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14 Delaware Crab Houses to Visit for Mouthwatering Crabs

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Photos by Maria DeForrest

Nothing comes between Delawareans and their blue crab—except a mallet. Here are 14 places in the First State serving up hard shell crabs.

In Delaware, gas prices aren’t the only topic of conversation. Residents and tourists talk about the cost of blue crabs, which can hit eyebrow-raising amounts. No doubt the demand is high. Few can make it through summer without an old-fashioned crab feast.

The supply, however, is another story. In spring, there were 227 million recorded male Chesapeake Bay crabs—the lowest recorded, according to Congressional Seafood, a wholesale supplier. As a result, there might be a mix of Louisiana, Carolina and Virginia crabs piled atop the butcher paper. (Admittedly, some restaurants only source locally.)

Overfishing is one concern; invasive species are others. For instance, cownose rays and blue catfish feed on young crabs. Then there is the cost of the crabbers’ boat fuel. Regardless of the price, many Delawareans are willing to ante up—and with good reason. In the Small Wonder, sweet crabmeat is a signature summer flavor.

Cracking crabs—with a mallet or nutcracker—is a time-honored ritual in the Delmarva area. Here are 14 crab houses that deliver the steaming goods.

The Blue Crab

Blue crabs and snow crab legs are available at this family favorite, which also serves chargrilled oysters with Cajun garlic butter and tender filet mignon. Clad in shades of Mediterranean blue, the pleasing décor looks more café than a stereotypical crab house.

210 Garfield Parkway, Bethany Beach; 537-4700

Boondocks Restaurant & Package Store

When it comes to character, Boondocks gets the prize, from the stained-glass creations to the wall of license plates—and don’t forget the love seat made from a cast-iron bathtub. The creativity extends to the cocktails. Consider the eerily green Swamp Water, served in a Mason jar.

825 Lighthouse Road, Smyrna; 653-6962

Bushels Crab House & Seafood

In 2020, Anthony and Chris Jacona of Zogg’s and Wheelhouse fame opened Bushels in Lazy Susan’s Route 1 location. Along with blues, the menu includes Dungeness, king crab legs and Alaskan snow crabs. A plus at the beach: There’s plenty of parking.

18289 Coastal Highway, Lewes; 645-5115

Claws Seafood House

This downtown Rehoboth restaurant is part of the Fins Hospitality Group. Start with East Coast oysters on the half shell before moving on to the crabs delivered daily.

167 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 227-2529

Crabby Dick’s

The Crabby Dick’s location in Delaware City only offers blue crabs as a special order. However, crabs are available at the Rehoboth site, where you can start with the tongue-in-cheek Crabby Balls—fried crab served with “seaman sauce.”

18831 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth; 645-9132

The Crab House

Part of the Big Fish Restaurant Group, this House is dedicated to the steamy craft. Each day, an employee sorts crabs by size to ensure a fair share. Can’t eat a dozen? The “Delaware” steam pot includes two crabs, steamed clams, corn, oysters, potatoes and andouille sausage in a garlic-wine broth.

19598 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach; 227-2019

Fresh catches at The Crab House in Rehoboth (part of Big Fish Restaurant Group) are sorted by size to ensure a fair share. Best paired with a frothy brew (also on tap) and friends and family.

Fenwick Crab House

A restaurant that’s been around for 50 years is doing something right. No doubt it’s the eatery’s deft use of crab. It’s on a pretzel, in a dip, in the Cobb salad and more. The award-winning crab cakes are also available for shipping.

100 Coastal Highway, Fenwick Island; 539-2500

Gus’s Crab Shack

If you’ve been cracking crabs in the First State for some time, you may remember the Crab Crib, which became the local fire company’s banquet hall. Thanks to crabber Robert “Gus” Gesullo and wife Micki, the nearly 5,000-square-foot building is back to its roots, complete with the decorative fountain where pickers can clean their hands.

29 W. Market St., Port Penn; 598-2685

Crabber Robert “Gus” Gesullo and wife Micki have brought Port Penn’s old Crab Crib-turned-fire hall back to its roots.

Kathy’s Crab House & Family Restaurant

Since 1982, Kathy’s side porch has hosted many a crab feast. But the distinctive building with the lighthouse on the corner is also a cozy spot for diner-style food, including meatloaf and country-fried beef steak.

107 Fifth St., Delaware City; 834-2279

Lestardo’s Crab House

In 1968, Eugene “Rusty” Lestardo bought the Rambleton Inn, sold it, and repurchased it in 1975. Renamed Lestardo’s, the restaurant has been serving hot crabs ever since. Lestardo’s also serves crabs seasoned with garlic, a delicacy in New Castle County, along with whole crabs cooked in marinara sauce.

135 Christiana Road, New Castle; 328-5070

Old Mill Crab House

The giant steamed crab on the building tells the story; this nearly 40-year-old southern Delaware restaurant is all about the blues. Inside, the country-style atmosphere complements the menu, which includes steamed crabs, fried shrimp, fried clams, fried chicken and baby back ribs.

8829 Waller Road, Delmar; 846-9000

Mickey’s Family Crab House

Mickey’s is named for Michael “Mickey” Walker, who opened the crab house in 1990 with Amy Rice. The restaurant looks more Caribbean than coastal Delaware, but you won’t find fat crabs like these in Anguilla.

