The Best Thing I Ate: Boudin Blanc, Joe’s Stone Crabs

Washingtonian’s food team shares favorite dishes from their past seven days of dining.

Joe’s stone crab claws are a meaty import that taste just as good as their South Beach cousins. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Garrett Graff

Boudin blanc partridge sausage at Restaurant Eve

The “lickety-split lunch” at the bar at this Old Town favorite is hands down one of the best dining deals in Washington: For just $14.98, pick any two items from a long list of starters, mains, desserts, and even a beer or glass of wine. But come early or late. The bar starts serving at 11:30 and is generally full before noon, meaning there’s a second seating at 12:45 or so. On a recent weekday lunch, I enjoyed a ham hock bean stew and a delicious partridge sausage on a potato roll, topped with cooked onions. Absolutely satisfying—and we were in and out in under an hour.

Todd Kliman

Fried cod and skordalia at Trapezaria

I’ve been impressed with this new Greek restaurant, and this is one of the dishes that shows the place at its best.

Think fish and chips, only about ten times lighter than what you usually find. Frying is seldom this immaculate—and of course then you’re usually paying Michel Richard prices. (This beauty goes for $9).

I love the delicate crunch. I love how moist and sweet the cod stays inside.

And the skordalia dip in the center of the plate—a whipped “chip,” if you will—adds a nice hit of lemon, as well as a subtle garlicky kick.

Ann Limpert

Stone crabs at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, and Stone Crab

Nearly every year, my best friend and I take a long-weekend trip to Miami. And besides spending a few hours too long in the hammam and paying far too much for a coconut/date smoothie by the pool at the Standard, the thing I look forward to most on those trips is a stop at Joe’s Stone Crab. Sure, there are far more interesting places to seek out in that town. But there’s something wonderfully nostalgic about the gruff servers, the tangy, mixed-at-the-table coleslaw, and of course, those stone crabs with the creamy-sweet mustard sauce that tastes the same as it ever did.

Now, there’s no flight necessary—DC is home to a flashy new Joe’s housed in a soaring former bank. The marble-encrusted setting gives the place a distinct Old Washington feel, but beyond that, the tastes will be familiar to anyone who’s been to the original—with terrific mojitos, a bread basket you can’t stop eating, and pay-through-the-nose plates of chilled crab claws.

Stone crabs, in season from October through May, are easier to deal with than blue crabs. The claws arrived pre-cracked, and the hunks of meat can be pried out easily, so there are no flying bits of shell or need for wet-naps. At its best (it’s easy to find bland, dried stone crabs in these parts), the meat is juicy and sweet, almost like lobster, but with a denser, crabbier texture. It doesn’t need much—just a squeeze of lemon would be fine. But a dip in Joe’s addictive mustard-and-mayo sauce makes it even better.

Anna Spiegel

Smoked salmon from Three Little Pigs

I love smoked salmon and bagels, and not just for brunch. The dish is often my weeknight “in a pinch” dinner, cheffed up a little with caper berries, thin-sliced cucumbers, and fresh dill (come summer I sub in sweet tomatoes and olives, a surprisingly delicious combination stolen from Daniel Boulud). The quality of the smoked fish and bagel really make the meal, but even though Washington isn’t Bagel City USA, the salmon is typically the rogue factor. Packaged brands like Ducktrap River at Whole Foods are typically reliable, but not distinctive like a fresh-sliced piece of lox from Russ & Daughters in New York. Thankfully I stumbled on the Three Little Pigs stand at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market. The smell of the warm pulled-pork sandwiches drew me over, but instead of barbecue I left with a neat brown package of spiced smoked salmon. My quick dinner the next night was the best salmon bagel I’ve had since moving from Manhattan (granted, with some Big Apple assistance from Buffalo & Bergen bagels). Three Little Pigs cures fresh Atlantic salmon with rum and a heady mix of nutmeg, allspice, and cloves before smoking it over hickory. The ingredients sound overwhelming, but they complement the fish’s natural strong flavor without overwhelming it. If you can’t wait for market Sundays, try the Georgia Avenue shop.

See also:
Previous Best Things I Ate

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.