Earlier this summer, Food & Wine magazine came out with a list of the 19 Best Crab Cakes in the US. The list gave Baltimore its due, with accolades for Jimmy’s Famous Seafood and Faidley’s, but DC and the surrounding Chesapeake area were snubbed.
Now granted, crab cakes are a national tradition, and it was good to see Dungeness cakes from Seattle and Southern-style versions from Charleston make the cut. But you can in fact get excellent crab cakes in DC. Here are are five we’d enter into the running. Try them now, when local crabs are at their peak.
The crab cake breakfast at Market Lunch
225 Seventh St., SE
One of our favorite only-in-DC experiences is grabbing a seat at this counter-service stand in Eastern Market, and digging into a hearty breakfast. A great pick: the crisp-fried crab cake served on a platter with two eggs any style, grits or potatoes–we can’t pass up the former–a fresh roll, and plenty of hot sauce for drizzling ($13.75).
Crab cake sandwich at BlackSalt
4883 MacArthur Blvd., NW
Chef Jeff Black’s fish market/restaurant is a reliable source for true Maryland crab cakes—no foreign meat masquerading as local. The dish comes as an entree at dinner, but our favorite preparation is the lunchtime sandwich. A fresh-baked brioche bun is spread with lemon-caper aioli, and the cake gets a spicy slaw topping for extra kick ($19).
Crab cake with celeriac remoulade at Rappahannock Oyster Bar
1309 Fifth St., NE
Rappahannock Oyster Co.’s Richmond restaurant made F&W’s list, but their cake is so good, it’s worth a second mention.The Union Market branch forgos the bun, serving the generous, meat-packed round on a creamy bed of celeriac slaw with tangy remoulade ($14).
Jumbo lump crab cakes at Blue Duck Tavern
1201 24th St., NW
The preparation changes seasonally at this elegant New American inside the Park Hyatt hotel, but the quality of the virtually filler-free crab cakes stays the same. These days you’ll find them perfectly pan-seared as ever, paired with a pickled vegetable salad and Old Bay remoulade ($16 appetizer; $32 entree).
Maryland crab cakes at Johnny’s Half Shell
400 N. Capitol St., NW
Veteran chef Ann Cashion has mastered the classics at Johnny’s—gumbo, lemon chess pie—and her Maryland crab cakes are no different. The perfectly seasoned cakes can be ordered broiled or fried, as an appetizer or entree—the latter arrives with creamy slaw and addictive fries ($17 appetizer; $35 entree).