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Is it still blue crab season? OR What are all the crab house posts 10 years old?

Mr Taster Aug 2, 2013 05:28 PM

All of the "best crab house" posts seem to be awfully old.

Where, in 2013, would one go for spectacular blue crab?

We'll be there Aug 11-18. Is it still the right time of year?

Please don't let the Silver Spring thing throw you off, as we WTFBC (Will Travel For Blue Crab).

Thanks!

Mr Taster

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  1. s
    Steve RE: Mr Taster Aug 2, 2013 05:52 PM

    Yes, they are in season.

    I can't tell you about the Maryland suburbs. In Arlington, The Quarterdeck.

    In Baltimore, Bill's Terrace Inn, but you have to get there when they open (close to 4pm) or expect a
    long wait. Bill's is one of those only-in-Bawlmer experiences.

    I have no idea what prices look like.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Steve
      Mr Taster RE: Steve Aug 2, 2013 05:59 PM

      Thanks Steve! Mr. Bill's looks great.

      Mr Taster

      1. re: Steve
        h
        Hal Laurent RE: Steve Aug 2, 2013 07:29 PM

        There are a bunch of decent crab houses in Baltimore and its surrounds (Mr. Bill's is not actually in Baltimore, it's in Essex east of Baltimore). The important thing is to find one that cooks the crabs to order rather than precooking them and reheating them when ordered.

        Living here in Baltimore, I usually buy live crabs and cook them myself at home. That way I'm assured that they're freshly cooked.

        1. re: Hal Laurent
          Mr Taster RE: Hal Laurent Aug 2, 2013 10:18 PM

          Are you inviting us over? ;)

          Mr Taster

        2. re: Steve
          ClevelandDave RE: Steve Aug 16, 2013 09:29 AM

          Oh, the Quarterdeck... went there last week... out of XL, out of Jumbos, and the large were like 70 a dozen and we were told it would take like 45 minutes. We got the crabcakes. Mediocre... unless you want a beer at the bar save your time and money and go elsewhere...

          1. re: ClevelandDave
            f
            flavrmeistr RE: ClevelandDave Aug 16, 2013 10:33 AM

            You screwed up. AYCE mediums is where it's at for the Quarterdeck.

        3. m
          Milocat1 RE: Mr Taster Aug 3, 2013 09:24 AM

          My parents (and now my Dad and I) I have gone for years to Captain Billy's Crab House. Their official address is Newburg, MD but they are on Popes Creek Road. Great crabs, nice atmosphere, and friendly management and servers. The drive down there is mostly an hour trip through exurbia, but once you pass La Plata and turn off on Popes Creek Road, the drive is through lovely corn fields, farm land and even a Jesuit retreat. Great place.

          1. r
            robdob RE: Mr Taster Aug 6, 2013 07:10 PM

            I haven't been yet but I've heard May's in Frederick is good.

            I usually pick up my crabs from the Seafood in the buff truck on 355 in Germantown. They've been consistently good.

            50 Replies
            1. re: robdob
              h
              Hal Laurent RE: robdob Aug 6, 2013 07:37 PM

              May's is great if you happen to be out in Frederick for another reason (I always go there for crabs when I'm out that way running a race), but I wouldn't make a special trip out there from Baltimore just for crabs, what with plenty of local places available.

              1. re: Hal Laurent
                Mr Taster RE: Hal Laurent Aug 6, 2013 08:34 PM

                We're not staying in Baltimore. We're staying in silver spring, but as I said, we will be happy to road trip somewhere for exceptional crab.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster
                  DanielK RE: Mr Taster Aug 6, 2013 09:43 PM

                  Bethesda is not too far from you, and Bethesda Crab House has always done well for me. They don't take table reservations, but they do take crab reservations. Call them up after lunch and reserve the biggest size you can.

                  1. re: Mr Taster
                    GraydonCarter RE: Mr Taster Aug 8, 2013 11:40 AM

                    There's a place on Georgia Ave in Silver Spring called Seafood in the Buff.

                    www.seafoodinthebuff.com

                2. re: robdob
                  c
                  CDouglas RE: robdob Aug 8, 2013 10:48 AM

                  May's is great and you should go out to Frederick for no apparent reason if you live in a stuffy city or suburb. The drive is beautiful, the people are fantastic and the prices are in the ballpark of what you can expect. Combine with a Keys game and a friendly, uncrowded Costco run and it will be well worth your while.

                  1. re: CDouglas
                    Mr Taster RE: CDouglas Aug 8, 2013 11:02 AM

                    >> prices are in the ballpark of what you can expect

                    Having never eaten at a Maryland crab shack, I really have no idea what to expect.

                    For three people, what/how many crabs would you order? And what is a low end to high end estimate of cost? And what is the procedure? Do they literally just dump a bunch of boiled crabs onto a newspaper covered tabletop, give you a few mallets and nutcrackers, and have at it?

                    This is a totally foreign experience to me, so any details you may provide would be helpful.

                    Thanks in advance

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: CDouglas
                      f
                      flavrmeistr RE: CDouglas Aug 8, 2013 11:07 AM

                      *Shhh...not so loud.*

                      1. re: flavrmeistr
                        Mr Taster RE: flavrmeistr Aug 8, 2013 11:42 AM

                        :)

                        OK, reservations for dinner on Monday at May's.

                        We might do a compare/contrast with dinner at Bill's in Essex on the following Friday.

                        What do you recommend ordering? (yeah, crab, I know). Is the all-you-can-eat deal worth it, or do they give you inferior crab?

                        http://www.maysrestaurant.com/Mays_Me...

                        Advice, please!

