HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >
Do you create unique foods? Get great advice
TELL US

Best place to buy live lobsters in D.C./Md. area?

beauxgoris Dec 17, 2008 09:48 AM

We're looking to purchase lobsters for a Christmas dinner feast this year. Does anyone have a favorite vendor? Off the beaten path is fine too.

  1. c
    cfoodie Dec 24, 2008 09:51 PM

    As someone into seafoods, I often find them (live lobsters) cheap in the Asian markets. Same was seen in Cleveland when I used to live. Frankly, I think lobsters are lobsters. They get them from similar suppliers and I have seen 10, 20 lb lobsters in Asian markets, that are not seen in your exotic high end shops. You are paying for the presentation of the store which I find that true even for restaurants. I get mine at H-mart (Silver Spring) every week as it's close to me. The batches will vary, but H-mart has excellent prices on the 1 1/4 pounders and this batch (one I am eating right now) looks like a good one. The key for me is freshness and their lobsters don't sit around in the tank long. If you are looking for jumbos, the prices at H-mart is 9.99 which makes probably Salt River equivalent if it's closer to you.

    15 Replies
    1. re: cfoodie
      DanielK Dec 25, 2008 06:21 AM

      I buy lobsters in the market too, but I can't pretend they're the same as Salt River.

      Once lobsters go into the tanks for transport, they don't eat. The gap between going into the tank and showing up in your local market can be a week or more, and, since most Maine lobstermen don't work after Thanksgiving because the waters are too rough, they could actually be a MONTH old. The more time those lobsters are out and not eating, they get tough and flavorless.

      Local outlets like Salt River and Finestkind bring down lobsters that were pulled from the water that day or the day before. There's nothing fresher, and what you buy in the store just does not compare.

      1. re: DanielK
        p
        Pesel Dec 26, 2008 03:04 PM

        Thank you for the good advice, Daniel.

        1. re: DanielK
          HSBSteveM Dec 28, 2008 09:31 AM

          As a native New-Englander, I thought I knew everything about "sters", but this info is new to me (mainly because you didn't have to worry about freshness up there). Thanks for this info!

          1. re: HSBSteveM
            DanielK Dec 28, 2008 09:42 AM

            Don't get me wrong - I partake in $4.99 lobsters as much as the next guy, and buy them at the grocery store sometimes as well. Salt River and Lobsterday are rare treats. I just recognize that sometimes you want and are willing to pay top dollar for the best stuff, and sometimes you're not, and there IS a huge taste difference.

            1. re: DanielK
              c
              Chownut Dec 29, 2008 01:20 PM

              I'm willing to bet it would be hard to distinguish a Salt River lobster from an asian market lobster, especially since most people aren't eating them every few days or every week.

              At times, the novelty of paying a premium price for an item lends one to believe (hope) that it's that much better when it's really not.

              1. re: Chownut
                DanielK Dec 29, 2008 08:02 PM

                I can only speak for myself. Last year we had supermarket lobsters at a backyard cookout at a friends house the weekend before heading up to the Boston area to visit relatives. The lobsters were MUCH better in NE.

                I get good lobsters from Giant. When I order from Salt River, they taste like Boston.

                YMMV. Maybe I am sensitive to tastes, but I also can't order steaks out almost anywhere these days, since I know what a steak at Ray's tastes like.

                1. re: DanielK
                  Dining Dish Dec 30, 2008 07:28 AM

                  Last week Lotte in Ellicott City had them at $4.99 a pound and they met my lobster craving. I would have to taste a lobster from NE next to one from Lotte prepared the same way to really see if there is a difference in taste. I would think fresh from the cool waters of New England with no travel time would be better but not that much to pay double the price.

                  1. re: DanielK
                    c
                    Chownut Dec 30, 2008 08:39 AM

                    Have you ever had a lobster from Legal Sea Food?

                    1. re: Chownut
                      DanielK Dec 30, 2008 03:37 PM

                      Here or in New England?

