I wrote this post back in 2010, but I’ve always felt it needed a bit of an update. See, the first time I visited this veritable Miami Beach shrine, I made the god awful mistake of skipping out on dessert (I’ve since made something of a vow to always say yes to dessert – my waistline has called it an act of war), thus missing out on a true masterpiece: the key lime pie at Joe’s Stone Crab.
I can’t tell you how happy this slice of pie made me (It’s almost pathetic). It was just so perfectly balanced and fresh, without being ridiculously sweet. Click here to find the recipe for the key lime pie at Joe’s Stone Crab.
My original post about my first visit to Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach:
It’s pretty useless writing a review for something that’s considered a true institution, a landmark in Miami Beach, so I won’t even try.
All I can do is join the global lovefest and recount my own cherry-popping experience at the classic South Florida eatery. But first, a short history from the restaurant’s website on how founder Joe, who had opened the restaurant in 1913, found his niche:
“Allison invited a Harvard ichthyologist down to do research. One of them came down one day and said to my dad, “Have you ever used these stone crabs, these crabs from the water?” We were serving crawfish, all kinds of fish-but not stone crabs. “Nobody will eat them,” Dad said. That was at breakfast. That day when the ichthyologist came down for lunch, he brought a burlap sack, full of live stone crabs. He and my dad went around and around about how to cook them. Do you broil them, or what do you do with them? My dad threw the stone crabs in boiling water and that was the beginning of it. The bay was full of them! When we started serving them cracked with hash brown potatoes, cole slaw, and mayonnaise, they were an instant success. We charged seventy-five cents for four or five crabs, twenty-five cents for potatoes and twenty-five cents an order for cole slaw. And this is the way we have been serving them since. We hit the jackpot with that one!”
Boy did he ever. Today, Joe’s is seemingly forever expanding, and people line up for hours to get in. I assumed this was what my virgin Joe’s experience would be like, but we managed to just avoid a killer rush. We did this in two ways: by praying and by arriving slightly earlier than our normal dinner eating time (we showed up at 4:30 pm). Eating at the same hour as most 85-year-old retirees was totally worth it. Just check out what awaited:
It may get lost in the wood paneling, tuxedo-ed waiters and exorbitant prices, but the beauty of this place is the simplicity. Within minutes of being seated, you’re outfitted with a paper bib and plowed with Stone Crab goodness. Served with Joe’s classic hash browns (which are so ridiculously good they made our french fry orders completely unnecessary, and the fries were awesome), the crab claws come in four sizes: Medium, Select, Large and Jumbo. We chose the Large variety (they’re sweeter apparently) and were blown away by the sweetness, tenderness and all round “meatiness” of the meat. Adding to the experience is the presentation of it all, as the claws come already smashed, which means you can easily remove the stone shell.
Best of all, though, the Stone Crab is something of a “sustainable” seafood, since they have the unique ability to lose and regenerate a claw within a year. Only one claw is removed at a time, then, and the crab is returned to its habitat to grow another and feed more hungry fat bastards (like me).
I resisted the hype of this place for years, and it should go without saying that I’m a total jackass. Joe’s Stone Crab rules. The lines may be long and the bill may be large, but it’s legendary for a reason. Check it out next time you hit Miami Beach.