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster
                          f
                          flavrmeistr RE: Mr Taster Aug 8, 2013 11:53 AM

                          AYCE is the way to go at May's. The crabs are always good, but the AYCE allows you to switch over to steamed shrimp, fried oysters, clams, etc. Go there ready to eat some seafood.

                          1. re: flavrmeistr
                            Mr Taster RE: flavrmeistr Aug 8, 2013 02:39 PM

                            So if the jumbo jimmies are sold at a premium as CDouglas says, I imagine the AYCE crab is going to be considerably lower grade.... wouldn't the AYCE deal sell smaller sized jimmies, or.... *gasp*.... sooks?

                            Does anyone know for sure?

                            Mr Taster

                            1. re: Mr Taster
                              f
                              flavrmeistr RE: Mr Taster Aug 8, 2013 03:02 PM

                              It's not lower grade, just somewhat smaller crabs. People will pay a premium for larger crabs, because the claw and back fin meat is larger. Small or large, you want crabs that are heavy with meat. August and September are prime time for crabs because they've been eating well. During the cold months, they dig down in the mud and live off stored fat until the weather warms up and they can start eating again. The AYCE crabs at May's are not the jumbos, but they're of decent size and they are tasty. Even though it's tempting, try and avoid the "non-meat fillers" like fries and hush puppies to save room for the wonderful sea creatures.

                              1. re: flavrmeistr
                                Mr Taster RE: flavrmeistr Aug 8, 2013 03:34 PM

                                I hear you... thanks for the advice

                                Mr Taster

                        2. re: flavrmeistr
                          c
                          CDouglas RE: flavrmeistr Aug 8, 2013 01:00 PM

                          I hear you flavr it just irks me when folks talk about my neck of the woods like we are some hillbillies out in the sticks - "if you happen to be out that way..."

                          1. re: CDouglas
                            Mr Taster RE: CDouglas Aug 8, 2013 01:06 PM

                            Well, we live in Los Angeles and I'm really looking forward to taking a pleasant afternoon drive to somewhere considerably less populated.

                            So, again-- what's the procedure for dining at May's? Or is there one? I visualize a Louisiana style crawfish boil where they dump the freshly cooked shellfish onto a table in front of you. How far from the truth is this?

                            Mr Taster

                            1. re: Mr Taster
                              c
                              CDouglas RE: Mr Taster Aug 8, 2013 01:27 PM

                              May's has a website and everything:
                              http://www.maysrestaurant.com/

                              Jumbo jimmies go for $96/dozen - most recommended. Ask them for no "whiteys" and see if they know what you mean (crabs with bright white bottoms have recently molted and their meat has not yet swollen to fill the new shell; they are watery and light and not as good as the grungy-bottomed, heavy ones).

                              All you can eat is OK but go for the option with the steamed shrimp.

                              They are brought to you on a tray and placed on a paper-covered table. If you are unfamiliar with blues you can use a mallet to get into them but locals only use crab knives-we don't like eating shell shards. Eat the meat straight, dipped into apple cider vinegar, ACV and Old Bay or even melted butter if you must.

                              Drinks should be beer (Natty Boh, Bud, Bud Light and Yuengling are acceptable), sweet tea or lemonade.

                              If you see a fella in a #29 Budweiser Chevy cap surrounding several pitchers of beer and margaritas (I live on the wild side) mowing down a few dozen jimmies with his friends and family be sure to stop by and say "hey". I might even show you how to open a crab like a local.

                              Enjoy.

                              1. re: CDouglas
                                Mr Taster RE: CDouglas Aug 8, 2013 02:32 PM

                                I'll keep an eye out. Our reservation is @ 6:30 on Monday evening. If you see a 6ft tall blonde guy flanked by two adorable Taiwanese girls (my wife & sister in law), you'll know it's us. I'd love to get a lesson on eating crab from some locals. We were in Baltimore for a conference about a year ago and we had Natty Boh and some excellent crabcakes at Duda's Tavern in Fells Point, so I know where you're going with the beer. The Yelp photos of May's crabcakes look quite different- larger, and less browned. Never tried Yuengling, nor have I ever heard of Imperial Crab. So many new things to discover...

                                Mr Taster

                              2. re: Mr Taster
                                c
                                CDouglas RE: Mr Taster Aug 8, 2013 01:37 PM

                                Decent info or getting into a crab here:
                                http://www.bluecrab.info/cleaning.htm

                                General blue crab info:
                                http://www.bluecrab.info/buying_hards...

                                1. re: CDouglas
                                  Mr Taster RE: CDouglas Aug 8, 2013 02:40 PM

                                  I've printed out the 9 steps for getting into a crab-- I probably should laminate it before I go!

                                  Mr Taster

                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                    c
                                    CDouglas RE: Mr Taster Aug 8, 2013 03:53 PM

                                    At step 2 it helps to pull off the "tab/apron" from the bottom shell before you remove the top shell.

                                    Detailed pretty well here:
                                    http://www.timvidraeats.com/2011/07/h...

                                    As far as sooks go you won't see any at May's Restaurant. We mostly throw them back so they can produce more crabs.

                                    1. re: CDouglas
                                      Mr Taster RE: CDouglas Aug 8, 2013 04:28 PM

                                      So I take it the crabs in this latest link are "whiteys"? The bellies look pretty white to me.

                                      Mr Taster

                                      1. re: Mr Taster
                                        c
                                        CDouglas RE: Mr Taster Aug 8, 2013 06:31 PM

                                        Looks that way. Decent amount of meat though. There can be exceptions.

