Stone crab season is upon us. These are the best ways to get your fix

Stone crab season is back Oct. 15

Your long wait is almost over, stone crab lovers.

Stone crabs are back in season Oct. 15. Fishermen are legally allowed to start pulling up their traps at midnight, so expect to see fresh stone crab claws on the menu as early as lunchtime Monday.

Stone crabs were more scarce last year after Hurricane Irma. The season started strong, but traps started to come up empty halfway through the season, which ends annually May 15. The overall haul was down for most of Florida and prices shot up by about 40 percent.

This year, there’s no telling how red tide and Hurricane Michael might affect stone crab season. But Joe’s Stone Crab owner Stephen Sawitz said South Florida’s haul should be safe because the Keys fishing areas remain largely unaffected.

So you want crab claws but don’t know where to go? We’re here for you.

Here’s where to find fresh stone crab claws in South Florida.

Restaurants

Stone crab trappers usually supply restaurants first because the demand from diners is so high. Some of your best options:

Joe’s Stone Crab

Obviously, Joe’s is the most famous. There’s a reason this place has been around for more than 100 years. It has its own crabbing fleets and will have fresh claws by the next day.

We even have a few hacks for you (see related story) to dine here on the cheap: How to order at Joe’s Stone Crab like you know what you’re doing

11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach

Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market

David Garcia has his own fleet of fishing boats and the claws are delivered dockside. Can’t get much fresher than that.

398 NW North River Dr., Miami; Garciasmiami.com/

Palat

The new, hidden restaurant in the Upper Buena Vista enclave is a romantic spot with contemporary Italian-inspired cuisine. But it knows what Miami likes: It expects to feature stone crabs on its menu this month.

4702 NE 2nd Ave, MiMo District

Prime Fish

The expansive raw bar and over-the-top brunch buffet are the star at this South Beach restaurant — but bring plenty of scratch for this sister restaurant to Prime steakhouse. The “colossal” size stone crabs will be fresh, exquisite — and most definitely will not cheap.

100 Collins Ave, Miami Beach

Bonefish Grill, and other larger chains, won’t have stone crab claws on the menu until the week of Oct. 22.

Fish markets

This might be your best, most economical bet.

Fish markets around town, such as Fresh Florida Fisheries, 2238 SW 57th Ave., will have stone crabs waiting on ice before most restaurants.

The benefit? You won’t have to pay the restaurant markups — and the claws will be cracked and ready to eat.

But what about the sauce? One of the best parts of eating stone crabs is dipping them.

Sure, you could go with just a squirt of lemon and melted butter. But why not make Joe’s famous sauce at home? Joe’s published its recipe in its 1993 cookbook, “Eat at Joe’s: The Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant Cookbook.”

Joe’s Mustard Sauce

1 tablespoon Colman’s dry mustard, or more to taste

1 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon A-1 steak sauce

2 tablespoons light cream

Salt to taste

Place the mustard in a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the mayonnaise and beat for 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until the mixture is well blended and creamy. If you’d like a little more mustardy bite, whisk in 1/2 teaspoon more dry mustard until well blended. Chill the sauce, covered, until serving.

Grocery stores

This option is for those who don’t have to be the first to get their claws on some stone crabs and love to save.

Grocery stores such as Publix, Whole Foods Markets and Fresh Market, may not start stocking stone crabs until the end of the week, if not the beginning of the following week. A Whole Foods spokesperson said some stores will have claws available by the end of the day Oct. 15. Publix is aiming for Oct. 18, a spokesperson said.

Store managers know restaurants get the first pick. But those who wait to buy their stone crabs while doing the weekly groceries could see the best prices. Plus, you have all the ingredients at your finger tips to make a Joe’s Mustard Sauce (see above).

Online delivery

Let the stone crab claws come to you — with free delivery if you’re in Miami Beach. Fresh Stone Crabs is a new Miami-based, next-day-delivery service started by Shelly Abramowitz, who once owned South Beach Stone Crabs on Lincoln Road.

It claims its prices are half of what you’d find in restaurants. Fresh Stone Crabs gets its claws from 50 boats in the Florida Keys. They won’t ship frozen products; when they’re out, they’re out.

They’ll take 10 percent off of orders during the first two weeks of stone crab season. Order 10 pounds or more and get a Key lime pie.

FreshStoneCrabs.com

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