Blue Crab Grill | Newark
Despite its storefront location in the Suburban Plaza shopping center, the Blue Crab is a cool place to grab a crab cake. Belly up to the wave-shaped bar and order a 5- to 6-ounce “Lump Back-fin Crab Cake” served with rice and veggies (one cake, $18; two cakes, $26). Pass the time by watching colorful fish swim in the saltwater aquarium embedded into a backlit, wall-sized wine rack. Blue Crab’s cakes—made of jumbo lump meat—are held together by a minimal amount of mayo and flour. They are pan-seared a gorgeous light brown, then broiled. The only thing missing is the water view. Then again, there’s the aquarium. 322 Suburban Drive, Newark, 737-1100, bluecrabgrill.com.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant | Various locations
The medal-winning brewpub extends its hand-crafted approach to its Eastern Shore crab cake ($24.95), which is seasoned from the inside-out using smashed saltine crackers and is carefully formed with a metal scoop. Baked to preserve tenderness and the sanctity of the jumbo- and super-lump meat, the 5-ounce cakes (a dinner portion includes two) receive a schmear of creamy mustard sauce and are served with Old Bay fries. Various locations, including 147 E. Main St., Newark, 266-9000; 620 Justison St., Wilmington, 472-2739, ironhillbrewery.com.
Skipjack | Newark
We admit that we were a bit skeptical when we read that Skipjack’s crab cakes were flavored with a shrimp and lobster mousse. To someone used to a traditional cake, this sounded like overkill. It’s not. The briny mousse lifted these cakes to another level. The crab-cake entrée at Skipjack—two 3.75-ounce patties that are pan-seared and finished in the oven—are served atop lemon asparagus butter with two asparagus spears and an heirloom tomato stuffed with wild rice ($28; one cake, $16). Eating the mousse-infused crab cake in the upscale-yet-casual dining room—with a large striped bass mounted on one wall and the obligatory nautical rope wrapped around pillars—feels just right. 401 Louviers Drive, Newark, 456-1800, skipjacknewark.com.