The Boiling Crab, an international seafood chain from the tiny Texas fishing town of Seadrift, debuted its first D.C. location at 400 H Street NE on Monday, July 19.
The restaurant supplies bibs to customers who dump out clear plastic bags full of saucy seafood and feast with their hands. The menu includes options for lobster, peel-and-eat shrimp, crawfish, oysters, clams, and mussels, all plopped down on paper-topped tables. Napkins come with three-step instructions to “get messy” and “clean,” then “get messier.” Diners also pick from a variety of sauces: Cajun, lemon pepper, garlic, and a proprietary “Whole Sha-Bang!” Heat levels tick up from nonspicy to a fiery XXX. Add-ons bring crab boil favorites like sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob to the table.
For booze, there’s four beers to start (Coors, Modelo, Corona, and Heineken) and micheladas and margaritas served in mason jars.
Depending on the season, customers may find blue or Dungeness crabs on the menu, alogn with king crab legs or snow crab legs. An employee tells Eater shipments of blue crab are sparse for now, with prices spiking for the Mid-Atlantic favorite.
Fans of fried food can find baskets of battered catfish, shrimp, chicken tenders, calamari, and oysters. There are also fries in Cajun, sweet potato, lemon pepper, and crab varieties, plus Cajun or lemon pepper wings.
The brick-lined corner space that formerly housed Driftwood Kitchen got an update with graffiti murals and Gulf Coast decor like fishing tackles, boating equipment, and photos of famous fisherman. Bumper stickers of the Lone Star State, “I <3 Tabasco,” and “Shuck U” are tagged everywhere, and guests can scribble messages on walls near their booths.
The restaurant opens from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from noon to 10 p.m. o on weekends. There’s also takeout available out of the gate, with delivery via third-party apps coming soon.
Founded in 2004, the company has locations across Southern California, Northern California, the Dallas area, Las Vegas, Miami, and Honolulu, Hawai’i, as well as outposts in China (Shanghai) and Australia (Melbourne).