Eat local — Joe’s Stone Crab, (South Beach District), Miami Beach, Florida, USA

Exterior facade of Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant, Miami Beach, Florida, USA

Exterior facade of Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant, Miami Beach, Florida, USA

“For almost 90 years, long before today’s glitzy South Beach gained international acclaim, one emporium, Joe’s Stone Crab — attracted people to South Beach.  From its simple beginning as a Mom-and-Pop fish house run by Joe and Jennie Weiss to its status as an international gathering spot of celebrities and foodies, Joe’s Stone Crab is more than a place to eat.  It is a gastronomic and people watching experience covered in history.  Chronicled in novels, movies and political memoirs, Joe’s has become an American icon.” — from the book cover of An American Icon:  Eat at Joe’s, Its story…and its recipes (third edition), by Jo Ann Bass & Howard Kleinberg.

The original bar at Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant, Miami Beach, Florida, USA

The original bar at Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant, Miami Beach, Florida, USA

“It is the summer of 1921.  Joe Weiss, the proprietor of Joe’s Restaurant on South Beach, is serving shore dinners to his guests when one of them, a visiting professor from Harvard, strikes up a conversation about a crustacean found in the neighboring waters. 

“Properly prepared, it is quite tasty, he tells Joe.  They are stone crabs, scientifically named Menippe mercenaria.  Joe, like most people, is unfamiliar with them, but not for long. 

“The professor is George Howard Parker and he is in Miami Beach for a few weeks, staying in a cottage at the new aquarium at the foot of the causeway that spills onto Firth Street. 

“Hence, the visit to Joe’s Restaurant about six blocks away. 

“Much of the early story of Joe Weiss is lost to the times…The one story that is consistent is that, in 1921, a Harvard professor introduced Joe Weiss to stone crabs and that was the genesis of what was to become one of the world’s leading and most famous restaurant…[Joe] and his wife Jennie were born in Hungary and came to New York at different times just before the turn of the nineteenth century.  Needed relief from an asthmatic condition eventually brought them to South Florida.” — ibid

An a la carte order of Large Stone Crabs at Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant, Miami Beach, Florida, USA

An a la carte order of Large Stone Crabs at Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant, Miami Beach, Florida, USA

Eating It Like A Native:  “The act of eating stone crab became a rite of passage and a way to make oneself a native.  The stone crab as a cultural and culinary symbol has influenced the way people of the [Miami] region, nation ad globe have experienced the environment of South Florida.” — Nicolaas Mink, Gastronomica:  The Journal of Food and Culture, 2006.

Joe's dinner

Joe’s dinner “Special”- Large Stone Crabs, Cole Slaw, Hashed Brown Potatoes, Creamed Spinach and Key Lime Pie, at Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant, Miami Beach, Florida, USA

A few facts about Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant:

— An average of 1,400 meals are served daily, in season, reaching up to 2,000. 

— More than a ton a day of stone crabs are served in season (this year it opened on October 15, 2015); 15,000 pounds a week. 

— In a good year, over 750,000 pounds of stone crabs are bought in a season; in a bad year, less than 400,00 pounds.  — Ibid

Nighttime view of the vibrant skyline from our ship, Miami, Florida, USA

Nighttime view of the vibrant skyline from our ship, Miami, Florida, USA

Recipe:  Joe’s Mustard Sauce 

This recipe is reprinted from Jo Ann Bass and Howard Kleinberg’s book An American Icon:  Eat at Joe’s, Its story…and its recipes (third edition). 

At Joe’s, the stone crabs are served cold, already cracked. They come with small metal cups of mustard or melted butter — or both. This is the mustard sauce for which Joe’s is famous. 

(Makes about one cup)

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon Colman’s Dry Mustard, or more to taste,
1 cup Mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
1 teaspoon A-1 sauce
2 tablespoons each Heavy Cream and Milk
Salt

PREPARATION

Place the mustard in a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the mayonnaise and beat for 1 minute.  Add the Worcestershire, A-1, cream [and milk], and a pinch of salt and beat until the mixture is well blended and creamy. If you’d like a little more mustardy bite, whisk in 1/2 teaspoon more dry mustard until well blended. Chill the sauce, covered, until serving.


