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Aug 29, 2013 03:29 PM

crabs - cantlers or harris or other

We'll be down in DC and then Baltimore in a week. We've been craving steamed crabs. Looking for the brown paper on the table type of place. Have been to Harris Crab house before and liked it. Cantler's gets good reviews too. Any one have a preference of one over the other? Or any other places local to that area that would be better?
Any advice would be helpful.

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    1. re: chefj

      Went to Cantler's for the first and last time last week. Largest crabs were light, they replaced a few of them with the same type crab! Long ride for such a disappointment!!

      1. re: Hue

        Sorry to hear that.
        Never had a problem at Cantler's. Did you ask about how heavy the crabs were? The wait staff is usually glad to let you know what they think is the best deal that day.

    2. Was at Bill's Terrace Inn in the Baltimore area last week. The 75s were beautifully steamed. Always go for the largest crabs you can get.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        I always get the largest available, too, but a better choice would be the fullest crabs. Unfortunately, this is pretty much impossible to find out without trial and error. Although I have heard there's a place somewhere east of Baltimore that sells their steamed crabs by the pound.

        1. Bring a big wad of cash or a credit card with high limits. A dozen jumbos cost $110 at Cantler's last week. They were really good, not the best I've ever had, but definitely hit the spot. Don't worry about getting a light crab. Just tell the waiter and they will gladly replace it.

          BTW on light crabs - they are light right after they molt and Bay lore has it that they shed in the few days before and after a full moon.

          So if you want to be sure of having heavy crabs, you'd want to get them when they are "busters" - just before they shed. So a week or so before the full moon.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Just Visiting

            I don't think the moon matters with farm raised soft shells, however. And I'm guessing like hard shells, most are farm raised.

            1. re: Dennis S

              I think you are mistaken about Blue Crabs (Callinectes Sapidus), being commercially Farmed.

                1. re: Dennis S

                  The second and third links are about individuals or organizations that are trying to develop commercial-scale blue
                  crab aquaculture. They have not yet done so. "After an initial study in a Belhaven crabber’s backyard pond last year, Eggleston is planning large-scale trials in Plymouth this summer. He will track costs and yields and hopes to determine that crab farming makes economic sense." Read Eggleston's own website (, which starts out. "While Callinectes sapidus has yet to be farmed, the past 10 years have seen an explosion of farming with other crab species in Asia, Australia, and to a lesser extent Europe."

                  Given that soft shells are "busters" that have just busted and the new shell hasn't hardened, your statement makes no sense anyway. The same biological process would occur in a tank and, in fact, the site I alluded to suggests that they are molting in synchrony with the full moon even when in a lab:
                  "Jennifer Martin of the University of Connecticut's Department of Ecology and Evolution says "In the lab I had two thousand crabs that I was rearing and a full moon definitely meant most of them were molting. Why? I am not sure." This would seem to indicate that the increased gravitational pull during a full moon somehow directly influences the crab since food availability and cover would not be factors in a controlled laboratory environment."


                  1. re: Dennis S

                    Yes, much more out there about the feasibility of Farming.
                    Yours is much more New Thinking really, like in the Future.

            2. Cantlers and also like both Harris and The Crab Deck on Kent Narrows. all are good

              3 Replies
              1. re: dining with doc

                I decided we'll go to Cantlers. Seems that both Cantlers and Harris get the most positive reviews. We've been to Harris a couple of times so always nice to go some place different.

                I will say I like Harris on a nice warm day it is fun to sit outside and watch the boats go up and down the river.

                And nothing better when you add a pile of steamed spicy crabs and a couple of cold beers to the mix.

                We'll be going on a Tuesday and probably early so won't have to worry about the crowds. Sounds like it can be problematic on weekends.

                And getting the largest crabs just makes sense. May cost more but just so much easier.

                Thanks for all the advice. Looking forward to our crab feast. Actually looking for to good food and drink for the entire week.

                1. re: KathyH

                  The crab deck is right around the corner from harris, also waterfront and food arguably as good and maybe better. Check to see what crabs they have also. Cantler's is always good

                  1. re: dining with doc

                    I will have to give the Crab Deck a shot Next time I am back Home.
                    Harris is good when they are busy. Since they do not cook to order, when they are slow the Crabs are often not really up to snuff.

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