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Spiced crabs from Bethesda Crab House.
Spiced crabs from Bethesda Crab House.
Bethesda Crab House

10 Places to Pick Crabs Around the DMV

Skip the trip to the shore

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Spiced crabs from Bethesda Crab House.
| Bethesda Crab House

Settling down to eat blue crabs is a tradition around the Chesapeake region. No summer would seem complete without the scent of Old Bay seasoning and cider vinegar wafting in the humid air, as shells are cracked on newspaper or grocery bag lined tables and cold beers are guzzled by the bucketful.

While, sadly, the tradition is a little less common around D.C. than in Baltimore or along the Delaware shore, there are still plenty of places to enjoy a satisfying crab pick any day of the week. And a tip for those going the all-you-can-eat route: be sure to check availability and/or make reservations to get the best crabs.

More of a crab cake fan? Here are some options. Or check the latest soft-shell crab sightings in the area.

—Updated by Eater Staff

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Ocean City Seafood

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This neighborhood market sells Maryland blue crabs; be sure to call ahead to check on availability and pricing.

Bethesda Crab House

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Bethesda Crab House operates year round, offering crabs from Louisiana, and some from the Chesapeake when they're in season. They offer an all-you-can-eat option, as well as by-the-dozen orders (call for pricing). Those who don't want to get picking can choose from crab cakes, shrimp, Alaskan or snow crab legs, soft shell crabs, or oysters.

Hot N Juicy Crawfish

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Though most folks are drawn in by crawfish, Hot N' Juicy also does blue crabs when they're in season. But instead of the usual Old Bay favored in the Mid-Atlantic, they offer other flavorings like Louisiana, lemon pepper, and garlic butter. Round out the meal with soft shell crabs, fried shrimp, chicken wings, fried catfish, or etouffee.

Ivy City Smokehouse

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This well-stocked seafood market sells Chesapeake crabs in season, carrying assorted sizes (medium to extra large) and doling them out by the dozen or bushel. Pick them up live or steamed and seasoned (call ahead to have them prepared by staff).

Quarterdeck

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Get crabs by the dozen, or choose an all-you-can-eat crab option on Quarterdeck's outdoor patio. Non-seafood eaters can choose from a variety of subs, sandwiches, and steaks.

Maine Avenue Fish Market

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For a low frills option, visit one of the numerous vendors at the southwest waterfront's open air seafood market. Get them by the dozen and enjoy them on the waterfront, or consider picking up a bushel for parties. Then wander over to the surrounding vendors for other types of seafood, fried chicken (outstanding), sandwiches, sides, and dessert.

Captain Pell's

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Capitan Pell's offers an all-you-can-eat crab feast ($48), along with crabs priced by size by the dozen ($48 to $96). It's best to call for specific pricing and availability of bushels and half bushels. The restaurant also has snow crab legs, seafood platters, crab balls, and other fried foods.

Ernie's Crabhouse

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Steamed blue crabs and all-you-can eat crab feasts are the name of the game at this longstanding seafood spot.

Crosby's Crab Co.

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This nearly 40-year-old operation carries varying grades of blue crabs (from extra large males to generic females) that are typically sold by the dozen, half bushel, or bushel. Staff recommends calling 24 hours in advance of placing orders for larger specimens “because they sell out quickly.”

Grinder's Seafood

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Depending on availability this 14-year-old seafood shack doles out crabs by the dozens, half bushel, and full bushel. Keep an eye out or announcements about all-you-can-eat deals.

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Ocean City Seafood

This neighborhood market sells Maryland blue crabs; be sure to call ahead to check on availability and pricing.

Bethesda Crab House

Bethesda Crab House operates year round, offering crabs from Louisiana, and some from the Chesapeake when they're in season. They offer an all-you-can-eat option, as well as by-the-dozen orders (call for pricing). Those who don't want to get picking can choose from crab cakes, shrimp, Alaskan or snow crab legs, soft shell crabs, or oysters.

Hot N Juicy Crawfish

Though most folks are drawn in by crawfish, Hot N' Juicy also does blue crabs when they're in season. But instead of the usual Old Bay favored in the Mid-Atlantic, they offer other flavorings like Louisiana, lemon pepper, and garlic butter. Round out the meal with soft shell crabs, fried shrimp, chicken wings, fried catfish, or etouffee.

Ivy City Smokehouse

This well-stocked seafood market sells Chesapeake crabs in season, carrying assorted sizes (medium to extra large) and doling them out by the dozen or bushel. Pick them up live or steamed and seasoned (call ahead to have them prepared by staff).

Quarterdeck

Get crabs by the dozen, or choose an all-you-can-eat crab option on Quarterdeck's outdoor patio. Non-seafood eaters can choose from a variety of subs, sandwiches, and steaks.

Maine Avenue Fish Market

For a low frills option, visit one of the numerous vendors at the southwest waterfront's open air seafood market. Get them by the dozen and enjoy them on the waterfront, or consider picking up a bushel for parties. Then wander over to the surrounding vendors for other types of seafood, fried chicken (outstanding), sandwiches, sides, and dessert.

Captain Pell's

Capitan Pell's offers an all-you-can-eat crab feast ($48), along with crabs priced by size by the dozen ($48 to $96). It's best to call for specific pricing and availability of bushels and half bushels. The restaurant also has snow crab legs, seafood platters, crab balls, and other fried foods.

Ernie's Crabhouse

Steamed blue crabs and all-you-can eat crab feasts are the name of the game at this longstanding seafood spot.

Crosby's Crab Co.

This nearly 40-year-old operation carries varying grades of blue crabs (from extra large males to generic females) that are typically sold by the dozen, half bushel, or bushel. Staff recommends calling 24 hours in advance of placing orders for larger specimens “because they sell out quickly.”

Grinder's Seafood

Depending on availability this 14-year-old seafood shack doles out crabs by the dozens, half bushel, and full bushel. Keep an eye out or announcements about all-you-can-eat deals.

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