Crab cakes in the DC area
I'm ashamed to say that, as a proud Marylander, I don't know where to get the best crab cake around here. This is only compounded by the fact that I'm scared to order it most places, for fear of getting a lousy one.
So, fine folks of Chowhound, where's the best place in the area to get a crab cake? Bonus points for having it fit within my student budget!
Anywhere you can get a cheap crabcake, you will not be getting a GOOD crabcake. The raw ingredient (crab) is simply far too expensive.
If you don't mind a complete hole in the wall, Miss Charlotte's Crabcakes in NE DC makes a great crabcake (make sure you order the jumbo lump, not the backfin), and some pretty mean southern sides, but it's a cash-and-carry in not the greatest neighborhood.
You'll spend a lot more, but to me the best crabcake in the near-metro-area is at Bobby's Crabcakes at the new Rockville Town Center. Metro-accessible, too. Not cheap; you'll spend at least $12 just for a small crabcake sandwich, but the quality is impeccable.
Gibbs St, Rockville, MD 20850
Miss Charlottes Crab Cakes
4193 Minnesota Ave NE, Washington, DC
Do a search on here. This has been discussed many many times.
If money is no object, I think Oceanaire has some of the very best crabcakes in the District. For more reasonable, people tend to talk about Clyde's and CF Folk (but supposedly the quality has gone down lately).
Search the board!
There is a divide between DC and Baltimore/Annapolis/Eastern Shore opinions on what is a good crabcake. Around DC, the places that have the biggest get the most attention, like Jerry's in PG. Further out in MD near the water, the crab taste is the thing. Most US restaurants are forced by economics into using pretty, but blah-tasting pasteurized crabmeat, some from overseas, that they can buy cheaply and store forever without refrigeration. This stuff looks good, takes on the taste of the liquids and spices added, but the result isn't what near-water Marylanders expect. if you search the board you'll find many discussions, with the consensus among cognoscenti (like Joe H.) that places on the Bay like Narrows in Kent Island are the best. Around DC, start with the Market Lunch in Eastern Market. Don't know if it's real, but it's cheap and tasty; the rest is downhill, and lots more expensive. Kinkead says he has the best, have not tried, no doubt real expensive. In Baltimore, it's Faidley's, a stand-up raw bar in a public market with specatcular $8 to $13 versions. Overall, even many places that get raves are just producing the pasteurized cheap, buttery, golden giant softballs DC'ers love, and that includes G&M near BWI, Pappas, and many places where size and price are the draw. If you buy a pound of MD-steamed and packed fresh crabmeat and some Saltines and some mayo, you can do fairly well yourself. Oh, and on your search, ask for them broiled, so you don't taste everything ever fried in that batch of fryer oil.
Oohs and Aahs has a broiled crabcake that is my favorite. Prices anywhere are not low, even at this dive. But it comes come with a couple of huge sides that really makes it a big meal. Go for the greens and the rice with gravy.
Cheaper and still quite a good crabcake is Bubba Muscogee's on Rhode Island Ave, NE. Their other food doesn't look appetizing, though.
I have had many excellent crabcakes that use shredded crab meat, not jumbo lump. And some filler. They will be cheaper, and if they are well crafted can be just as delicious, in a different way, than a crabcake with only jumbo lump.
I've heard the firecracker version at Jerry's is really amazing. I recently had a highly spiced version at Cafe Atlantico that was exceptional. My fave, the one at Oohs and Aahs is spicy. I am beginning to prefer ones that have some zip to them.
I had the Angelina's crabcake when it was considered the tops in Baltimore. All jumbo lump. I loved it, in a way, but I also felt ripped off in a way. I never went back.
You can find a pretty damn good crab cake at very student friendly prices Chris' Marketplace at the Dupont and Penn Quarter markets. The regular lump is $5 and the jumbo lump runs about $10 or so. They aren't large, but are a great value when you are working on a budget.
As another Marylander transplanted to VA I agree, the DC area is hard. Some good suggestions above:
If you can get out to Jerry's do.
Market Lunch is a go- this has some of the ambiance of eating good MD crabcakes too.
Also I actually really like the crabcakes at the Carlyle in Shirlington. They are not MD style, but very good. Very good as brunch too.
Will have to make a trip to the Prime Rib now...
If you like the crabcakes at Carlyle you should try the ones at Coastal Flats if you're ever in Tysons or Fairfax. They are both in the local chain Great American Restaurants, but all their restaurants use a mixture of jumbo lump and backfin crabmeat, except for Coastal Flats which uses all jumbo lump.