By Mike Unger
Picking - and then devouring - freshly steamed blue crabs is a Baltimore tradition. The city is world famous for its crab houses and the bounty of blue crabs offered up by the Chesapeake Bay (and, shhh, waters off the coasts of North Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas). Baltimore boasts a bushel of great crab houses, from the fancy to the frills-free, so roll up your sleeves, sprinkle on the the Old Bay and start crackin'.
**Denotes a Baltimore.About.com Guide favorite
2701 Boston St.
Located on the water, Bo Brooks offers a full seafood-heavy menu as well as steamed crabs year round.
3301 Boston St.
One of Baltimore's newest crab houses also is one of its best. Canton Dockside features fat, meaty steamed blue crabs year round, and also has a full menu filled with other seafood favorites. With a lively bar and expansive outdoor deck seating across the street from the water, Canton Dockside quickly has attracted a devoted following of Baltimore crab-heads.
2127 Boston St.
The captain's crab deck sits right on the water, making it a prime spot to pick crabs. (Pair your crabs with some steamed shrimp and a pitcher of beer, and you've got basically the perfect summer night)
4100 Northpoint Blvd.
A Baltimore.About.com favorite, Costas Inn always serves plump, meaty, tasty blue crabs in a classic old-school Baltimore environment. There's also a lively bar attached.
3410 Plum Tree Dr.
Since 1978 diners have feasted on crabs at this Howard County staple. A family-owned restaurant, the crabs served here generally come from Texas and Louisiana. There's also a full menu with meat selections, including Memphis-style barbecue.
458 Forest Beach Rd.
The best atmosphere in which to enjoy crabs bar none. The fact that it's almost impossible to find makes the crabs even more satisfying while you're sitting outside on the river enjoying the some of the finest local blues available.
1100 E. Fort Ave.
This corner rowhouse in the rapidly changing Locust Point is a throwback to neighborhood's working class roots. Most everything on the menu, besides the spicy steamed crabs, is fried. The view from the rooftop deck is worth the climb.
200 Eastern Blvd.
Heavy is the adjective Mr. Bill's fans use to describe the crabs here. Come early (especially on summer weekends) to get a seat in the dining room.
2600 Insulator Dr.
Located on Middle Branch adjacent to the Hanover Street Bridge, Nick's is one of the most beautiful waterfront spots in the city. On weekends the vibe can be a downright party.
1727 E. Pratt St.
A Baltimore institution since the mid 1940s, Obrycki's draws out-of-towners and locals alike. Be warned, they use their own blend of garlic-based seasoning on the crabs - not Old Bay - but they're delicious just the same.