Restaurant Reviews

Takeout Test: Who Serves the Best Stone Crabs To-Go?

Joe's to-go
Joe's to-go Photo by Jen Karetnick
Stone crab season, which began October 15 and ends May 1, 2022, always brings a level of annual excitement to Miamians.

But restaurants, fish markets, food trucks, and pop-up vendors that offer stone crabs have learned that now more than ever, diners are willing to tackle these thick-shelled crustaceans at home. New Times tried various Miami establishments offering stone crabs for delivery and takeout with various results. From the iconic Joe's to a truck specializing in seafood, here are the results, in alphabetical order. (Note: All sizes and prices are subject to change. Prices have already risen since the opening of the 2021 season.)

Parked in a small lot on the west side of Biscayne Boulevard at 113th Street, the Blue Runner Seafood Truck (11338 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 786-499-0334; @bluerunnerseafood) is a family-owned business whose stone crabs are consistently tender and sweet, never watery and chewy — the latter being a telltale sign of previously frozen product. As at fish markets, the claws are kept on ice, although here it’s in a chest where they’re separated according to size. Then they’re scooped out into a no-frills plastic bag, with the requisite homemade mustard sauce added in a plastic container on the side. Sold by the pound: jumbo ($46.75), large ($35.75), medium ($23.75). Available for takeout only.
You won't find stone crabs on the menu at Captain Jim's, but you will find them in the case. - PHOTO BY JEN KARETNICK
You won't find stone crabs on the menu at Captain Jim's, but you will find them in the case.
Photo by Jen Karetnick
A favorite takeaway crab encounter this season came courtesy of Captain Jim’s Seafood Market & Restaurant (12950 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami; 305-892-2812; captainjimsmiami.com), despite the fact that stone crabs can't be ordered online for delivery or pickup — as a seasonal item, they're categorized as a daily special. The claws came cracked and stuffed into an ill-fitting Styrofoam box with mustard sauce and a few lemon wedges. But they gave up their shells easily, yielding their sweet meat with no threat of finger injury, and the mustard sauce was tangier than the competition's. Sold by the pound: colossal ($61), jumbo ($59), large ($48), medium ($38). Available for takeout only.

Fresh Stone Crabs (305-989-1969; freshstonecrabs.com) drives around town in a branded van, but when you purchase a "Large Stone Crab Dinner for Two" ($162 plus $43.14 for UPS next day air) for out-of-state delivery, the order shows up as if it was unloaded from a fish truck the night before. A plastic bag of claws arrives with a melted gel pack rattling around in a large styrofoam container — if the claws show up at all. When we ordered, Fresh Stone Crabs needed a reminder to ship after the claws failed to make it to their destination on the first try. Despite the delay and flawed temperature-control method, the crustaceans were still fresh. But 48 hours of back-and-forth emails were enough to demonstrate that the company’s communications system needs the equivalent of an additional gel pack. Sold by the dinner (prices for two): colossal ($252), jumbo ($222), large (from $177), medium ($105). Available for delivery or nationwide shipping.

Roger Duarte started George Stone Crab (800-273-2722; georgestonecrab.com) in 2008. A recently revamped website offers a step-by-step purchasing experience, with one container of complimentary mustard sauce included and the option to add caviar to increase the already rich flavors of these fresh claws. National orders include a branded mallet, but you’ll need to have a tool on hand if you’re ordering for local delivery. Either way, refer back to the sleek website's blog for helpful lessons on cracking. Sold by the pound: colossal ($85), jumbo ($75), large ($55), medium ($33). Available for delivery or nationwide shipping.
Claws from Holy Crab - PHOTO BY JEN KARETNICK
Claws from Holy Crab
Photo by Jen Karetnick
Holy Crab Delivery (holycrabdelivery.com) is a pop-up that launched in 2020 and continues to enjoy success from inside MKT Kitchen (1831 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables) and Time Out Market (1601 Drexel Ave., Miami Beach). These claws are packaged beautifully with a few mustard sauces in boxes made from recycled materials and storage instructions attached. For local or national delivery, branded mallets are included. The claws were plump, tasty, and as fresh as those found at high-end restaurants. Sold by the dinner (prices for two): colossal ($249), jumbo ($219), large ($171), medium ($123). Available for delivery or nationwide shipping.
Picking up an order at Joe's Take Away - PHOTO BY JEN KARETNICK
Picking up an order at Joe's Take Away
Photo by Jen Karetnick
When you order Joe’s Take Away (11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-0365; joesstonecrab.com) online, the website tells you either how long it takes for your an order to be ready (in nonbusy times) or asks you to choose the 15-minute window in which you plan to pick up. Impressively organized and precise, the staff packages like a good grocery clerk: cold items with cold and hot choices with hot — all placed in branded plastic bags with handles. Your claws come cracked, served in a clear plastic to-go box with mustard sauce and clarified butter in covered plastic ramekins, along with lime. The stone crabs were excellent, as succulent as ever. Sold by the order: Jumbo ($120), large ($75), selects ($50). Available for takeout or nationwide shipping.
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Jen Karetnick is an award-winning dining critic, food-travel writer, and author of the books Ice Cube Tray Recipes, Mango, and The 500 Hidden Secrets of Miami.
Contact: Jen Karetnick