The smell of spicy old bay, hot melted butter & juicy crabbies excites us more than chocolate!
We’ve got the fever – jumbo, large, mediums – size doesn’t always matter. Believe us or not, there is an ART to eating Maryland Blue Crabs. Ask or watch any crab foodie and you’ll soon be a believer. Plus we’ve found the LOCAL crab shacks to serve your addiction too. Read on. Review, Relax, Crack & Enjoy – this is an experience not just a meal.
How to Eat Hot Fat Blue Crabs 101
Don’t be turned off, if at first you don’t succeed – try, try again and again! It’s ok to ask for help. May look like a lot of work but once you have the knack, you’ll too be hooked. Like anything, practice makes perfect. Perfect your crab eating technique with a few tips from us, so you’ll net every succulent piece of lump crab meat. Even if you’ve been picking for years, there might be a technique or tip here for you.
1. Condiments & Utensils. Get your apparatus ready. For dipping – assemble butter, Old Bay, garlic sauce, vinegar or whatever floats your boat. Next you’ll want a cracker, wooden mallot, and small knife for picking and cracking – not smashing – that’s crab abuse. Grab some paper for the table and a bucket to drop your shells.
2. Pull off the Claws. One by one. If they are hot & heavy crabs, you should get a good chunk of meat right away from the claws – each one. Using a cracker or a wooden mallet, gently crack open the bigger claws. Scrape the meat out of the claws with your fingers or use your mouth – just remember there is cartilage so don’t bite thru rather gently slide the meat off with your teeth and tongue. Some save the claws for last, but I get so excited I need a little teaser to keep me going for the work in steps 3,4,5,6. It’s totally your call.
3. Turn the crab over so that his belly faces up. Using your fingers, lift up his tail/apron and pull it back to snap it off of the body. Discard.
4. Use your hands or a table knife, remove the top shell from the bottom of the body, splitting it open like a sandwich. Discard.
5. Remove the gills, also known as “devil’s fingers” or lungs, which are attached to either side of the crab – left & right. The yellowish “mustard” is edible and a delicacy so they say but you couldn’t pay me to eat it. Place your hands – left hand on the left side of the crab, right hand on the right side of the crab – bend back and snap the two sides of the crab in half and separate them.
6. Press lightly on the body where the back legs, or “swimmers”, were attached and pop out the backfin meat in the rear of the crab. Extract the rest of the body meat with your fingers. Is your mouth watering yet? Dip & Enjoy!
Local Crab Houses
Since the demise of DeNardo’s on Lincoln Street in Wilmington, we have to admit the all you can eat(AYCE) blue crab experience has yet to be the same in North Delaware. There are so few local crab houses around<hint, hint> let alone AYCE style. You know those with brown paper(or newspaper) and rolls of paper towels on the tables, Phillies on the TV, ice cold pitchers or yards of cheap beer, mallots a ‘crackin, shells a flying, fingers a licking, serving endless french fries, hush puppies, corn on the cob, slaw, serving unlimited crustaceans. And those that actually serve PLENTY of hot, fat crabs so many so that you don’t have to worry what time you arrive(even if it is after a holiday weekend or sunday night). And those that have “CRAB” in their restaurant name that actually serve fresh hot steamed CRABS (not crab cakes, imperial, appetizers or those other imitation frozen crabs). So much so that we just have to give a shout out to those few LOCAL establishments in and around North Delaware serving the steamed fat daddies and some even serving all year long! Thank YOU, dear crab providers!!
Please call ahead to ensure crabs are stocked and/or to make a reservation.
Lestardo’s Crab House
on Rt 273 in New Castle is one of those few authentic family-owned crab eating joints left in North Delaware – crabs, corn and beer on tap. Crabs are their specialty – serving up Blue Claw, King, Snow, and Dungeness Crabs. Find them on FaceBook at Lestardos Crab House
They don’t offer AYCE Blue Crab specials but if you call ahead or ask your waiter, they often have Blue Crabs specials available. We’ve enjoyed a night of three jumbos or larges as dinner. Simply scrumptious and the Feby’s staff is amazing. Another family own establishment too. They do offer AYCE Dungeness crab nights on Tuesdays and Thursdays year round – Dungeness taste pretty similar to blue crabs and at Feby’s they are served hot, cleaned and ready to eat. An acceptable alternative especially during the off season. YUM!
Kathy’s Crab House
Just 4 miles from Delaware Route 1, one block from the Delaware City Marina in Delaware City. This is a viewer recommendation – “It’s a very friendly, old school, neighborhood diner like place. With a screened patio too. Think they have AYCE Crabs.” thanks Joanna E! Plus they offer 10% Off Menu Items for Fireman, Military, & Police, Past & Present. We Support You & Thank You for All Your Sacrifices for the Freedom and Safety that We Enjoy. Visit them at www.kathyscrabhouse.com
Rte 40, just a hop, skip and jump over the Delaware line next to Walmart in Elkton. Serving Crabs all year long. AYCE specials Tues-Sun. Indoor & Outdoor Seating, plus Crab Cakes, Shrimp, Mussels, Clams, Steaks, and more. Find them online at MicksCrabHouse.net or on FaceBook @MicksCrabHouse
Rt 41 – Yes, it’s over the PA line but only by about a mile just north of Hockessin and just 10 miles from Wilmington/Newark. It’s well worth the drive. One of the few true brown paper crab houses remaining. Family owned serving AYCE specials Wed-Sun. One of our all-time favs.
CARRY OUT > Wiso’s Crabs & Seafood on Rt 9 in Delaware City. Fresh Blue Claw Crabs by the DOZEN, 1/2 BUSHEL & BUSHEL. Live or Steamed to order. Delivery to your boat dock – wow, now that’s what we call service! Call Wiso’s and order Crabs, a Bucket of Shrimp, Clams or Mussels, some Hush Puppies or French Fries and a few Ice Cold Sodas, or anything from their Menu and they’ll deliver it all to your boat at our dock!
SUMMER ONLY > AYCE Crab Cruises on the Wilmington’s Riverboat Queen – down on the Wilmington Riverfront. Looking for a unique venue to do some picking? Crab Cruises set sail on Thursday & Friday nights only at 7pm – the dock is just behind Iron Hill Brewery. Advance tickets required. You will be entitled to all the crabs you can eat during the 2 hour time frame. Drinks are additional. Complimentary food will vary. For more info visit, Crab Cruises.
BLUE CRAB ALERT!!! We don’t ever claim to know it all so if we missed an authetic Blue Crab House or establishment with BLUE Crab specials including AYCE, any where in North Delaware, PLEASE let us know right away! Comment below or Email us [email protected]. Thank you in advance!