Sweet and meaty Dungeness crab is the quintessential crustacean of the west coast and is as good as currency in Pacific County. Anyone native to the area will tell you no crab tastes better. That’s why crab season is always one of the most exciting times of the year!
Eating Dungeness crab requires work, though. Getting to that succulent meat means pulling apart the shell, cracking open legs, and getting messy. The effort is worth it. The meat flakes apart in your fingers and melts in your mouth. A bit of butter and lemon makes this savory meal a little richer. Plus, just one crab can take up an entire dinner plate.
The sweet flavor of Dungeness crab meat can be traced back to their diet. These crabs are carnivores, and their favorite food (and perhaps yours, too) is clams. A healthy diet of those little bivalves gives Dungeness crab their sweet flavor. They also feed on mussels, scallops, small fish, other crabs, and… marine worms; an incredible smorgasbord of seafood.
The crab is named after Dungeness, WA but inhabits coastal waters from Alaska’s Aleutian Islands to Point Conception in California. Dungeness crab from Willapa Bay and the Columbia-Pacific Confluence are among the finest, healthiest crab on the coast, making Pacific County seafood markets the best places to pick up fresh crab for your dinner table.
Seafood markets to visit:
Get it while crab season is still in full swing and treat yourself to one of the finest meals in the Northwest.
Where to Eat Dungeness Crab
Many of our local chefs use Dungeness crab on their menus! These are just a few highlights. No matter where you decide to eat, check for specials. Our local chefs often incorporate fresh Dungeness crab into their culinary creations.
- The Dungeness crab bisque is must have at Waterline Pub. They have several other crab-inspired dishes as well!
- Eat rich, creamy Dungeness mac and cheese at Salt Pub, Pickled Fish and Lost Roo.
- You’ll find crab cakes at Pickled Fish and Castaways Seafood Grille.
- Be sure to check out 42nd Street Cafe and Bistro for Dungeness crab beignets!
- MyCovio’s in Ocean Park serves crab over a wedge salad or spaetzli, a dumpling-like pasta.
- Drop Anchor will serve you crab just about any way you like it, from crab salad to crab Alfredo.
- You can eat whole crabs and crab legs at the Crab Pot in Long Beach.
- Get your breakfast crab fix at Benson’s by the Beach.
- Visit the Tokeland Hotel for some local Dungeness crab and Tillamook extra sharp cheddar over Texas toast. Yum!
Want to catch your own Dungeness crab?
You can catch crab off the North Jetty in Cape Disappointment State Park, the docks in Tokeland or at the Port of Peninsula in Nachotta along Willapa Bay. IMPORTANT: Be aware of weather advisories as well as tides, especially if going to the jetty.
While commercial crab season only lasts part of the year, recreational crab season is generally open year-round in Pacific County (although, the use of crab pots is limited to about Dec. 1-Sept. 15).
Check the WDFW site for more info and regulations on size, limits, and other rules before you go.
Be sure you have your shellfish/seaweed license. You can purchase this license at CoHo Charters, Pacific Salmon Charters, Dennis Company, Pioneer Market, and the Seaview Mobil Station. Find crabbing gear at Englund Marine in Ilwaco or Dennis Company in Long Beach.
If you’d like to take a boat out but don’t have your own, CoHo Charters offers crab charters in late fall and early spring.