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May 22, 2012 03:35 PM

Maryland Crabs

Where is the best place to buy a bushel of #1 cooked blue claws in maryland. Preferably close to Philly. Thank you for the help. Very much appreciated.

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  1. Been here 30 years and eating blue crab even longer than that and never once heard of anyone buying just the claws. I can't imagine why anyone would - the claws aren't that large and the best meat is the backfin.

    But it turns out that people do:

    So go for it, I guess. But as you are in Philly, I'd suggest you all get in a car and drive to a crab house. Because besides missing the best part of the crab, IMHO crabs don't travel well. In my view, they are best right out of the pot and not worth eating a few hours later (i.e., don't order more than you can eat thinking you can take the rest home).

    3 Replies
    1. re: Just Visiting

      Like Just Visiting said the best part of a blue crab is the backfin meat unlike stone crab. I usually save the claws and make crab soup with them

      1. re: Just Visiting

        45 years and counting and I have never seen that before.

        Obviously, the claws are left over from the picking operations and the processor must be able to move the product better as whole claws rather than picked "claw meat."

        I hope that this doesn't catch on . . . I would hate for our best regional food to become know to outsiders only through the claws . . . .

        1. re: Just Visiting

          I would never just eat the claws. I would be missing the best part as you guys know. I'll be sure to call them blue crabs instead of blue claws. Thank you for the response.

        2. Just saw this on the CH front page, and it caught my interest because I am heading down there to go sailing next weekend, and I am really looking forward to ripping into several buckets of blue crabs.

          This is not what you're looking for, as I prefer it when they dump the whole steamed crab (generously seasoned with Old Bay) on the paper-lined bench in front of you, and eating them on the waterfront. But every time we sail over to St. Michael's we end up having dinner at The Crab Claw. Many buckets of blue crabs and pitchers of Crab Claw Ale are consumed.

          In a poor attempt to actually answer the OP, though, Cantler's, just outside of Annapolis, is definitely more accessible and likely to have what you're looking for. It's a good place to pig out on some crabs, and, if IIRC, when I did a big crab cookout at my house a few years ago I ordered whole crabs from them, they arrived and were delicious. Expensive, but worth it. I'm sure I have the business card of the woman I dealt with lying around here somewhere.

          4 Replies
          1. re: MonMauler

            Thank you kindly. I'll be sure to try Cantlers

            1. re: PolishPhil

              Cantlers is going to be much more of a drive for you than you would like. It is near Annapolis. There are lots of crab houses closer to Philly, including quite a number in and around Baltimore.

              Here are a few:

              1. re: Just Visiting

                +1 to Cantlers - but go early (or go for lunch) as they get really crowded.

                Closer to home, I recommend the Blue Claw Crab Eatery in Burlington, NJ. Although they offer a wide range of crabs, I've only had the Maryland blues and they were fantastic.

                1. re: truman

                  Blue Claw pre-cooks them unseasoned, then put a little spice on them and re-steam when ordered, really did not work for me.

          2. I think you are referring to our steamed crabs as blue claw crabs, I have seen them referred to that in other states.

            2 Replies
            1. re: hon

              My mistake I meant the whole crab. We call them blue claws but i shall call them crabs in the presence of Marylanders. Thank you all for the responses

              1. re: PolishPhil

                PS - this is a standard discussion on Chowhound, so I'll do the whole thing in an effort to short-cut the back-and-forth:

                Yes, Maryland (local) crabs are in season; the legal season for take opened April 15. There are places serving/selling local crabs. However, at this time of year, the local crabs are still light. It isn't a question of size. Size refers to the size of the shell but not the weight of the crab. You want crabs when they are heavy. Right now they are not heavy.

                "Smaller “mediums” and “larges” even out the catch all season, but it’s commonly stated in Maryland that the best time to fetch jumbos is late summer and early fall, when the crabs that have been lucky enough to survive the season begin to bulk up for hibernation."


                Anyway, if I were you, I'd get uncooked crabs shipped to me and steam them myself. The cooked ones really don't travel well. You really want them right out of the pot.

                Damn. Now I am dying for crabs. Will July & August ever get here?

            2. Now that we’ve determined that you are looking for the real deal . . . might I suggest that instead of making a run down the western side of the bay to Baltimore or Annapolis, you consider a day trip down the eastern shore.

              While I’m not very familiar with the northern part of the Bay, there is bound to be a crab house somewhere not of Kent Island. If not, the drive down the Eastern Shore to Kent Narrows easily makes up for the extra miles.

              Why spoil a good crab feast by driving on I-95.

              1 Reply
              1. re: drewpbalzac

                I have had cooked crabs and driving from DC to Bronx NYC no problem stick them in a cooler hot and duct tape the lid and you should be okay. No biggie have done this multiple times

              2. Get thee to Mr. Bill's Terrace Inn on Eastern Ave, just outside the BAltimore Beltway (I-695)
                They may not be crabs from the bay, but you won't go away disappointed

                6 Replies
                1. re: Hue

                  Hue, l am in your debt. Have been eating crabs in the Baltimore area for many decades and thought l had been to all the best spots. Went to Mr Bill's Terrace from this post and it knocked my socks off, might very well be the best hardshells l have ever had in a restaurant. His seasoning is awesome as well, somewhat low salt, we took a bag home with us. Thanks again.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    Isn't it just J.O. seasoning at Mr. Bill's?

                    1. re: bmorecupcake

                      No, they have their own blend and the last time I was there it tasted too much of Season Salt.

                      1. re: hon

                        You are correct. Just called and verified. I got them mixed up with Cantlers. We've been going to Sue Island in Essex this year, and always get the seasoning on the side.

                  2. re: Hue

                    Darn! I lived in Balto when in college and again later for a number of years and never even heard of this place. Guess I'll be schlepping up there in a few weeks. Can't get decent crabs around DC except Cantler's and I just can't deal with the lines - especially the long line of idling cars just waiting for an hour or more to get into the parking lot. They really need to take res.

                    In that same area, we used to like A-1. Is it still around? Still good?

                    1. re: Just Visiting

                      Drive South. Abner's in Chesapeake Beach is only an hour away (If you drive like a little old lady) and has in my opinion the best crabs on the Western Shore.

                      The drive down Route 4 (which is Pennsylvania Ave. extended) is much nicer than the run out Route 50 or I-95. the "Twin Beaches" (Chesapeake Beach/North Beach" don't have the same yuppy-scum charm of Annapolis or the Blue Collar chic of Baltimore . . . but their Southern Maryland Biker Club vibe has its own charms. . . .