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Crab cakes in the DC area

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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!

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  1. 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.

    -----
    Bobby's Crabcakes
    Gibbs St, Rockville, MD 20850

    Miss Charlottes Crab Cakes
    4193 Minnesota Ave NE, Washington, DC

    1 Reply
    1. re: DanielK

      Agree on the price thing. If I see that they are charging $12 for two large crab cakes, I don't bother. Given the price of the crab meat, you can be assured they will be lousy. Doesn't mean that an expensive cake will be great, but a cheap one will never be.

    2. 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!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Jacey

        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.

        1. re: Jacey

          Yep - CF Folks used to be great, but is very passable now. Go for their daily specials, but not for the crabcake.

          1. re: Dennis S

            How about DC Coast in DC? I thought their crabcakes were good.

            1. re: DiningInDC

              best crabcake in DC is at the Prime Rib. The Rockfish stuffed with crab imperial is also great. This from a native Baltimorean transplanted to DC.

        2. 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.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            how about the Crab Bomb at Jerry's seafood? Oh my god just thinking about it has me running out to get me one.

            1. re: philjr73

              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.

          2. 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.

            http://www.chrismarketplace.com/

            1. 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...

              2 Replies
              1. re: ktmoomau

                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.

                1. re: dcfoodie13

                  I think it is the remoulade served with them and the crispiness of the outside but yet tender, sweetness of the meat that makes me really enjoy the Carlyle version. The fact that they don't try to imitate a MD style and screw it up.

              2. I've had an AMAZING crabcake at Equinox. It was an appetizer, so if you just order that it could be affordable. Also not sure if its on the menu right now? But well worth it.

                1. I live in DC and don't own a car, so am limited to places with Metro access. Kinkead's (2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington) makes a wonderful crab cake. My wife and I ate there July 29, 2009 about 9 PM. Service was very attentive (Thomas). The cake was pretty much all crab. Appetizer cake is expensive at $16. Sauce (one the side) is mustard-seed based, but not overwhelming.

                  -----
                  Kinkead's Restaurant
                  2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006-1812

                  1. I'm surprised that the WaPo crab cake article didn't get a rise out of DC CHs this week.
                    Holy Hugo Chavez! Who knew that people were using crab meat from Venezuela?? G&M and Jerry's!!! Plus other places which had no problem with that or the imported stuff. I've never heard of some of these and then they skipped my faves. Who are these folks at the WaPo anyhow?
                    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                    Lots of places admitted to using the imported stuff with one chef saying that when he used the local, people started sending it back as "too fishy." Yikes! The apocalypse is nigh!
                    Anyway, lots of discussion over what makes a good crab cake. So we can all fight forever...
                    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: MakingSense

                      I recently had a crab cake at Vidalia and it was very fishy. At the time I thought it just wasn't fresh but maybe it's just made with local crabs? We didn't send it back, we simply didn't finish it (and it was a big crab cake too).

                      1. re: MakingSense

                        At least the Venezuelan stuff is blue crab meat. That Phillips crab meat from India, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc is from "blue swimming crabs," which is an entirely different species.

                        1. re: Bob W

                          Ya know....it was hard to tell from that article if it was the same Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus) that is native to the Western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Our native Blue Crab is actually found down to Argentina according to Wiki, but that's not the same as the Southern Caribbean. It could be, but then, who knows?
                          As the article said, most folks can't tell the diff, and some even prefer the non-local variety. <sniff>
                          Frankly, I have never heard of Ven. as a source of crab meat until I read this article.

                          1. re: Bob W

                            Hey Bob - You and others may find this useful... a great crabcake we found, not too far from Baltimore...
                            Here's the post from a few months ago: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/586750

                            1. re: Bob W

                              I don't think the Venezuelan crab is the same species as north American blue crab.

                              I've seen Venezuelan crab meat for sale around Baltimore at least for the last year or two. I've even bought it a couple of times before I learned to watch out for it. It doesn't have as much crab flavor as N.A. blue crab, but its not as flavorless as the Asian crab meat.

                          2. The Metro 29 Diner on Lee Highway in Arlington. corner of Glebe Road. That's all you need to hear.

                            1. Houstons on Rockville Pike.
                              Delicious crab cakes. I just got back from an early dinner there, my wife's choice as she is the big crab cake fan. I had grilled snapper topped with some lump crab & butter sauce. My wife ate just one of her Crabcakes, so I got to indulge.
                              Most excellent!

                              1. Oceanaire has the best I've had in DC itself.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: CMACDC

                                  agree