                                  2. re: CDouglas
                                    h
                                    Hue RE: CDouglas Aug 10, 2013 06:37 AM

                                    This guy does a pretty good job of showing how to clean and eat a crab. Most folks just eat the meat as it is picked, this guy puts it aside, so he can continue talking. Your hands will get messy put that is where you will get some of the flavor of the steaming spices . Some folks will ask for a small of vinegar for dipping, or butter for dipping.
                                    Also one other thing, this time of year Mr. Bills will also have some fresh corn on the cob that is also steamed...you may want to try an ear of that also.
                                    And we certainly expect a follow up report..

                                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3C0yD...

                                  3. re: Mr Taster
                                    c
                                    CDouglas RE: Mr Taster Aug 8, 2013 01:44 PM

                                    Oh, in case things don't go as planned with the hardshells - crab cakes, crab imperial and even better, soft shelled crabs are equally good, just different. Less social if you will.

                                  4. re: CDouglas
                                    f
                                    flavrmeistr RE: CDouglas Aug 8, 2013 01:06 PM

                                    As long as they keep thinking that way, we'll do just fine.

                                    1. re: CDouglas
                                      hill food RE: CDouglas Aug 9, 2013 12:36 AM

                                      CDouglas, I get you - I'm living out in the woods these days and keep this mantra going: "just 'cause we's hillbillies don't make us stoopid..."

                                      although sometimes it's fun to play up that perception.

                                      Mr. Taster - not much changes in the real crab shack world. hence the few updates on existing places until your question.

                                  5. re: CDouglas
                                    h
                                    Hue RE: CDouglas Aug 9, 2013 06:50 AM

                                    Here's what's gonna happen should you go to Mr. Bills.
                                    Call ahead (410-687-5996), this will let you know what time they will start steaming and the price per dozen and size availble. Lately the crabs have been running aboutr $75 a dozen for the largest.
                                    When you arrive, go in by the side door. Go to Mr. Steve at his "desk" (There is no Mr. Bill he has passed). He will give you a number if it is busy, and grab a seat at the bar. Tues, Wed and Thurs, are usually not an issue. Friday and Saturday can require a wait. I don't wait more than about 15 minutes.
                                    If it is gonna be longer then that I go to either Schultzes
                                    http://schultzs.com/
                                    or COSTAS
                                    http://www.costasinn.com/
                                    The tables will be covered with brown kraft paper with wooden mallets and small plastic knives. There will be a roll of paper towels on the table, you will need these, and there should be a large plastic bucket somewhere around the table on the floor.
                                    The waitress will come over and say something like " We have 64's and 75's. This will be the cost per dozen, You will order the in the same fashion "we will have a dozen of the 75's".
                                    The will also give you a menu but I venture no farther then crab soup and french fries, as an "appetizer" while your crabs are being steamed. Remember it's a crabhouse. Also order you beverages at this time, There will also be plastic cups on the table should you purchase a "pitcher". Try Natty Boh at your peril, it can be an aquired taste..kinda like PBR.
                                    In about 15-20 minutes a busboy will approach your table with a tray of the crabs you ordered. He will slide the crabs off the tray into the middle of the table. Careful, these crabs will be very hot. Give them a few minutes to cool down. Then foillow your crab picking directions.
                                    As the discarded shells pile up, use the large plastic bucket by the table as your "trash can".
                                    Word of caution, you may find this experience more work than reward as an "amateur" picker. Eating steamed crabs can be as much about the company you are with as satisfying an appetite.
                                    Also don't be shy about leaning close to a nearby table and letting them know this is your first experience and ask for some help.
                                    ENJOY

                                    1. re: Hue
                                      Mr Taster RE: Hue Aug 9, 2013 09:44 AM

                                      Wow, what a great primer.

                                      Thanks for including such specific detail about the experience. This will be incredibly helpful not just for me, but for any future visiting chowhounds.

                                      Mr Taster

                                      1. re: Mr Taster
                                        Mr Taster RE: Mr Taster Aug 9, 2013 10:21 AM

                                        Here's an important piece of the puzzle that's missing.

                                        I see locals keep referring to ordering a dozen-- from $75-$95. For that price, I'd assume that it feeds several people, but how many? There will be three of us-- and since we're all total novices at this, I think it's safe to assume that we won't be exactly able to get every little nugget of meat out of the shell.

                                        At Bill's, do you have to buy them by the dozen? Does the price per piece go up if you order less? Does Bill's have an AYCE deal like May's, and if so, how does it compare with buying ala carte? Agreed, we're there for the crab primarily, but I won't say no do some fried clams as those are very difficult to find in my neck of the woods.

                                        Thanks again for your help.

                                        Mr Taster

                                        1. re: Mr Taster
                                          JonParker RE: Mr Taster Aug 11, 2013 11:06 AM

                                          Well, they are expensive. I'm a big eater, and depending on size I can eat 6-8. There's not really much standardization on price. So a dozen will feed 2-3 people depending on appetite, side dishes, etc.

                                    2. re: CDouglas
                                      k
                                      kevin RE: CDouglas Aug 9, 2013 11:20 AM

                                      This sounds great. For some reason, I clicked on this post by mistake. But glad I'm here.

                                      1. re: kevin
                                        Mr Taster RE: kevin Aug 9, 2013 11:26 AM

                                        Are you coming to Maryland, Kevin?

                                        Mr Taster

                                        1. re: Mr Taster
                                          k
                                          kevin RE: Mr Taster Aug 9, 2013 11:51 AM

                                          Nope. But I will have to file this in my Rolodex.

                                          I've always wanted to hit up Faideleys in the Lexington Market as well as the rest of Baltimore.

