Crab cakes are an almost universally beloved food. Decadent and delicious, it is no surprise that they are highly sought after. There is nowhere better to find great crab cakes than a city renowned for its harbor and maritime history, which means of course that there is nowhere better suited to be the home of some of the best crab cakes in the nation than Baltimore.
In fact, the city’s reputation for stellar crab cakes is unrivaled on the national stage. Personalities as famous as Oprah proudly claim to have eaten the best crab cakes of their lives in Baltimore’s restaurants.
Finding the “best” crab cakes, however, isn’t quite as straight-forward as it might sound. From high-end restaurants to casual dining spots to proper dives, every restaurant has its own take on this classic. While visitors are welcome to take the word of their favorite celebrity or trust friends who are local when choosing where to order, truly adventurous souls will eat their way through a variety of different contenders and choose for themselves.
High End Restaurants
There’s nothing like an upscale setting and superb service to elevate a dining experience, and many of Baltimore’s top-rated crab cakes can be found in the city’s finest establishments. Here are a few popular favorites visitors might consider.
- Thames Street Oyster House – A Fells Point staple, the Thames not only has great crab cakes but a stunning raw oyster bar, a gorgeous harbor view and authentic dishes made from local, sustainable seafood. A full bar ensures visitors will find the perfect wine, beer or cocktail to pair with their meals. If you’re looking to dine at this popular spot, it’s best to plan ahead as reservations are strongly recommended.
- Charleston – One of Baltimore’s hottest top-tier restaurants, the Charleston is as upscale as it comes. The head chefs are winners of numerous national awards and acclaimed for their fusion of classical French cuisine and Low Country-style cooking. While you’ll want a reservation and plenty of room on your credit card, the restaurant’s take on crab cakes (and everything else) is guaranteed to please.
- The Rusty Scupper – Situated directly on the water, this restaurant is thoughtfully set up so that every table has a lovely harbor view. While its crab cakes are amazing no matter when you eat them, treat yourself to their Sunday brunch, famous for its live jazz performers, for an extra treat.
Other high-end restaurants serving up crab cakes that get rave reviews include:
- The Capital Grille.
- The Prime Rib.
- Restaurante Tio Pepe.
- Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.
- The Oceanaire Seafood Room.
- Ouzo Bay.
- Sullivan’s Steakhouse.
- Roy’s Restaurant.
While getting dressed to the nines and going out in style can be fun, sometimes you just want a classy-but-casual place to hit up with friends. In Baltimore, you can have that and top-notch crab cakes, too. Here are a few local-recommended places to start:
- Koco’s Pub – Koco’s is an all-American pub, perfect for a laid-back dinner with friends or for getting off your feet and enjoying some great grub after an exciting day of seeing the sights. With a full menu of burgers, wings and steaks to pair with your crab cakes, Koco’s has every craving covered.
The Pub is famous for its 11 ounce monster crab cake and comes with an added bonus. If you fall in love with their crab, they’ll ship cakes to you anywhere in the continental U.S. so you can keep enjoying them even when your vacation is over.
- Jimmy’s Famous Seafood – This mid-range restaurant has something for everyone. Pop in for a great meal with friends, schedule an event in their spacious party venue or order the crab cakes you fell in love with and have them shipped straight to your home!
Jimmy’s crab cakes run between five and eight ounces apiece and are gluten-free for those worried about enjoying Baltimore’s best while juggling food allergies. A full menu, including sushi, and a well-stocked bar round out the appeal of this great eatery.
- Pappas Seafood Co. Signature Crab Cakes – Home of Oprah’s favorite crab cakes, Pappas bills itself as a seafood market, restaurant and sports bar. With three different restaurant locations to choose from, take-out and catering available and the option to order online and have their famous crab cakes shipped directly to your house, Pappas is too good to miss.
Other casual dining favorites known for great crab cakes include:
- Miss Shirley’s Café.
- Phillips Seafood.
- Dalesio’s Restaurant.
- One-Eyed Mike’s.
- B&O American Brasserie.
- The Food Market.
- Peter’s Pour House.
- Captain James Crabhouse & Restaurant.
Hidden Gems and Unexpected Spots
Anyone who loves food knows that, in every city, some of the tastiest morsels and most satisfying dishes are tucked away in the unlikeliest of places. Every day, chefs hidden away in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, food trucks, market stands and other unpretentious food establishments dish up divine feasts to anyone in the know or lucky enough to stumble across them.
Baltimore has its own collection of hidden gem dining spots. Here are few not to miss:
- Faidley Seafood – One of the many vendors in Baltimore’s famous Lexington Market, Faidley’s serves up fish, crab, shrimp, oysters, clams and more every day of the week (except for Sundays) between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. They might dish up their masterpieces onto paper plates to be eaten at one of the market’s high-top tables or wrap them up to be taken on the go, but don’t let the casualness fool you. Faidley’s crab cakes have been recommended by almost every major magazine to cover the city’s food scene including Style, Gourmet and Southern Living.
- Nick’s Fish House – Drinks on the deck, nightly specials, free live music and Ravens game-night specials make Nick’s a fun and colorful place to find great crab cakes and the best drinks, sides and creative fusion dishes any night of the week. Check out their Happy Hour specials and one-of-a-kind menu items like the crab pretzel while you’re there.
Other hidden gems in Baltimore’s crab cake scene include:
- Mama’s on the Half Shell.
- P. Steamers.
- Annabel Lee Tavern.