What: Found in the deep, cold waters of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Ocean, golden crabs—named for the creamy-beige color of their shells—are large, nonswimming crabs with a lot of sweet, delicate meat. Interestingly, the species was officially discovered only in the 1980s, and quickly touted as a new commercial alternative to king, Dungeness, and snow crabs, which have suffered from overfishing in the past. Of course, those are all northwest species, whereas golden crabs are caught just miles off the Florida coast. There’s no contest as to which crab to seek out down here: Local wins every time.
Where: Marathon Key’s no-frills Keys Fisheries Market & Marina (3502 Gulf View Ave., map) combines counter service and waterfront picnic tables with low prices and local seafood. It’s a simple and delicious formula for great eats right off the Overseas Highway. Bonus: In the parking lot, there’s a sweet second-story full-service glass-fronted bar overlooking the water.
When: Daily, 11am-9pm
Ed's Note: As of June 2015, we have learned that Keys Fisheries no longer regularly offers either of the following golden-crab dishes. If you go there, check in with them, in case they have some. Otherwise, we are stumped for a golden-crab source and would appreciate any leads!
Order: If you’re up for doing some work, get the whole garlic golden crab ($19.95, when available) and pick away. But we have to say the crab cake made with golden crab ($16.95) was really delicious, soft in texture, full of fresh meat, and served with a mustardy sauce. Also try the area’s other favorite crab while you’re here: stone crab (claw).
Alternatively: We didn’t see golden crab on any other menus in the Keys, which is surprising given its localness. Please share below if you find it elsewhere!