If you’re anything like Baltimoreans, you’ve got a serious food fixation. The object of locals’ affection? Blue crab, of course. Whether steamed whole, cooked up in cakes or served with breakfast, these sweet and savory crustaceans are a must in Charm City. Luckily, there are plenty of places that satisfy. Here’s a taste of where to go.
Award-winning chef and restaurateur Cindy Wolf “celebrates the crab” with modern takes on classic preparations, like a bisque modeled after she-crab soup that plays up the crustacean’s delicate flavor and fried cornmeal-crusted soft shells laced with lemon-caper butter.
This Lexington Market standard bearer uses premium Maryland lump meat and virtually no filler in its crab cakes. Don’t even think about adding Old Bay or even tartar sauce. Proprietor Bill Devine says he wants you to savor the meat’s natural flavor.
Miss Shirley’s Café
This casual, southern-accented eatery has earned awards for its classic crab cakes and breakfasts. The crab po-boy stuffed with mini crab cakes and soft shells are served with an addictive tomato, bacon, onion jam and Old Bay remoulade.
Inspired by colonial cooking methods, chef-owner Nancy Longo's “smoked” crab cake is seasoned with her subtle take on Old Bay. The dish is now one of her signature preparations.
This seafood mecca offers a myriad of regional specialties, including an award-winning crab cake made from an old Eastern Shore family recipe. Dig in and watch the boats sail by in the Inner Harbor.
The Prime Rib
At this swanky supper club, the cream-based, sherry-flavored crab imperial gets equal billing with the restaurant’s famous steaks as a signature dish. Crab is also featured in a cocktail and a crab cake subtly flavored with Old Bay.
There’s no need to worry about making a mess at this former tavern. Smash top-notch hard shells to your heart’s content on butcher paper-topped tables, and don’t skip dessert.
Wit and Wisdom
This upscale tavern in the Four Seasons Hotel offers an elevated steamed crab experience on the patio, daily, in season. Specialties, including a decadent crab béarnaise, are served in the rustic-chic dining room with water views.
When the Chesapeake catch is in season, Spike Gjerde’s flagship offers regionally inspired dishes like a Tilghman Island crab pot (lump crab, house-made sour quark cheese, fish pepper), a Tilghman Island crab cake and a Maryland crab soup chock full of local vegetables.