After our first visit to the beach on Tybee Island, we decided to have lunch at a place that many people told us was a great place to visit - The Crab Shack. We were told it was a fun place with great seafood. I wanted to do nothing more than eat a ton of seafood while we were on vacation and The Crab Shack promised the potential of having a seafood overload.
The Crab Shack sits on the bank of Chimney Creek on the west end of Tybee Island, just south of Highway 80 (see map). The origins of The Crab Shack dates back to the 1930's when it was nothing more than a "fishing camp" where boaters could use the ramps and docks, buy bait and even camp overnight. In the early 80's, the owners of the fishing camp put it up for sale. Local native Jack Flanigan and his wife, Belinda, bought the fishing camp and moved back to the area. At the fishing camp, the Flanigans found the bounty from the sea was plentiful and soon made friends with many other fishermen in the area. Finding that a lot of their new friends wanted a spot to cook and eat their catch of the day, the Flanigans began to put tables and chairs around their bait shop.
The original Crab Shack was nothing more than a small shack that had six tables. As the business grew, so did The Crab Shack. You can kind of see how the hodge-podge architecture has evolved over the years as there really doesn't seem to be much of a structured lay-out to the place. But that's one of the things that makes The Crab Shack interesting.
As you come up to the property, it looks rather shabby on the outside. But we've found that many places that look like hell on the outside usually have great food. We parked our car and walked past a small fenced in pond that housed a number of small alligators. It was a warm afternoon and many of the gators were sunning themselves or immersed in the warm water. The largest one was - maybe - 3 feet in length.
We walked into the outdoor dining area and took a seat at a table with a hole in the middle of it. On top of the hole on small stilts was a table that held condiments, plastic utensils and a ton of paper towels. The hole in the table was there so one could easily throw shells, old drinks and other things into keeping the table as clean as possible. If you're a seafood eater, you know it can get a little messy, especially if you're eating shrimp or crab.
The Crab Shack was one of the few places we found that had real lemonade (most of the places we encountered on our trip either didn't have lemonade, or they had pink lemonade). And they had Bicardi Limon. I ordered a Bicardi Limon and lemonade and quickly downed it soon after our waitress brought it to me. In the meantime, Cindy had ordered The Crab Shack's version of a Mai Tai. While her first one didn't go down as quickly as my first drink did, she did have a couple which is a lot for Cindy.
The menu (click here for page 1; click here for page 2) was hand-written, sort of comical and fun to look through. Seafood was the main fare with The Crab Shack's famous "Low Country Boil" being the most prominent item on the front of the menu. A "Low Country Boil" is similar to a Wisconsin Fish Boil only they use shrimp instead of white fish, and add potatoes, corn and mix in some sausage on a plate. While a lot of restaurants featured a "Low Country Boil", we never did try one.
The waters around Tybee Island hold a lot of crab and The Crab Shack was featuring Dungeness Crab with a cob of sweet corn and some cole slaw. Cindy was looking hard at that, but was also thinking about the Alaskan King Crab legs. I talked her into getting something caught locally and she finally went with the Dungeness Crab. The plate of crab came with some shell-crackers and Cindy was having some trouble getting her crab legs to crack. I helped her out and I have to say having the hole in the middle of the table to throw away the crab leg shells was an ingenious idea.
I ordered the 1 pound plate of peel and eat boiled shrimp. The shrimp were large and sprinkled with a Cajun seasoning. They were absolutely awesome. We also ordered up a dozen of their oysters on the half-shell. They were equally great when a little fresh-ground horseradish and Tabasco were added in. I came about *this* close to ordering up another pound of peel and eat shrimp after I finished, it was that good. But I wanted to save room for some dessert - most notably their Key Lime Pie.
We were bound and determined to try as many varieties of Key Lime Pie while we were on vacation. While The Crab Shack's Key Lime Pie was good, it was nowhere as good as the Key Lime Pie we'd had at Uncle Bubba's and The Lady and Son's. It wasn't as creamy or flavorful as the pie we'd had at those restaurants. But, as I said, it was still good.
After finishing lunch, we wandered around the grounds and went out to the alligator pond to take a look at the gators. For a price, you could feed the gators pieces of chicken tied to a string on the end of a stick. We looked around for someone that was in charge so Cindy could have a little fun with the gators, but it didn't appear they had any food available for the gators. Still, it was sort of fun to watch them swim around the little pond.
Here's a couple of the bigger alligators they had in the pond. They were definitely smaller than the alligator we encountered when we drove back into Savannah from Uncle Bubba's a couple evenings prior. I sort of wondered what The Crab Shack did with the alligators when they got too big. I don't remember seeing "alligator-anything" on the menu.
Our visit to The Crab Shack was fun. The food was outstanding, our waitress was a great server, the setting was comfortable and it was a fun place. So far, all the places everyone told us to go to while we were in Savannah had turned out to be spot on. If you like great seafood in a very casual setting, The Crab Shack is highly recommended.