                                          1. re: kevin
                                            Mr Taster RE: kevin Aug 9, 2013 01:10 PM

                                            I tried to get to Faidley's on my last (read: only) visit to DC/Baltimore area, but I didn't have a car, and at the time was sufficiently freaked out by that horrible Youtube tourist stripdown/mugging that happened near the courthouse that I didn't want to wander too far afield. We have a car this time. We wound up having crabcakes at Dudas Tavern in Fells Point which were really spectacular.

                                            Mr Taster

                                            1. re: Mr Taster
                                              k
                                              kevin RE: Mr Taster Aug 9, 2013 03:31 PM

                                              btw, off food topic, but i wonder if they have a john waters museum there too ?

                                              And where would you guys recommend for a classic diner straight out of Diner but with great food ????

                                              1. re: kevin
                                                h
                                                Hue RE: kevin Aug 9, 2013 04:11 PM

                                                No John Waters Museum ...yet!!!
                                                But try AMERICAN VISIONARY ARTS near the Inner Harbor,,,nice restaurant on premise

                                                http://www.avam.org/

                                                1. re: Hue
                                                  f
                                                  flavrmeistr RE: Hue Aug 9, 2013 05:48 PM

                                                  Baltimore is the home town of Frank Zappa. The good people of Vilnius, Lithuania commissioned a bronze bust of Frank, which sits atop a 16-foot aluminum pole in front of the Enoch Pratt Free Library at the corner of Easter Avenue and Conkling Street in Highlandtown.

                                                  Over on Fort Avenue in Locust Point is LP Steamers, another great crab and shrimp joint. Up the hill from there is Fort McHenry where the local swabbies and citizens held off the invading British fleet nearly 200 years ago. Lotta cool stuff in Baltimore.

                                                  "If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library."---Frank Zappa

                                                  1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                    f
                                                    flavrmeistr RE: flavrmeistr Aug 9, 2013 06:50 PM

                                                    Make that Eastern Ave.

                                                    1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                      k
                                                      kevin RE: flavrmeistr Aug 9, 2013 07:08 PM

                                                      Damn.

                                                      1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                        k
                                                        kevin RE: flavrmeistr Aug 9, 2013 07:09 PM

                                                        Now that is a fucking quote to end all quotes.

                                                        1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                          Mr Taster RE: flavrmeistr Aug 9, 2013 08:53 PM

                                                          I was in Vilnius many years ago. It's the kind of place I imagine Frank Zappa would have loved. There is an artists district called Užupis that has announced its "independence" from Vilnius, going to far as to stamp real passports with "fake" Užupis entry stamps.

                                                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U%C5%BEupis

                                                          I was told by a local that there was an artist exhibition where a nude woman sat below a bridge near a creek shaving her pubic hair.

                                                          How's that for culture?

                                                          Mr Taster

                                                          1. re: Mr Taster
                                                            f
                                                            flavrmeistr RE: Mr Taster Aug 9, 2013 09:00 PM

                                                            Uh...that would be over on The Block.

                                                            1. re: Mr Taster
                                                              k
                                                              kevin RE: Mr Taster Aug 10, 2013 01:12 PM

                                                              I'd love to check out that performance art piece with the nude chick.

                                                              Any other details on that ???

                                                              Reminds me of Annie Sprinkles piece at Highways where she masturbated on stage and passed the toilet paper around for the audience to inspect while she read classic poetry.

                                                              1. re: kevin
                                                                hill food RE: kevin Aug 10, 2013 04:32 PM

                                                                wow I haven't heard that name (Annie Sprinkle) in a very long time.

                                                                1. re: hill food
                                                                  k
                                                                  kevin RE: hill food Aug 11, 2013 02:04 PM

                                                                  Are you a Sprinkles fan and is she still performing ?

                                                                  Btw. What do you happen to know about this nude performance art piece on the bridge in Baltimore ????

                                                                  1. re: kevin
                                                                    f
                                                                    flavrmeistr RE: kevin Aug 11, 2013 03:10 PM

                                                                    I believe the OP said it was in Lithuania. A long time ago.

                                                                    1. re: kevin
                                                                      hill food RE: kevin Aug 19, 2013 07:03 PM

                                                                      kevin - I dunno, I last thought she was doing an advice column or writing in general.

                                                              2. re: flavrmeistr
                                                                Mississippi Snopes RE: flavrmeistr Dec 8, 2013 09:03 AM

                                                                The good people of Vilnius kept a Zappa statue for themselves too.

                                                                 
                                                            2. re: kevin
                                                              JonParker RE: kevin Aug 11, 2013 11:09 AM

                                                              I'm not sure Baltimore has great diners. Sip N Bite and Johnny's in Fells Point are the two most mentioned, but I didn't love the food at either of them. They're loaded with atmosphere though.

                                                              1. re: JonParker
                                                                f
                                                                flavrmeistr RE: JonParker Aug 11, 2013 02:03 PM

                                                                Do you mean Jimmy's? I like the Slip 'n Slide, but not necessarily for breakfast.

                                                                1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                                  JonParker RE: flavrmeistr Aug 11, 2013 02:59 PM

                                                                  Yeah, Jimmy's. My bad.

                                                2. d
                                                  dining with doc RE: Mr Taster Aug 9, 2013 10:23 AM

                                                  Mr Taster:
                                                  closer places to silver spring would be
                                                  1. Gunnings Seafood House: off rte 100 near BWI
                                                  2. Crossroads Tavern: Dayton MD in Howard County-gem...shhhhhhhh!
                                                  3. Cantlers: the icon for crabs on the water in Annapolis. worth the ride
                                                  4. Harris Crab House or The Crab Deck: both are just over the Chesapeake bay Bridge in Kent Narrows, worth the ride and on the water if you want a little adventure.
                                                  IMHO: skip all you can eat and get extra large or larger crabs. less work. and the crabs that are white have just molted and are light where as the crabs with a "dirty" belly will be heavy.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: dining with doc
                                                    Mr Taster RE: dining with doc Aug 9, 2013 10:31 AM

                                                    I'd like to re-emphasize that **location is not a problem**

                                                    We have a car, and are not just willing, but are LOOKING FORWARD to driving around your cozy little state. We're visiting from California, remember.

