Baltimore: Last Season to Visit the Famous Obrycki's Crab House

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[Photographs: Shell Tu]

Obrycki's Crab House has been since 1944, but this is the last season you'll be able to get your crab on (whether snow crab, Dungeness crab, or their famous hard-shell blue crabs) at the Baltimore institution. Over the years, the ownership has changed as did the location (in 1986 they moved across the street), but current owner Rob Cernak decided to close after the death of matriarch Rose Cernak last year. You have until November 5th to walk in and still hear the sound of mallets striking crab shells.

We recently visited Obrycki's for one last fix. Before we get to the steamed hard-shell crabs, we have to mention the broiled backfin crabcake ($19). It's not cheap, but sure is a serious crabcake. Large lumps of crabmeat peek out, and the mixture of seasoned bread crumbs and eggs is just enough to hold the lumps in shape without overpowering, letting the fresh crab flavor shine. You can also order them fried if you're into crispier 'cakes.

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Now, why you're really at Obrycki's: the steamed hard-shell blue crabs. They vary in size and price, but a half-dozen of jumbos should be enough for two. Ten minutes after ordering, our waitress returned with a tray of still-steaming hot crabs covered in some dirt-looking yet aromatic spices.

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Expect a lot of hammering, peeling, and sucking before finally uncovering that first bite of succulent, tender crab meat. But once you do, holy crab!

The hardest part? Smoothly picking out the meat from the small claws. Although they're a fuss to deal with and don't yield as much meat as the rest of the body, the claw meat is extra sweet.

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Crab meat is more filling than you'd think it'd be, especially when paired with Obrycki's homebrews on draft. By the time you finish, your hands (and the table) will be covered with the remnant juices and that pleasant fishy smell may take a few washes to come off.

Anyone else been to Obrycki's? Where will get your crab fill once it's gone?

Obrycki's Crab House & Seafood Restaurant

1727 E Pratt Street, Baltimore MD 21231 (map); 410-732-6399
obryckis.com

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