Joe’s Crab Shack

Written by on December 11, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Wilmington, Deleware

How I heard of this place: Driving back after our day trip to West Chester, Pennsylvania, Chris and I planned to meet up with our friend Samyar for a quick bite to eat. Samyar suggested stopping off in Wilmington, and thus, Chris began searching online for a nice spot. We first found the Iron Hill Brewery and intended to meet up there, but the 35-minute wait led us to the establishment next door, Joe’s Crab Shack. Thus, hearing of it for the first time.

Type of cuisine: “We’d love to tell you that it all started with a shark. A shark that our founders fought off with their bare hands, without dropping their crab or spilling their beer. But that is not completely true. Okay, actually not true at all. Here’s what really went down. In 1991, two guys spent the summer cruising down the Gulf Coast stopping at every seaside crab shack along the way. After a slong summer of cold beer and hot crab, in the heart of Houston, Texas, Joe’s Crab Shack was born. Joe’s is the kind of place that welcomes you in warmly and feeds you delicious seafood. But it doesn’t stop there. It’s here that good food, good times and good memories are created every day. We’re a little quirky, but we’re proud of it. So strap on a bib, order your favorite bucket of crab and don’t be afraid to dance.” A place where buckets of crab meet fried shrimp, where steamed muscles meet cheesey new potatoes, and stuffed snapper meets blackened salmon. All things seafood, with a ribeye, a burger and chicken tenders for those averse to eating things that come from out of the ocean.

Ambiance: “We stand for kicking back. Having a sense of humor. Getting your hands dirty. Good food and good friends. For being real and a little weird. That’s what we call service.” We walk up to a wooden, white shack, with red trim, Christmas lights and a beach-font sign in yellow and blue: Welcome to Joe’s Crab Shack. Climbing the handful of stairs onto the white, picketed wooden porch, empty benches seated atop the wooden floorboards greet us, as does the bright red door with metallic pipe handles. Red and white beach awnings keep the weather off of the red-framed windows and tree trunks help to hold up the porch roof. Indoors, horizontally placed wooden planks make up the walls, where ecclectic trinkets are hung on display. Everything from waterskis to a flipper, plastic crabs, lobster and a seahorse, rowing oars and framed postcards keep eyes darting from one vibrant objet d’artes to another. Old, red theater seats, set in a pair offer seating for those busy days where the foyer is full of hungry patrons awaiting their bucket o’ crab legs. Overhead, the ceiling light is decorated with a circle of plastic lobster over green ferns, resembling a bed of lettuce atop which can be found your dinner aplenty. Inside, the souvenir shop to our left attracts our attention, firstly, through the puffer-fish toys keps overhead in a cargo net, and next through the bold coloring of t-shirts available for purchase. Sayings range from “Keep calm and crack on” to “Bite Me.” and “got crabs?” for every patron’s amusement. Inside the huge room, the concrete floors give the impression that the establishment gets hosed down after each night’s dinner rush. The tall ceiling of the house/shack has an abundance of decor: oversized flip-flops, plastic seagulls, a child’s ridable plastic car, a huge shark, a life-sized walrus, a dirt bike, sea creatures (tortoise, schools of crab, and then some), not to mention a wooden boat seating two skeleton. Framed photographs hang askew on the walls, where almost no room remains for more. Large-tile tables in seafoam green remind my husband of the ship floors from his time in the U.S. Navy (giving the sense that he’s “eating off the floor“). Thick four-by-fours make up the table legs, surrounded by retro orange and red faux-leather chairs with mirrored-legs. Picnic tables with attached benches making up the seating for larger parties; these can also found through the bright blue doors leading out onto “Joe’s Big (heated) Deck”. Floor to ceiling windows lead the way out onto the deck, giving all patrons a view of the outdoors. In the middle of each table can be found a hole, filled by an aluminum bucket of paper towels and two bottles (one filled with salt and the other with pepper), doubling up as a garbage can for crab leg waste. Just when we thought the evening could not get any more cluttered, the waitstaff, joined by the children patrons in the restaurant, walked out into the middle of the floor and danced the electric slide.

What I ordered: Our non-seafood-eating dining companion selected the Chipotle Bacon Cheeseburger ($9.99), Chipotle BBQ sauce, mixed cheese and crispy applewood smoked bacon with fries and a side of Cheesy New Potatoes ($2.89). My husband selected the Bowl of Clam Chowder ($5.59) to start, a bottle of IBC Root Beer ($2.59) and the 12-ounce USDA juicy Ribeye ($19.99) for dinner, served (medium) with a side of cheesy new potatoes and seasonal vegetables (broccoli). Craving a salad, I ordered the Classic Cobb ($10.39), mixed greens topped with crisp applewood smoked bacon, avocado, diced eggs, crispy onion strings and bleu cheese crumbles (Blue Cheese dressing on the side) with chicken to share with my two dining companions. For dinner, I chose the Salmon Orleans ($16.29), a moist filet topped with a creamy Cajun sauce that’s loaded with crawfish, shrimp and andouille sausage, served with a generous helping of dirty rice. For dessert, we ordered the Sea Turtle Sundae ($7.59), a huge helping of gooey chocolate cake a la mode (Dreyer’s vanilla bean ice cream) topped with caramel and candied walnuts.

Joe's Crab Shack Dessert

What I loved: My favorite part of the entire meal was the dessert. I just wish I had saved more room for it! The appetizers: salad and clam chowder made for the best savory part of the meal. The salmon was tender and moist, and the ribeye fatty and juicy, the new potatoes creamy and tasty.

Why I loved it: Relatively inexpensive food, large portions and casual environment make for an easy, last minute meet-up meal with friends.

Cost: Average ($10-$20 per dinner entree)

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