Like much in the dining world, steamed crabs seem like another tradition that could temporarily fall by the wayside due to Covid-19—especially given the communal nature of the feast. But just as fine-dining restaurants have transformed into takeout joints, crab lovers are making adjustments and keeping the warm weather ritual alive.
American Ice Company, which typically hosts crab pop-ups over July 4th weekend, is embracing the start of Chesapeake crab season on April 1 and offering packages of steamed crabs and cold beer for free weekend delivery within three miles of the Shaw watering hole (no carryout). The crabs—all medium for now—come from watermen in Kent Island, Maryland. All packages include a dozen steamed and spiced blues—good for two to three diners—with a crab cracker, mallet, and homemade potato salad ($70). You can add on drinks like a six-pack of Tecate, six pickle-back shots, or both. Crab sizes may vary as the season goes on. Orders must be placed by Thursday at 5 PM for “minimal contact” weekend drop-off between noon and 5 PM (call 202-285-3467 or email firstname.lastname@example.org). Paper and crab cracking space—the biggest challenge for city dwellers—not included.
The classics are still going, too. Captain White at the Wharf/Maine Avenue Fish Market recommends making advance orders and is cooking seafood at a nearby location to prevent crowding. Ivy City Smokehouse will sell steamed or live crabs from the seafood market (likely starting this weekend), and if enough orders come in, the Tavern will start delivering crabs alongside its regular menu via GrubHub. Over in Fairfax, Captain Pell’s is doing curbside takeout and also fired up a food truck for delivery. Quarterdeck in Arlington recently reopened with a limited supply of crabs (carryout only). If you want to go closer to the source, Harris Crab House on Kent Island has a new online ordering platform with all kinds of steamed seafood, including medium and large crabs. And perennial favorite Jimmy’s Cantler’s Riverside Inn is now “Cantler’s Curbside” steaming up crabs by the dozen ($75 for larges) plus buckets of local soft-shell clams, cream of crab soup, soft-shell sandwiches, and cold beer to-go.