From Bay to Beach

A husband-wife team combine to catch Maryland crabs in the Chesapeake Bay and serve them fresh in Ocean City

Written by Allison Pappas  |   Photography by Jay Flemin

Maryland is known for having some of the world’s tastiest crabs , but what makes the Old Line State’s crabs the best? Kristen and Nick Crook, the husband-wife owners of The Best Crabs Seafood Co. of Ocean City, sure have an insider’s perspective.

“Our crabs here in Maryland get that good, yellow fat in them really because of what they eat. They’re eating clams and other living organisms, which is making the meat sweeter,” says Kristen.

The Best Crabs, a carryout spot located on 142nd street bayside, has been a family-run carryout business in operation for over 30 years. Kristen, a Centreville, MD, native who spent her childhood summers in Ocean City with her family, formally took over the business from her father in 2020. Her decision was made in large part because she was engaged to a lifelong waterman, Nick Crook, who agreed to join her in taking over the business.

Nick and Kristen Crook are partners in life and partners in business as owner- operators of The Best Crabs, on 142nd Street in Ocean City.

The now-wed couple are a match made in crab heaven, and Kristen’s business mindset and restaurant experience, paired with Nick’s background as a commercial waterman, have allowed The Best Crabs to continue to thrive under their ownership.

“One thing that makes us unique and sets us apart from others is the fact that we try to get the majority of our crabs from the Chesapeake Bay. We believe in the catch and support local watermen,” says Kristen.

The desire to stay local hits home for Nick especially. He frequently spends early mornings with his crew catching many of the crabs served at The Best Crabs. Through his heavy involvement in catching and sourcing, The Best Crabs can serve high-quality crabs and always knows where they came from.

The Best Crabs prides itself on providing its customers with a deliciously authentic Maryland experience.

Several other members of Kristen and Nick’s families work at the business throughout the summer and are part of the sourcing and preparation processes, making it a truly family-owned-and- operated establishment.

“We do everything as a family, from catching the crab, driving the crabs to Ocean City, sorting the crabs, steaming the crabs and serving them to you at the carryout door,” shares Kristen.

This family-centered, hands-on approach comes through in the taste and quality of the crabs, which are steamed fresh to order and served with J.O. No. 2 Spice Co. seasoning — what the Crooks consider to be the authentic “Maryland way” when it comes to seasoning. 

And while steamed crabs are what it is most known for, The Best Crabs has several other seafood-centered menu options, such as crabcake sandwiches, homemade crab soups, steamed mussels, shrimp and more.

The Best Crabs is excited to be offering an online ordering option this summer, allowing guests to experience an even swifter ordering-and-pickup process. If you’re interested in placing your order or learning more, check out CS


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