If in mid-October you’re craving creamy mustard sauce instead of pumpkin spice lattes, you might be a rock crab lover. And your wait for the Florida delicacy is over.
You are not alone in your love for the fleshy claws. The Florida stone crab season, which began Oct. 15 and accounts for most of the claws harvested in the country, brings in an estimated $31 million a year for the state’s economy, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That’s a lot of mustard sauce.
The first clutches of the season, which runs through May 1, have begun to fill the display cases of the local fish market and the plates of restaurants in Palm Beach County. Local suppliers say now is the time to find the best claws of the season.
“There’s no better time for rock crabs than at the start of the season, when the water is still warm,” said Jessica Zabel, marketing manager at Cod and Capers, the bustling seafood market and cafe her family owns and operates in North Palm Beach.
Zabel says that stone crab claws are less plump and greasy in colder weather. “When it’s cold, the crabs draw their fat into their bodies to survive,” Zabel said.
Her market’s opening prices for claws are just slightly higher than last season’s closing prices, she said. “It wasn’t a huge jump,” she said.
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At Outclaws Seafood in nearby Lake Park, owner Jason Brown says some of the rock crab fishermen he works with found fewer crabs early this season compared to last year’s early catch.
“During the first three nights, compared to last year, we lost 1,100 pounds in claws,” said Brown, whose wholesale and retail seafood market sells stone crab claws to restaurants in South Florida.
He said he was still able to serve his retail and restaurant customers and expects an increase in supply soon.
“We have a cold front coming — after that we’ll see a lot of crabs,” Brown said.
Here’s a cheat sheet on where to find the season’s fresh stone crab claws in Palm Beach County. (Prices quoted are opening prices and will likely fluctuate throughout the season depending on market prices.)
Cod and capers Fish market and cafe
This bustling market and café welcomes stone crab season with Caribbean steel drum music. The island sounds play during the cafe’s biweekly Stone Crab Nights, when crabs are offered at the same prices as the seafood counter steps away.
The stone crab dinners, offered from 4-8pm on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, include claws, house-made coleslaw, and mustard sauce of your choice. Opening prices are $30 for a pound of medium claws, $45 for a pound of large claws. Jumbo and colossal claws are sold individually.
Cod and Capers Fish Market and Cafe – 1201 US Hwy 1, North Palm Beach, 561-622-0963, CodandCapers.com
Claw prices have risen “a little” this season at this Lake Park fish market, but not much, says Outclaws owner Brown.
In the retail market, opening prices for medium jaws were $29.99, while large jaws were $39.99 and jumbos were $59.99. As for the colossal size, for $69.99 you get two huge claws.
Outclaws also sells its fresh claws and fish every Saturday at the downtown West Palm Beach GreenMarket from 9am to 1pm
Outclaws (wholesale/retail seafood market) – 1335 Old Dixie Hwy, Lake Park, 561-517-8707, OutclawsSeafood.com
Captain Clay and Sons Fish Market
This family-owned fish market in Delray Beach sells a variety of freshly harvested claws all season.
Captain Clay and Sons Seafood Market – 308 NE Fourth St., Delray Beach, 561-266-2068, CaptainClaysSeafood.com
Also find stone crab claws at these fish markets
Independent Seafood – 5300 Georgia Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-586-2212, IndependentSeafoods.com
Carmine’s Gourmet Market – 2401 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, 561-775-0105, Carmines.com
Pinders Seafood – 1665 N. Old Dixie Hwy, Jupiter, 561-746-3670, PindersSeafood.com
Fresh Claw Restaurants
This seafood-focused restaurant offers stone crab claws of all sizes (when supplies last) at a market price. Stone crab claws are sold here by the claw.
Deeper into the season, PB Catch plans to announce its popular “buy one get one” stone crab specials during happy hour.
251 Sunrise Ave., Palm Beach, 561-655-5558, PBCatch.com
Captain Charlie’s Original Reef Grill
A mainstay for Juno Beach’s fresh seafood, Captain Charlie’s offers stone crab claws for lunch and dinner.
12846 US Hwy 1, Juno Beach, 561-624-9924, CaptainCharliesReefGrillFl.com
This Palm Beach bistro serves jumbo stone crab claws on ice with classic mustard sauce, lemon and Tabasco.
“The claws are harvested daily and sell out almost every night,” said an Almond representative.
207 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach, 561-355-5080, AlmondRestaurant.com
A seafood-focused member of the Big Time Restaurant Group family, City Oyster and Sushi Bar offers jumbo crab claws in a variety of presentations.
Order them each for $49 (opening price, may fluctuate).
213 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach, 561-272-0220, CityOysterDelray.com
Love Street Restaurants
Beacon and Lucky Shuck restaurants in the Charlie and Joe’s at Love Street complex on Jupiter Inlet offer stone crab claws with lime-mustard sauce.
1116 Love St., Jupiter, LoveSteetJupiter.com
This restaurant on Jupiter’s waterfront offers stone crab claws as appetizers, entrees, and shareable menu items, such as 1000 North’s seafood towers.
1000 NUS Hwy 1, Jupiter, 561-570-1000, 1000North.com