Maryland and crabs are synonymous, but why?! Well primarily because blue crabs are tasty crustaceans that just happen to be local to the Maryland/Chesapeake Bay area. The water in the bay is brackish and slightly salty which is ideal for blue crabs to thrive. Crabs have been a mainstay of the Maryland fishing industry for over a 100 years primarily (also the most important staple catch) coming out of the eastern shore of Maryland.
Because of Maryland’s plethora of crabs, it is the right of passage for every Marylander to have a crab feast at least once a year.
But crab feasts are kind of annoying (what with the set up and clean up) so it’s way easier if you can find a place that has tasty crabs, great views, and good drinks instead. Luckily there’s a place right on the outskirts of Baltimore City that provides just that. Nick’s Fish House, sits in a quiet industrial park right before the Ft. McHenry Tunnel provides a great casual enviornment for you and your family to eat a ton of crabs this summer.
When you first come upon the restaurant you’re kind of stunned to find it because it’s literally hidden, you’d have no idea it was there if somebody didn’t tell you. There’s a large sized parking lot adjacent to the restaurant so parking is not an issue. Trying to get a reservation at Nick’s Fish House is not possible, so you typically just have to wait unless you really planned in advance and you have a large enough party. But waiting is not that big of deal when the weather is nice, because you can just order some drinks at the bar and just take a nice stroll on the dock while you wait your turn to feast.
Once you’re seated, you can opt to eat in their open air environment (which has a roof) but it’s open to everything else (including the occasional stray duck that waddles through). The seating area provides you with a great view of the Bay and allows you to really take in the full Maryland experience while noshing on crabs. Their menu has other items, so if picking through blue crabs is not your thing don’t worry there are other options. But we came for crabs (primarily), so we ordered a dozen and the price was kind of steep for large crabs, about $120.00 for a dozen of crabs. The crab market in Maryland seems to be more volatile these days and it seems that in recent years crab prices have gone up, so such is life in the crab state. Steamed crabs are a delicacy in Maryland and it’s hard to screw them up as long as your crabs are fresh. The crabs at Nick’s Fish House come out piping hot right out of the crab pot and are caked with delicious crab seasoning. We spent the next hour picking through the crabs, which type of crab eater are you? A pick as you go? Or a squirrel away all your crab meat until the end so you can have gigantic handfuls of crab meat to shove down your gullet. Obviously, I’m the latter.
Crabs never fill me up so we also opted for some steamed shrimp and their famous crab pretzel. Both are excellent, the crab pretzel rather than being a large soft pretzel just covered in crab dip, the pretzel is stuffed with the dip instead so it’s a much more pleasant experience. The shrimp was well prepared but nothing to write home about.
While the crab prices at Nick’s Fish House can be high and waiting can be annoying at times, the overall experience at Nick’s Fish House is excellent. It’s a perfect place to bring out of towners who want the authentic Maryland crab experience. If I was rating it without the crab experience, I’d say it’s a solid option if you or your fellow diners are not really the adventurous types and you like to stay in your Americana food lane. This place is not going to blow your wheels off with culinary prowess, but it doesn’t claim to do that either. It stays in its culinary lane, so I can respect that.
Overall Rating: B+ (A for the crabs though)