Where to Feast on Crabs Around DC

No Bay traffic (or even a car) involved.

Chesapeake Crab Shack and Bar on U Street. Photography by Karlin Villondo Photography

You don’t need a bay house—or even a car—to dig into a delicious Chesapeake crab feast. In addition to DC-area crab houses, there are seafood markets—and even delivery services—selling live or steamed crabs for your backyard party. 

Crab Houses and Seafood Restaurants

Crabs at Ivy City. Photograph by Scott Suchman


Bethesda Crab House
4958 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda
Bethesdans have been cracking crabs here since 1961. The casual indoor/outdoor seafood shack dishes up a variety of sizes—typically up to jumb0—and offers all-you-can-eat small and medium crabs with corn and slaw (market price). Round out a meal with fried oysters and key-lime pie.

Captain Pell’s
10195 Fairfax Blvd., Fairfax
It’s not hard to find a table at this sprawling seafood spot in Fairfax, which steams crabs year-round. Male and female crustaceans can be ordered by the dozen, or in an all-you-can-eat feast set at $48.

Chesapeake Crab Shack and Bar
925 U St., NW
The newest addition to the crab scene is this 50-seat outdoor “shack” on U Street (opening Friday, August 19). It channels the Bay with a menu of steamed blue crabs—available by the dozen or half-dozen—plus seafood snacks, fun sides, orange crushes, and other “dock drinks.” You can’t reserve crabs in advance, but bookings for the picnic-style tables (max eight guests) are available on Resy.

Hot N Juicy Crawfish
2651 Connecticut Ave., NW; 116 W Broad St, Falls Church
The Louisiana-inspired chain–with local branches in Woodley Park and Falls Church—offers blue crab in season, alongside Dungeness crab, shrimp, lobster, and of course, crawfish. Diners can order the shellfish with a variety of seasonings and spice levels, including garlic-butter and spicy Cajun. Both locations offer takeout as well as dine-in.

Quarterdeck Restaurant
1200 N. Fort Meyer Dr., Arlington
Arlington’s stalwart seafood restaurant has been serving steamed crabs—as well as a variety of “land and sea” entrees—for over 30 years. Summers bring local Chesapeake blues, which you can thwack on the outdoor patio alongside cold beers. Reservations are a good idea, especially on weekends.

The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse
1356 Okie St., NE
This Ivy City seafood restaurant dishes up hot steamed crabs that can be eaten indoors, or on a spacious deck lit by fire pits at night. Customers can pick between local or Gulf crabs in various sizes, or opt for an all-you-can-eat feast; we love rounding out a meal with a platter of house-smoked fish or sides like mac n’ cheese. Note: the adjoining seafood market also sells live and steamed crabs to-go.

Carryouts and Crab Delivery

Photo courtesy of Jessie Taylor Seafood.

Captain White’s Seafood
6308 Livingston Rd, Oxon Hill
This one-time staple of the Maine Avenue Fish Market famously floated away earlier this year, and is now operating out of a new location in Oxon Hill. Like the past 50-plus years, Captain White’s sells live and steamed-to-order crabs, by the bushel and half-bushel, all year round (so not always local, but from the Bay when possible). Shoppers can also grab Chesapeake oysters for shucking, clams, shrimp, and more. Pre-orders are available for everything.

Jessie Taylor Seafood
1100 Maine Ave., SW
This large, open-air seafood market at the Wharf has been operating since 1939. Our favorite way to order is to go in person, and for crabs, see what’s looking lively—there are often multiple sizes and both males and females available. Shoppers can take them live or order them cooked. Note that garage parking is typically expensive at the Wharf, but it’s only $2 for the first hour to park at the fish market (validation of purchase required).

Morrus Seafood & Crab House
2902 Minnesota Ave., SE
This storefront near the Anacostia River specializes in fried and steamed seafood. Guests can order live or steamed crabs, or try the house specialty: Mo’s garlic-butter crab. The latter comes cracked into easy-eat sections, and doused in buttery sauce. Carryout and delivery are available. 

R&L Crab Co.
7185 Columbia Gateway Dr., Columbia; 703 Edgewood St., NE
Get crabs delivered to your door, courtesy of twin sisters RaeShawn and LaShone Middleton. Their pandemic-born delivery service—one of our summer favorites—offers same-day ordering for crabs (male and female) by the dozen or bushel, with various sizes available. Don’t forget hushpuppies or corn bread to round out the feast.

Ruff N Ready Crab House
903 Chillum Rd., Hyattsville
Want to plan a backyard crab feast? We’re fans of this seafood carryout—a Hyattsville fixture since 1963. Patrons can order blue crabs (male or female), live or steamed with plenty of spice, by the bushel or less—plus shrimp, snow crab, and more.

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.