Joe's Stone Crab - An Icon of South Beach

There are some restaurants that are so entwined into the fabric of a city, that they become attractions in their own right. In New York there is Nathan's and Carnegie Deli. Atlanta has The Varsity, and Los Angeles, Pink's. One of the touristy things I do when traveling is seek out these legendary restaurants, and on a recent trip to Miami we paid a visit to an icon of South Beach...Joe's Stone Crab.

We arrived at Joe's Stone Crab early...like, before they opened early. I'd been warned by fans of the restaurant that they did not take reservations, and their wait time on the weekends can be just as legendary as the place itself. So we decided to avoid the crowds and get there right at open, even if some places were still serving their Early Bird Special. After a short wait in the restaurant's adjoining bar, the Maitre D' opened the doors with a bit of panache, and I half expected him to bow in appreciation for the crowd.
The Old-School Sign Out Front...Credit: Bloomberg

If you're in to places that kick it old school - did I use that phrase properly? - then Joe's Stone Crab will be right up your alley. Our appointed server escorted us past a receiving line of his colleagues, all of which were in black tie, and to our white linen covered table. Contrary to that first impression, however, the dining room has a very casual feel, and definitely fits its South Beach location. As I looked around the room, it was easy to imagine J. Edgar Hoover at a corner table while fellow regular, Joe Kennedy, discussed the family business a few seats away.

Although there are plenty of other options on the menu, we were of course there for the stone crab. This was good, because the server gave us about 22 seconds to look over the menu before asking if we were ready to order. The stone crabs come in four different sizes - Medium, Select, Large, and Jumbo - and are naturally priced as Market on the menu. We decided to start with an order of Conch Fritters, and followed that up with two sets of "Select" claws.
Photos of Joe's Stone Crab, Miami Beach
The Menu - Credit: TripAdvisor

The fritters arrived just a few minutes after we placed our order, and before I had even finished my first one, our plate of crab arrived as well. The conch fritters were a great start, but once the crab hit the table they were like last year's present on Christmas day. As I picked up my first of seven claws, there was no denying I was in for something special.

With the first bite of crab and creamy mustard sauce, my salivary glands nearly burst in excitement. The crab was sweet and savory, but it was the sauce which made all the difference. As I finished my first claw, I knew we would struggle to eat the entire portion, but with a little bit of perseverance, we polished the plate clean.
Joe's Stone Crab Miami
Us with Our Plate-O-Crab

Since we were in South Florida, it seemed appropriate to order a slice of Key Lime Pie for dessert.  A few minutes later, our server emerged with our pie in one hand, and the bill in the other. In case you haven't picked up on it already, the entire experience at Joe's is rushed from start to finish. This isn't fine dining...it's turn and burn at its finest. Be warned, one could easily drop $200 on a meal that lasts less than an hour. Thankfully, I was prepared for this type of service, and just accepted it as part of the experience at Joe's. I'm sure there are many, however, that don't see it the same way.

In the end, I was glad to have scratched Joe's Stone Crab off my bucket list of legendary eateries. The recipe for a good experience is to get there early, expect to be rushed, and close your eyes when you get the bill.

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 

Deej

 Joe's Stone Crab on Urbanspoon

15 comments :

  1. I've heard about this place. Think I even read a snippet about it on GQ Trippin.
    You definitely set a good scene here, Deej.
    How's you like the conch fritters? I had conch for the first time in the Bahamas. I had the fritters as well. I wasn't brave enough to try the non-fried conch.
    Seven claws man? Ha ha, and judging from the picture, those weren't some small blue crab claws either. I've never had crab with anything except melted butter. How'd they go with the creamy mustard sauce?
    Congrats on checking off another item mate!

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  2. Conch Fritters are one of my favorite foods ever...Paired with an ice cold beer, there's not much better. Well, yeah there is...stone crab:) The mustard sauce is the key. You can actually get it in the seafood section of a lot of groceries here, but I'm thinking probably not in Japan:) Glad you gave the conch a try...I too have not ventured out to the non-fried variety...

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  3. Sounds delicious but that is crazy expensive for such a short meal! 

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  4. Seriously, do you eat anywhere other than the world's best places? Everything you eat looks so good. Don't you ever go to a McDonalds or something? I'm insanely jealous if you can't tell, but I'm appreciative for all the great ideas you keep putting in my head.

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  5. Well thankfully our bill didn't quite reach that number, but it would be very easy to do so!

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  6. Only on vacation Steve...Trust me, I'm on a first name basis with the guy that runs the drive thru at my local Wendy's...

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  7. Wow that looks crazy good!  Believe it or not it's very difficult to find fresh seafood in Aspen or any seafood for that matter.  :-P  The last I had was sushi, and I easily spent $120 bucks and that was with just one glass of wine!  Now quit making such delicious articles!! haha

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  8. Sounds like a great meal!  I love crab but never would have considered mustard sauce - now I'm dying to have it that way.  And key lime pie is probably one of my favourite desserts - I'd take it over chocolate anyday.  Thanks for the report - now I know where I want to eat if I make it to Miami.

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  9. Oh yum! Stone crab + South Beach = perfect combo

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  10. I'm sure there's other great reasons to visit Miami, but I do love a good crab...hmmm

    They look huge!

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  11. Hard to believe that in a city with so many big shots, that seafood would be a hard find. Guess it's kinda hard to ship fresh crab into the Rockies...

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  12. The mustard sauce is the key...Good to find another key lime pie lover:)

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  13. You're right Andi...hard to beat that combination...

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  14. Yeah there are plenty of reasons to visit Miami, but this one is near the top of my list!

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  15. I experienced "old school" Joe's when I was just over 2 years old and as you are aware, I am now 50-something...stone crabs and conch fritters are still among my list of favs....llj

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