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Stone crab claws

Three stone crab claws from Keys Fisheries in the Florida Keys.

What: These pretty, sweet-tasting crab claws are perhaps Florida’s most sustainable seafood, thanks to a strict harvesting season (roughly Oct. 15-May 15), laws prohibiting fishermen from taking the whole crab, and the crab’s ability to regenerate its claws fully within a year or two. But while Miami has the state’s most famous purveyor of stone crabs, the Keys are ground zero for their harvesting—which means they’re more plentiful and, even better, cheaper down here.

Where: Marathon Key’s Keys Fisheries Market & Marina (3502 Gulf View Ave., map) sources the prized claws to Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami, so you know the product is super fresh. While there’s no tuxedoed waiters here—it’s more like counter service and picnic tables—the prices are low, tables are usually available, and you get to crack claws on the water, a stone’s throw from the boats that haul them in. Bonus: In the parking lot, there’s a sweet second-story glass-fronted bar overlooking the water.

When: Daily, 11am-9pm (Stone crab claws are offered only in season.)

Order: Choose from medium, select, large, or jumbo claws ($25.95-$44.95 per pound; half-pound increments are available as well). We found a half-pound of the “selects” (three claws) to be a perfect appetizer size. The chilled claws are served pre-cracked with a mustard-based dipping sauce, though unusually, you can request the claws hot here (after 5pm, for $1)—in fact, this is one of the very few places around where, when available, you can eat stone crabs fresh from their initial boil, when it is said the meat is the sweetest. Crab cakes made from stone crab meat are on the menu, too. Keys Fisheries is rightfully proud of its seafood, so don’t miss its other local favorites.

Alternatively: Between October and May, you’ll see these claws at lots of seafood-centric restaurants and markets in the Keys, from Fish Tales Market & Eatery (11711 Oceanside Hwy/MM 53, map), also in Marathon, and Key Largo’s Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen (multiple locations including 99336 Overseas Hwy/MM 99.4, map) to Key West’s Half Shell Raw Bar (231 Margaret St., map). Prices tend to be a bit higher in Key West.


 

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