We're crazy for crustaceans, here at The Urban List. And, while we're known to fawn over a king prawn, the humble crab is well and truly our favourite of the crusty bunch. Soft-shelled or hard, stuffed into a slider or requiring a mallet, our love of crab truly knows no bounds.
We've scuttled all 'round town to find the best crab dishes in Melbourne. Bibs on, Listers!
Hammer & Tong 412 | Fitzroy
Hammer & Tong's Soft Shell Crab Burger is famous 'round the foodie traps, and for good reason, too. The brioche bun is loaded with crispy soft-shell crab, black sesame slaw, coriander and sriracha mayo. Drool. You can pick up this beauty from Hammer & Tong's Brunswick bricks and mortar or from their shiny new food truck. Check out their website for crab pit stops.
The Smith | Prahran
A mere stumble from TUL HQ, The Smith is one of Melbourne's best bars this side of town, and our regular go-to for brews and bar food. While it's hard to pick favourites (it's like choosing between children!), their Soft Shell Crab Tortilla is definitely up there in the taste stakes. The crispy soft shell crab is paired with avocado, black beans and a spicy jalapeno salad. Yum! Match it with a Muay Thai Punch, a killer cocktail of Eristoff vodka, lime, ginger, honey, lemongrass and chilli, and you've got yourself a guaranteed good time.
Elephant Corridor | Glen Waverley
A favourite of Glen Waverley locals, Elephant Corridor is a North Indian-Sri Lankan restaurant that serves up some of the best mud crab in Melbourne. Seriously! Cooked in the traditional Sri Lankan way, the crabs come swimming in a lip-tingling, tummy-warming sauce of authentic spices, ground chillies and coconut milk. This famous Sri Lankan curry involves a bit of preparation and love! Mop it all up with roast paan and breads straight from the tandoor. On Thursdays, Elephant Corridor hosts Chilli Mud Crab Night, where you can feast on gigantic, spicy crabs to your heart's content. It's a well-kept local secret (and often completely packed!), so make sure you book in advance.
Claypots | St Kilda
Home to some of Melbourne's best seafood, Claypots sure know their crustaceans. This St Kilda institution is renowned for their chilli mud crab. The serving is pretty generous, the plate piled with mud crabs and mussels, doused in an exceptionally tasty garlic-y chilli oil. It may be a messy feed, so avoid wearing white, don a bib and crack in!
Jinda | Abbotsford
When a menu has an entire page devoted to soft shell crab, you know you're on to a good thing. Jinda's extensive crab offering won't disappoint the crustacean-crazed. TUL's pick? The Som Tum Soft Shell Crab, a mix of crispy fried soft shell crab, green papaya, carrots, snake beans and cherry tomatoes, topped with sweet candied nuts and a tangy, spicy sauce. Be warned: this spicy number is highly addictive.
Miss Katie's Crab Shack | North Melbourne
Head to Public House and you'll find Katie Marron, the appropriately named chef and owner of Miss Katie's Crab Shack, cooking up some of the best crab in Melbourne. Australian blue swimmer crabs are boiled whole and served with corn on the cob, smoked kransky, garlic butter and Old Bay seasoning. The feast comes complete with a bib and wooden mallet. We also adore their Chesapeake Crab Burger, a blue swimmer crab cake with fresh slaw, herb mayo, dill pickle, piled high in a sesame bun. It's the closest you'll get to a real-life Krabby Pattie, Listers.
Image credit: Miss Katie's Crab Shack Facebook.
Cicciolina | St Kilda
Arguably Cicciolina's most famous dish, the crab soufflé is a delicate mix of blue swimmer crab meat, shallot and lemon thyme, served on a champagne and chive veloute. It's little a little pillow of buttery, crabby goodness from one of Melbourne's best restaurants. We've waxed lyrical about this glorious soufflé before (it made it onto our list of Melbourne's top 50 meals!) and will continue to do so long into the foreseeable future. Heaven.
Sosta Cucina | North Melbourne
This one's nonna-approved, folks! North Melbourne Italian restaurant Sosta Cucina serves up some of the best crab linguine in town. The Linguine al Granchio e Bottarga (roughly translating to 'delicious') is a tasty mix of blue swimmer crab, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley, golden breadcrumbs and bottarga, the salty fish roe popular is Sicily and Sardinia. Swirl your fork and get stuck in.
Top Paddock | Richmond
A favourite cafe of the Melbourne brunch set, Top Paddock serves up a mean crab slider. Think fresh Queensland soft-shell mud crab paired with a fennel and dill salad, a generous squirt of lime mayo, all encased in a buttery brioche bun. Don't slide by this bad boy.
Check out more of Melbourne's best restaurants.
Main image credit: Hammer & Tong 412 Facebook.