It is the height of crab season in Baltimore, which means it’s the very best time to try the city’s most famous culinary creation, the crab cake. But since just about every place in town serves them, we’ve rounded up the six best places to try the city’s trademark dish.
1. Faidley Seafood: This Lexington Market institution is so famous it made an episode of The Wire, when Jimmy McNulty bribes two patrol cops to stand watch in an alley with a dozen of what many say are the best crab cakes in town. The jumbo lump cake is an eye-popping $12.95 and there aren’t any chairs, but neither fact seems to stem the flow of faithfuls standing at the counters gobbling down softball-sized chunks of Chesapeake goodness. (203 N. Paca St, faidleyscrabcakes.com)
2. Perring Place: (closed) Despite a complete lack of vibe, this spot that’s “busier at 5p.m. than at 8p.m.” won the most recent Best Crab Cake award from the Baltimore City Paper. A little spicier than what you’ll find elsewhere, these cakes are for those who don’t just want lump crab but also a little pizzaz. (2305 Cleanleigh Dr, 410. 661.0630)
3. Pappas Seafood Co.: The old-school mentality at Pappas—they’ve been doing this the same way since 1972—means you can get a martini for $4. But what about the crab cakes? Baltimore Sun restaurant critic Elizabeth Large reports that “they’re full of beautiful lumps” and that if you’re all caked out, the crab imperial is also killer. (1725 Taylor Ave, pappascrabcakes.com)
4. Thairish: So fresh you can only get them in high season—perhaps into early September—these monster lump masterpieces are a steal at $8.95. Oh, and they’re Thai spiced and served over a bed of fried rice to keep things interesting. (804 N. Charles St, 410.752.5857)
5. Pierpoint: Chef Nancy Longo celebrates the 23rd anniversary of her “Modern Maryland” restaurant this year. Like Thairish, this Fells Point spot does cakes a bit differently. The cleverly named “Balto Box” appetizer comes with a smoked crab cake along with other local faves like fried oysters and a coddie. (1822 Aliceanna St, pierpointrestaurant.com)
6. Gertrude’s: Perhaps the classiest of the bunch, Gertrude’s at the Baltimore Museum of Art is the only place of these six where you can gaze at a sculpture garden while devouring your cakes. When Chef John Sheilds isn’t working or filming his show Coastal Cooking, he tells Baltimore Magazine that you can find him eating at Perring Place, a ringing endorsement if there ever was one. (10 Art Museum Dr, johnshields.com)
For more things to do in Baltimore, read 11 Budget-Friendly Reasons to Plan a Baltimore Getaway and 10 Fun Things to Do in Baltimore With Kids.