                      1. re: DanielK
                        c
                        Chownut Dec 30, 2008 06:38 PM

                        Here.

                        1. re: Chownut
                          DanielK Dec 30, 2008 07:56 PM

                          Not recently. Do they bring them down from Maine fresh daily through their own supply chain, or do they use local wholesalers?

                          1. re: Chownut
                            DanielK Dec 31, 2008 05:10 AM

                            Actually, my answer should have been:

                            "We're debating whether it's worth spending $12/lb instead of $5/lb for a quality lobster, and you're asking me whether I've spent $30/lb at Legal"?

                            :-)

                      2. re: DanielK
                        crackers Dec 30, 2008 07:31 PM

                        Agreed DanielK! Having spent many a lazy summer eating lobstah fresh from the wharf on an island in Casco Bay, I have never had one fished out of a tank in a local grocery store (or at a local Legal Seafood) that came close to that flavor or succulence.

                        Just like with ordering "Maryland crab cakes" in Kansas City, I have learned to either lower my expectations, or do without. If lobsters are $4.99/lb on sale at the H Mart, I'm willing to lower my expectations, provided the lobster gets properly steamed and then bathed in some fabulous butter.

                        1. re: crackers
                          f
                          ffxjack Dec 30, 2008 08:14 PM

                          Now, I've got a hankering to go down to Great Wall to get some lobsters for New Year's!
                          How long do you steam a 1 1/4lb lobster for anyways?

                          1. re: ffxjack
                            DanielK Dec 31, 2008 05:09 AM

                            Depending on which source of information you trust, anywhere from 14 to 18 minutes.

            2. h
              heeter Dec 23, 2008 09:52 AM

              My favorite fish place is Frank's Seafood in Jessup. They get their fish from the wholesale food market, and it's the freshest and nicest around, in my opinion. They have a good variety of fish, and I've never gotten anything bad or old smelling. Plus they're very helpful.

              2 Replies
              1. re: heeter
                w
                watch5869 Dec 23, 2008 06:15 PM

                Frank's has fresh seafood but is certainly no bargain. Shop around and you'll see that they charge way above retail. Better deals at local grocery stores!

                1. re: watch5869
                  h
                  Hue Dec 29, 2008 12:36 PM

                  I was in Franks Saturday and they had 2.5# and up lobsters at $12.99 Lb

                  and culls at $9.99 Lb

              2. j
                jfish Dec 22, 2008 04:12 AM

                So I had the lobsters from Salt River Lobster company last night. They were excellent. Perfect I'd say. Very hard shells full of meat and no water. Did anone try the $4.99/lb lobster at H Mart? At half the price of Salt River I was very tempted.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jfish
                  f
                  FoodieGrrl Dec 29, 2008 12:43 PM

                  We did! They were excellent. We got two from the H Mart in Annandale - one was 1.5 lbs, and the other was 1.25 lbs. Shells were hard, meat was tender and tasty, and we couldn't have asked for more!

                2. c
                  Chownut Dec 18, 2008 10:40 AM

                  I saw them this week at Great Wall for $5.99 (<1.5 lbs) and $6.99 (>1.5 lbs). I've seen them as low as $3.99 lbs for the small ones.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Chownut
                    beauxgoris Dec 18, 2008 01:23 PM

                    ^^^What's "Great Wall"? Where is it located?

                    1. re: beauxgoris
                      c
                      Chownut Dec 18, 2008 07:16 PM

                      Great Wall is the largest Chinese grocery store in this area. It's right off Gallows Road near the Dunn Loring Metro.

                      It's in a strip mall with Gold's Gym and Five Guys....which is, again, on Gallows Road in between Lee Highway and Rt. 50.

                      2982 Gallows Rd
                      Falls Church, VA 22042
                      (703) 208-3388

                      If you're looking for fresh seafood, they probably have the largest selection in this area. They include live lobsters, dungeness crabs, blue crabs, tilapia, eel, frogs, turtles, shrimp, etc.

