Dear PoPville – Where to Get the Best Crabs in DC?

Photo by PoPville flickr user hellomarkers!

“Dear PoPville,

I know we have talked about seafood places a few times, but I have some friends coming in for the 4th and they really want crabs. I know you can get them at the waterfront to go, but is there any place in the city to sit down and eat them? I don’t want to have to go to Maryland.”

You can get them at the Dancing Crab at 4611 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Any other good spots in the city?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

68 Comment

  • Easy, hands down the DC Wharf. you can get them live, steamed for 5$ extra with ground spices. Nothing beats it, its where restaurants buy their crabs too so you can’t beat it for freshness. Lobster there is amazing also. DO IT.

    • second this. is there a spot to sit and eat there though?

      • jim_ed

        Yep, all the way to the left, there is a covered patio to eat at.

        Although I fully reccomend picking up the crab and buying a case of beer and going to town in your own backyard.

        Just be advised though, its going to be BUSY as all get out for the 4th weekend, so go early and expect to take some time if you want to pick fresh crab and then have them steamed.

    • When you say “DC Wharf” are you talking about the Maine Ave Fish Market in SW? I’ve never heard it referred to as such and so am wondering if I’m missing something…

      • same spot (though, not for long, sadly)

        • It’s not going anywhere…

          The big development going into the neighborhood doesn’t include the Fish Market (although they’re going to spruce it up a bit).

    • there you go! grab some old bay, newspapers, butter, lemons and whatever else you like and get to work!

    • They steam them for free if you order a half bushel at Captains White

  • You can also go to Steamers in Bethezda MD, they are not a bad second choice.

  • Quarterdeck in Rosslyn on Fort Myer Drive has crabs and outdoor seating.

  • don’t most of the crabs around here now come from TEXAS?

    • Yep, most are from the gulf (not necessarily Texas).

      It doesn’t really matter, they taste the same. But the MD crab population has really improved over the past few years, so you might stand a decent chance at getting some locals if you really are looking for them.

      • Most whole crabs come from the Gulf, but most picked crabmeat (i.e. any soup or crabcake) comes from China and southeast Asia.

  • My husband is a native of Baltimore and in the DC area, and I gotta say his fave spot The Bethesda Crabhouse is the best. Make a reservation–that place is packed for a reason.

    I’m interested in hearing about recs in DC proper, though.

  • Street walkers. They keep the tiny comb people in business.

  • Hot N Juicy in Woodley Park serves Blue Crabs. I haven’t been but plan to check it out this summer.

  • It’s not in DC, but Jimmy Cantler’s outside Annapolis! So much fun.

    • You might as well go to Buddy’s. Went there with some out of town guests last summer and it’s not the Cantler’s I remember.

    • Mike’s (South River, Annapolis) is also good and Captain Billy’s (near Waldorf, off of rt 301).

  • I’m pretty sure Quaterdeck closed.

    • It was going to but the owner worked out a deal with the landlord.

      • Yeah, still open. I went there 2 weeks ago after calling because their website was still up, so I thought I’d give it a chance. They were packed as usual.

  • orderedchaos

    I just had a really tasty crab sandwich at the Feelin’ Crabby food truck (at Franklin Park today).

  • If you’re spending a weekend out in Harper’s Ferry, stop at May’s on the way back, in Frederick. They have a $30 all you can eat grab feast which includes crab chowder, corn, hush puppies, fries, and slaw I think. It’s out near the end of 270/start of 70.

    Bethesda Crab House is also very good.

    And of course all the places out toward the shore.

  • andy

    Dancing Crab always seemed a little rough for Tenley.

    • i dont understand.

    • Crab eatin’ is never going to be a hoity toity affair. Sit inside the Bethesda Crab House and you’ll think you’re at a dirty little roadside dive on the Eastern Shore, but it’s next to a Mercedes Dealership in one of the country’s most expensive zip codes

  • I grew up on the Chesapeake bay and I know good crabs! Best place if you head out to Annapolis area is Skipper’s Pier in Deale MD. IT’S THE BEST! there isn’t a place in DC that compares, but I would agree that Bethesda Crab House is a good place close by. PS, the crab picture you have shows a female crab, which crabers are supposed to throw back in the water. Only the males are supposed to be kept, just FYI!

    • i’ll definitely check it out sometime when i have the time for the hour each way. i have make the trek to cantlers and mikes.
      even the bethesda crab house is an hour away sometimes for some of us in the city.

    • that’s exactly what i thought when I saw the pic: gross, female crab. wrong. dont buy females, peeps.

    • It’s perfectly legal to catch and sell female blue crabs, within the regulated catch limits.

  • Those are ALL female crabs! Persecute!

  • I thought Public Bar’s new location in Tenley took over The Dancing Crab space?

  • It’s a bit of a hike, but if you don’t want to go too far down the Eastern Shore, you can’t beat the Fisherman’s Crab Deck in Kent Narrows. Really good crabs, not a terrible price (I mean, crabs are always expensive at restaurants) and you can beat eating out on the water. My favorite crabs within a shortish distance of the District.

  • funny…all of the rec’s are for places in VA, MD and even [gasp] WV! is the Dancing Crab really the only crab joint in all of DC?

    i see yet another restaurant opportunity for the District proper…whose down to head over to the H Street CrabHouse?!?!?

    • hilarious. and brilliant. do you want to go into business?

      I’ve kept this chain open all day to learn something new and I haven’t, which is fine because I think this is what exists. In the Going Out Gurus chat last week someone said “For the person saying DC needs crabs. No need to drive 2 hours(?) to Baltimore, just head to that little known part of the DC area … east of the Anacostia. Tons of crab trucks and non-fancy crab “shacks” where you can pick up your crabs and get to pounding.” I’ve lived here a decade and have spent hours researching where to get crabs and I’ve never heard of these “crab shacks east of the Ancaostia.” Does anyone know about these or did some wannabe hipster dream this up?

      • I googled “anacostia crab shacks” and got more than 0 results.

      • i know a bunch of places east of the river to get crabcakes, but no sit down place to get whole steamed crabs.

        also, you can get steamed crab legs at the argonaut, but not whole crabs.

  • Not DC proper, but just over the line in Hyattsville on Riggs Rd. Be warned- it’s not pretty, just a shack, but the crabs are great.

  • The Wharf is the name of the development Project at the SW waterfront.

  • notlawd

    OP here. So do we really only have 2 ish sit down restaurants that serve crab in DC? Hot and Juicy, the Dancing Crab and unknown fish shacks in Anacostia? Sad. I am totally do for an H St crabhouse!!

  • As long as crabs are fresh, not overcooked, and not smothered in Old Bay they are all good – nothing about the crab itself to make it the “best,” so what you’re really looking for is best atmosphere, price, experience. (And not horrible sides of soggy corn and chunky coleslaw.)

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