Despite not being a huge fan of consuming crustaceans (mild allergic reactions quickly come to mind), I simply could not refuse an opportunity to try a regional specialty from an institution. That was how I ended up at Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach last Monday. I've heard stories of their no reservation policy and the infamous wait for a table. However, as luck would have it, the restaurant was closed on the day I visited. ML and I quickly made a beeline to the adjacent takeaway counter. Honestly, I was only too glad to escape the ubiquitous 18% gratuity charges added to all the bills at Miami restaurants.
The takeaway was a happening place with the stone crab claws displayed proudly behind a glass barrier. I could watch the cooks smash open claw after claw as the orders came in. The claws were market price of course and they were actually priced by the size: medium (8 per order), select (7 per order), large, and jumbo. Interestingly enough, the price gap between medium and select grade was a hefty $10. After much discussion, ML and I decided to splurge for the select grade along with an order of fried calamari.
There were a few tables in the takeaway section but it was even more wonderful that Joe's opened up the patio over at the restaurant so customers can enjoy their meals al fresco. A picnic of stone crab quickly ensued. Lucky for us, the crabs are in season right now so every claw was meaty and fatty! A little dab of the housemade mustard mayo really enhanced the sweet taste of the meat though the drawn butter was a more traditional accompaniment. I really liked the two different types of dinner rolls that came with the meal as well. The bread was soft and eggy. ML and I both agreed that the stone crab claws were worth every penny.
The fried calamari were okay. The batter was laced with a mild curry flavour and the calamari were tender. However, I thought the batter was just a little too thick. Well, it was a bit of a let-down in comparison to the deliciousness of the stone crabs.
If the stone crab is all you're after, I personally don't think it's worthwhile to eat at the restaurant. The service at the takeaway was brisk and efficient. The food was packed nicely for an impromtu picnic. Why endure the wait?
Joe's Stone Crab Takeaway
11 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139