                                                    We're driving up to Atlantic City at some point anyway, so it's really not a problem to detour through Annapolis.

                                                    So, let me restate my question here.

                                                    DRIVING NOT A PROBLEM... WE WILL TRAVEL FOR THE BEST CRAB IN MD!!! It can be clear across the other side of the state-- we don't care. If it's the best MD has to offer, we will go. This is Chowhound, after all!

                                                    So please, no more talk about "convenience" or proximity to Silver Spring.

                                                    WE.
                                                    WILL.
                                                    TRAVEL.
                                                    ANYWHERE.
                                                    FOR.
                                                    THE.
                                                    BEST.
                                                    CRAB.
                                                    IN.
                                                    MD.

                                                    /soapbox

                                                    As you know, we're already going to May's in Frederick-- we were planning to go to Mr. Bill's too, but we can be swayed by a convincing argument otherwise.

                                                    We will go to whatever joint becomes the Chowhound consensus on this thread.

                                                    Sadly, we will NOT have time to visit more than two.

                                                    Criteria (in order of preference)
                                                    1. CRAB
                                                    2. Everything else on the menu
                                                    3. Decor/ambiance (a shack on the bay with a sea view would be nice, **but absolutely not necessary** as the quality of the food is of utmost importance to us)

                                                    Please list suggestions (in order of preference) and your regular order.

                                                    Thanks again!!

                                                    Mr Taster

                                                    1. re: Mr Taster
                                                      h
                                                      Hue RE: Mr Taster Aug 9, 2013 04:09 PM

                                                      Mr Taster,

                                                      For the best experience get the largest crabs available, they will be easier to pick, and you will get more large lumps of crab. Order by 1/2 dozen or dozen or combination thereof.
                                                      (Ordering out of norm, would be like ordering Corned Beef on white bread with lettuce, tomato and mayo at a Jewish deli, can be done but really never should be.)
                                                      Mr. Bills does not have an AYCE crab service. I stay away from AYCE places. Always think of Norm on CHEERS going to the HUNGRY HEIFER for AYCE Surf and Turf for $1.99....fish sticks with mushroom gravy!!
                                                      Mr. Bills is a crab house, that's what they do best...try the crab soup either Maryland Style (tomato base with veggies, or Cream of Crab...
                                                      The name of the pace is Mr. Bill's Terrace Inn and Sports Bar, but no Mr, Bill (although his picture is on the back wall)
                                                      no Terrace and very little of a Sports Bar..but terrific crabs.

                                                      1. re: Hue
                                                        Mr Taster RE: Hue Aug 9, 2013 04:14 PM

                                                        Thanks for this. You'll notice that 'sports bar' never entered into my criteria since none of us are sports fans :) Crab house is what I want. Maybe we'll do the AYCE at May's for sheer variety of seafood, and then get some beautiful jumbos at Mr. Bills for comparison.

                                                        How many crabs does one human eat? (I know, it depends on the human... but an average?) I still have no sense of scale on this. I'm sure it's somewhere between 2 and 10, but I really have no idea otherwise.

                                                        Thanks again everyone for your help.

                                                        Mr Taster

                                                        1. re: Mr Taster
                                                          h
                                                          Hue RE: Mr Taster Aug 9, 2013 04:51 PM

                                                          For three people a dozen should suffice.... 3 to 4 per person is a decent average..the few variables,,the size of the crab,
                                                          the size of the picker, etc...start at a dozen and when you get thru about two crabs each make a judgement call and order another 1/2 dozen if you think you need them. Any crabs left over are normal doggie bagged , and eaten at home the next day,or picked and made into crabcakes,,, although this isn't an option for you!!!

                                                          1. re: Mr Taster
                                                            melpy RE: Mr Taster Aug 19, 2013 04:42 AM

                                                            When we do a crab feast people eat approximately 8 and I know the crabs are larges or bigger. I am usually sick of it by 6 but not full. A novice picker might eat 4-6. I know some people who can do the dozen on their own.

                                                          2. re: Hue
                                                            f
                                                            flavrmeistr RE: Hue Aug 9, 2013 05:21 PM

                                                            Every bar in Baltimore is a sports bar. I was at Howard's Subway in Linthicum for lunch today. WJZ-13 was broadcasting live coverage of Art Donovan's funeral--for over two hours. Guys at the bar were sniffling. You gotta love this town.

                                                            1. re: Hue
                                                              k
                                                              kevin RE: Hue Aug 9, 2013 05:36 PM

                                                              Love it. The name. But there's no terrace and no Mr. Bill.

                                                            2. re: Mr Taster
                                                              KWagle RE: Mr Taster Aug 19, 2013 03:17 AM

                                                              Man, you have the right attitude! I can't believe the number of people who fuss and whine because they have to drive a whole hour to Grace Garden (and you should check the threads on that place if you have time for another meal) despite it being one of the best restaurants on the east coast.

                                                          3. Mister Big RE: Mr Taster Aug 9, 2013 12:10 PM

                                                            Very glad you started this thread. I now know about Mays.

