Do you remember the first time someone put a hot, angry red steamed crab in front of you and expected you to crack it open? Perhaps this a distinctly DC area rite of passage, but I’m sure the foodie tot will be telling this story to her children one day far, far in the future. It wasn’t actually her first crab, but let me back up.
Last Mother’s Day, I had a craving for beach air and fresh crabs, as I tend to do when the weather heats up in May. Back in my carefree kid-free days, a coworker and I would play hooky on the first warm day of spring and head down to Annapolis for a little day-drinking. With kids in tow now, we hit the road for a day trip to Kent Island, just over the Bay Bridge from Annapolis. (Also, the spot where we were married, many, many years ago.)
After playing on a small sandy beach we found just down under the bridge, we headed over to Harris Crab House and put our name on the rather long list for a table. We were armed with books to read and settled in to a shady spot on the docks. We may also have treated the kids to ice cream before dinner, because, well, we were hungry. Fortunately they were still hungry when we were eventually seated on the upper deck, in a spot perfect for watching the nearby drawbridge over Kent Narrows. So hungry, perhaps, that when I read the kids menu options the girl didn’t really hear anything except the side items that came with the kids’ crab platter. Eagerly anticipating her corn-on-the-cob and applesauce, you can imagine the shock when she was suddenly face-to-face with a big, red crab, claws and all.
If you’re looking to get your steamed crab fix this summer, here are three of our family favorites. They aren’t all on the True Blue Maryland seafood list (yet), though, so you may wish to search their directory for other options near you.
- Harris Crab House, Grasonville, Md. A True Blue Maryland spot, this Kent Island crab spot is large, loud and popular. As long as you’re prepared for the wait, you’ll enjoy delicious crab overlooking the waterway. And, be sure to visit their adjacent ice cream counter after. Just be warned that the kids’ crab platter does, in fact, contain crab. 😉
- Abner’s Crab House, Chesapeake Beach, Md. When we need a beach fix, fast, we head to the little town of North Beach in Southern Maryland. Just over an hour’s drive south, there’s a city beach with a protected shallow water area that’s perfect for younger kids looking to splash and build sandcastles. (The pricey out-of-towners admission is worth it for clean bathrooms and showers/changing stalls, in my opinion.) After a day on the beach, we head to this no-frills creek-side restaurant for crabs. (There is a gaming room, so be prepared for questions about why there’s an “arcade” that kids can’t go in. We try to eat outside on the deck, anyway.)
- Quarterdeck, Arlington, Va. Okay, so this spot is decidedly lacking in seaside air, but does offer a view of planes taking off and landing at National Airport from its popular outside patio. And, it gets the job done when you need a crab fix without a long drive. Plus, the piping hot cheesy crab dip is full of YUGE lump crab meat and will help keep you sated while waiting for your crab order to be steamed.
Crab houses do often require a fair amount of waiting time; it’s important to bring a few light reads…
Of course, they also tend to have brown paper in place of table clothes, so kids can get their art on too. And, it’s hard to beat a meal that you get to whack with a wood mallet!
What’s your go-to spot for summer seafood? Please share! And yes, she may still be a little skeptical of the crab experience… but she eats them.