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

14 Places to Pick Crabs Around D.C.

Skip the trip to the Eastern 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 for those going the all-you-can-eat route, be sure to check availability and/or make reservations to get the best crabs. For outstanding Maryland crab houses worth the drive, consider this list. Here are 14 reliable places to pick—or pick up—crabs closer to home.

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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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This 60-year-old Bethesda institution 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.

Bethesda Crab House MD crabs
Cooked crustaceans at Bethesda Crab House.
Bethesda Crab House/Facebook

The Avenue

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The American tavern’s covered patio deck flips into a seasonal spot to pick local crabs seasoned with its in-house Capital Crab spice. Its roving Capital Crab truck also delivers bushels of crabs from Virginia all the way to the Eastern Shore.

Ruff N Ready Crab House

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A fixture in Hyattsville since 1963, Ruff N Ready specializes in steamed crabs, shrimp, and crab legs.

Ernie's Crab House

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Find steamed blue crabs at this carryout-only seafood spot.

Hot N Juicy Crawfish (multiple locations)

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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).

Ivy City Smokehouse DC crabs
Crabs at Ivy City Smokehouse.
Ivy City Smokehouse

The Boiling Crab

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The international seafood chain from the tiny Texas fishing town of Seadrift invites bib-wearing customers dump out clear plastic bags full of saucy seafood and feast with their hands. Blue crab is listed among its “catch of the day” options, and add-ons bring crab boil favorites like sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob to the table.

The Boiling Crab opened on H Street NE in summer 2021.
Boiling Crab

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.

Quarterdeck/Facebook

Municipal Fish Market at The Wharf

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For a low-frills option, visit one of the numerous vendors at the Southwest Waterfront’s open-air seafood market that dates back to 1805. Family-owned Jessie Taylor Seafood offers frequent live crab specials and all sorts of fresh fish and shrimp. They can also cook and season your crabs after you purchase them. Get them by the dozen and enjoy them on the waterfront, or consider picking up a bushel for parties.

Seafood Wharf
The walk-up selection at Jessie Taylor Seafood.
Photo By Mark F. Sypher/Roll Call/Getty Images

Captain Pell's

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Capitan Pell's offers an all-you-can-eat crab feast ($54.95), along with crabs priced by size by the dozen ($49 to $120). 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.

Captain Pell’s VA crabs
Captain Pell’s crabs.
Captain Pell’s/Facebook

Captain White Seafood City

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Family owned and operated since 1972, Captain White’s relocated from the Wharf to Oxon Hill in late 2021. Steamed blue crabs can be ordered by the dozen, half-bushel, or bushel daily.

Crosby's Crab Co.

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Around since 1980, this Manassas seafood 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.

Crosby’s Crab Co. VA crabs
Crosby’s Crab Co. crabs by the bushel.
Crosby’s Crab Co./Facebook

Grinder's Seafood

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Depending on availability, this longstanding 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. Reopening for the season on Thursday, April 20 at 11 a.m.

Grinder’s Seafood MD crabs
Maryland crabs at Grinder’s Seafood.
Grinder’s Seafood

Ocean City Seafood

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

Bethesda Crab House

This 60-year-old Bethesda institution 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.

Bethesda Crab House MD crabs
Cooked crustaceans at Bethesda Crab House.
Bethesda Crab House/Facebook

The Avenue

The American tavern’s covered patio deck flips into a seasonal spot to pick local crabs seasoned with its in-house Capital Crab spice. Its roving Capital Crab truck also delivers bushels of crabs from Virginia all the way to the Eastern Shore.

Ruff N Ready Crab House

A fixture in Hyattsville since 1963, Ruff N Ready specializes in steamed crabs, shrimp, and crab legs.

Ernie's Crab House

Find steamed blue crabs at this carryout-only seafood spot.

Hot N Juicy Crawfish (multiple locations)

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).

Ivy City Smokehouse DC crabs
Crabs at Ivy City Smokehouse.
Ivy City Smokehouse

The Boiling Crab

The international seafood chain from the tiny Texas fishing town of Seadrift invites bib-wearing customers dump out clear plastic bags full of saucy seafood and feast with their hands. Blue crab is listed among its “catch of the day” options, and add-ons bring crab boil favorites like sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob to the table.

The Boiling Crab opened on H Street NE in summer 2021.
Boiling Crab

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.

Quarterdeck/Facebook

Municipal Fish Market at The Wharf

For a low-frills option, visit one of the numerous vendors at the Southwest Waterfront’s open-air seafood market that dates back to 1805. Family-owned Jessie Taylor Seafood offers frequent live crab specials and all sorts of fresh fish and shrimp. They can also cook and season your crabs after you purchase them. Get them by the dozen and enjoy them on the waterfront, or consider picking up a bushel for parties.

Seafood Wharf
The walk-up selection at Jessie Taylor Seafood.
Photo By Mark F. Sypher/Roll Call/Getty Images

Captain Pell's

Capitan Pell's offers an all-you-can-eat crab feast ($54.95), along with crabs priced by size by the dozen ($49 to $120). 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.

Captain Pell’s VA crabs
Captain Pell’s crabs.
Captain Pell’s/Facebook

Captain White Seafood City

Family owned and operated since 1972, Captain White’s relocated from the Wharf to Oxon Hill in late 2021. Steamed blue crabs can be ordered by the dozen, half-bushel, or bushel daily.

Crosby's Crab Co.

Around since 1980, this Manassas seafood 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.

Crosby’s Crab Co. VA crabs
Crosby’s Crab Co. crabs by the bushel.
Crosby’s Crab Co./Facebook

Grinder's Seafood

Depending on availability, this longstanding 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. Reopening for the season on Thursday, April 20 at 11 a.m.

Grinder’s Seafood MD crabs
Maryland crabs at Grinder’s Seafood.
Grinder’s Seafood

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