                                                            13 Replies
                                                            1. re: Mister Big
                                                              Mr Taster RE: Mister Big Aug 9, 2013 01:11 PM

                                                              Glad to help. It's good to revisit these topics once in while. Even if nothing has changed, good info can still come from them. And everyone like an opportunity to talk about their favorites.

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                Delucacheesemonger RE: Mr Taster Aug 9, 2013 04:19 PM

                                                                l will be at Bill's Terrace on Aug 20 @ opening time, 5 ish.
                                                                As you can see l am also WTFBC as coming down from suburbs of Philadelphia for this and do it often. So if you want to meet just show up.

                                                                1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                                                  Mr Taster RE: Delucacheesemonger Aug 9, 2013 08:57 PM

                                                                  Sadly, by the time you arrive, I will have been home in Los Angeles two days.

                                                                  Also, for logistic reasons we changed our reservation at May's to 6:30pm on Tuesday, Aug 13, so if any Chowhound locals want to help show us around May's crab table, we're willing students!

                                                                  Planning to hit up Mr. Bill's around opening time, 4pm on Fri Aug 16th.

                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                                                    Delucacheesemonger RE: Delucacheesemonger Aug 20, 2013 08:09 PM

                                                                    Went tonight with a friend and met another hound there. IMHO it was Nirvana, steaming hot, very big, heavy as can be and their crab boil is great. As good a meal as had in a year or two.

                                                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                                                      s
                                                                      Steve RE: Delucacheesemonger Aug 21, 2013 06:39 AM

                                                                      We had 75s. They were beautiful. Whenever I have steamed crabs this good, it always makes me wonder why they boil their seafood in California, the Gulf, and just about every place else. Doesn't make sense to me.

                                                                      For the record, Bill's starts seating for crabs at 5pm on weekdays, with the bar opening by 4pm (closed Mondays). During the week, at least in the summer, there is plenty of seating available.

                                                                      1. re: Steve
                                                                        Mr Taster RE: Steve Aug 21, 2013 08:59 AM

                                                                        We were at Mr. Bill's on Friday around 5:30pm. No wait, plenty of seating. By the time we left (around 7:30) the place was bustling. We ordered a dozen 75s (extra large) which was the largest size they had available. Just for fun, we ordered some fries and Maryland crab soup. The fries were spectacular-- long, square cut, incredibly crispy on the outside and light on the inside. The soup was rather ordinary-- just a few steps up from what you might expect from a can. Grey and lifeless.

                                                                        The crabs were spectacular. It took us a bit of figuring out (we should have laminated the instructions we printed out from the internet!) We asked for instructions from the server (who looked like a character out of Hairspray, with big bouffant hair, lazy way of speaking, and "hon"s all around-- the guy at the host's podium also, looked like a John Waters character) and she sent over a kid to show us how to break a crab down. Sadly, he used the hammer quite a bit, and I was hoping for more advanced instruction. In any case, by the time we got to 7 or 8 crabs we had largely figured it out.

                                                                        We had one disappointing crab-- the innards, instead of being a creamy mustard yellow/light green, were grey/black and it dumped water onto the table when we lifted the lid off. We sent that one back for a replacement. Assuming this was probably a floater? We did a couple more watery crabs, so now I fully understand what you meant by "no whities". Forgot to ask this time-- next time we won't forget.

                                                                        In any case, we ingested about 6 lifetimes worth of salt and had a really good time with some spectacular food-- thanks again for pointing us in this direction, Steve, and to everyone else for all the tips.

                                                                        Still recovering from an exhausting delayed flight-- just getting over the jet lag today.

                                                                        With regard to preparation, how exactly are these crabs cooked? Steamed, then baked with the Old Bay? I'm not quite sure.

                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                          Delucacheesemonger RE: Mr Taster Aug 21, 2013 09:34 AM

                                                                          Spot on the waitresses hair and the owner's John Waters character appearance.
                                                                          Speaking as a Pennsylvanian who has eaten and cooked more crab than most, my method and l suspect theirs is simply packing a crapload of his own seasoning spice on the crabs, and steaming them TO ORDER, that part is huge. They come out untouchably hot, and just plain perfect. IMHO his spice mix has less salt than most. Wye River puts one out that has no salt and l use it a lot at home.
                                                                          Many other crabs houses steam a big bunch together so if you are first they are very hot, if later less temperature.
                                                                          And yes, the fries are great, put more crab spice on them as well. For ketchup they supply cocktail sauce not ketchup, interesting.

                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                            s
                                                                            Steve RE: Mr Taster Aug 21, 2013 09:54 AM

                                                                            FYI: They have more than one kind of crab soup. A white version with cream is completely uninteresting, but a thin version is also available with more spicy crab flavor. Still, it's not a great soup.

                                                                            1. re: Steve
                                                                              Mr Taster RE: Steve Aug 21, 2013 10:04 AM

                                                                              The ladies at the table behind us also recommended to us the red soup over the white, which is why we went with that one. Just for variety. But they too were also unenthusiastic about both.

                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                DanielK RE: Mr Taster Aug 21, 2013 11:29 AM

                                                                                At Nick's Fish House in Baltimore, if you ask them whether they recommend the Maryland Crab (red) or Cream of Crab, they recommend a (not on the menu) "half and half" - which is exactly what you think it is. Very very good, at least at Nick's.

