Before chef Alex McCoy landed stints on the Food Network and opened his hit burger joint Lucky Buns, he worked at Price’s Seafood, a classic crab house (now closed) in Havre de Grace, Maryland. And he hasn’t stopped steaming local Chesapeake blues since, running summertime crab pop-ups in DC over the last decade. Now, the DC native is ready to debut his biggest “Crabs and Crushes” series yet at Union Market. It will start Friday, July 17 and continue on Fridays and Saturdays through August 1.
The front outdoor patio of Union Market’s food hall will be strung with lights and transformed into space for all-you-can-eat feasting for up to 50 socially distanced guests. Tables are set more than six feet apart, service is contact-free, and there’s no communal seating. Diners can stay for a two-hour window, with seatings at 8 PM and a night owl session at 10:30 PM. A $50 ticket covers bottomless Chesapeake crabs—a mix of mediums and larges—which will be steamed to-order in outdoor pots. Also included: corn and Maryland-style fried chicken.
“Most of the all-you-can-eat crab houses serve this Old Bay-spiced fried chicken,” says McCoy. “You don’t think of Maryland fried chicken, but it’s ubiquitous with crabs.”
That’s not to say McCoy is fully team Old Bay. For the steamed crabs, he makes his own pepper-heavy spice to mimic the one at Price’s. He uses a base of the spice blend from J.O.—a family-owned operation near Baltimore whose product is widely used in crab houses, and considered by many to be the “real” Maryland blend.
Crab feasters can order drinks like orange and grapefruit crushes, mudslides, and other beach-y concoctions. Tables will be set up for groups with a few two-tops. And if you’re a crab hater getting dragged to a crab feast—we all know one—don’t worry. McCoy will offer Lucky Buns burgers and fried-chicken sandwiches plus sides like macaroni salad and slaw, which can be swapped in for the ticket price or added a la carte.
Crabs and Crushes, outside Union Market (1309 Fifth St., NE) Friday and Saturdays starting July 17 and ending August 1 (more dates and times may be added). Reservations can be made here.
*This post has been updated with additional information.