Our time in Baltimore was coming to an end, and we were saddened because we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The media gives an impression of an impoverished ghetto, which could not be further from the truth. It’s a city rich with history; a reminder to early industrialization, but still taking the steps necessary to find ways to keep relevancy. The harbor front is home to dozens of crab shacks, one of the world’s largest aquariums, and lots of ships – both work, and tour-boats.
The locals we met were also incredibly kind. The folks at the Babe Ruth House were happy to share touristy tips with us. A few people gave us some good-natured chiding about our New England Patriots stroller, before asking us where we were from and what we were up to. We even stopped into a busy Walmart during a pre-Easter rush, and despite cashier lines of up to an hour, the people were patient and friendly, chatting us up about our newborn son, and offering activity ideas for the three of us.
Craving crabs, we had been tipped off to LP Steamers; a family owned crab-shack in Locust Point (LP), Baltimore. As we parked nearly a half-mile from the restaurant, we were impressed with the rows of houses on our walk. This was a neighborhood that took pride in its appearance; with every house being clean swept, and not a single piece of litter could be found. What they lacked in size, they made up for in show.
This was common in a lot of Baltimore neighborhoods. I applaud the effort; it’s these little touches like simply picking up your trash that makes me like your city just a little bit more.
We arrived at LP Steamers in the nick of time, getting the last available table. A good thing too – because we were told during rush hour, things could get dicey really fast. Sure enough, within 20 minutes of our arrival, the wait time was up to 45 minutes, and getting longer. Whew!
Everything in this place just screams “ocean” – with fresh seafood coming in right off the ships that morning. Some places offer a raw bar to their patrons, but in the case of LP Steamers, they literally have a Raw Bar.
That’s a beautiful sight. Nearly every kind of seafood one could possibly be craving, sorted and colorfully arranged over a bed of ice. It ain’t getting much fresher than this.
I was intrigued by the soft-shell sandwich. I’d never had one, and the idea of eating a crab, with every bit of shell and organ in tact was just weird enough to pique my curiosity. If I’m gonna try something new, I may as well go to the specialists.
It was literally as advertised. A small crab is battered, fried, and served up on a hamburger roll with the fixins. I took a bite. It was heavenly. It had an incredibly strong ocean flavor to it, but not in a bad way. The sweet crab blended with the salty water, and the shell added a thin crunchy layer. Combined with the slight heat of the seafood sauce, and you had a damn good sandwich on your hands.
My wife, meanwhile, was working over their fries as she awaited her main course.
The fries are liberally coated with old bay seasoning, which you may recall were a huge hit with us at Citizen’s Bank Park last summer. With neither one of us being big mayo fans, we didn’t venture into the side sauce, sticking to the fries served naked as the day they were born.
Finally, a couple of mallets, bibs, and the main course turned up.
LP Steamers offers up local Chesapeake blue crabs at reasonable market prices. They were sold out of the extra large crabs the day we were there, so we went with the large ones instead, which cost about $6 apiece. They’re coated in old bay, and steamed until cooked through – exactly the same way it’s been done for over a hundred years.
My wife began her deconstruction…
Horrified by her barbaric efforts, a staffer hurried over and asked if she wanted a proper display. He declined the use of the mallet, and put on a show not unlike this one; but turned up about 10 times faster.
Emily then politely asked him if he’d do her other crabs too, which he laughed about but obliged.
Before we paid, I noticed they had a wall of foreign currency, and I asked what the deal was. Our waitress said it’s just something they like to collect, whenever foreign guests are there. I happened to have a 20 peso bill leftover from my time in the Philippines, and gave it to her to tack onto the board.
I don’t know if LP Steamers is the best crab house in the area; I haven’t been to any others, so I’m in no position to judge. What I can tell you is that the food is absolutely incredible. It could only be fresher if you hauled it out of the water yourself, with it laid out proudly in front of the eyes of the customers to see for themselves. The seasoning is minimal, letting the crustaceans speak for themselves. The staff is incredibly helpful and friendly, and our waitress was fantastic. While it wasn’t a cheap meal, it’s incredibly reasonable for seafood; costing us roughly $60 for the meal.
For a real taste of Baltimore, we’re happy to give this place a couple of claws up.