                                                                            2. re: Mr Taster
                                                                              h
                                                                              Hue RE: Mr Taster Aug 21, 2013 06:19 PM

                                                                              Well, sounds like you had a true Baltimore crab house experience!
                                                                              Crab soup is a Mom made at home specialty for me, but get it at crab houses to whet my appetite while the crabs are steamed.
                                                                              Crabs when steamed at home ..
                                                                              I use a large enamel pot (type used for canning vegetables). Have to build a bottom rack about 2 inches high, to keep the crabs from laying in the bottom of the pot and being "boiled.
                                                                              Live crabs are put in ice water for about ten to fifteen minutes to stun them and keep them from "escaping" as you load them.
                                                                              After about two layers of crabs are in the pot I put a healthy handful or two of Old Bay, some kosher salt and dry mustard.
                                                                              Repeat this till the pot is full. Then I pour about two bottles of beer over the crabs and then about 4-5 cups of cider vinegar( a very inexact science on the liquids)
                                                                              Soak about 10 -12 pages of newspaper in water and cover the top of the crabs with this. If I have some cleaned ears of corn I also throw a few on the top of the crabs.
                                                                              Goes on the stove at high heat, cook about 20-25 minutes
                                                                              till crabs are nice and orange. As a test I will break off a claw from one of the top crabs and test doneness!
                                                                              Crabs are placed on the center of the table....protocol at our house is that you are not allow to test the weight of the crabs, the first one you pick up is yours!!

                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                h
                                                                                Hue RE: Mr Taster Aug 21, 2013 06:27 PM

                                                                                FYI

                                                                                http://www.bluecrab.info/forum/index.php

                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                  d
                                                                                  dining with doc RE: Mr Taster Aug 22, 2013 10:36 AM

                                                                                  steamed while coated in old bay or other spiced mix

                                                                      2. k
                                                                        kevin RE: Mr Taster Aug 9, 2013 03:36 PM

                                                                        Part of the reason why I wanted to visit Baltimore way back when:

                                                                        http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/19/din...

                                                                        1. d
                                                                          Deborah R. RE: Mr Taster Aug 10, 2013 09:21 AM

                                                                          I want to second the recommendation for Cantler's near Annapolis. I can't say that they have the "best" crabs (haven't been to some of the other places people are suggesting), but they are as good as any crabs I've eaten. And Cantler's is
                                                                          an atmospheric joint on the water.

                                                                          One oddity -- they end the all-you-can-eat deals in the late afternoon (or that was the case on my last visits there, which were a while back). So if you want an AYCE feast, you'd have to get there for lunch. Since I think of crabs and beer as an evening activity, I've only had the large crabs that they sell by the piece, or maybe by the half-dozen or dozen.

                                                                          It's my sense that large crabs tend to be a little bit sweeter than smaller ones, so I've never been unhappy with that arrangement, though it isn't cheap. But there is something to be said for having platter after platter of crabs brought to you, even if the crabs are small and, arguably, a little less flavorful.

                                                                          Nobody is going to be able to tell you how many crabs you should order to feel satisfied; it's entirely subjective. I'm not a big eater, but I can consume an enormous number of crabs. You might find the same to be the case for you, or you might find that you're happy with 2-3 crabs with some sides.

                                                                          Enjoy whichever place you end up atl.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Deborah R.
                                                                            agarnett100 RE: Deborah R. Aug 13, 2013 01:40 PM

                                                                            If you friend Cantler's on facebook they have specials every week on all you can eat crabs

                                                                            1. re: Deborah R.
                                                                              f
                                                                              foufou RE: Deborah R. Aug 19, 2013 02:54 PM

                                                                              Visited Cantler;s last weekend and the crabs were delicious...as well, not able to say they're the best....the only other place I had local crabs was at Lexington Market long ago..Cantler's is definitely worth a visit.

                                                                            2. hill food RE: Mr Taster Aug 10, 2013 04:34 PM

                                                                              one other thing - take a small tube of neo or poly sporin to use later on the inevitable scratches the shells will leave.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: hill food
                                                                                melpy RE: hill food Aug 19, 2013 04:45 AM

                                                                                Do not pick crabs with open hand wounds! Ouch!

                                                                                1. re: melpy
                                                                                  hill food RE: melpy Aug 19, 2013 07:04 PM

                                                                                  and beware the ones they may cause...

                                                                              2. b
                                                                                bmorecupcake RE: Mr Taster Aug 13, 2013 06:41 PM

                                                                                I'm probably being overly snobby, and many Chowhounds don't believe there's a taste difference, but if you're in the area, why not try and find a crab house that actually serves crabs caught in MD/VA waters? If for no other reason, just for "authenticity" or whatever you want to call it. Most crab house I've called are forthcoming about their crab source. Usually, they'll mix in some MD crabs here and there, but can't guarantee anything. I lost my list from last year, but we're going out for crabs ourselves soon, so I'll be calling around and I'll post back here soon.

                                                                                15 Replies
                                                                                1. re: bmorecupcake
                                                                                  Mr Taster RE: bmorecupcake Aug 13, 2013 10:27 PM

                                                                                  I assumed any Maryland crab house worth its salt would be selling locally caught crab. Is this not correct?

                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                    Dennis S RE: Mr Taster Aug 14, 2013 04:23 AM

                                                                                    "Worth its salt" is the key component. Even then I wouldn't be so sure. Off season I just assume that everything comes from NC or the Gulf.

                                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                      JonParker RE: Mr Taster Aug 14, 2013 04:51 AM

                                                                                      The answer depends on the time of year, what the crab harvest in the bay is like, and a host of other factors. Whole crabs will always be domestic, but you can get them from the Gulf at times when MD crabs are out of season.

                                                                                      That said, crabs from the Gulf are fine with me. I'd prefer the local stuff, but I'm not going to get too bent out of shape if they aren't.

                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                        g
                                                                                        gregb RE: Mr Taster Aug 14, 2013 06:34 AM

                                                                                        In order to guarantee an out-of-season supply from the Gulf, distributors will force restaurants to also buy summer Gulf crabs even when MD crabs are available.

