Crab feasts used to be a ritual for a lot of Washingtonians; these days, with a bushel costing upward of $200, it’s an indulgence. It doesn’t have to be, thanks to a superb new dish at Johnny’s Half Shell—barbecue crabs, on the menu every Friday through September. The preparation is simple if slightly heretical to native ears: Four large hard-shell crabs are cleaned and cut in half—then deep-fried and coated in a mixture of Gulf Coast spices. The dish pays homage to the original barbecue crabs concocted four decades ago by the legendary Sartin’s in East Texas. The meat, though twice cooked, is succulent and sweet. This is eat-with-your-hands-and-let-the-spices-
fall-where-they-may eating, and it’s worth every penny of the 25 bucks.
Johnny's Half Shell, 400 N. Capitol St., NW; 202-737-0400; johnnyshalfshell.net.
This appeared in the September, 2008 issue of The Washingtonian.