Best Crab Cakes in the U.S.

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo: Photo © Courtesy of Empellón

Whether odes to Old Bay or creative takes on convention, these crab cakes all have one thing in common: They show off everyone's favorite seafood beautifully. — Veronica Meewes

01 of 19

Rappahannock, Richmond, Virginia

Best Crab Cakes in the US

Rappahannock's namesake seafood may be the oyster, but the restaurant still does right by crabs: Chef Dylan Fultineer's all-crab cake — a variation on the first crab-cake recipe from the team's first restaurant, Merroir — is spiked with celeriac to stand out. (You can also grab it at Merroir and DC's Rappahannock Oyster Bar.)

02 of 19

Little Bird, Portland, OR

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Carly Diaz

This French bistro serves its large Dungeness crab cake on a roll with avocado, cilantro, mint, pickled scallions, carrots and vadouvan aioli, a nod to the Indian masala spice blend adapted in France. It's served with curry fries.

03 of 19

The Statehouse, Madison, Wisconsin

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Bill Fritsch

Opened in 2014, this hotspot features a signature crab-cake soufflé: jumbo crabmeat in a soufflé base that's seared and then baked to puff up. It's served with a tomato, cucumber and mint salad and Champagne beurre blanc.

04 of 19

Bobby Flay Steak, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa

Bobby Flay's restaurant serves up a lobster-crab cake with a green-onion vinaigrette and — because it wouldn't be Flay without a little heat — lemon-habanero tartar sauce.

05 of 19

The Forge, Miami

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Maxwell Blandford

This luxe kitchen, run by executive chef Christopher Lee, uses a mix of fresh — not pasteurized — Jonah crabmeat for sweetness and Alaskan king crab for meaty, briny bite. The cake is served with Meyer lemon, smoked onion, almonds and harissa pepper coulis.

06 of 19

Post 390, Boston

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Courtesy of Post 390

Chef Eric Brennan's crab cake features a mix of sweet Jonah and savory jumbo lump meats, plus a splash of Amontillado sherry, in a panko crust. On the side: creamy jicama-apple slaw (with house maple-rosemary black pepper bacon) and a drizzle of reduced hard cider.

07 of 19

Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Hotel Bel-Air

Chef Lee Hefter, an East Coast native, has been buying the Maryland jumbo lump crab in his crab cakes from the same farm for 20 years. It gets mixed with butter, shallots, celery and Old Bay and is served with basil-pesto aioli and California tomatoes.

08 of 19

The Meatball Shop, New York

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Michael McCarthy

Co-founder Daniel Holzman wanted a recipe that incorporated the two flavors that Maryland blue crab makes him think of: Old Bay and salt-and-vinegar chips. The Maryland mini crab-cake meatballs feature both Old Bay and salty potato chips, plus lemon and fresh breadcrumbs.

09 of 19

The Optimist, Atlanta

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Emily Schultz

Executive chef Adam Evans mixes Alabama lump jumbo crab with egg, horseradish mayo, pickled mustard seed, ground (housemade!) saltines, Dijon mustard and dill. They're seared in clarified butter before being served with seasonal pickles, peppery greens and — a Southern staples — comeback sauce.

10 of 19

Coppa, Boston

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Coppa

There are no breadcrumbs in the crab cakes that star in chef Jamie Bissonnette's crab cake grilled cheese: just freshly picked crab meat, housemade mayo, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, harissa and egg yolks. It slides between two slices of sourdough bread filled with American cheese and housemade sour pickles. The sandwich is then pan-fried until golden and melty.

11 of 19

Jimmy's Famous Seafood, Baltimore

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Chris "The Czar" Keegan

This family recipe, which has drawn customers from all over the world, starts with high-quality crab meat (which chef/owner Tony Minadakis sources as locally as possible) and includes finely chopped white bread (no crust), eggs, mayo, wet and dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Jimmy's own seasoning.

12 of 19

Faidley's, Baltimore

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Nat Hansen

Damye Hahn runs this family restaurant (her great-grandfather opened it in 1886) with her mom, Nancy Faidley. Nancy started making Faidley's now-famous crab cakes and, at 79, she's still making them today. The recipe is as consistent (and as secret) as it was back then, and it starts with jumbo lump crabmeat. The cakes are served naked, with just lettuce, tomato, balsamic and crackers. Don't ask for sauce, though — Damye's dad won't mind turning you down.

13 of 19

Fishing with Dynamite, Manhattan Beach, California

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Rick Poon

Chef David LeFevre makes his Maryland blue crab cakes to recreate his memories of summers on the eastern shore of Virginia, where he'd go fish for crabs with his grandfather (using pig ears for bait!). In addition to some classic flavor notes like Old Bay and Worcestershire sauce, his rendition features chives, apple, celery and parsley. The crab cakes are served with cabbage slaw, house-made pickles and lemon remoulade.

14 of 19

The Hungry Cat, Los Angeles

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © David Lentz

Chef/owner David Lentz grew up outside of Baltimore, and he has a 90-year-old crab cake recipe to prove it. Passed down from his mother, it's a simple mix of Dungeness and blue lump crabmeat, egg, aioli, crushed saltines, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. At Hungry Cat, it appears as a sandwich at lunchtime and in the crab Benedict during brunch: crab cakes, black kale, house-made bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise.

15 of 19

Charleston Grill, Charleston, South Carolina

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Courtesy of Belmond

At the Charleston Grill, inside the Belmond Charleston Place hotel, the crab cakes are a local and guest favorite. Executive chef Michelle Weaver uses jumbo blue lump crabmeat and not much else. As she likes to joke, "There is so much crab in these cakes, the only thing holding them together is love and hope."

16 of 19

Stono Market and Tomato Shed Café, Charleston, South Carolina

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Courtesy of Stono Market & Tomato Shed Café

This café began as a simple lunch stand for nearby packing plant employees. Twenty years later, head chef Kenny Veasel is still making crab cakes according to the recipe of the founder, Miss Babs. Made with crabmeat—in the summer, the kitchen goes through 80 pounds per week—cracker crumbs, bell pepper and secret seasonings, the cakes are deep-fried and served with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce.

17 of 19

Etta's, Seattle

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Eva Mrak-Blumberg

When Tom Douglas moved to Seattle in 1977, he was shocked not to find crab cakes in a city where Dungeness crabs were waiting to be plucked out of the water. His answer was an East Coast-inspired cake with big chunks of claw and leg Dungeness meat with plain white breadcrumbs (now replaced by panko). It's still the top seller at Etta's, where they go through almost 40,000 a year.

18 of 19

Pearl Oyster Bar, New York

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Chris Chen

Chef/owner Rebecca Charles's simple crab cakes — bound with eggs, breadcrumbs, mustard, hot sauce and lemon juice and fried in clarified butter — were so popular that, when the quality of available crab dropped and she took them off the menu, customers asked for them for months. The good news? They're coming back.

19 of 19

Empellón Taqueria, New York

Best Crab Cakes in the US
Photo © Courtesy of Empellón

A play on chilpachole, a spicy seafood soup popular in Veracruz, Mexico, Alex Stupak's crab cake tacos are a flavorful blend of Peekytoe crabmeat, pickled chipotle, pickled white onion, epazote, mayo and raw garlic. They're topped with frothed chilpachole.

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