                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                          f
                                                                                          flavrmeistr RE: Mr Taster Aug 14, 2013 07:06 AM

                                                                                          There aren't really enough to go around these day, so local distributors must outsource beyond the Chesapeake fisheries to keep up with demand. That's the way it is.

                                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                            d
                                                                                            dining with doc RE: Mr Taster Aug 16, 2013 06:07 AM

                                                                                            every crab house I know serves crabs that they import from North Carolina, Texas and Louisiana since the supply of Maryland crabs is so variable. They are the same species. IMHO, one can not tell the difference if they are from the chesapeake or elsewhere as long as they were alive when cooked.

                                                                                            1. re: dining with doc
                                                                                              JonParker RE: dining with doc Aug 16, 2013 06:12 AM

                                                                                              I started to say that but didn't want to get flamed. But yeah, I can't tell the difference. What I can tell is the difference between domestic crab and Asian crab in a crab cake.

                                                                                              1. re: JonParker
                                                                                                d
                                                                                                dining with doc RE: JonParker Aug 16, 2013 07:21 AM

                                                                                                yes i would agree 100% with you

                                                                                              2. re: dining with doc
                                                                                                DanielK RE: dining with doc Aug 16, 2013 07:58 AM

                                                                                                I agree - I don't think you can tell the difference.

                                                                                                However, I'd be curious if we did a side-by-side test with crabs that had been pulled from local waters hours before, vs. some from the Gulf that had been pulled some days earlier, would we be able to tell?

                                                                                              3. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                s
                                                                                                Steve RE: Mr Taster Aug 16, 2013 08:11 AM

                                                                                                Chesapeake Bay female crab harvest is being limited this year by 20 to 40 percent.

                                                                                                Article:
                                                                                                http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2013...

                                                                                                Recent local reports:
                                                                                                http://www.bluecrab.info/forum/index....

                                                                                                1. re: Steve
                                                                                                  f
                                                                                                  flavrmeistr RE: Steve Aug 16, 2013 08:22 AM

                                                                                                  Get used to it.

                                                                                                  1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                                                                    hill food RE: flavrmeistr Aug 16, 2013 03:17 PM

                                                                                                    it's getting better (or am I thinking about the oysters?)

                                                                                                    1. re: hill food
                                                                                                      f
                                                                                                      flavrmeistr RE: hill food Aug 16, 2013 03:24 PM

                                                                                                      Not really. A ten-year ban would be a good start. When you run out of fish, it's time to stop fishing.

                                                                                                  2. re: Steve
                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                    Hue RE: Steve Aug 17, 2013 09:02 AM

                                                                                                    Good, never understood why there wasn't a very limited catch on female crabs....

                                                                                                    1. re: Hue
                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                      bmorecupcake RE: Hue Aug 17, 2013 11:11 AM

                                                                                                      Shouldn't the limit make females more expensive than males?

                                                                                                      Seems like this year's crab harvest hasn't been as good as last year's. From nearby crab houses I called, Abners was the only one with bay crabs, and even then only for select sizes. I know Crisfield has a lot of bay-only crab houses, but it's a little far for me right now.

                                                                                                      I disagree about the crabs all tasting the same. DanielK, you can easily do a side-by-side comparison. Well, sort of. Fill up at Mr. Bills, then grab a half dozen at Waterman's Pride or Conrad's on the way out and compare. I don't know if it's the bay water or freshness, but I find that even the less meaty, watery crabs at Conrad's have a cleaner taste than crabs at crab houses. Also, I eat crabs without seasoning. With the seasoning, I can imagine it would be hard to tell.

                                                                                                      I agree the view and company have a lot to do with the experience. Still, instead of waiting in line and eating indoors at a place like Mr. Bills, I'd much rather grab an order of crabs and corn to go from Conrad's, bring my own drinks, tomatoes, and fruit, and eat at a park close by. Conrad's will give you a brown paper mat and they have mallets, too.

                                                                                              4. h
                                                                                                Hue RE: Mr Taster Aug 19, 2013 05:54 AM

                                                                                                Mr Taster..did you make it to a crab house??

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Hue
                                                                                                  Mr Taster RE: Hue Aug 19, 2013 03:23 PM

                                                                                                  I did, went to Mr. Bills. Still recovering from the trip, really tired. Will report back later.

                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                2. l
                                                                                                  lawhound RE: Mr Taster Aug 19, 2013 08:44 AM

                                                                                                  Just to throw in a Baltimore crab house rec -- excellent crabs ths weekend from Captain Harry's, just off Belair Road (Ridge Road), north of the beltway. Carry out only.

                                                                                                  1. agarnett100 RE: Mr Taster Aug 21, 2013 08:13 AM

                                                                                                    Mr Taster.

                                                                                                    Or you can visit the DC Wharf - buy a half bushel(Capt White) for $60 and take it to a park and have a mini picnic. Most cost effective way to enjoy our regional delight

                                                                                                    1. sampras66 RE: Mr Taster Nov 19, 2013 04:38 PM

                                                                                                      WOW this was an awesome post and responces were jewels.Saved me the post.Will be staying in Baltimore wtfbc?lol

                                                                                                      1. sampras66 RE: Mr Taster Nov 19, 2013 04:41 PM

                                                                                                        Is December good for crab?

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: sampras66
                                                                                                          j
                                                                                                          Just Visiting RE: sampras66 Nov 19, 2013 05:29 PM

                                                                                                          Depending on crabbing method, the season in Maryland ends on 12/15 or 12/20 so you may still be able to get local crabs.

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