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best crab cakes in maryland - any suggestions?

Traveling to maryland for the first time... wondering where i can find the best crab cakes. Any advice!? traveling middle of July... (or if there is any of MUST have meal besides crab cakes, any and all suggestions are welcome)

thanks friends!

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  1. What part of Maryland will you be visiting? That might help narrow down your search.

    1. Go to Lexington Market in Baltimore. Find Faidley's, a seafood vendor that has been there forever. Go to the stand-up counter and order "Crabcake on a Cracker". This is the genuine item.

      Don't know where you're going to be in Maryland. Crisfield's in downtown Silver Spring is an old-timer with superb seafood. Oysters are more rare than they used to be but if Crisfield's has fried oysters, they're the best.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Querencia

        Crisfield's is still terrific, but their crabcake has never been outstanding. For crabcake, Jerry's (Lanham or Bowie) is best. Clyde's is pretty good, as well.

      2. Steam Crabs is more of a "Must Have" than Crab Cakes IMO.
        And of course there are many threads about this already

        17 Replies
        1. re: chefj

          I am going to echo this -- steamed crabs is the must have dish. But, for a crabcake:
          - I have no idea why people recommend the Narrows. I tried it last summer & it is an overpriced tourist trap.
          - There are a lot of comments on this thread, but not much content!
          - Never been to, or heard any Baltimorons speak or write of, Jerry's. Maybe it's good, but please don't feel the need to drive 30 miles into the suburbs for a crabcake when the real deal is not hard to find...
          - my top picks in Baltimore are Faidley's, Koco's, and Gertrude's. There's a nice range of environments for you - from downtown city market, to friendly & comfortable neighborhood pub, to refined restaurant at a wonderful free museum.

          1. re: foster

            So steamed crabs are an acquired - well, not taste, but practice - many people really don't want to bother with it. It takes a while to learn and it is messy until you get the hang of it and because it takes a good while to get the hang of it, lots of people feel it is too little food for the amount of time and effort.

            Faidley's has not been good for years. Gertrude's may be good but the atmosphere is chi-chi tea room. After all, it is a museum restaurant. Not my idea of a place to eat crab cakes.

            I agree - the Narrows is nothing to write home about.

            And if you don't feel like driving to Jerry's, that is your choice. I don't feel like driving to Bawlamer, even though I used to live there and still love it.

            1. re: Just Visiting

              Learning to eat them is part of it and for a Tourist I think a Authentic and fun Experience. I do not order too many at a time if I am eating with First Timers. If or when they get fed up or frustrated I suggest some Steamers or a Crab Cake.

              1. re: chefj

                Personally I agree with you but not everyone feels the same way.

                1. re: Just Visiting

                  I never insinuated that everyone feels that way. I only expressed my opinion.

            2. re: flavrmeistr

              Sorry, have to chime in. I use this board a lot while traveling and Faidley's was one of those rare Chowhound misses for me.

              I went last year and was very disappointed in the crab cake. Tasted like it was premade and sitting around a long time. Texture was odd. I also remember it being very heavy on the Old Bay seasoning.

              The atmosphere was also off-putting. I kind of knew what to expect going in, but was still a little surprised how run-down the market seemed and there were people begging me for money while I was eating. This was a weekday around noon so maybe there are better days/times to visit?

              I had a better crab cake at Duda's in Fells Point the next evening. Cheaper too with some sort of happy hour special.

              1. re: churros

                Dudas is my absolute favorite for a crab cake. It’s an awesome place for a beer and some low key Fells Point entertainment as well.

                I've been in Baltimore for 12 years and have never taken a visitor to Lexington Market. I've been a handful of times but it's never my idea and I'll never bring any out-of-towners there. There just aren't any redeeming qualities for me, Faidley's included.

                1. re: gregb

                  I have to agree. Some people on this board love Lexington Market and Faidleys, but I've never been impressed with Faidleys and let's not even get into Lexington or we'll end up having the thread moderated as is often the case.

                  There are much better options in Baltimore.

                  1. re: Roland Parker

                    Heh. See below -- it's happened already.

                    I liked Duda's as well, but was less impressed on my last visit. Also, at that point I was comparing them to the 'cakes I'd had at The Narrows. I really liked the ones at Pierpoint. Which are your favorites in Baltimore, Roland?

                    1. re: Steve Green

                      Ooh. I hadn't seen that. Oops. As another once frequent (but sadly recently AWOL) poster said, it's always been difficult to have a frank discussion about Lexington Market on this forum.

                      The best crabcakes in Baltimore are always in your mother's kitchen, but obviously that presents a problem for visitors ;)

                      I have had excellent crabcakes at Koco's Pub in Hamilton/Lauraville, the Corner Stable on York Road in Lutherville, Jimmy's on Holabird Avenue and Michael's Cafe on York Road in Lutherville.

              2. re: foster

                Second the crabcakes at Gertrudes. They are excellent. And it is a very pleasant place to eat brunch or dinner outside on a summer evening.