[NOTE that the sauce is excellent with cold “shrimp a-peel”, especially fresh shrimp that are boiled for about 2 minutes in Old Bay Seasoning (or other shrimp or crab boil) and then drained (not rinsed!) and chilled.  We’ve now had this several times since dining at Joe’s with fresh shrimp that we purchased at coastal markets — delicious!.]

10 thoughts on “Eat local — Joe’s Stone Crab, (South Beach District), Miami Beach, Florida, USA

  1. Hi Rich,   Closer to home, Celeste and I always have dinner at Joe’s in Shops at Ceasers in Las Vegas each year. They take reservations!!! During our numerous trips to So Beach, if you get to Joe’s at 8PM you get your table at 10-11, like dining in Buenos Aires or Punta del Estes. Speaking of Punta del Estes, (So. America’s Riviera), catch the morning rays at the beaches on the East  then walk four blocks to the beaches on the West for sunset (the beaches on the east are better). A mile or two up the east coast are some beautiful residential areas. Summer homes of So. America’s rich and famous. No one touches Punta del Estes. These are the only homes in Uruguay without bars on the windows. You break in and caught, every mafia type org. in So. America has a contract on your head. Punta del Estes, in their summer, has some of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. The retail shops (Prada, etc.) are open until 3 in the morning. Get a table at a side walk cafe for an espresso and people watch (after 1AM) when the restaurants clear out and the beautiful people promenade the main street. Been there three times. Wanna go back. Maybe after the next trip to BA. Have fun!!  Tom 

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    • We were lucky and were there on a slow Monday night — the South Beach Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant didn’t fill up until about 7:15 p.m.; we went early, as it was right after we finished our tour at The Wolfsonian and then walked the mile down Collins Avenue. We will be in Buenos Aires briefly in January, but Punta del Este is still in the future, Sounds enticing! We haven’t yet been to Uruguay, and although it is close to B.A., we won’t make it on the upcoming trip.

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  2. Thanks for the recipe. Unfortunately, the restaurant is now part of a chain (Lettuce Entertain You) and some branches aren’t as good or a fun as the original. Monica R. Salusky

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    • We’ve eaten many times in the Chicago Joe’s Stone Crab, but that was mostly 10 – 20 years ago. Of course the South Beach Restaurant is excellent and we hear the one in Caesar’s in Las Vegas is also good. Don’t know about the others… The sauce recipe was nice to find in the book!

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  3. You had to send this the day after we are being told crab is off the menu here? We are just on the precipice of the crab season and we are told they are full of toxins. NO crab 😦

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    • In the news we recently saw that the much higher than normal Pacific Ocean temperatures (El Nino) were causing toxins in fish and crab from Washington down to CA, but hadn’t heard specifically that Dungeness Crab around S.F. was now off limits due to the toxicity. That is a total bummer! Sorry to make you salivate and go hungry… [I just found this from today’s S.F. Chronicle (on-line): “Hold the melted butter because those Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts of fresh local crab will likely have to wait — possibly for a very long time.
      The California Fish and Game Commission voted during an emergency meeting Thursday to suspend the recreational Dungeness and rock crab fishing season along the coast between Oregon and Santa Barbara after a potentially deadly neurotoxin was detected in the meaty delicacies. The season was supposed to kick off Saturday…the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, is expected to make a decision soon on whether to also close the $60 million commercial crab fishery, which had promised to deliver the seafood to stores and restaurants starting Nov. 15.”]

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  4. Hi Rich,

    Always enjoy your blogs. I have a business associate/friend in South Florida who introduced me to stone crabs. He keeps a freezer full of the claws. This is where I learned about their limb regeneration. My friend only harvests one claw and returns the crab to the sea. Here’s a copy and paste from Wikipedia:

    “The Florida stone crab is usually fished near jetties, oyster reefs or other rocky areas, just as for blue crabs . The bodies of these crabs are relatively small and so are rarely eaten, but the claws (chelae), which are large and strong enough to break an oyster’s shell, are considered a delicacy . Harvesting is accomplished by removing one or both claws from the live animal and returning it to the ocean where it can regrow the lost limb(s). “

    Gene

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    • Thanks for the note. Glad to learn about the sustainable way to harvest the crab claws and the fact that the crabs can regenerate a claw. That’s very good news and a much better practice than catching them and depleting the supply (as with Marayland Blue Crabs or Maine Lobsters or Pacific Dungeness Crabs).
      Rich

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