Wednesday, October 15, marks the start of Florida's stone crab harvesting season.
More important -- and for stone crab lovers across the state -- it's also the day Joe's Stone Crab reopens after its summer hiatus to celebrate its 101st year in Miami Beach. For the next seven months, it will be one of the go-to spots for stone crabs in South Florida.
Florida's commercial and recreational stone crab season is now open in both state and federal waters. The season will close May 16.
If you're looking to catch some crustaceans of your own, regulations and illustrations demonstrating the proper way to remove the claws are posted on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website. The recreational daily bag limit is one gallon of claws per person, or two gallons per vessel.
One note: Take only one claw from each crab, even if both claws are legally sized. Why? So the crab won't die (it won't be able to defend itself against predators or to catch food). Crabs will regenerate their missing claw too.
If you'd rather have someone else do the catching for you, South Florida has plenty of places to get crabby. And there's no time like the present to indulge in some all-you-can-eat stone crab claws. Since you might not want to make the trip down to Miami, here are a few closer spots that offer the same idea:
Riggins Crabhouse has been serving pound-and-eat steamed crabs in Lantana for 20-some years. Here, a bright-blue mural of Florida ocean life on one wall is mirrored by actual fish tanks mounted inside picture frames on another. And every last one of those surfaces -- including the brown carpeting -- sports a sheen of spattered crab guts. The food has a banquet-hall quality to it, but the crabs are always perfect. Check with the restaurant for season specials.
This longtime Fort Lauderdale establishment has been serving stone crab specials for more than 30 years. Catfish Deweys has an all-you-can-eat claw special for about $75 to $95, based on size and availability. The meal also includes coleslaw or salad and unlimited side dishes like baked potato, sweet potato, collard greens, and grits.
Truluck's keeps its own crab fishing fleet of 16 boats outside of Naples, Florida, where it hauls in enough crab to provide the chain with seriously fresh claws during season: "From our traps to your table in less than 24 hours." You can chow down the large claws for less than $15, but every Monday night at Truluck's is a crab massacre with their all-you-can-eat special. Each spot has a different version of the meal, but in Fort Lauderdale, it's usually around $79 per person for large claws, soup, salad, and unlimited sides. Check the Boca Raton location for more details.
While Old Florida has pretty much up and left the area, this Hollywood spot offers vintage dining charm. Get all-you-can-eat meal every night, seven days a week -- provided they haven't run out, that is. Prices range and can go upward of $120 (for superjumbo-sized claws). The meals include bread, butter, mustard sauce, and plenty of lemons. Side dishes like hashbrowns, asparagus, and sweet potato fries will run you extra, though.
Nicole Danna is a food blogger covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.
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