39610 Jefferson Bridge Road; Bethany Beach; 539-5384

Sambo’s Tavern

The Burrows know their blue crabs. The family has owned Sambo’s Tavern since 1953 when crabber Samuel “Sambo” Burrows purchased the establishment on the Leipsic River. Since then, Sambo’s has become a destination for crab-pickers nationwide, including NASCAR crews. Because Sambo’s purchases local watermen’s crabs, it is closed in winter. You must be 21 to enter and bring cash, not credit cards.

283 Front St., Leipsic; 674-9724

Surfing Crab Restaurant & Bar

In many respects, Don Vechery’s restaurant checks all the boxes. In summer, the porch-like dining rooms echo with the sound of pounding mallets. Crabs are steamed to order; call ahead to reserve your preferred size.

16723 Coastal Highway, Lewes; 644-4448

Eateries Offering Crabs To Go

Chesapeake Crab Co.: A subsidiary of Renzi’s Catering, the crab business is just over the state line in the Bethel Firehouse.
3737 Foulk Road, Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania; 610-494-4003; chesapeakecrabco.com

Fin & Claw: Chef Scott Viselli took over this Route 26 business last year. While still known for crabs, the seafood store has some unexpected options, such as an Asian barbecue chicken sandwich. So have a bite while your crabs cook.
42A Atlantic Ave., Ocean View; 541-8000; facebook.com/26oceanview

At Ocean View’s Fin & Claw, owner Scott Viselli serves up blue grabs to enjoy in-house or for carryout. He’s also created a Fin & Claw Board, filled with crab claws, cured salmon, smoked fish dip, mustard cream, pickles and toast.

George & Sons: This Hockessin landmark started as a market but now has a restaurant. The market side has some of the best seafood in the state.
1216 Old Lancaster Pike, Hockessin; 239-7204; georgeandsonsseafood.com

Jae Seafood by Tommy: Blue crabs are the specialty at this Penny Hill-area market, but you may spot Dungeness and snow crab.
403 Philadelphia Pike, Suite 1, Wilmington; 765-2546; facebook.com/jaeseafoodphilapike

Lewes Fishhouse: Located just past Five Points (look for the windmill), this seafood market has an online ordering form. Or, call or visit.
17696 Coastal Highway, Lewes; 644-0708; lewesfishhouse.com

Meding’s Seafood: No doubt you’ve driven by this family-run restaurant and market en route to Rehoboth and wondered about it. (The giant gold propeller is an eye-catcher.) Do yourself a favor: Stop and stock up on crabs and other goodies.
3697 Bay Road, Milford; 335-3944; medingsseafood.com

Pleasanton’s Seafood: Waterman Alan Pleasanton opened the business in 1998, and crabs are available live or steamed.
6738 N. DuPont Highway, Dover; 730-0744; pleasantonsseafood.com

The Salty Wave: Crabs dance all over the exterior of this central Delaware favorite, which has prepared foods and fresh seafood and crabs.
101 Clark St., Harrington; 398-4002; facebook.com/saltywavemarket

Sansone’s Seafood Market: Little Italy loves its crabs. This iconic market even devotes a tab to them on its website. Buy live or steamed and by the bushel or individually.
Seventh and Lincoln streets, Wilmington; 652-6717; sansonesseafood.com

Wiso’s Crabs and Seafood: This seafood carryout offers crabs, cleaned crabs and cleaned crabs with garlic. Sizes can range from females to colossal males.
101 Fifth St., Delaware City; 836-0224; wisoscrabs.com

On the Side

Corn and more

Fresh corn on the cob is a no-brainer in Delaware—no matter what you’re eating. The Surfing Crab also offers seasonal succotash, a mix of corn and lima or edamame beans. At The Crab House in Rehoboth, charred corn salad is a specialty.

Hush puppies, a Southern staple, are golden orbs of fried goodness made with a cornmeal-based batter. So what’s with the name? Some say Confederate soldiers tossed the treat to barking dogs when the enemy approached. The hounds were too busy eating to give away the soldiers’ location.

At Mickey’s Family Crab House in Bethany Beach, hush puppies come with cocktail or creamy Cajun sauce. At Bushels, they come with honey butter, and The Crab House dusts the puppies with powdered sugar.

Fries and other spuds

Salty fries marry well with hard-shell crabs, and the Old Mill sells the addictive side by the basket. Meanwhile, Gus’s Crab Shack’s big seller is crab-and-cheese fries. But, of course, you can’t go wrong with potato salad.

Wings, ribs and chicken

Gus’s also goes through a lot of wings— full-sized parts, not minis—slathered in one of six sauces, including Jamaican garlic jerk.

Crab-lovers can also create a surf and turf with fried chicken and ribs. Indeed, at The Crab House, fried chicken comes in a four- and 12-piece bucket, and you can add chicken, ribs and sides to your crab order for $19. At Boondock’s, a half-rack comes with mac-and-cheese and coleslaw, covering all the bases. For $18.99, you can add a half-rack of ribs to any meal at the Old Mill.

The feasts

Being elbow deep in crab shells can encourage diners to go all out. Many crab houses have all-you-can-eat (AYCE) promotions. Others have entrees that pull together a little bit of everything.

For instance, Boondock’s now-famous Pig Out includes about six steamed crabs, steamed shrimp, chicken wings, fries and corn. Fenwick Crab House’s Fenwick Feast features a salad, a cluster of Alaskan snow crab legs, a half-pound of shrimp, two medium crabs, two pieces of fried chicken, coleslaw and corn on the cob.

In Bethany Beach, The Blue Crab pairs the scarlet crustaceans with shrimp, corn on the cob, fried chicken and hush puppies.

Related: These Tried &True Delaware Restaurants Are Community Classics

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