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Smashing crabs with a hammer between DC and New York

My wife, 18-month-old son and I will be passing through Maryland next Tuesday afternoon on the way back to New York from DC. Because my wife has always wanted to smash crabs with a hammer, I figured stopping for lunch somewhere on the way (basically along I-95, I figure) would be a great opportunity. Any suggestions?

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  1. I love Cantler's in Annapolis - right on the water - a great place for this in nice weather. It would be quite the detour for you though... you probably don't want to go that far out of the way. Check the map and see what you think.

    1. I second the recommendation for Jimmy Cantler's. It is out of the way, but so worth it!

      1. Price's in Harve de Grace, Maryland. Cool town. Good, local crabs. Close to I-95.


        1. Thanks for the suggestions! Annapolis seems to put me about 25 minutes out of the way -- I've long wanted to see Annapolis, so that might be worth it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: masterofzen

            The part of Annapolis near the Statehouse and the Naval Academy is really beautiful - a great place to spend an hour walking around in nice weather - take a stroll down to the water from the Statehouse. If you decide to do this, it would be worth leaving a couple of hours early to make it happen. Go after Cantler's and hit Storm Bros. ice cream for dessert!

          2. Obrycki's on Pratt Street in Baltimore - about 5 minutes from I-95.
            This hallowed landmark of crab-dom is closing in November.
            Get 'em while you can!

            9 Replies
            1. re: msr3017

              Went this weekend, 15 minutes off 95 and should be tried before it closes.Great dirty crabs, fries, and beer. Next time will try Cantler's

                1. re: hon

                  After steaming with the seasoning on them, not washed just served directly from steaming pot.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    life long Baltimorian, crab eater and crab steamer - just never heard them referred to as "dirty crabs".

                    1. re: hon

                      I have always served crab directly from the steamer with seasoning on them not sure why you would need to wash them after being steamed. Maybe you should have requested no seasoning

                    2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      That's the normal way of serving steamed crabs.

                    3. re: hon

                      A "dirty crab" a.k.a. "Mudders", "Swamp Dogs" are heavy crabs. Believe it or not, blue crabs molt and slough off their shells, which is where you get the term "peelers" or "sloughers", and become soft crabs. When crabs start to harden their shells, their insides have little to no meat and are known as "papershells". Crabs get "dirty" when their shells have hardened and their insides have filled with meat, making it easier for them to hug the bottom thus getting the bottoms of their shells dirty.

                    4. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      Next time try Bill's Terrace Inn in Baltimore. But get there when they open or be prepared for a serious wait.

                      Bill's Terrace Inn
                      200 Eastern Blvd, Essex, MD 21221

                  2. I can't recommend any others (Cantler's is one of my favorites) but when you go for crabs, please don't smash them with a hammer! We pick our crabs here, mainly with our hands. The mallets are used to crack open the claws. The rest of the meat can easily be picked with fingers and maybe a paring knife. Ask some locals how to do this and I'm sure they'd be happy to show you.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: 4X4

                      we lived on a boat in Annapolis for a couple of months a lot of years ago -- along with cool stuff like reading my US history lesson about the 1st Continental Congress IN THE ROOM in the old courthouse, my sister and I would go watch the ladies pick crabs at the market down at the harbour.

                      They taught us to pick crabs like a professional crab picker -- and I can still outpick everybody at the table when I go out for crabs.

                      1. re: 4X4

                        Is smashing 'em really gauche? She desperately wants to smash. We actually went to a smashing place in Brooklyn a while back -- apparently the only place in New York City where you can do such a thing -- but it was winter and only cracking was acceptable. If you can't smash in Maryland, where on earth can you smash?

                        EDIT: Oh, wait, I didn't read closely enough. Just cracking the claws should be fine, as long as some mallet play is involved.

                        1. re: masterofzen

                          yeah, you don't really want to smash -- because you'll smash little bits of shell into all the wonderful meat, which makes it hard to eat and hazardous to your dental work. You really just want to fracture the shell enough to be able to dismantle it from around the treasure inside.

                          It's considered a skill to be able to dismantle the claws in such a manner that you have a claw-shaped, wiggly piece of meat!

                      2. I'm interpreting "next Tuesday" as June 14 and you have a week until then.

                        If so, you can hit the Quarterdeck in Arlington, VA. All-you-can-eat (hammers included) is $35-ish.

                        1. A few months ago, someone who frequently travelers between NYC area and DC asked me where he should stop for crabs. I thought it was a no brainer to recommend Bill's Terrace Inn in Essex, which is super easy to get to from 95. However, it is not open for lunch, but if you want to make it a late lunch, early dinner, it does open at 4.

                          Bill's Terrace Inn
                          200 Eastern Blvd, Essex, MD 21221

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: baltoellen

                            what Ellen said AND we don't smash crabs. I don't know anywhere, where smashing a crab with a hammer is considered a good way to get the meat out.
                            You also want to consider Skipjacks, right off the Baltimore Beltway on Belair Road which is very near 95. Had crabs there last Wednesday and they were great.

                            1. re: hon

                              Skipjacks is a very good idea. I had crabs there last fall and was impressed, too. And, you can basically SEE the Baltimore Beltway from the restaurant, that's how convenient it is....

                              I've been with groups of out of towners at crab feasts, and they all feel compelled to pound their mallets on the table. Almost as bad as trying to pound the crab meat out of the crab....

                              1. re: baltoellen

                                I hate the table mallet pounding, ugh.

                          2. Wherever you decide to go, call ahead and ask what they have (sizes) and when they got them in.

                            We go regularly to the Quaterdeck in Arlington, Virginia. We always call ahead, in part to reserve a table outdoors because they're busy, but we can also order ahead (quantity and size) and, most important, if they are still sorting through what they received that day we can reserve the largest available (usually a dozen for the two of us).

                            Quarterdeck doesn't cook the crabs until you've arrived and are seated--a good thing. Beware of places that pre-cook or partially cook them (to handle the crowds maybe), but you never know when they cooked them, but you do "know" they cooked the ones that are " turning" first. Yuck

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: DPGood

                              went to the quarterdeck last saturday night, and the crab eating folks in the group loved it. had two dozen crabs for three very stuffed crab eaters. reserved ahead and sat outdoors, and it got pleasantly breezy after around 8 pm or so -- even though the day had been brutal.

                              onion rings were good. don't bother with the seafood appetizer platter. that was disappointing.

                              crabs were pricey, but i guess it is the going rate. $56 per dozen for "medium" crabs.

                              the beer is reasonable. we had pitchers of yuengling for $14.

                              outdoor seating/dining closes at 11 pm, then you have to "take it inside" to carry on. the bartendress inside was crabby, though. our waitress outside had been great.

                            2. Another place to check out is Woodys Crab House, it's about 5-10 minutes off exit 100 on 95 in MD in a cute little town. It's our go to place for lunch when we are driving the dreaded DC-NJ corridor.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: taoseno

                                Rising sun. Northeast exit in MD. It's in Northeast, MD

                                1. re: dining with doc

                                  If you go to Woody's, order the Rockfish with Crab Imperial-Not on the menu, but they will make if for you. FABULOUSSSS.....