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Crab for the kids

Joe’s, home of the giant bucket

Crab Daddy Feast
Crab Daddy Feast
Place

Joe's Crab Shack

7610 Hazard Center Drive, San Diego

My 11-year-old nephew Brian is the only adventurous eater among my six niephlings. For months he’s been eager to try crab — real crab, straight from the shell. My brother-in-law developed an allergy to shellfish before Brian was born. All Brian knows is, “Daddy loved crab before he became allergic,” and this kid trusts his father’s great taste.

David and I have been taking Brian to “weird food” places since he turned eight. So far, when it comes to expanding our nephew’s horizons, we’ve stuck to joints we know and love. We’ve been to Tofu House for Korean food, Emerald for Chinese dim sum (back when they still had the carts), a few different spots for Japanese sushi, and another for Indian.

Video:

Shark Bite at Joe’s Crab Shack

Unlike his mother (my sister), Brian absolutely loves seafood. When it came to introducing him to crab — something that, so long as it’s fresh, will taste the same no matter where you go — we opted for a visual experience. Based on our image search, the most in-your-face-crab-leg meal was to be found at Joe’s Crab Shack.

I don’t put much stock in Yelp reviews, but I admit that when I see a place has only two-and-a-half stars, my expectations go down. I reminded David that this wasn’t about us, that it wasn’t even about the food — it was about Brian’s face when he received that giant bucket with alien-esque crab’s legs sticking out of it. And, from what we could see online, the seafood wouldn’t be the only fun visual. There was also the Shark Bite, a goblet filled with electric-blue liquor (rum, vodka, blue curaçao), into which is poured blood-red grenadine (served in a test tube that is shoved into the gullet of a plastic toy shark).

The fried shrimp was good; the flat fish fillets were not
No one liked these hush puppies
Brian enjoyed both eating and playing with his food

We were a total of five (my sister Heather drove both of her boys, Brian and 14-year-old Liam) from San Marcos. The service was fast and friendly, and we were all excited to watch Uncle David walk Brian through the mechanics of getting meat out of crustacean appendages. Heather, Liam, and I ordered off the regular menu, on which the selections are mostly fried. I got the fish and chips: sad, skinny, dried-out filets. Heather’s chicken fingers were much better but pretty standard.

Liam ordered calamari and shrimp, but they both just tasted of fried: not much nuance there, but then again, we weren’t really expecting any. The biggest disappointment on the table (not even Brian liked them) were the doughy, salty, tasteless hushpuppies.

David ordered the Crab Daddy Feast to share with Brian ($32), a bucket containing Snow, Queen, and King crab legs. Instead of choosing a flavor (BBQ, spicy, garlic herb, etc.), he got them “simply steamed” so that Brian could best taste the crabmeat, unadulterated. Brian loved the crab, and we loved seeing him make his way through the shells to retrieve every morsel. In the end, he determined the Queen crab to be his favorite.

Joe’s was great for what we wanted — a giant bucket featuring a variety of crabs for a reasonable price at a kid-friendly joint (we all wore bibs, onto which our server wrote fun names, as is the practice at Joe’s) with colorful, entertaining beverages. Would I recommend it to grown-ups? Probably not. But if you’re looking to introduce a kid to crab for the first time….

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Crab Daddy Feast
Crab Daddy Feast
Place

Joe's Crab Shack

7610 Hazard Center Drive, San Diego

My 11-year-old nephew Brian is the only adventurous eater among my six niephlings. For months he’s been eager to try crab — real crab, straight from the shell. My brother-in-law developed an allergy to shellfish before Brian was born. All Brian knows is, “Daddy loved crab before he became allergic,” and this kid trusts his father’s great taste.

David and I have been taking Brian to “weird food” places since he turned eight. So far, when it comes to expanding our nephew’s horizons, we’ve stuck to joints we know and love. We’ve been to Tofu House for Korean food, Emerald for Chinese dim sum (back when they still had the carts), a few different spots for Japanese sushi, and another for Indian.

Video:

Shark Bite at Joe’s Crab Shack

Unlike his mother (my sister), Brian absolutely loves seafood. When it came to introducing him to crab — something that, so long as it’s fresh, will taste the same no matter where you go — we opted for a visual experience. Based on our image search, the most in-your-face-crab-leg meal was to be found at Joe’s Crab Shack.

I don’t put much stock in Yelp reviews, but I admit that when I see a place has only two-and-a-half stars, my expectations go down. I reminded David that this wasn’t about us, that it wasn’t even about the food — it was about Brian’s face when he received that giant bucket with alien-esque crab’s legs sticking out of it. And, from what we could see online, the seafood wouldn’t be the only fun visual. There was also the Shark Bite, a goblet filled with electric-blue liquor (rum, vodka, blue curaçao), into which is poured blood-red grenadine (served in a test tube that is shoved into the gullet of a plastic toy shark).

The fried shrimp was good; the flat fish fillets were not
No one liked these hush puppies
Brian enjoyed both eating and playing with his food

We were a total of five (my sister Heather drove both of her boys, Brian and 14-year-old Liam) from San Marcos. The service was fast and friendly, and we were all excited to watch Uncle David walk Brian through the mechanics of getting meat out of crustacean appendages. Heather, Liam, and I ordered off the regular menu, on which the selections are mostly fried. I got the fish and chips: sad, skinny, dried-out filets. Heather’s chicken fingers were much better but pretty standard.

Liam ordered calamari and shrimp, but they both just tasted of fried: not much nuance there, but then again, we weren’t really expecting any. The biggest disappointment on the table (not even Brian liked them) were the doughy, salty, tasteless hushpuppies.

David ordered the Crab Daddy Feast to share with Brian ($32), a bucket containing Snow, Queen, and King crab legs. Instead of choosing a flavor (BBQ, spicy, garlic herb, etc.), he got them “simply steamed” so that Brian could best taste the crabmeat, unadulterated. Brian loved the crab, and we loved seeing him make his way through the shells to retrieve every morsel. In the end, he determined the Queen crab to be his favorite.

Joe’s was great for what we wanted — a giant bucket featuring a variety of crabs for a reasonable price at a kid-friendly joint (we all wore bibs, onto which our server wrote fun names, as is the practice at Joe’s) with colorful, entertaining beverages. Would I recommend it to grown-ups? Probably not. But if you’re looking to introduce a kid to crab for the first time….

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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