Joe’s Crab Shack Serves Seafood with Fun
If you’ve given up silverware for Lent and can’t eat meat on Fridays, Joe’s Crab Shack is perfect for you. But don’t worry, even if you haven’t, the food is still good and dinner is fun.
The nautical-themed seafood restaurant chain has locations in Gaithersburg, Fairfax, Greenbelt and now Hanover, Md., in front of Arundel Mills and the Maryland Live! Casino. Last week, we visited the Arundel Mills location.
The restaurant is fun with the staff making people celebrating birthdays stand up and walk the paper carpet (a runner of paper towels) like a celebrity and disco balls going on every hour while the staff assembles to dance for the diners.
I went with a group of five adults and two children on a recent Wednesday, and there was no wait at 6:30 p.m., a pleasant surprise. We started with the special Shack Calamari, hand breaded calamari stopped in a spicy sauce. I’m not normally a fan, and Joe’s didn’t change my mind. The flavor wasn’t bad – it wasn’t overly fishy – but the texture was a bit rubbery. However, one appetizer that did catch my eye was the crab nachos, with crab dip piles on tortilla chips topped with pico de gallo, black bean corn relish, Monterey jack cheese and avocado lime sauce. Other apps include crab stuffed mushrooms, mussels, clam strips, Crazy Good Crab Dip and Joe’s Stuffers — clam shells filled with a scallop, shrimp and clam stuffing paired with Tabasco sauce. Appetizers range from $7.79-$12.99.
For our entrées, we all went with the steam pots – various kinds of seafood steamed with an ear of corn and new potatoes served in an old-fashioned metal dutch oven. I chose the Arctic Bay with a whole lobster, queen crab legs, shrimp and smoked sausage. The lobster was delicious with drawn butter as was the queen crab legs. It is all cooked in a garlic bath and topped with Old Bay. Two in my party shared the Bean Town Bake with two whole lobsters, a pound of clams, shrimp and smoke sausage. Another had the Great Barrier with Antarctic king crab, clams, shrimp, New Zealand green lip mussels and smoked sausage finished with a spicy garlic wine sauce and Old Bay. And the other person had the KJ Steam pot with snow crab, seared scallops and mussels in a Kendall-Jackson wine sauce with hints of garlic, pepper and citrus. The steam pots range from $21.99-$42.99. Joe’s classic with Pacific Dungeness crab, snow crab, shrimp and smoked sausage and the spicier version, the Sunset Fire Grilled, can be ordered with double the crab for two to share.
You can also order buckets of your favorite crab or lobster including 1 1/4 pounds of snow crab, queen crab, Pacific Dungeness crab, king crab, or Antarctic king crab served with an ear of corn and new potatoes. You can order a Crab Daddy Feast with snow, Pacific Dungeness and king crab or a Lobster Daddy Feast with snow crab and whole lobster. The buckets range from $24.49-$34.99. You get to choose from among six flavors – Joe’s Famous BBQ, fire grilled, garlic herb, spicy boil, Chesapeake style with Old Bay or simply steamed.
Caution: You will get messy, but don’t worry. Everyone gets a Joe’s Crab Shack bib personalized by your server, and you’re encouraged to eat with your hands. There are rolls of paper towels on every table and a bucket to throw your shells. You also get a wet wipe to clean up after dinner. And there are several stainless steel sinks around the restaurant with plenty of soap and paper towels to clean up.
For those more pristine diners, don’t fret. They have other dishes you can eat with a fork ranging from maui mahi to fish and chips, crab cakes and pallea. They also offer platters with different combinations of fish and seafood as well as “out of the water” selections that include steaks, chicken tenders, BBQ ribs and cheesy chicken breast crusted with Panko bread crumbs, covered in a creamy Cajun seafood and mushroom sauce and served with dirty rice and seasonal vegetables. The entrees range from $12.79-$20.99 with the platters ranging from $16.99-$25.99.
Kids don’t get left out either. There’s a kids steam pot with a snow crab cluster, three shrimp, sausage, corn on the cob and a new potato or kid’s snow crab with a snow crab cluster and corn on the cob. They also have grilled shrimp, popcorn shrimp, fish fingers and a captain’s catch with mozzarella sticks, popcorn shrimp, a fish finger and French fries. For the child with the less developed pallet, there’s cheese pizza, mac and cheese, chicken fingers or sliders.
You get a ton of food, enough that you won’t even need dessert. But they do offer it if you are so inclined. There are five to choose from including the crabby apple crumble, key lime pie and campfire s’mores, a chocolate cake between two graham crackers, topped with a Hershey’s chocolate bar and freshly toasted marshmallows.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.