Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Urban Eats @ Joe's Stone Crab, Miami Beach FL

Joe's Stone Crab in South Beach, Miami is the second highest grossing restaurant in the continental United States of America. The spot used to be held by Tavern on the Green in New York City before they closed down. Joe's Stone Crab now holds the number two spot, behind Tao in Las Vegas for independently-owned restaurants.

So how much does Joe's Stone Crab gross a year? Try to the tune of $26 million dollars from the 550+ seats they turn over several times a night, with a line-up that is out the door and three hours long in high season. The take-away counter is equally as busy with a weaving line-up that will remind you of waiting to get on a roller coaster.

The restaurant is a Miami institution and has been around since 1913, when it was just a simple counter on the beach. Joe experimented with the stone crab and started serving it up to tourists the same way he does now. The stone crab is native to Florida and the claws are removed from the body of the crab and then thrown back into the water, where it can regenerate a new set of claws. Sort of creepy when you don't know what claw this crab is on.  Am I eating number eight over here? It's fascinating and totally weird. Sometimes just one claw is removed, depending if the size meets the minimum for harvesting. The stone crab claws are then boiled and served chilled with a honey mustard dipping sauce at Joe's. My order of the classic dinner ($47) included three of the big claws, creamy coleslaw, hashed brown potatoes, creamed spinach and a slice of Key Lime pie.

The Florida Style Clam Bake ($27) is a mid-size saucepan filled with shrimp, clams, mussels, potatoes, corn, sausage and lobster claws in a light coconut clam broth. Soak it all up with the buttery cornbread they serve up with every meal. Do not miss the sweet and savoury cornbread-biscuit that we think was drizzled with a bit of honey, but tasted like melted butter going down. The whole thing is a satisfying seafood-lovers delight. I like foods that require bibs.
The Bread Basket
The ambiance is a throwback to a classy old seafood/steak house where the waiters wear tuxedos and the tablecloths are all white. In the summer season, things are more laid-back with blue and white checked tablecloths and a cooler, more casual attire for the servers. Stone crab season ends on May 15th, when the traps have to legally be pulled from the water. The ones we had were flash frozen on the boat when caught and stored away and served for up to two months post-season. We didn't really notice a taste difference, not being stone crab experts and all - but it was something we definitely wanted to try when visiting Miami. The season starts up again October 15th. If you're a seafood lover like me, I highly recommend a visit to Joe's and trying the stone crabs at least once. Have you tried stone crabs before?  Do you like them?

Joe's Stone Crab, Miami FL -

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