                      I normally get large shrimp there for $4.99/lb, salmon steak for $3.99/lb, blue crabs for $1.99/lb, etc.

                      1. re: Chownut
                        hill food Dec 18, 2008 10:49 PM

                        if it's the one I'm thinking of: avoid Friday rush hour in that area - I house-sat around there and sat for 20 minutes one night getting through that intersection.

                        but it is a fantastic grocery store.

                        selection reminded me of SF (and the determined Omas)

                        1. re: hill food
                          c
                          Chownut Dec 19, 2008 05:32 AM

                          If you're shopping at Great Wall, avoid this place during weekday rush hour b/c Gallows Road is horrible.

                          Also, parking is scarce in the parking lot after work b/c of Gold's Gym, and on saturday mornings b/c of that Unique thrift store.

                          Avoid Great Wall on Saturday and Sunday's because asian families descend upon that grocery store like crazy. What exacerbates the problem is that Great Wall skimps on hiring cashiers and bag boys. Also, the area by the registers is too narrow and too close to the grocery isles.

                          The other two Korean markets (Han Ah Rheum & El Grande) in that general area do a better job of checking people's groceries and have fresher fruit.

                          Keep an eye on how Great Wall rings up your groceries b/c they often overcharge, and the fruits need to be eaten immediately b/c they spoil fast.

                          Some of the better deals that I've gotten from them include $.99/lb strawberries, $2 for 2 lbs of blue berries, and of course, the lobster.

                          1. re: Chownut
                            HSBSteveM Dec 28, 2008 09:28 AM

                            Ditto to all the above. Too bad about the place. If the construction on three of the four approaches to that place are not enough to keep you away, all the other hassles inside surely will.

                        2. re: Chownut
                          w
                          WestIndianArchie Dec 19, 2008 09:35 AM

                          *adds to itinerary*

                          Thanks, this is a good tip.

                          1. re: WestIndianArchie
                            c
                            Chownut Dec 19, 2008 06:40 PM

                            For those interested, all H Marts have lobsters on sale for $4.99/lb this weekend only.

                            http://www.hmart.com/coupon/coupon_ev...

                    2. v
                      venera Dec 18, 2008 09:16 AM

                      There was a tank full of tasty-looking lobsters at the International Food Market on Rte 2 in Glen Burnie last weekend with the special sale price of $6.99/pound.

                      If you go there, you can get all sorts of seafood and funky veggies to go with it. It's like H-Mart, but with a distinct Latino flair (many Latinos working there, and last time I was there a woman was hawking homemale tamales outside the store).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: venera
                        h
                        hotel Dec 18, 2008 10:32 AM

                        Salt River brings them down directly from Maine and they are $9.99/lb in whatever size you want.

                      2. d
                        DC Taco Dec 18, 2008 05:35 AM

                        I would try the Blacksalt fishmarket at the front of Blacksalt restaurant in the Palisades. I have always been pleased with the freshness of their product. I was there a couple of weeks ago and I think their white board had 1 1/2 lb lobsters at $12.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: DC Taco
                          w
                          WestIndianArchie Dec 18, 2008 07:06 AM

                          that sounds like a very reasonable price.

                          1. re: WestIndianArchie
                            d
                            DC Taco Dec 18, 2008 08:02 AM

                            It is. But I think lobster prices are down all around. Apparently they tanked with the credit crisis: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2...

                        2. hill food Dec 17, 2008 06:53 PM

                          still don't buy the PETA theory of why Safeway stopped, but Teeter still has 'em. has the seafood monger in G'town (south of M one block East of Wisconsin) re-opened, or did they just close?

                          1. j
                            jfish Dec 17, 2008 01:25 PM

                            I just placed an order for this weekend with Salt River Lobster. This will be my first puchase with them but they have good ink here and I like their website: www.saltriverlobster.com/

                            I am interested to hear of other options both around Baltimore and the District.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jfish
                              DanielK Dec 18, 2008 06:17 AM

                              Second Salt River. Brilliant stuff and reasonably priced.

                            Show Hidden Posts