Stone crab season is typically a time to rejoice, a harbinger of cooler, drier weather in South Florida and the approach of holiday season. But Monday’s arrival of Florida’s native seafood delicacy also came draped in uncertainty, with the impact of red tide and Hurricane Michael unclear. Check back on SouthFlorida.com later today for a full report on the initial haul from stone-crab fleets around the Keys and Gulf of Mexico.
Expect the customary short supplies and high prices in the opening days of the seven-month season, which runs through May 15. Some restaurants and markets offer frozen crabs (from last spring) in the opening days. It’s always best to ask.
Stone crabs are usually widely available at seafood stores and supermarkets throughout South Florida. The claws are cooked soon after being harvested, then chilled and served cold. If you get them cracked at the store, it's best to eat them within 12 hours. If you buy them uncracked, they can be refrigerated and eaten within two days.
Joe's Stone Crab — 11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 305-673-0365.The granddaddy of them all, the holy shrine of stone crab, Joe’s opened for its 105th season Friday, Oct. 12. Be prepared to wait a long time at the bar, or hit the takeout shop next door. Joe’s also offers an online service that ships nationwide.
Billy's Stone Crab — 400 N. Ocean Drive, Hollywood, 954-923-2300. On the Intracoastal, this is an upscale, old-school place to get your claw fix if you don't feel like making the trek to Joe's (or enduring the wait).
Catfish Deweys — 4003 N. Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale, 954-566-5333. An informal, family-friendly eatery that is popular with locals, Catfish Deweys features daily all-you-can-eat stone crab specials, with price varying by size.
FreshStoneCrabs.shop — 1040 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 305-989-1969. This specialty service offers next-day FedEx delivery of stone crabs to anywhere in the continental U.S. Order online or by phone. Large claws cost $45 per pound, jumbos $55 per pound, plus shipping. The service includes free mustard sauce. A 10-percent discount promotion runs through Oct. 28, along with a free Key lime pie for orders 10 pounds and above.
Kelly's Landing — 305 SE 17th St, Fort Lauderdale, 954-760-7009. This cozy and crowded spot is well known for New England specialties, including fried Ipswich clams, chowder and lobster rolls. When supplies become available, Kelly's typically offers a weekly stone crab special featuring a pound of medium claws and one side.
Ouzo Bay — 201 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton, 561-757-0082. This sophisticated Greek eatery flies in fresh seafood from the Mediterranean, and it also offers fresh Florida stone crab. In November, the eatery will begin serving $79 all-you-can-eat medium stone crabs (with soup or salad) on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Riggins Crabhouse — 607 Ridge Road, Lantana, 561-586-3000. A venerable seafood restaurant near I-95 that's best known for several varieties of Maryland blue crab, Riggins also carries stone crab throughout the season.
Triad Seafood Market and Cafe — 401 W. School Drive, Everglades City, 239-695-0722. For those who don’t mind taking a day trip across Alligator Alley, you can't get any fresher than here. This dockside market is in in the heart of stone-crab country, where you can see boats unload their daily catch. The eatery sometimes offers all-you-can-eat specials. Lunch only, but dinner bookings for large (15 or more) groups are available with three-day advance notice. The market is open daily until 5 p.m.
Truluck’s — Galleria Mall, 2584 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-396-5656, and 777 Brickell Ave., Miami, 305-579-0035. This upscale seafood chain recently closed its Boca Raton location, but will begin daily lunch service (11:30 a.m.- 3 p.m.) in Fort Lauderdale starting Oct. 22. Truluck’s also will soon offer all-you-can-eat stone crabs on Mondays. Reservations are recommended. The restaurant also has a Miami location.