From Lewes to Fenwick Island, there are a bushel of crab houses. So crack to your heart’s content.
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Outside the Eastern Shore, the Delaware beaches provide one of the best settings for crab-picking. Maybe it’s the salt air or the smell of the brackish bay. Regardless, there’s something about the sea that whets your appetite for a pile of scarlet steamed crabs. “It’s really one of the things people do here,” says Tim Haley, owner of The Blue Crab in Bethany Beach. “They go to the beach and they pick crabs. It’s part of their vacation experience.”
Fall is one of the best times for blue crabs. The crustaceans have long left their beds in the water’s muddy bottom, where they burrow in the cool months. They’ve shed their shells to accommodate growth spurts, and they’ve filled out, making for a larger, meatier meal.
September is a great time for the Chesapeake Bay crabs,” says Don Vechery, who opened The Surfing Crab (16723 Coastal Highway, Lewes, 644-4448) in late May. You might say crabs run in his family. His father, Henry, has owned the Bethesda Crab House in Maryland for more than 48 years. Vechery chose to open a restaurant at the beach so as not to compete with his father. “He has the D.C. market covered.”
Like his father, Vechery is devoted to doing crabs the right way. Instead of flash-cooking them, which takes 10 to 12 minutes, the crabs are steamed in a stockpot on the range, which takes about 20 minutes. “We’re old school,” Vechery says.
For 25 years, crab-happy tourists have scrambled to Lazy Susan’s Crabs (18289 Coastal Highway, Lewes, 645-5115), which in 2007 moved from its longtime location, practically across the highway, to its current spot, more than doubling its seating. “We were able to purchase this property,” says owner Susan Fluharty. “Before, we just rented.”
But with the same picnic tables, the same crab-themed art and the same pipin’ hot crabs, old-timers still feel right at home. There is still outdoor seating. The difference is an expanded menu, which offers more seafood caught off the coast. “It’s fresh, fresh, fresh,” Fluharty says.
Claws Crab House (167 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-CLAW), which opened in 2006, is downtown Rehoboth’s first crab house. Frequent visitors may recall that the distinctive house, built in 1889, was formerly the home of Java Beach. The rustic dining room, a fitting home for a down-and-dirty crab feast, features architectural remnants from old barns, including a wood bar, tin ceilings and photographs that salute Sussex County’s maritime history.
The Crab Room at the Lighthouse Cove in Ruddertowne (124 Dickinson St., Dewey Beach, 227-4333) features all-you-can-eat blue crabs, snow crabs, shrimp or a shrimp-and-snow crab combo. In case you haven’t been keeping up, The Lighthouse Cove is a blend of the old Crabber’s Cove and the Lighthouse. Downstairs is the more upscale dining element—just in case someone in your party longs for beef tenderloin. Or hop on over to the Lighthouse part—just the Lighthouse this time—for burgers and cheese fries.
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