Crabs are a specialty of Maryland's Eastern Shore
First, you need to become clear on what encompasses Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Pull it up on Google to see that it includes a very large area in Maryland, comprised of nine counties situated to the east of Chesapeake Bay. Now pull up or out–depending on whether you’re online or looking at a hard copy–Discovery Map Eastern Shore and you’ll see a select portion of this region featured, the area where you’ll find a lot to do. It also happens to be where you’ll find an outstanding selection of restaurants and bars. And boy, does Discovery Map do a superlative job in showcasing the best of them. Sorry for the bragging, but it’s true!
Next you need to know that crabs are king in this part of Maryland, blue crab to be precise, also known as Atlantic blue crab or Chesapeake blue crab. As far back as the 1600s, people have feasted on blue crab in this part of the world. First known to Native Americans, their popularity grew over the centuries and today they are a big reason why people visit Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Best boiled or steamed with a sprinkling of Old Bay seasoning and lots of drawn butter; or you can delight in a crab cake, particularly if it’s one that’s all about this succulent salty-sweet meat. Many visitors relish soft-shell crabs, an often battered delicacy eaten whole. It’s an acquired taste (mostly for its texture) but for those so inclined, they’re usually big aficionados and delight when these young crabs are in season from April through mid–September.
Many agree that The Crab Claw Restaurant in St. Michaels is the best place to go for crab and other delights from the sea. Perfectly situated on St. Michaels Harbor, they’ve been serving up fresh seafood since 1965. They also boast a waterfront deck with spectacular views, so already you can understand why they often receive star billing. From crab soup to crab salad to crabmeat cocktail to white crab pizza to crab cakes to crab imperial–well, you get the idea–this is the place for crab and so much more.
Know, however, that there are many other fine establishments from which to choose, many that offer dining on the water, since there is so very much waterfront along the Eastern Shore. (Just take a look at your maps to see its craggy coast punctuated by inlets, creeks, rivers and the great Chesapeake Bay.)
The Lighthouse Oyster Bar & Grill, overlooking the Miles River also in St. Michaels, is another favorite and an especially fine choice for its oyster bar. Belly up to one of their three bars, savor some oysters fresh or fried and a frothy glass of beer and watch the watercraft cruise by.
In the center of historic St. Michaels, you can hit the 1812 Tavern, Blackthorn Irish Pub and Eastern Shore Brewing for some tasty brews and eats. Go to Gina’s Café for Mexican food and margaritas crafted with fresh-squeezed lime juice (always the sign of a good marg). For excellent eat-in or carry-out, including sweet and savory breakfast items, stop in at The Blue Crab.
East of St. Michaels in Easton, pick up some delicious Italian food at Piazza Italian Market to eat or prepare at home.
In the quaint little waterside town of Oxford, Maryland, you’ll want to plan a stop at The Scottish Highland Creamery. They serve the best homemade ice cream around and offer about six hundred flavors (although only sixteen at a time). From Double Belgian Chocolate to Torrone to Banoffe Pie and hundreds more, you bet there’s something for everyone.
Over on Tilghman Island, you can enjoy more waterfront dining at Wylder Hotel’s Tickler’s Crab Shack & Bar Mumbo, Characters Bridge Restaurant and Marker Five. Also within this watermen’s community, you’ll find Two If By Sea Restaurant, a terrific little chef-owned diner/café that stands out for its fresh baked goods available at breakfast, lunch and dinner–yum! For more sweet and savory goodies, sandwiches, beer, wine and more, go to Tilghman Island Country Store where you’ll find a ship’s pantry worth of provisions.
Go to Maryland Seafood to find out more about this state’s prized bounty, the history and tradition of this important industry so defined by the Chesapeake Bay, its vast array of waterways and the Atlantic Ocean. This website will also help you plan visits to its historic ports within and beyond the Eastern Shore.