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Where can I get Stone crabs in Miami Beach besides Joe's (who served me frozen claws twice)?

I've been to Joe's 2 times before and both times thought I was served frozen claws. I looked into this afterward and read a review where somebody said if they don't know you, you may very well be served the frozen stuff. I am not eager to return. Can anybody let me know who else is serving them right now? Would appreciate it.

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  1. I've found it's more a function of when you go than who you go with (though what do I know? I'm usually going with folks who are semi-regulars). If you're there towards the beginning or end of the season you're more likely to get claws that have been frozen, b/c of supply issues. Still, though you'll find stone crabs at many other places during the season, I don't know of any other restaurant that has as consistently good quality.

    If you feel like you're getting the second class treatment, get take-out from Joe's Takeaway next door. The claws are right out there on display and everyone's getting from the same place. Or to compare and contrast you can try Monty's South Beach - but I've always preferred Joe's.

    1. I would like to add that the cost of maintaining such a conspiracy would be pretty high for a restaurant that turns 1800 tables a day and employs north of 100 people. As frod said, it is availability if anything that determines frozen vs fresh.

      1. I should rephrase to avoid discussions of conspiracy theories. (For whatever reason) I do not want to dine at Joe's. Are there any suggestions for a sit down stone crab meal? Would be much appreciated.

        Also, I ate in season and waited an hour+ to dine on frozen. Just saying.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chowhounder411

          I haven't been to Monty's in a few years but I always received fresh stone crab from them. They also had all you can eat options (generally for medium claws) that can be quite a bargain.

        2. Just curious what made you think they were frozen?
          Went to Joe's in Las Vegas a couple months ago and never occurred to me they might be frozen.

          2 Replies
          1. re: monku

            I just remember the one time how watery they were and appeared small (shrunken like) in their shells

            1. re: chowhounder411

              ask the waiter what the freshest catch is. if you tell them they taste frozen, they'll bring you more

              edit: but if you want a new stone crab experience, the best thing to do is drive straight to the keys, get to the docks, and eat the stone crabs fresh (necessarily served hot)

          2. The steakhouses (meat market, P112, possibly Red) often have stone crab as a special when it is in season. Pubbelly sometimes has them. You should call in advance for these options to make sure they have them.

            Other than that, what Frod said...

            1 Reply
            1. I just had the same experience. I was going to say something but I was with a group and I didn't want to cause a problem. I was shocked. I've never been served frozen stone crab before at Joe's or Monty's or Jakes (in Boca Raton) or for that matter at Whole Foods.

              Now that I have confirmation, I'm truly upset.

              Joe's Stone Crab
              11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

              2 Replies
              1. re: Buzzy2

                You have now contributed to the conspiracy theory!! I'm either going to try Monty's or Joe's take out next. Thanks for the suggestions everybody.

                1. re: chowhounder411

                  I am guessing that Joe's takeout would have frozen product also. If you eat it there at least you can tell them it's bad before taking it home.

                1. If you're willing to travel to Hollywood Bch, Billy's is good.

                  1. I am surprised that Joe's would not make amends if such a situation occurred. They are very particular about their service and their food. Should you decide to visit them again, I recommend you bring it to their attention immediately; they appreciate knowing when service is not meeting their high standards.

                    1. I've been Joe's "attorney" here and it's because I've eaten there at least 100 times in my life (51) and have NEVER been disappointed with the food quality or the service. At least 100 times and that's a conservative number. In the restaurant, take-out - - - never one issue.

                      You can eat stone crabs in a 100 different places....and I have...and they NEVER taste the same....and that's odd considering that Joe's also wholesales to area restaurants!

                      My friends have discussed what makes Joe's crabs taste better and we happen to believe it's all about the serving temperature. Could there be a frozen one occasionally? I'm sure. But if you mention ANYTHING to a waiter that you're not happy about - - - it will be made right and FAST! Did you complain? I'm thinking you didn't. And at those prices, I would complain.

                      Stone Crab season ends soon....very, very soon......

                      Ft. Pierce, FL

                      1. I've only been to Joe's about 50 times, so I don't have the ranking of a centenarian (LOL) but I've eaten stone crabs many hundreds of times and to misquote Jim Morrison, "I eat more shellfish any man ever seen!"

                        My opinion is that there is a lot of variation in individual taste, in quality, in preparation and in storage. From my POV, the best stone crab is crisp, not limp or chewy, sweet and full of flavor, and it doesn't stick to the shell or appear shrunken within the shell. Given that this is what I prefer, I am disappointed when I receive tasteless, limp stone crab meat from any restaurant, and over the past few years I have had exactly that perhaps 3 times at Joe's.

                        During the prior decade I was quite happy with my crabs almost every time. Having investigated the problem, I am now of the opinion that it is likely that during the last few years Joe's has SOMETIMES either purchased frozen product, frozen their product on purpose or accidentally or left their product sitting around, perhaps in liquid, for much too long. Any of these actions could yield the poor quality I experienced. If you cook stone crab and put 20 pounds of it in a plastic bucket with some ice, chances are that some of the crab will be soaking in liquid for a while. That's not good.

                        The last time I was at Joe's I had much better quality Jumbo stone crab, but still not close to the best I've ever had. It was a little better than just OK, and I was fine with that. Actually I had eaten so much bread and other food to begin with that my tastebuds may have been compromised.

