cooks it themselves -- i.e. they get them live -- and go from there. That said, so far Whole Foods seems to have the best crabs and best pricing, at least here in the Napa Valley.

                      In Sonoma County, G&G Supermarkets have them live and cooked. For the unitiated, they're easy -- put them in boiling lightly salted water for about 12-15 minutes, let them cool. Pop off the carpace (the shelf-like shell on the stomach) and rinse out the insides, pull out the lungs (darker grayish and feathery) and you're good to go.

                      When we get them already cooked we ask for cleaned, not cracked, because often they get too smashed up. Simple to do yourselves with a good cracker and the tiny tip of a leg makes the best pick.

                      Some good bread (Acme italian), nice white wine (we're liking Gruner Veltliner this year) and light mustard mayo plus some avocado. Heaven.

                      1. re: MRMoggie

                        I tried the Whole Foods crab, which originated from Pier 45, according to the sign at the 24th St. location I visited.. I'm not sure if all the stores are getting the same crabs in. These were smaller, averaging about $9 a crab (5.99 a pound, I think) and were very light in flavor, without much salt.

                        1. re: MRMoggie

                          I never get them cleaned. It's so quick and easy and I figure it can keep them a little fresher.