                1. re: foster

                  Just a quick note that we removed some discussion of neighborhood safety in Lexington Market from here. It's a subject that often doesn't go well on Chowhound, and it didn't here either. We encourage people not to make that the focus of comments, but to keep things focused on the food. Thanks.

                2. re: chefj

                  If it's weird and messy I definitely need to try it... thank you for sending the thread. Great advice. Have you tried wet willies or Bills Terrace? Any reco for steamed crabs?

                  1. re: kadams441

                    I have not gone for Crabs in Baltimore for many Years. The Family is now in Annapolis. When we are not eating our own Crabs we go to Cantler's

                    1. re: chefj

                      so....what time should we arrive at your house? :)

                      1. re: Vidute

                        I live in Oakland now. But my folks a pulling plenty in off the Dock in preparation for the 4th. Show up anytime afternoon I'll let them know your coming
                        You will get to try my Dad's special Season as well!

                        1. re: chefj

                          sounds wonderful!....only thing, you left off the address! ;) i'll bring lithuanian beer!

                3. Hi Terri H, I will be visiting Baltimore area. But willing to drive further away if there is a must try spot.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: kadams441

                    Hands down - Jerry's Seafood. You want the one in Bowie because it is much larger and has a waiting area. All the food is excellent but the Crab Bomb is aptly named. Best I've had by far and I've lived in MD since 1981.

                    1. re: Just Visiting

                      Second the Crab Bomb at Jerry's. I kinda prefer the seedy charm of the Lanham original.

                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                        I do, too, but the hours are funky and if the weather is bad, there is really no place to wait. That small porch fills up fast and who wants to sit in a parking lot?

                  2. i love the crab cake at Samos restaurant in greektown section of baltimore. it is a greek restaurant and has great food including great crabcakes

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: dining with doc

                      Have you had the crabcake at the new Samos in Canton? I've sent people to Faidley's and Greektown who refused to get out of the car at either place. Don't even ask.

                      1. re: bmorecupcake

                        I have not been but don't understand why someone would not want to get out in Greek town

                        1. re: dining with doc

                          Dear doc--maybe the parking situation--or the same as Little Italy-- old school cuisine and not the latest in food offerings--not that it is a bad thing. Chowhounds tend to venture out for the latest restaurant/cuisine--i.e., farm to table, etc. and the "see and be seen set."

                          As far as Greektown--I believe that Fells Point has some offerings of Greek oriented foods and ample parking//or valet--in an upscale environment.

                          The low interest in Greektown reminds me of the loss of interest in Hausner's and other east side restaurants. Wasn't there a restaurant--Smitty's,, etc. Please inform and update--FoiGras

                          1. re: FoiGras

                            I thought the op asked about the best crab cakes and it is clear that Samos crab cake holds a place on that list. Also chow hound is not all about new cuisine.....it's all about the food. The food has to stand on its own regardless of the theme of the place

                    2. My two favorites, by a good margin, are the 'cakes at The Narrows in Grasonville, and the ones at Pierpoint in B'more. Others I've had include Faidley's, Duda's, and Obrycki's (which apparently is now only at BWI).

                      1. Kokos on Harford RD......true Baltimore character,,,,,hands down the best crab cakes around

                        1. Edgewater Restaurant and get a pair of Jumbo Lumps also very nice shoestring fries from scratch in peanut oil.

                          I also love Gunnings' Crab Fluff and great cole slaw BTW.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: bang4dabuck

                            bang4.....Gunnings has closed their doors.....German Restaurant (Blob's Park folks) to open in the late summer early fall!!!

                            1. re: Hue

                              WOW !!! Just disappeared. I want to figure their cole slaw out. Oh well, no more crab fluffs ... sad

                          2. The problem now is there are considerable amounts of no taste, imported, pasteurized, "Blue Swimming" crab meat from Asia. Big on the Lumps but very small on the taste of a real Chesapeake Blue "Jimmy". I have not been able to get a consistent supply of unpasteurized Blue Crab jumbo lump in quite a few years.

                            7 Replies
                              1. re: Hue

                                It would be good to see a healthy Chesapeake Bay again, with the waterman being able to continue their family tradition of crabbing. So much for "globalization" and it's benefits!!!

                              2. re: ospreycove

                                Maybe Jessup. Call around over there.

                                1. re: ospreycove

                                  That's true, and I note that Jerry's is NOT showing the TrueBlue logo on its website and they are not on the TrueBlue list (here's a better site that actually has the list of restaurants: http://seafood.maryland.gov/true-blue...). Of course, the flip side of this story is that given the enormous decline of blue crab in the Chesapeake Bay and the extreme restrictions on crab take, there wouldn't be enough to go around were all the restaurants to limit themselves to Maryland blue crab.

                                  1. re: Just Visiting

                                    Some actual info:


                                    The local Jerry's Seafood chain stopped using Chesapeake Bay crabmeat years ago in favor of a more reliable source of blue crabmeat from Venezuela.

