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Nov 2, 2011 01:38 PM

Best food (especially crabs) a short drive from DC?

I will be in DC in a couple of weeks. I rented a car and would love to hit some towns in the area to sample some crab claws and other East Coast delicacies?
Any suggestion is welcome!

East Coast Cafe
44 Calvert St, Annapolis, MD 21401

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  1. Hi Matt - just a little info: crabs we eat here in this area are blue crabs and the aren't served as claws. You get the whole crab coated in a spicy, salty coating. It is the best experience to eat at a Maryland crab feast, and I'd reccommend Cantler's for a lovely view and good crabs - it is out near Annapolis.

    If you want to give your location , we might be able to give you some more suggestions!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Terrie H.

      just to add, crabs here are freshly steamed to order. For local color, I recommend Bill's Terrace Inn in Baltimore. Nothing quite like it. I suggest getting there when they open at 4pm to avoid a long wait.

      Another Baltimore specialty is pit beef. Go to Pioneer Pit Beef, literally a shack under the highway. Get medium rare. Not open on Sunday.

      Most small towns in Virgina have little in the way of interesting food save for the occasional ritzy inn.

      In DC, Oohs and Ahhs serves Coastal Carolina Soul Food, maybe something you can't get where you're from? Grilled shrimp over grits is a favorite.

      In the Virgina suburbs of DC, Bolivian food is quite big, again maybe something you don't normally have easy access to. Go to Luzmilla's in Falls Church on a Sunday afternoon for saltenas, mocochincho (spiced peach drink), sopa de mani, and a beefsteak borracha.

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

      Pioneer Pit Beef
      1602 N. Rolling Road, Woodlawn, MD 21244

    2. Capt. Billy's, a local crab house I visit in Maryland, stopped serving local crabs last week. We were told that local crabbers are putting away their crab pots for the season. So be sure to call anyplace you go to make sure they have local crabs available.

      1. crab feast usually involves paper covered tables, pitchers of beer, crab soup, crab cakes, steamed spiced shrimp, steamed clams, sliced tomato, french fries, cole slaw, and piles of steaming hot hardshell blue crabs. The crab then needs to be opened and the crab meat extracted and eaten. The back fin of the crab is where the most premium meat is and each leg is attached to a section with meat. The claws have meat but it is not as premium or good as the back fin. You should get someone there to show you how to open the crab. Otherwise you will be destroying some fairly expensive seafood!
        Where to go for crabs from DC:
        1. Cantlers: waterside crabhouse near annapolis (probably the best local crab house but about 45 min drive from DC
        2. Gunnings: off I 95 near BWI
        3. Bethesda crab house
        4. Harris Crab House or The Crab Deck: on the water on Kent Island over the bay bridge. a little of a schlep but would be lovely if weather is good and memorable

        Harris Crab House
        433 Kent Narrow Way N, Grasonville, MD 21638

        1. Hi guys thanks for the extensive replies. Annapolis/Kent island sounds good for crabs then.
          Anything in the opposite direction? I like the Falls Church suggestion. Anything else like that?
          thanks again

          4 Replies
          1. re: MattR

            Quarterdeck in Arlington VA is the closest I can think of - never been I usually go to Harris Crab or steam my own

            1. re: MattR

              If you're going to head into the Virginia suburbs, aim for Korean or Vietnamese. And try Ethiopian right in the city, on 9th NW just south of U. My favorite is Etete.

              1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                1. re: MattR

                  like I said, both annapolis and kent island choices are a little bit of a drive but the places (Cantler's, Harris, Crab Deck) are the real deal for Maryland crab feist with quality food plus they are both waterfront (Kent Island further but more picturesque, Cantlers 10 min from downtown Annapolis which provides sightseeing opps)

                2. Thanks everyone for comments again. I will also drive to see Fallingwater in PA. Any place worth eating at on the way there? m

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: MattR

                    We visited Fallingwater recently and found good food difficult to find in the area. Nemacolin resort in Farmington PA (about 15? miles from Fallingwater) has a very good restaurant. Probably need a reservation. If you are looking for something quick and casual, the visitor center at Fallingwater has some things that looked interesting. There may be some good food in the town of Ohiopyle (in between Fallingwater and Nemacolin), although we didn't eat there.

                    1. re: MattR

                      Gleasons Diner near Fallingwater is a good greasy spoon, and there are some small gems in Ohiopyle. If you want something nicer the River's Edge in Confluence or Nemacolin aren't far either.

                      Charlottesville is a great diversion about 2-2.5 hours from DC with excellent food. And there is Frederick, MD which has some fun places. The Narrows at Kent Island is a good stop too.

                      In Virginia the Eden Center is awesome for Vietnamese food. A drive out to Trummer's on Main in Clifton is nice too.

                      Eden Center
                      Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA

                      1. re: MattR

                        If you can get in, Volt in Frederick, if you're going up 270/70. That might be more than you want, though. They have an express lunch at the bar that looks good.