In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest’s sidekick Bubba suggests all the possible ways to cook shrimp. A visit to some of Annapolis, Maryland’s best restaurants shows that shrimp are not the only super-versatile crustacean. Here, crab is king. Whether stuffed in omelets or held together in crab cakes with the tiniest bit of breadcrumbs, crab – in all its forms – is the heart of Annapolis food. Here are just a few of the many ways to enjoy it on a trip to Annapolis.
Best Food in Annapolis
Practically overflowing with seafood goodness, the “world famous” seasoned crab and cheese omelet at Chick and Ruth’s Delly is one of the best ways to start the day in Annapolis. A little bit salty and a little bit creamy thanks to the melted cheese, this omelet is staple of the 50-year-old Annapolis institution where there’s a booth reserved for the governor and the Pledge of Allegiance is recited every morning. Served with toast and potatoes, there is more than enough crab here to keep you going all day.
Crab dip may be an appetizer, but it’s no lightweight. At the Federal House Bar & Grille, you can find this homemade specialty brimming with backfin crab and premium cheeses. Salsa and spices add a little kick, cutting through the richness of the tasty dish.
…Topped with Crab
In Annapolis food, sometimes the crab is the star and sometimes it’s the sidekick that turns in a great performance. Such is the case with the crab-topped rockfish with lemon butter sauce at the Boatyard Bar & Grill.
Everyone told us we couldn’t leave Annapolis without trying the fresh rockfish, and it’s popular for good reason. This dish has the perfect proportions of flaky fish and delicate crab with a sauce that brings all the flavors together.
The beauty of a salad is that the crab is front and center. At the Federal Bar & Grille, the crab avocado roll is full of unadulterated, mouth-watering lump crab. It’s accompanied by avocado and a drizzle of aioli — the perfect complements for the purest form of Maryland’s best.
Cream of Crab Soup
Cream of crab soup is a decadent as it sounds. This thick, creamy soup is a staple in Annapolis restaurants, but nowhere is it done better than at the upscale Carrol’s Creek Café. Full of lump crabmeat with a dash of Old Bay and a touch of sherry, the soup is the ultimate comfort food, no matter what the season. And at Carrol’s Creek, it comes with the bonus of a postcard view of the Chesapeake Bay.
Crab cakes four ways
There’s no disputing that crab cakes are one of the most popular foods in Annapolis. Every restaurant claims to have the best, and each one makes them a little differently.
From the crab cake sandwich at the Boatyard Bar and Grill to crab cake and filet surf and turf at Carrol’s Creek, every one serves them just a little bit differently, too. And many have a story. At Miss Shirley’s Café, the story behind their signature crab cake and fried green tomato eggs benedict is about the local ingredients and the care that goes into formulating their southern recipes. At Galway Bay Irish Pub, you’ll hear about Miss Peggy’s recipe – a legacy from a long-time Annapolis resident. Wherever you choose to have crab cakes in Annapolis, the good news is that it’s hard to go wrong.
And for the times that call for something other than crab…
Breakfast and brunch are popular every day of the week in Annapolis, so eggs benedict is appearing on more and more menus in the seaside town. And usually there’s a bit of a twist.
One of the most delicious things we ate in Annapolis was the Ranchers Benny at the Iron Rooster – perfectly fried green tomatoes topped with boursin cheese, roasted corn salsa, poblano sauce, poached eggs, and hollandaise. The bright and smoky southwestern flavors balance the richness of the hollandaise to make a dish that’s light and filling at the same time. It’s a good thing Iron Rooster serves breakfast all day.
Smith Island Cake
Smith Island, located 10 miles offshore in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, is home to its eponymous Smith Island Cakes. Since the 1800s, these multi-layer cakes have been a regular treat, accompanying the island’s fishermen on their long trips at sea. Their popularity has grown well beyond the confines of the island to become Maryland’s state dessert. Available around Annapolis, Smith Island cakes come in a wide variety of flavors from chocolate and peanut butter cream to red velvet to the strawberry version we tried. So good.
We were the guests of Visit Annapolis and the restaurants mentioned. All opinions of the amazing shellfish are our own.
What’s your favorite crabby food?
Laura Longwell is an award-winning travel blogger and photographer. Since founding Travel Addicts in 2008, she has written hundreds of articles that help over 3 million people a year get the most out of their travel. In that time, she has visited nearly 60 countries on 5 continents, often returning to favorite destinations over and over again. She has a deep love of history, uncovering unexpected attractions, and trying all the good food a place has to offer.
In addition to Travel Addicts, Laura runs a site about her hometown of Philadelphia—Guide to Philly—which chronicles unique things to do and places to see around southeastern Pennsylvania. Her travel tips and advice appear across the web.