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June 15, 2011 / Arlington Unwrapped

Got An Itch for Crabs*? Best Spots Near Arlington To Eat!

*My sincere apologies, for what is admittedly a terrible pun…

Here are some options for crabs in and around Arlington:

Any local, and most transplants, will vehemently inform you that the best spot for fresh Maryland Blue Crabs is Quarterdeck – which is located in the heart of the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood of Arlington and has been a favorite for more than 30 years. Its very casual, it offers indoor and outdoor seating, and they take reservations – which is definitely encouraged during the summer. The all-you-can-eat-crab is incredibly priced at $35 (everyone at the table must order) and you can also buy various sizes by the dozen or half-dozen as well. And Quarterdeck is the real deal – the crabs come covered in Old Bay and they’ll bring extra seasoning to your table.

Crabs from Quarterdeck in Arlington!

There was some rumored trouble in the fall of 2010 between the building’s landlord and the owner and it looked like that might be the end of Arlington’s love affair with the restaurant. Luckily they were able to work lease negotiations out and we’ve been granted another long glorious summer sitting outside, sipping beer, and cracking crabs at Quarterdeck. PS – save room for key lime pie!

If you prefer to host a crab feast in your home or backyard, the place to go, without a doubt, is “The Wharf” – aka the Maine Avenue Fish Market in DC. Located right on the river, essentially underneath the 395 overpass, it’s a sprawling seafood and fish market that has been in existence since 1805.

Captain White's - one of many vendors at The Wharf

They sell crabs by the bushel and you can buy them live or pre-steamed (BUY THEM LIVE – they then steam them for you and season them to suit you… bring cash for tips).  Prices vary, but they are of course always higher on weekends (and highest on holiday weekends!). Plans are underway to redevelop the area, and while supposedly the market will be “preserved”, go now while it’s still a bustling, unique, local favorite.

And finally, I’m mentioning Ernie’s, but  it’s more of a warning than a recommendation. Ernie’s Original Crab House (which has existed in various incarnations in several Alexandria locations) was once an area favorite.

It was rough, and a little dive-y, but you kind of want that tables-covered-in-brown-paper feel when you have crab juice dripping down your fingers. Today Ernie’s is located on King Street in Old Town Alexandria. And it is…. not the best. The service is beyond slow and they seem to run out of crabs on an alarmingly frequent basis. The restaurant ambiance is sorely lacking, especially compared to what you will find at Quarterdeck or the chaotic but enjoyable atmosphere seen at The Wharf.

Those are the places I’m most familiar with, but I’d love to hear more suggestions (especially given the fact that I think I’m crossing Ernie’s off my list for good). Where do you go for the best crab in the DC metro area??

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