                                    So they are using blue crab, just not blue crab taken from the Chesapeake Bay. And to my mind, there is no difference in using blue crab from the Gulf Coast, Florida, or anywhere along the Atlantic coast vs. Chesapeake Bay. There is nothing all that special about our water pollution.

                                    What matters is that they are using blue crab and not this other species from Vietnam. And I'll bet they ALL have to buy out-of-Maryland blue crab because there is simply not enough of it in Maryland, notwithstanding years of effort by the Maryland DNR to manage the level of take to bring back the population.

                                    1. re: Just Visiting

                                      The Venezualen crabmeat is *not* the same species of crab as the north American blue crab. It's better than the Asian crabmeat that Phillips peddles, but it's not as good as blue crab from the Gulf, Atlantic coast, or Chesapeake Bay.

                                      1. re: Hal Laurent

                                        It might be or it might not be. The blue crab in MD is Callinectes sapidus (sorry, can't figure out how to do italics). According to this report from UMD Sea Grant, that is one of the crab species found in Venezuela:

                                        The other Callinectes species found in Venezuela may or may not be very similar to the blue crab in MD. Who knows?

                                        It is also likely that the flavor and consistency vary because of the different conditions in which they leave and because of differences in processing.

                                2. Hi,
                                  I haven't been there in a few years, but Cantler's Riverside Inn outside of Annapolis is the real deal for crabs and crab cakes. Also lots of character.

                                  It appears on the TrueBlue MD list linked elsewhere in this thread.


                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: DMSinDC

                                    I would doubt the value of this TrueBlue list because Cantler's mixes Chesapeake crabs with those from other sources, even in season. I understand they have to do that to keep up with volume, but I don't understand what the TrueBlue labeling is supposed to mean.

                                    1. re: bmorecupcake

                                      "at least 75 percent of the crab product they use in a calendar year is either harvested or processed in Maryland" Seems to be the the requirement for establishments to be certified "TrueBlue"

                                      1. re: chefj

                                        I couldn't find that information on the link above. Thanks for looking it up.

                                        I guess the definition of "processed" is a huge factor here. I find it very hard to believe a big crab house like Cantler's could guarantee 75% MD harvested crabs, especially since they are open year round. I spent a lot of time a few years ago calling around and found very few crab houses giving any sort of guarantees, and even then I had to call the day of and verify.

                                        Just to clarify, I'm not saying I have anything against Cantler's. I'm just using them as an example.

                                        1. re: bmorecupcake

                                          Yeah, you don't want to mess with the Cantler Boyz. They're on the lamb but they ain't no sheep !!!

                                          1. re: bmorecupcake

                                            In the past they would tell you when they were serving crabs from elsewhere and when they were serving local. I don't know what they do now.

                                            "Processed in MD" seems like a pretty big loophole - couldn't you process a bunch of frozen Chinese crabs and call it "True Blue" then?

                                            1. re: DMSinDC

                                              I think that most of the Crab "Processed in MD" Would be from the Gulf of Mexico not Asia. Also would be for Meat not Steamed Crabs

                                        2. re: bmorecupcake

                                          Cantler's in my experience is always up front about where the Crabs are coming from. At the Shoulders of the Season and Out of Season they use Crabs that are not from the Chesapeake, and they will tell you if you ask but in season they seem to use Chesapeake Bay product

                                          1. re: chefj

                                            The answer I always got last few years from Cantler's, whether visiting or calling, was a mix of crab sources which included MD crabs. I tried many times to get a guarantee that a certain size was from the Chesapeake, but no luck. It could be just the days I tried, but it has been a range from June to September.

                                            Whenever someone doesn't insist on Cantler's, we just carryout from Conrad's and eat at a park. Conrad's so far has been very specific about whether they have Chesapeake crabs, and are exclusively Chesapeake for long periods of time.

                                      2. If you made a list of restaurants that claim to have the "best crabcakes in Maryland" you'd need a second sheet of paper. You'll do fine at any of these places, other than Joe's Crab Shack.

                                        Also, try

                                        1. Crab Cakes (these are all in the Baltimore area):

                                          Henningers Tavern in Fells Point

                                          Dudas in Fells Point

                                          Mamas on the Half Shell in Canton

                                          Koco's Pub in Lauraville

                                          The Food Market in Hampden

                                          1. By far, the best crab cakes I have ever had in Maryland are at Romano's Restaurant in Glen Burnie. Its a little out of the way from downtown B'More, but you won't be disappointed. Its a small family run joint and they use real blue crab. Get them broiled, not fried.

                                            Romanos Restaurant
                                            6905 Ritchie Hwy
                                            Glen Burnie, MD 21061

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Sonny_h

                                              Romanos isn't on the true blue list so it could be imported crab meat.

                                            2. Went to Costa's on north point blvd last night and had an excellent Maryland crab cake as well as a dozen steamed crabs.

                                              1. if someone doesn't like Faidley's, I don't put much credence into anything else they might say or think.

                                                1. Surprised that this one hasn't been mentioned. Box Hill Pizza in Bel Aire are the best I've had. And you can have them shipped, or take out some frozen ones.