When you think of stone crabs, the first place that comes to mind is often Joe’s Stone Crab (@joesstonecrab) in Miami. This iconic restaurant started out as a lunch counter by Joe Weiss on Miami Beach back in 1913. After celebrating its centennial last year, I think it’s safe to say, the restaurant is quite the institution.
The restaurant is notorious for long waits since they don’t take reservations. To avoid the wait, Mike and I popped by on a weekday for lunch. We arrived right when they opened at 11:30am and walked right in. It wasn’t particularly busy throughout our entire meal so I guess dining at lunch on a weekday is the trick! I can only imagine this place being a madhouse during prime hours…the restaurant is enormous (I bet it can easily fit a few hundred people) yet people still wait hours to snag a table.
For those of you who can’t make it for a weekday lunch and don’t want to wait, you can hop over next door to their take-out version, Joe’s Take Away which opened in 1987.
The restaurant itself has a very old school feel to it. The area we were seated in reminded me of an old school steakhouse. It probably also had something to do with the fact that we were serviced by tuxedo-clad servers. Even so, the dress code is relatively casual.
While they’re famous for their stone crabs, they also have an extensive menu of non-crab items. Their menu is broken down into appetizers (including seafood favourites like shrimp cocktail and conch fritters), soups/salads (including clam chowder and seafood bisque), steak, other seafood entrees and a long list of sides. Their menu also indicates that most portions are large enough to share. So yes, the portions are generous.
Shortly after ordering, we were presented with a complimentary Bread Basket. I have to admit, I was incredibly impressed with their bread selection. For a restaurant that seems to solely specialize in seafood, I would’ve expected a basket of cold and stale dinner rolls. Definitely not the case here!
So, let’s talk about the stone crabs. They come in a few sizes: medium (7 claws for $29.95), select (6 claws for $42.95), large (5 claws for $59.95) and jumbo (when available for $89.95). The prices of the claws vary with the market, so you might find that the prices I’m quoting may not be accurate when you visit.
Anyway, I inquired about the different sizes and the server informed us that the difference is just a matter of size and that the meat isn’t necessarily sweeter or more tender in different sizes. Simply put, the larger ones have more meat and less shell.
After a bit of deliberation, we decided to go with the Select Stone Crabs ($42.95). You’ll notice that you are only served the claws of the crab. What makes these crabs special is that their claws actually regenerate. When the claws are harvested, they only remove one claw per crab to ensure that the crab is still able to defend itself against its predators.
The claws are simply boiled and come pre-cracked making it easy to get at the meat. The claws also come with a mustard sauce and melted butter for dipping. I found that the meat was so sweet and succulent that I just ate it plain without the sauce or butter. Delish!
If you’re a regular on my blog, you’ll know that I’m a girl who loves variety – I love to order and try a bit of everything. But when it comes to Joe’s Stone Crab, you stick to the crab. So, in addition to the plate of stone crab claws, we ordered Joe’s Stone Classic – ½ cole slaw, ½ order select stone crab claws (3), hashed browns, creamed spinach and ½ slice of key lime pie ($33.95).
While the stone crabs were amazing, we found the sides to be mediocre. The Cole Slaw, while generous in portion, was a little too vinegary for my liking.
The Creamed Spinach was decent but felt it was on the bland side.
The Hash Brown was probably the best of the sides. It was essentially one large hash brown which resembled a crab cake. Mike particularly enjoyed this side. I think he ate more than his fair share!
While the sides weren’t very memorable, the meal ended on a high note with the Key Lime Pie (1/2 slice). It was easily the best key lime pie I’ve ever had. It had just the right combination of tartness/sweetness and that crust was phenomenal. I’d come back just for the pie alone! Make sure you save room for this. It’s a must-order.
Sure, it’s a little touristy and the prices are on the high side but the stone crabs and key lime pie are well worth a trip!
At a glance:
• A Miami institution which started back in 1913 as a lunch counter on Miami Beach
• Notorious for long waits (no reservations); avoid the wait by coming for a weekday lunch or grabbing take out next door at Joe’s Take Away
• Must orders: stone crab claws (of course!) and the key lime pie
• Prices are quite high for the claws
• Extensive menu of non-crab dishes including steak and other seafood options
• Dinner is served everyday from 5pm; lunch from 11:30am to 2pm everyday except Monday
• Service was mediocre
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 3.5 stars (if solely based on the crab and key lime pie, then 5/5!)
• Service: 2 stars
• Atmosphere: 3 stars