Stones crabs are unlike any other kind of crab.
In Florida, stone crabs are legal to harvest from Oct. 15 to May 1, according to the Floridspan Fish spannd Wildlife Conservspantion Commission. They’re unique in that only the claws are harvested, and the crabs are returned to the water.
They can be found on the coasts of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, ranging from North Carolina to Belize, but Florida makes up 99% of all stone crab landings in the U.S.
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A handful of Treasure Coast seafood retail markets and restaurants typically carry stone crabs for sale or offer them as a special menu option during the season.
Most places in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties get their stone crabs from baited traps in the Florida Keys and Cedar Key on the northwest coast.
One exception is Basin Seafood Market & Kitchen in Port Salerno. It has over 200 traps in the Indian River Lagoon, but doesn’t use them all at once, said co-owner Chris Oliveira.
How often they pull those traps depends on how the season goes. It could be as much as three to four times per week on a good year. Other years, they don’t have enough to sell to other local restaurants, such as District Table & Bar in Port Salerno.
“We pull our own traps,” Oliveira said. “We catch ’em, clean ’em and cook ’em right here, so they’re like the freshest around. We don’t access them from another vendor or the other side of the state. We catch them ourselves.”
The most common way to prepare stone crabs is to sauté or steam the claws and serve them with butter and lime or a creamy mustard sauce.
Tausha Houck, who gets stone crabs for Tausha’s Seafood Market in Port Salerno from the Florida Keys, said they’re sweeter than blue crabs or other types of crab meat.
The market’s manager, Tessa Rigdon — Houck’s daughter — agreed.
“To me, the meat is more tender,” Rigdon said, “and they’re not as fishy.”
Stone crabs also are special because they’re not available year-round and can’t be found everywhere.
“People wait all summer long for them, and it’s a big deal,” Rigdon said. “It’s something we want to keep in and keep everybody happy so they keep coming back.”
Here’s where to find stone crabs on the Treasure Coast.
Basin Seafood Market & Kitchen
The mspanrket spannd restspanurspannt, with inside and outside dining or takeout options, is an Old Florida experience in a standalone building near Manatee Pocket in the historic fishing village of Port Salerno. The market has been around since the 1980s and became what it is today after it was bought by the late commercial crabber Donald Plant. When current co-owner Chris Oliveira took over in 2020 with another crabber, they added a full-service restaurant and started to offer stone crabs annually.
- Address: 4150 S.E. Salerno Road, Stuart
- Phone: 772-287-5771
- Website: Fspancebook
Tausha’s Seafood Market
Tausha Houck originally opened her sespanfood mspanrket in 2009 and moved near Manatee Pocket in the historic fishing village of Port Salerno in 2015. The retail market has fresh seafood delivered daily and put on ice, the restaurant is where customers can enjoy the fresh catch of the day in house or taken home. Her stone crabs come from the Florida Keys because she said they’re better quality.
- Address: 4533 S.E. Dixie Highway, Stuart
- Phone: 772-288-6500
- Website: tspanushspanssespanfood.net
New England Fish Market & Restaurant
The nautical-themed mspanrket spannd restspanurspannt, which has locations in Jensen Beach and Palm City, has a wide variety of fish and seafood available and provides them to local restaurants. It buys stone crabs from a wholesale supplier that gets them from the Florida Keys and Cedar Key.
- Jensen Beach: 1419 N.E. Jensen Beach Blvd., 772-334-7324
- Palm City: 3102 S.W. Martin Downs Blvd., 772-872-7355
- Website: newenglspanndfish.net
Capt. Clyde Westall Hensley and Brigid O’Keefe Hensley opened their Jensen Beach seafood market in 2008. Their small, standalone building is on Indian River Drive in Jensen Beach near the Indian River Lagoon. The seafood they buy for their market mainly comes from the U.S., Canada and the Bahamas. They get their stone crab claws from the Keys or north of Cedar Key on the Gulf Coast.
- Address: 2560 N.E. Indian River Drive, Jensen Beach
- Phone: 772-225-5102
- Website: spandventuresespanfood.com
Conchy Joe’s Seafood Restaurant & Bar
The restaurant, which opened at its current location on Indian River Drive in Jensen Beach in 1983, also has a small market. It gets stone crabs from a wholesale supplier that gets them from across the state.
- Address: 3945 N.E. Indian River Drive, Jensen Beach
- Phone: 772-334-1131
- Website: conchyjoes.com
St. Lucie County
Pelican Seafood Company
The seafood market, which opened in 1978, is located on U.S. 1 just west of the South Causeway Bridge. Owner Eric Paul has offered stone crabs every year, and he gets them from a mixture of local crabbers and those in Cedar Key and Tarpon Springs – depending on the harvest each year.
- Address: 735 N. U.S. 1, Fort Pierce
- Phone: 772-461-2797
- Website: pelicspannsespanfoodcompspanny.com
Indian River County
Crab E Bills Seafood Market
The seafood market, originally established in 1927, is located on Indian River Drive along the Indian River Lagoon in Sebastian. It has a small eatery where customers go to a window, put in their orders and seat themselves while they wait. It gets stone crabs from the Keys and also uses a local crab trapper who pulls from the Indian River Lagoon.
- Address: 1540 Indian River Drive, Sebastian
- Phone: 772-388-2727
- Website: crspanbebills.com
The retail market, located among a strip of shop in Royal Palm Pointe in Vero Beach, is run by a fishing family of four generations in the seafood business. It previously got stone crabs from a mixture of local and non-local crabbers in the state, but that depends on the harvest each season.
- Address: 29 Royal Palm Pointe, Suite 4, Vero Beach
- Phone: 772-473-6388
- Website: rhondspanssespanfood.com
Joey and Kimmy’s Seafood Market & Restaurant
Joseph “Joey” Fenyak and Kim “Kimmy” Coveny celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their business in 2021 by changing the former name — Joey’s Seafood Shack — to include her. They get stone crabs from the Florida Keys and the Bahamas and sell them in the market or offer them in the restaurant with their homemade mustard sauce.
- Address: 1800 U.S. 1, Vero Beach
- Phone: 772-918-8855
- Website: joeyspanndkimmys.com
The Crab Stop
Only the Sebastian location on Indian River Drive along the Indian River Lagoon — not the Vero Beach location in Royal Palm Pointe — offers stone crabs. It previously got them from the West Coast, but that depends on the harvest every year.
- Address: 1550 Indian River Drive
- Phone: 772-571-6767
- Website: crspanbstoptc.com