The Best Soft Shell Crabs on the Outer Banks


soft shell crabWhether it is the mild, salty-sweet flavor; the crispy, plump texture; or simply the anticipation of the long-awaited season, there is no denying it…soft shell crab lovers are in Heaven right now, especially on The Outer Banks.

The Outer Banks is a well-spring of fresh seafood and the restaurants along the barrier islands serve up some of its local fishermen's finest catches. From late April to early September, fluctuating in availability as with all seafood, Blue Crabs are in their molting stage, and if caught before developing their new shells, they become a favored delicacy among crab lovers of all ages.

So, without further ado, I give you the Top 5 Soft Shell Crabs on the Outer Banks:

1. I Got Your Crabs

As if the name isn't enough indication, the casual, laid back seafood restaurant in Kitty Hawk IS the best place on the Outer Banks to find the freshest, tastiest soft shell crabs. Whether you are in the mood for a plate of the plump, right-out-of the pan peelers or you prefer a sandwich, or even a taco, IGYC has just what you're looking for. From the sea to your plate, the owner doubles as one of the area's most experienced crabbers, so freshness and quality is what you get at I Got Your Crabs.

The crispy, salty batter of their lightly-fried soft shells provides an impeccable contrast to the sweet, mild-flavored tender meat within. As soon as you break through the crunchy skin, the hot, juicy crab meat will satisfy any soft shell lover's search for perfection. Try their soft shell BLT, or as a taco: a popular choice topped with fresh mango salsa, tomatoes, cabbage slaw, and cheddar cheese, drizzled with their specialty house sauce. Mmm Mmm.

2. Bluepoint

A classic spot burrowed in the tiny town of Duck, Bluepoint has been a consistent mainstay for fresh seafood with a southern flair for 25 years, with their soft shell crab deemed as their prized selection. Ever since they opened in 1989, a local fisherman and his family have provided the restaurant with his own soft shells from nearby Colington Island. Served in a combination of ways, a common favorite is with spring onions, country ham and roasted peanuts. The soft shells, browned to a crisp perfection, are garnished with the southern peanut concoction, creating a warm explosion of fresh local taste.

3. Kill Devil Grill

An excellent find on The Outer Banks, the Kill Devil Grill's friendly, old-diner atmosphere provides the perfectly unexpected setting for an out-of-this-world soft shell crab. As their eclectic chalkboard menu suggests, Kill Devil Grill switches it up a little when it comes to seasonal fare and daily specials, but one preparation that is sure to please soft shell lovers, especially southern ones, is over a bed of cheesy coarse ground grits and succotash. The crabs are lightly battered and, in combination with the creamy grits and flavorful succotash, provide a uniquely pleasing medley of flavors you're not going to find anywhere else.

4. Saltbox Café

This quaint and cozy café is tucked away from Croatan Highway on a small residential island called Colington Harbour in Kill Devil Hills. The gourmet seaside fare is unique and sure to delight. For soft shell lovers with a worldly pallet, this place is for you. Displayed in two halves with their crispy battered legs sprawling upwards, these soft shells are drizzled with curry aioli and served with fresh chilled melon; a delicate approach that lends to an experience worth savoring every last bite.

5. Black Pelican

Located in Kitty Hawk, the historic Black Pelican offers weekly specials, unbeatable entrees, and an exciting bar that brings visitors and locals back again and again, all year long. They're not only known for their atmosphere and wood-fired brick oven pizzas, but for their eclectic array of fresh seafood as well, including the seasonal soft shell crab. A lively place with an amazing view, the Black Pelican serves one unforgettable soft shell crab plate: two soft shells lightly fried and accompanied by fresh oysters, if you so choose. Follow it up with your selection from their dazzling dessert case and you might just think you are in Heaven.

So if you're planning an Outer Banks vacation and you happen to be a soft shell crab lover, make sure to check out one of these fantastic spots for the best on the beach!