                        Joe's stone crab is still worth a visit. And, as more than one person has mentioned, they will try to correct any problems, so if you get stuck with watery and limp crab, let them know about it.

                        1. Buzzy.....you are aware that they cook the stone crabs right on the boat (according tor Florida law)?

                          Ft. Pierce, FL

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: LargeLife

                            So I have heard. I'm not sure that I understand your point though. Please explain.

                            1. re: LargeLife

                              The crab boats that supply A.P. Bell in Cortez do not have cooking equipment. Daily catches go directly into Bell's cooker, and soon thereafter they are sized and chilled. I have watched the process many times, wharf rat as I am. The pretty orange and black contrast on the shells only appears after cooking.

                            2. OK, I'll guess at your intention. :)

                              Stone Crabs can be overcooked, more likely than undercooked, and this will affect their taste and quality. Once cooked, they are packed. When they are delivered to restaurants, they might or might not be repacked right away, but even after being unpacked and inspected, they are not always served immediately. Thus there are plenty of opportunities to degrade the quality even if the Stone Crab was never technically frozen. They could be packed in ice and partially or completely frozen by the ice. They could sit in liquid for hours or even days. The liquid might come from the crabmeat or melting ice or condensation. If it comes from the meat then we are talking again about poor quality stone crab. If it comes from other sources, you start wondering not only about the effect of water on crabmeat, but you also have to wonder about microbes.

                              So, all I am saying is that I have eaten stone crab at Joe's that has suffered from one or more of these problems, but I am not suggesting that they haven't done anything about it. I am also not suggesting that they buy frozen product because I couldn't substantiate such a claim. All I know is that a few times during the past few years I ordered stone crab that was not sweet and crisp the way I believe it should be, and the poor quality was likely (IMHO) due to one or more of the scenarios I described.

                              I'd go back though, even just for the hash browns. :)

                              1. Fair enough buzzy. I guess when you consider that based on the sheer number of stone crabs that Joe's harvests (with their own boats) it's plausible that 100% of the claws will be absolutely perfect. Of course, based on the prices at Joe's its reasonable to expect perfection and I get that. I do.

                                But based on the amount of times that I've eaten there and it's over 100 - - - I've never been disappointed....and I would have to say that their incidence of success is probably as close to perfect as can be - - - while realizing there's no such thing as perfect.

                                A couple of years back they were harvesting in cooler than usual temperatures and the shells were sticking to the crab meat and a placard on the table indicated as much and I thought was very well intentioned on their part.

                                But if anyone things that Joe's is slingin' skanky crab claws down there on south, south beach - - - you're be mistaken.

                                Ft. Pierce, FL

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: LargeLife

                                  Hi EMac,

                                  Thanks for the reply. I can't make any generalizations based on a few bad experiences. After all, they represent a statistically insignificant sample size. I do regret not complaining at the time, however, because I think you are absolutely correct and they would have tried to correct the situation. Stone crab should be sweet and crisp, almost snapping as you bite into the larger part of the claw. It should not be limp or chewy and it must have a very pleasant sweet flavor. If it doesn't meet those criteria, wherever I order it in the future, I will send it back. I'm making myself hungry for stone crab now. :)

                                  1. re: Buzzy2

                                    You probably know this has been the second consecutive year of a poor harvest. The season ends in 12 days.

                                  2. re: LargeLife

                                    I kind of doubt Joe's is buying pre-frozen crabs, but I have little doubt that they freeze their own, and that those frozen crabs make their way on to some platters. They have a charity event called "Claws for a Cause" every year the day before season opens - so what, exactly, could they be using other than last years' frozen claws?

                                    And this purely anecdotal, but when I've occasionally gotten a "dud" claw in a batch (watery, clingy meat, muted flavor), it tends to be early in the season - when I suspect they are probably mixing some frozen ones in with the fresh until supply is at full capacity.

                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                      Probably not last years' , but if they have more than a 3 day supply of fresh they may freeze some. Catches are often weather related and not consistent day-to-day.
                                      I agree that frozen is a 4 point deduct on a 10 scale.

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        They serve stone crabs the day BEFORE season opens. It seems to me the two alternatives are either (1) they are breaking the law; or (2) they are serving last year's claws.

                                        1. re: Frodnesor

                                          They are either really fresh or really old. I know the Columbia restaurant in Sarasota traditionally serves them on opening day, and I doubt the traps were pulled that morning. And they are deliciously sweet and fresh.

                                  3. You're right Buzzy.....all this talk about Stone Crabs is making me hungry.....I've only been to Joe's once this season and there's on 14 days left before the season ends.....I'm thinking that I'll be hitting Joe's Take Away......aka TAKE OUT....lol....

                                    At Joe's Take Out they also serve a shrimp dill salad with a little kick and love that as well. Then there's the chopped salad, the garlic cream spinach, hash browns and bread......and...and...and....

                                    Ft. Pierce, FL

                                      1. re: jpr54_1

                                        Two great suggestions. I hadn't heard of either one, being a bit north of that area, but now they are on my list. Thanks!

                                      2. This is a true review. I ate there last season with friends and if you aren't a regularregular our they don't know you, you get poor service and the frozen claws. Joe's isn't all its cut out to be so don't wait the long hours and pay crazy prices for mediocre food and service. There are so many other great stone crab pages in South Florida.