has cheese steak and Memphis has ribs. But ask anyone what's on the
summertime menu in Southern Maryland and they're sure to say one thing:
Kelly Robertson Slagle comes from a long line of Charles County watermen
and crab house owners. For decades, numerous uncles and cousins have
crabbed the shoals and tributaries of the Potomac River. Her grandfather
was a waterman and also owned Robertson's Crab House and Captain Billy's
in Pope's Creek, later operated by her father and an aunt.
"I practically grew up in a crab house," she said. "I've watched most of
my family members work the restaurant on weekends and during summer
doing everything from waitressing, to bussing tables and cooking crabs.
We'd see the same people year after year as they came in throughout the
She believes the appeal of a crab feast is the slow pace required to
enjoy the meal. "You can't eat steamed crabs quickly," she said. "It's a
social occasion that people enjoy with friends and family, and it
involves lots of conversation, laughter and fun. Some of my fondest
childhood memories are of the big family crab feasts we'd have on a
waterside deck, watching the sun set."
In St. Mary's County, the Copseys are crab house royalty. Leonard Copsey,
now 89, claims his Drift Inn to be the oldest crab house still in
operation in Southern Maryland. "We've added to it over the years," he
said. "When it first started out, it wasn't much, but back in the early
days, I could sell 100 bushels of crabs here on a weekend."
His son owns Captain Leonard's, one daughter owns Sandgates and another
daughter owns Leonard Copsey's Seafood Market - all located in the
Mechanicsville area. He learned the trade decades ago and has since
passed it along to his children. "A man from the Eastern Shore taught me
how to cook crabs. He told me to use an autoclave steamer, like the ones
used in hospitals. Seven minutes in that steamer and my crabs are cooked
Bobby Abner also knows crabs. He has been catching and selling them
since he was 10 years old and he's been serving them up by the dozen or
the bushel at Abner's Crab House in Chesapeake Beach for decades. "When
I was a young boy back in the 1950s, I could catch enough crabs over the
summer to buy my own school clothes," he said. "That was really
Today, he and his family catch about 70 percent of the crabs they sell
in the restaurant and he still goes out nearly every day to check his
pots. He knows the water and he knows the crabs. Early in the season, he
can predict where to find them and how far north they're venturing based
on water temperatures and tides. He played college football and took a
government job for awhile, but his heart has always been on the water.
He came back to it in 1964 and has been at it ever since.
There are dozens of crab houses throughout Southern Maryland, so take
your pick of restaurants where you can get your fill of classic, steamed
hard-shell crabs. Enjoy them waterfront, in a dining room or at home
with take-out service. Call ahead for specials, prices and hours, which
can vary by season.
Here is a list of the Southern Maryland crab houses serving up hardshell
crabs as well as places to pick them up and enjoy them at home.
Calvert County Crab Houses
Abner's Crab House in Chesapeake Beach, 410-257-3689. Watch the charter
boats come in on Fishing Creek by the windows or on the deck in this
casual, family-style restaurant. Bushels to go and dozens to eat in;
crab feasts every Wednesday.
Captain Smith's Seafood Market, 410-326-1134. Located in the Patuxent
Plaza in Solomons. Sells crabs to go, live or steamed, by the dozen,
half bushel and bushel.
Catamaran's Seafood and Steak Restaurant in Solomons, 410-326-8399.
Located in the heart of the Solomons scene, you can dine in or eat out
on the front or back decks and watch the world go by. Enjoy steamed
crabs by the dozen and get some to go. Arrive by car or boat.
Stoney's Crab House on Broome's Island, 410-586-1888. Kingfisher's in
Solomons at 410-394-0236, Solomons Pier at 410-326-2424 and in Prince
Frederick at 410-535-1888. Broome's Island, Kingfisher's and Solomons
Pier are all accessible by land or water and have indoor and outside
seating. The Prince Frederick restaurant is located in the Fox Run
Shopping Center. All locations serve crabs by the dozen, eat in or to
Tyler's Tackle Shop and Crab House in Chesapeake Beach, 410-257-6610.
Owned by a lifelong waterman, this combination tackle shop/crab house
offers only the freshest catch of the day. Take-out only, by the dozen,
half or full bushel.
Vera's White Sands Beach Club and Marina in Lusby, 410-586-1182. The
legend of Vera lives on in this eclectic restaurant located on the point
between St. Leonard's Creek and St. John's Creek. Outdoor or indoor
dining and plenty of docking for boaters. Crabs sold by the dozen and
Charles County Crab Houses
Annapolis Seafood in Waldorf, 301-870-6800. Take-out market selling
steamed crabs by the dozen, half and full bushel.
Blue Bay in Waldorf, 301-645-2722. The new owners of this restaurant
tout the fact that their crabs are always fresh and always local. Get
yours by the dozen, half and full bushels, both dine-in and take-out.
Captain Billy's Crab House, Newburg, 301-932-4323. Come by boat or by
car and enjoy authentic Southern Maryland steamed crabs at their finest.
This place is legendary and once you're stuffed, you'll feel like
Captain John's Crab House on Cobb Island, 301-259-2315. For 45 years,
this restaurant has been a landmark on the Potomac offering casual
dining inside or out on the waterfront deck. The seafood market has
crabs to go and the restaurant sells steamed hard shells by the dozen.
Doc's Crabs in Bryans Road, 301-283-6733. Take out or grab one of the
few tables for eating in. By the dozen, half and full bushel.
Gilligan's Pier Seafood and Steakhouse in Newburg, 301-259-4514. If
you're looking for crabs by the half or full dozen that come with a
funky, fresh atmosphere including a Tiki bar, live music, volleyball and
a private beach for watching the sun set, this is the place. Coming by
boat? Let the restaurant's water taxi bring you to shore at no charge.
Rays Pier in Benedict, 301-274-3733. Enjoy crabs by the dozen while
dining on the beautiful Patuxent River or call ahead and get an order to
St. Mary's County Crab Houses
Captain Leonard's in Mechanicsville, 301-884-3701. Formerly a general
store, this restaurant has been cooking and selling crabs by the dozen
and to go for 22 years and many of the customers have been coming here
just as long. The restaurant has steamed crabs down to a science.
Captain Pat's in Lexington Park and Hollywood, 301-866-0000. Owned by a
local waterman, this restaurant offers only Maryland crabs (some of
which he catches himself). Eat-in or carry-out service, you can get your
crabs by the dozen, half or full bushel.
Courtney's Seafood Restaurant in Ridge, 301-872-4403. Located on the
Potomac River, this restaurant offers indoor dining with a view. Get
your crabs by the dozen, half or full bushel, dine-in or to go.
Crab Knockers in Leonardtown, 301-475-7830. Take-out only; steamed crabs
by the dozen, half bushel and bushel.
Crabby Ricks Crab House and Restaurant, Mechanicsville, 301-884-4235.
Eat-in or take-out steamed crabs by the dozen, half or full bushel.
Rick's customers say he sells the best crabs in Southern Maryland.
Drift Inn in Mechanicsville, 301-884-3470. Getting to this restaurant on
the Patuxent River is half the fun. There is plenty of parking for boats
and cars and the family-run restaurant provides an authentic Southern
Maryland experience. Orders by the dozen and bushels or half bushels to
Leonard Copsey's Seafood Market in Mechanicsville, 301-884-9529.
Take-out only. Steamed crabs by the dozen, half and full bushel.
Sandgates Inn in Mechanicsville, 301-373-5100. Dine inside or out on the
Patuxent River. Order a dozen, a half or a full bushel to go and enjoy
them at home.
Seabreeze Restaurant & Crab House in Mechanicsville, 301-373-5217. Eat
your crabs by the dozen beside the Patuxent River on the open deck
featuring a Tiki bar, or enjoy the view from indoors.
Thompson's Seafood Corner in Mechanicsville, 301-884-5251. Take-out
only. Steamed crabs sold by the dozen, half bushel or bushel.